Looking at a re-draft of the 2012 NFL Draft gives a look into how few teams actually selected well in the first round.
A decade ago, the 2012 NFL Draft offered phenomenal talent and equally misses. Looking back makes for an intriguing redraft. With the gift of hindsight and voluminous tape available, these picks would’ve helped their teams not only in the interim but for the long haul. Granted, you may not know how a prospect performs once the NFL lights heat up, talent is talent.
1. Indianapolis Colts (Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford)
Ranking near the bottom of the league in just about offensive category, the Colts needed a post-Manning savior. Luck fits that city and the mindset of that franchise. While we all know how his story ended, the Colts would still sign up for Luck’s level of greatness.
2. Washington (Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin)
Instead of drafting Robert Griffin, Dan Snyder selects his franchise quarterback. In the durable Wilson, Washington enjoys their best quarterback since Mark Rypien for that one year in the early-1990s.
3. Cleveland Browns (Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College)
For a franchise that still lacks any semblance of identity, Kuechly brings talent, accountability, and leadership to the table. When did the Cleveland defense last feature that?
4. Minnesota Vikings (Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State)
Wagner in the middle of the Vikings defense, with Jared Allen in front of him, would change the complexion of the NFC North. As a result, the Packers would fight for their proverbial lives.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars (Robert Griffin III, Baylor)
In wiping away the Blaine Gabbert fiasco, the Jaguars would use the speedy Griffin far better than Mike Shanahan ever did. Although the Jags featured a shaky receiving corps.
6. Dallas Cowboys (Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina)
With Terence Newman entering the twilight of his career, Dallas needed an apprentice to assume the mantle of lockdown corner. In the NFC, Dallas’ defense would lift the team above mediocre.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame)
In a transition period, Smith solidifies the secondary. Raheem Morris, at heart, is a defensive backs coach. The versatile Smith assumes the spot that John Lynch vacated years before.
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8. Miami Dolphins (Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi St.)
In 2011, the Dolphins lost their first six games. Of those, six were decided by two scores or fewer. While their defense ranked third against the run, passing offenses destroyed them. Cox, an interior disruptor immediately fixes that.
9. Carolina Panthers ( Kelechi Osemele, OL, Iowa State)
Imagine, if just for a minute, the Panthers with a competent offensive line. Without one, they constantly ranked in the top ten without one. Osemele, could function as a right tackle, as well as a Pro Bowl guard. Remember how Carolina would need that in the Super Bowl?
10. Buffalo Bills ( Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama)
The drafting of Hightower here serves two purposes. First, the Bills failed at stopping the run,. More importantly, this move keeps Hightower from the Patriots, who feasted on the Bills for decades.
11. Kansas City Chiefs (Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse)
Despite boasting a healthy rush tandem, the ultra-talented Jones, in passing situations would harass linemen from either a two or three-point stance. Plus, Tamba Hali hits the wall 2013.
12. Philadelphia Eagles (Melvin Ingram, LB, South Carolina)
Granted, the Eagles tallied fifty sacks the previous year. After that electric number, the total falls to thirty in 2012. Philly needs a complete pass rush overhaul. Ingram, who can operate as a right end or rush linebacker would step in with double-digit sack potential.
13. Arizona Cardinals ( Alshon Jeffrey, WR, South Carolina)
Future Hall of Fame Larry Fitzgerald endured double teams and safeties over the top. Arizona longed for a receiver to take the heat off Fitz. Jeffrey would force teams to play a bit more honestly. As a result, Fitzgerald prospers.
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14. St. Louis Rams ( Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska)
As Jeff Fisher assumed the head coaching spot, he sees a defense with two standouts: James Laurinaitis and Chris Long. Adding David, still, a playmaker to this day would open up scheme flexibility with his ability to cover and chase.
15. Seattle Seahawks ( Olivier Vernon, Miami)
As Pete Carroll starts to assemble his championship defense, why not grab an end with an upside that flashes a quick first step. While Vernon only posted one double-digit season, he will always bring at least six or seven.
16. New York Jets ( Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina)
Rex Ryan prides himself on his defense. More importantly, linebackers mean more to him than most spots. Browm a speedy ‘backer that will get downhill to tackle and flow to the outside, helps their All-Pro secondary that much more.
17. Cincinnati Bengals (T.Y. Hilton, WR, Florida International)
Hilton provides the perfect complement to A.J. Green. When the Bengals return to the playoffs, the team would not appear one-dimensional, passing-wise. The perfect slot addition.
18. San Diego Chargers (Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt)
In 2011, the Chargers surrendered eight touchdowns over twenty yards. The offense still puts points on the board. At the same time, the defense leaked like a sieve. Cornerbacks to stop that become premium draft selections.
19. Chicago Bears (Demario Davis, LB, Arkansas St.)
At this point, both of the Bears’ top linebackers reside on the other side of thirty. As a result, the team must infuse youthful talent at the position. Davis attacks the run game with ferocity, not waiting for help.
20. Tennessee Titans (Nick Foles, QB, Arizona)
The Titans could run the ball effectively. On the other hand, the passing game suffered. Foles, when placed around talent and a sound gameplan, will succeed. Foles embodies the spirit of a player that can enjoy hot streaks and a love of the deep ball.
21. New England Patriots (Mychal Kendricks, LB, California)
Bill Belichick covets heady, aggressive linebackers that can thrive in multiple positions. For what Kendricks lacks in height, he compensates with toughness, speed, and instincts.
22. Cleveland Browns (Akiem Hicks, DT, Regina)
Pairing with Luke Kuechly, picked earlier in this draft, the Browns would begin to assemble a competent defense. Can’t say much for the offense. Hicks makes every lineman around him better by engulfing blocks.
23. Detroit Lions ( Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina)
When Eric Wright departed for Tampa, the Lions needed a corner to step in and immediately contribute. For a few years, you could include Josh Norman’s feisty demeanor and cover skills as one of the surprises of the draft.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers (Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa)
Based on the strength of their defense, the Steelers won twelve games. Conversely, opponents Ben Roethlisberger forty times. The durable Reiff makes a twelve-win team a contender.
25. New England Patriots (David DeCastro, OG, Stanford)
At this point, Brian Waters enters his mid-thirties and Logan Mankins starts to dominate on the inside. DeCastro, a plug-and-play guard would still be playing in Foxborough right now.
26. Houston Texans (Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State)
Two years after this potential drafting, the wheels fall off the Texans’ offense. Right, wrong, or indifferent, Cousins puts his team in a chance to at least win the game.
27. Cincinnati Bengals (Tashaun Gipson, S, Wyoming)
Ranking thirty-first in interceptions, teams took advantage of Cincinnati. As a result, drafting a cover safety that amassed twenty-seven picks in the ensuing decade feels right.
28. Green Bay Packers (Bruce Irvin, DE, West Virginia)
Despite a 15-1 record, the Packers still needed help. Twenty-nine sacks during the regular season and one in the first round of the playoffs hurt them, Irvin’s grit demeanor and tenacious rush would bookend Clay Matthews perfectly.
29. Minnesota Vikings (Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis)
Poe, with Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, and Brian Robison turn the Vikings into an immediate championship contender. With size, speed, and jaw-breaking power, Poe can either clog the middle or rush from a zero position. The NFL would’ve changed based on this pick.
30. San Francisco 49ers (Mike Daniels, DT, Iowa)
If the Niners rotated Daniels into their rotation, their already- stout pass rush improves. Daniels isn’t an elite pass rusher. Yet, with his leverage and power, he is a difference-maker.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Lamar Miller, RB, Miami)
Like most modern offenses, the need for multiple backs reigns supreme. Miller’s ability to catch the ball (77.3 catch percentage) enhances the offense with explosion.
32. New York Giants (Derek Wolfe, DT, Cincinnati)
As the Super Bowl champions embark on their defense, the interior begins to age. Chris Canty never regains the form, due to age. Under those circumstances, Wolfe does the ugly things needed to succeed. With that, the Giants could slightly extend their run.
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