First Round Draft Picks
Super Bowls are not won or lost in the first round of the draft, but a few teams set their course for the future with their selections in the first round of Thursday night’s 2012 NFL draft.
As expected, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck has officially been anointed as Peyton Manning’s heir in Indianapolis as the first overall pick of the night and Robert Griffin III, who won the Heisman Trophy this season as Baylor’s signal caller, is set to take over the reins in Washington as the second selection.
After that it was a prime-time version of ‘Let’s Make a Deal’ as teams jockeyed for position up and down the board with eight first-round trades to go after the player they coveted the most. Minnesota traded out of the third spot so the Browns could snag Alabama running back Trent Richardson to bring a running game back to Cleveland. The Vikings then stayed true to form by selecting USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil fourth overall to protect the blind side of quarterback Christian Ponder.
Jacksonville switched from seventh to fifth with Tampa Bay to get Justin Blackmon from Oklahoma State, who was the highest rated wide receiver on the board. Not to be left out of the wheeling and dealing, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones kept his tradition of trading-up in the first round intact by trading for St.Louis’s sixth spot in the draft to select LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. Dallas is counting on him to help bolster a pass defense that was exposed down the stretch this past season.
Tampa Bay used the seventh overall pick to address some secondary needs of its own by taking strong safety Mark Barron from Alabama. The first somewhat controversial pick of the night was Miami’s decision to draft Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill with the eighth pick. He actually started his college career as a receiver before converting to quarterback for his last two seasons. Carolina turned its attention in the first round this year to defense after selecting quarterback Cam Newton with the first overall pick in last year’s draft, by taking Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly with the ninth pick. Buffalo closed-out the top-10 picks by drafting cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who had a stellar career at South Carolina.
All told, the first-round that took just a little over three hours to complete, which is the fastest in recent memory. A few of the more questionable moves with some of the later picks include Seattle’s decision to select West Virginia defensive end Bruce Irvin with the 15th pick. He is known as a pure pass rusher that cannot play the run and brings some off-field baggage with him as well. Cleveland’s decision to use its second pick in the first round at No.22 to take 29 year-old quarterback Brandon Weeden from Oklahoma State was also a head-scratcher. Browns’ team president Mike Holmgram is so confident in this pick that he is already dangling last season’s starter Colt McCoy as trade bait for the later rounds.
The second and third rounds of the draft are slated to kick-off on Friday night at 7 p.m. (ET) with a number of quality players still left on the board. The next six rounds, which conclude Saturday afternoon, is where a team can add the missing pieces to take them from pretender to contender to possible champion if everything falls into place.
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