The first round of the 2012 NFL Draft is complete. Here are some winners and losers from Thursday night. Keep in mind that this could all change over the course of the next few years. So if I am wrong about this then don’t hold it against me. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s get it going.
Buccaneers: Tampa Bay was said to have desperately wanted Alabama’s Trent Richardson, but give the Browns credit for moving up and taking him two spots ahead of where the Bucs were at. Even though they lost out on the object of their desire, Tampa did well with the two picks they had in Round One. Safety Mark Barron from Alabama was rated as the best safety in this year’s class, and many teams were trying to trade up for him. But the Bucs were able to snag him at No. 7 and he will help a secondary that could use it.
Tampa also wound up with Boise State’s Doug Martin at the bottom of the round (No. 31). He might not be Richardson, but anyone who watched him at Boise State knows he is a pretty good consolation prize. This was a terrific pick because I think there would have been a good chance that the New York Giants would have snagged him a pick later had he been available.
Patriots: Bill Belichick doesn’t move up very often, but when he does, there is a good reason why. New England had the ammunition to move up twice, and with both picks, they beefed up their pass rush. As a Jets fan I wasn’t thrilled to see Chandler Jones go to the Pats. Don’t’a Hightower is another excellent pick. Had David DeCastro of Stanford been off the board, Pittsburgh might very well have taken Hightower at No. 24. Remember, the Steelers have lost some players in that linebacking group.
Browns: Thanks to the extra picks they got in the Julio Jones trade last year, Cleveland was in good position to move up and grab Richardson at No. 3. No, they didn’t have to spend all those picks to move up one spot, but they had thirteen picks when the draft started and not all of those picks were going to make their roster. In Richardson, they get a franchise running back, something they haven’t had since coming back into the league thirteen years ago.
And getting Brandon Weeden at No. 22 wasn’t a bad deal, either. Sure, they probably would have loved a receiver like Kendall Wright, but they can get a wideout in the second round (pick No. 37 overall).
Colt McCoy: The drafting of Weeden means his run as Cleveland’s starting quarterback is over. Was he given the best opportunity to succeed in Cleveland? Given the lack of weapons, no. McCoy was never a lock to be a successful NFL quarterback, and every time I watched him play I thought he was better off being a backup. He will get a chance to start over somewhere else, and probably will have a pretty nice career as someone’s No. 2.
Rams: Let’s get something straight here. Michael Brockers of LSU fills a need. But then again, new GM Les Snead could have picked a player at any position and it would have filled a need. That’s how bad the Rams were. That was the kind of talent gap they were facing. But make no mistake; the Rams did not come away from Thursday night’s proceedings with the player they really wanted.
It turns out they struck out twice. They wanted to give Sam Bradford a No. 1 wide receiver in Justin Blackmon but the Jaguars beat them to it thanks to their trade with Tampa. Call it ‘The Revenge of Khan.’ Shad Khan tried to buy the Rams before Stan Kroenke came in and bought the club at the last second a couple of years ago. It never sat well with him. It might have taken a couple of years, but Khan struck back on Thursday night.
So the Rams dealt out of the No. 6 spot and moved to No. 14. They figured Fletcher Cox would be a nice addition to their defense. They would have been right, if he had been there. But the Eagles came in and ended that dream by moving up three spots to No. 15.
The Rams get a nice player in Brockers, but considering whom they had targeted you have to label them as one of Thursday’s losers.
Jets: Rex Ryan thinks he can make Quinton Coples successful because of what he did with Buffalo’s former first-round washout, Aaron Maybin. But Ryan also thought he could turn Vernon Gholston into an NFL player. How did that work out?
Had it been me, I would have gone in another direction. I would have loved to have taken Chandler Jones, the defensive end out of Syracuse. Melvin Ingram would not have been a bad pick. They could have taken a receiver to line up opposite Santonio Holmes. They could have addressed the offensive line. They gambled on Coples, who most had rated as a bottom of the round prospect.
So there you have it. My winners and losers from the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Every team thinks they are winners right after the first round of the draft.
Only time will tell if the teams are right, or if the analysts are right.