2012 NFL Draft Round One Grades, You Won’t Believe This!
With the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft come and gone (in just over 3 hours), teams are now settling in and getting ready for the second and third rounds, which will take place Friday night. But with new faces in new places, it’s time for the first 32 players to be dissected to death. There were 8 trades overall thanks to the new CBA structure for rookie salaries. But first, I take a detailed look at each player selected and how they will fit on their new teams.
1.1 - Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford - As a die-hard Colts fan I am glad they went Luck. I have seen a ton of people say RG3 will be better and the Colts should take him, etc. I disagree. Nobody was talking about RG3 before mid-way through this year. Luck was anointed 2 years ago and still did not disappoint. For all the credit people give RG3 for his speed and athleticism, Luck does not get nearly enough credit. He is just as quick/fast as Cam Newton and his arm is as strong, if not stronger, than Peyton Manning is. Manning had no problem making all the throws, so I don’t care if he puts a little less mustard on the ball than Griffin does. Luck has the wiggle and vision of Aaron Rodgers and has the ability to lead the Colts to prominence following Peyton Manning’s departure in the same way that Rodgers has led the Packers to prominence following Brett Favre’s exit. Luck will be somewhere between Matt Ryan and Peyton Manning in terms of his career path and you can build around him without reservation.
1.2 – Washington Redskins – Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor - I want to make one thing clear here: The fact that I want Luck as a Colts fan has no impact on how good I think Griffin will be. He will be a stud. He will be a better fantasy asset than Luck since he will more readily use his arm AND his legs. He also fits the Washington scheme beautifully. This is a great pick for the Redskins. And Griffin could become a perennial Pro-Bowler. I think Griffin will be somewhere between Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers. He will look to pass first, but has the ability to break down and run when things get dicey. I do not see him being as inaccurate or run-happy as Michael Vick was early in his career. He will probably be more like Steve McNair was in his prime and that is a great thing.
1.3 – Cleveland Browns (via Trade) – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama - I personally did not like the idea of giving up three picks to move up one spot to take a guy Minnesota clearly was not going to take. However, I applaud Cleveland for seeing someone they wanted and deciding they were going to go get him instead of letting someone else jump up in front of them to steal him away. Richardson should be an excellent asset for Cleveland. And if they get a great WR in this draft, they have the makings of really rebuilding that offense overnight. Hard to criticize that.
1.4 – Minnesota Vikings (via trade) – Matt Kalil, OT, USC - Perfect pick for this franchise! To get an elite LT talent at #4 is a steal for the Vikings. They got the guy they always wanted and everyone thought they always wanted and they also added three picks later on to top it off! Kalil will protect Ponder, clear the way for Peterson and will be rock solid for the next decade. Nice job!
1.5 – Jacksonville Jaguars (via trade) – Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State - What a great get for Jacksonville! Blackmon is my top WR in this draft (and I do not have Michael Floyd even close). And Jax only had to give up a 4th rounder to move up to get him. He will help make Blaine Gabbert successful and gives the Jags a great weapon to add to Laurent Robinson. His fantasy stock does take a big hit landing in Jax on a run-heavy team with a developing underwhelming QB however.
1.6 – Dallas Cowboys (via trade) – Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU - The Cowboys gave up their 2nd round pick to move up here and grab Claiborne. They end up with the best CB in the draft and really, really help their secondary. With Claiborne and Carr they now have the making of a great coverage secondary in a division with some elite QBs where they are going to need it.
1.7 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via trade) – Mark Barron, S, Alabama - Nice pick by TB. They got a player many consider to be the last of the elite talents in this draft and they basically traded the rights to draft Claiborne for the rights to Barron and a 4th round pick. Both would help their secondary and the extra pick thrown in makes a lot of sense for TB in making this move. He is immediately a threat to be a top-20 fantasy DB next year.
1.8 – Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M – Miami almost had to make this pick. They struck out so badly during this offseason from Manning to Flynn. Another year of Matt Moore or David Garrard was not going to cut it. Tannehill is a couple years away from being ready, but he reunites with his college coach (Mike Sherman) as Miami’s OC and that will help lead him to success. Good job by them not messing it up.
1.9 – Carolina Panthers – Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College – I did not like this pick at all! Fletcher Cox is out there! Go get him! Either way Kuechly is about as safe a player as you can get, but what does this mean for IDP in Carolina? Jon Beason will likely move to WLB and keep James Anderson at SLB. Big for the Carolina LB corps, but not as impactful as Cox would have been.
1.10 – Buffalo Bills – Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina – I would have preferred they take Fletcher Cox or Riley Reiff or even Michael Floyd here. However, taking what some consider to be the best CB in the draft when you face Tom Brady twice a year is not a bad pick. Just not the best pick in my opinion
1.11 – Kansas City Chiefs – Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis – Over Fletcher Cox? Really? This is absurd. Work out warriors are not the same as proven players on film! KC is out of its mind here. Cox is going to fall into someone’s lap and make them unbelievably lucky. Poe needs to show in a game the same thing he showed at the combine to be worth this high of a pick. Will he? I doubt it.
1.12 – Philadelphia Eagles (via trade) – Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State – This was an absolute killing for Philly. They got a guy who is the best DT and probably the DL in the entire draft and at a position of need for them for only an additional 4th and 6th rounder. Cox will destroy teams playing on that line with Cole, Babin, Jenkins, etc. The rich get richer here. Heck of a move!
1.13 – Arizona Cardinals – Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame – That’s one way to make Kevin Kolb a success. AZ needed tome OL help, but Floyd was arguably too good to pass up. He should really blossom with all the coverage Fitzgerald sees and he should take some of the burden of carrying that offense off Fitz. Two huge fast targets for Kolb. No more excuses for him as long as that OL can help keep him upright. Like the marriage of need and value here.
1.14 – St. Louis Rams (via trade) Michael Brockers, DT, LSU - The Rams went from 1.2 down to 1.14 and acquired (2) future first rounders and (2) second rounders this year for their trouble. In the end they still wind up with Michael Brockers, who many considered the top DT in this draft before all the Combine stuff. His tape shows a player that can dominate against the run and can also throw in some pocket pushing against the pass. Nice job building in the trenches St. Louis!
1.15 – Seattle Seahawks (via trade) – Bruce Irvin, DE/OLB, West Virginia - Many people will be shocked here. I admit I am. That said there were whispers that Irvin had been promised lately he would be drafted in the first round. The rumors pointed to SF. Well looks like Seattle stole him from a division rival. He is seen as the most natural pass rusher in this class, but I am not sold on him. I’d have preferred Melvin Ingram or Chandler Jones personally. Another pick I did not like at all.
1.16 – New York Jets – Quinton Coples, DE/OLB, UNC – Coples fell a lot further than expected early in the draft process. He went right around where some people felt he would go (teens) with some mocks showing him going as late as 19. Either way the Jets may have the best rusher in the draft if Coples keeps his motor running hot. He can play basically anywhere on the line for the Jets and might even be able to rush from an OLB spot in clear pass rushing situations. Very nice grab at this point for the Jets. I admit I am a tiny bit surprised they did not go with Ingram who may have fit their scheme a little bit better.
1.17 – Cincinnati Bengals – Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama – Another match of value to need. Cincy clearly needs someone better than Pacman to take the place of Jonathan Joseph. Kirkpatrick is not blazing fast, but he is a sound all-around corner. He should certainly help them and was the last 1st round corner left, unless you run the risk on Janoris Jenkins. Many had Kirkpatrick around the same grade as Gilmore and the Bengals got Kirkpatrick 7 picks later. Pretty decent value there.
1.18 – San Diego Chargers – Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina – I just mentioned him when the Jets picked and here he goes. He is going to be a phenomenal pass rusher as an OLB. He would not have been a great fit at DE, but going to a 3-4 team is huge. SD got great value here and with Carson Palmer and Peyton Manning joining this division in back to back years, SD had to get a pass rusher here. To get one of the best 3 at this point in the draft is nice. The only guy I would have considered other than him would have been Chandler Jones here.
1.19 – Chicago Bears- Shea McClellin – DE/OLB, Boise State – A damn good football player, but not sure how he fits here. I don’t see him as being a good fit as a DE, but he would make one heck of a hybrid DE/OLB in a 3-4. Still, when you take players you take them based as football players and then adjust to fit their skills. McClellin is a gamer and will be a good pro. Still, I would have preferred seeing Chicago go with Chandler Jones or even David DeCastro here. Not a bad pick but not the best possible selection for them.
1.20 – Tennessee Titans – Kendall Wright- WR, Baylor – Ugh this is a kick in the junk! I love Wright and wanted to see him fall to the top of the second for my Colts. Instead the guy who might be the best or most dynamic playmaker in the draft goes to a division rival. Kenny Britt, Jared Cook and Wright will give Locker some ridiculous weapons to progress with. A very, very smart move by Tennessee. Wow.
1.21 – New England Patriots (via trade) – Chandler Jones – DE, Syracuse – I hate NE! No, seriously I hate them! As a Colts fan I hate seeing them succeed. Jones is so stinking good that it pains me to see him go here. Some folks (like Mike Mayock) think Jones could be the best defensive player in this entire draft. NE gets another steal! Ugh. Nice job.
1.22 – Cleveland Browns – Brandon Weeden - QB, Oklahoma State – I hate this pick unbelievably. I do not like Weeden at all. And the age is an issue if you are a team like Cleveland that is years away from being competitive. Very bad choice here. Cleveland should have taken the best available WR on their board. Not good.
1.23 – Detroit Lions – Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa – This team is getting damn scary. What a hell of a pick. Reiff should have been a top-20 pick. He really should have been a top-10 caliber guy. He is a baller and a great pass protector. Sure he has shorter arms than usual, but so does Joe Thomas. That isn’t hurting him any is it? This team is going to be a machine on offense for years to come.
1.24 – Pittsburgh Steelers – David DeCastro – OG, Stanford – The best Guard and second best OL in the entire draft falls into Pitt’s lap at 24? Are you freaking kidding me? This is criminal. What a steal here. The Steelers need this badly and this was one heck of a move.
1.25 – New England Patriots (via trade) – Dont’a Hightower – LB, Alabama – Did I mention I hate the Pats? They get the second best LB in this draft and they pair him with arguably the best pass rusher in Jones taken earlier. NE is recreating that D on the fly and this is yet another steal. You can see why teams like NE and Pitt are successful every year. Yikes!
1.26 – Houston Texans – Whitney Mercilus – DE, Illinois – I am not happy that Houston adds another solid pass rusher to the stable. The Colts are going to have to face him and Reed and Barwin and Watt for years to come. Nice pick Houston. He will help fuel a pass rush that will haunt the young QBs in the AFC South for years.
1.27 – Cincinnati Bengals (via trade) – Kevin Zeitler – OG, Wisconsin - Not a sexy pick, but Zeitler is the second best Guard in this draft and he will help Cincy grind it out on the ground game. He will also be solid in keeping Andy Dalton upright. A solid pick, though not a pass rusher that the Bengals sorely needed.
1.28 – Green Bay Packers – Nick Perry – DE/OLB, USC – Love this pick! Many people compare him to LaMarr Woodley. And if he is even close to that this is a steal! He will help immediately in taking some pressure off of Clay Matthews. Nice job by the Championship-caliber GB Packers.
1.29 – Minnesota Vikings (via trade) – Harrison Smith – S, Notre Dame – I don’t like this move much. I know Minny has needs in the secondary and plays in a division with the Packers and Lions who both sling the ball, but Smith is not overly impressive to me. I didn’t mind the trade, but did not like the selection. I would have preferred they got pass rushing help for Jared Allen or some receiving help for Percy Harvin.
1.30 – San Francisco 49ers – A.J. Jenkins – WR, Illinois – I absolutely did not see this one coming. Jenkins is a bit unpolished and I would have taken a guy like Stephen Hill or Reuben Randle way before Jenkins. Not sure where this came from. They could have traded back and piled up picks. Baltimore and Denver both made trades right around them. Teams wanted to move up. What were they thinking?
1.31 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via trade) – Doug Martin – RB, Boise State – Tampa gets the best Safety and second best RB in this draft. Nice job. And they did it by only using the pick they got to move back earlier with Jacksonville. Martin will replace Blount immediately and could be a 3-down back with Blount being a goal-line and change of pace grinder ala Brandon Jacobs. Good job TB. Great fantasy prospects for Martin here.
1.32 – New York Giants – David Wilson – RB, Virginia Tech – The Giants needed a RB after Brandon Jacobs left. They cannot rely on Ahmad Bradshaw with how often he gets dinged up. In that regard Wilson was a nice pick. There may have been better value picks here, but the fit of need is a nice one. Also a nice dynasty prognosis for Wilson here.
DRAFT DAY TRADE NOTES
- Cleveland gives up a 4th, 5th and 7th round pick to Minnesota to move up from 1.4 to 1.3 - Minnesota made a killing! They got 3 picks for a player they clearly were not going to draft by simply threatening Cleveland with the idea that they could make a deal with someone else to jump up and get Trent Richardson. Minny gets the player they were going to take at 3 anyhow at 4 and now add 3 more picks. Nice move for them. Cleveland better hope Richardson is the real deal and is another AP or they got fleeced.
- Jacksonville gives 4th rounder to Tampa Bay move up from 1.7 to 1.5 - Huge move for Jacksonville! They got what they see as the best offensive playmaker in the receiving game and they only had to give up a 4th rounder to do it!
- Dallas gives up a 2nd rounder to St. Louis move up from 1.14 to 1.6 - Crafty trade by Dallas. They saw that TB moved back to #7 and they immediately trade up in front of them to nab Claiborne. Getting the best CB in the draft is worth giving up their 2nd rounder. As for the Rams, they have turned the #2 pick into the #14 pick and 2 second rounders this year and 2 first rounders next year. Awesome job by a team with lots of needs!
- Philadelphia gives up a 4th and 6th round pick to move up from 1.15 to 1.12 – Seattle does well to get a 4th and 6th rounder to only move down 3 spots. Good move for them. But the Eagles get arguably a top-8 player in this draft in Fletcher Cox and only have to give up two late round picks to move up to get him. That is the definition of a great trade!
- New England gives up a 3rd round pick to move up from 1.27 to 1.21 – We are so used to seeing NE move down and get better picks or future picks, that I am surprised to see them move up for once. They know what they are doing. And only giving up a 3rd rounder to end up with Chandler Jones is a hell of a move. As a Colts fan I hate them!…..but damn they are smart and good at what they do during the draft.
- New England gives up a 4th rounder to move up from 1.31 to 1.25 – And the rich just keep getting richer. After one heck of a move to get Jones they land Hightower for simply a 4th rounder to move up. I am sick. Nice job NE.
- Minnesota gives up a 4th rounder to move up from 2.03 to 1.29 – The trade itself was fair for both sides. But I did not like the selection for Minnesota. Baltimore does a nice job falling back only 6 or so picks and getting a player that is the same caliber of what they would have picked at 29 while adding another 4th rounder.
- Tampa Bay gives up a 4th rounder to move up from 2.05 to 1.31 - Nice job by Tampa. They moved back and still got Barron then used the pick Jax gave them to move up in order to move up here and select the second best RB in the draft. Hell of a job working the board by TB.