It's the most wonderful tiiiiiiime of the year!!
While Andy Williams sang those beautiful words about the Christmas season, I believe the fit another season much better. The NFL Season.
The 2012 NFL Draft is upon us. NFL.com may have you believe that the 2012 NFL Draft is the end of the 2011 NFL season, but I believe, in my mind and in my heart of hearts, that the 2012 NFL Draft is the BEGINNING of the 2012 NFL season. I also believe that if I say NFL one more time in this paragraph, I will be sued for using the abbreviation too many times without having the expressed written consent of the National Football League.
We all remember how the 2011 season came to an end: with Tom Brady plopped in the middle of the field like that smell kid in elementary school with whom no one wanted to play tag. Eli Manning and his New York Giants had just triumphed over "The Golden Boy"'s Patriots for the second time in four years. Eli had his second Superbowl ring and was finally poised to take his place as the most important of the Manning clan. SUCK IT, PEYTON!!!.....But that uh....that didn't happen.
See, Peyton Manning and his 11 Pro Bowls and 4 league MVP's decided to take a hop, skip and a jump off of the sinking ship that is the 1-15 Indianapolis Colts and try this hand at the scary world of free agency for the first time. The resulting Peytonpalooza proceeded to dominate the headlines for the months following Superbowl XLVI. Once the feeding frenzy had subsided, the middle Manning son had landed as the new starting quarterback for the Denver Tebows (which I'm sure lead to an AWFULLY awkward conversation with Timothy when the Broncos shipped him off to the New York Jets). I guess even the second coming is expendable when it comes to getting Peyton Manning under center for your team.
So the stage is set! Indianapolis, who are Manningless for the first time since drafting him in 1998, is looking for their new franchise QB, and The Colts are on the clock! Of course, two days ago, Indy's GM Ryan Grigson announced that The Colts would be taking Stanford QB Andrew Luck with the first overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, so the guessing game is kind of over, but FEAR NOT! I will continue to cover the remainder of the draft with fervor! I'm sure the second overall pick will be filled with plenty of suspense.....wait, what?...They've all ready confirmed who that will be, too? DAMN IT!!!
#1 INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: ANDREW LUCK
No surprise. Luck could have been drafted first overall LAST season, but he decided to stay at Stanford for an extra season. He's got a hard time ahead of him. He has to fill the shoes of, arguably, the greatest QB in football history. No pressure, kid! More importantly however, the first trade of the night happened. The Cleveland Browns gave up fourth, fifth and seventh round selections to swap places with the Minnesota Vikings. Could this mean that Bama RB Trent Richardson will be a Brown in twenty minutes?
#2 WASHINGTON REDSKINS: ROBERT GRIFFIN III
The lack of surprises just keep coming! The Redskins take Heisman Trophy winner Baylor's QB RG3. This kid is supposed to be the messiah in shoulder pads. I won't deny his talent. WOW he can throw a deep ball with some legitimate accuracy, but did the Redskins over reach? A second round pick this year and TWO first round picks in 2013 and 2014 for a 22 year old with a 4.4 40? Time will tell.
#3 Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson
The picks are coming in quick tonight. The Browns are in need of a better running game after last season's 95 yards a game (28th overall). The future seemed bright for Cleveland, but the Madden Curse claimed another victim when it rendered Peyton Hillis basically inert. Trent Richardson will be a great offensive weapon for Colt McCoy to use, but don't look for him to be that big of an impact in a division that sent THREE teams to the playoffs last season.
#4 Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil
After plenty of speculation on whether or not they would trade out of the four slot, the Vikings take the first offensive lineman of the draft. The Vikings took Christian Ponder as their first rounder last year, so this year, they've decided to take a left tackle to protect the blindside of their hopeful franchise QB.In other news, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars to drop out of the fifth pick. This draft is getting a little crazy.
#5 Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Blackmon
The Jags desperately need a passing game. They were last in the NFL in passing yards last season. They've decided to set Blaine Gabbert as their future. Now it's time to put weapons around him. Jacksonville hasn't has a viable receiving threat since Jimmy Smith retired in 2005, and at 6'1" 207lbs., Blackmon may be that threat. He lit up the Big XII as an OSU Cowboy where he won the Biletnikoff Award two years in a row.
Back to back picks where, last season, the team took a franchise QB, and this season they've taken important pieces to help those QB's with their maturation process. Always nice to see teams actually planning for the future.
#6 Dallas Cowboys: Morris Claibourne
I CAN'T DEAL WITH ALL THESE TRADES! St. Louis traded this pick to the Cowboys. Jeff Fischer, the Rams new head coach, is just stock piling picks like he's the Patriots. But Dallas did need to make a move in their defensive backfield. They were 23rd in the NFL in pass yards given up, and they are in a division with Eli Manning and now Robert Griffin III. The NFC East is about to be pass heavy, so the Boys are stocking up now.
#7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mark Barron
The first six picks were the players that everyone thought they were going to be, but not nearly to the teams they thought they were going to go to. Now that the "blue chippers" are off the board, things will start to get interesting (start to?). AND THEY DO! The Bucs take Alabama's safety Mark Barron. With an aging secondary down in Tampa Bay (old people in Florida...HA!), help is needed in the defensive backfield. The second Bama player and third SEC player taken in the first quarter of the round. The SEC still showing their dominance in the NFL Draft.
#8 Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill
Miami is a team that took part in the aforementioned Peytonpalooza. They missed their franchise QB in the offseason, so they are taking Tannehill now. This guy is just the scariest pick in the draft. He's had more starts at wide receiver than he has at quarterback. His upside is astronomical, but he's a guy that's only been playing under center for less than two years. Miami has such a hole at QB since Dan Marino retired. Can he be the golden ticket? Con: Tannehill has hardly any supporting cast on the field. Pro: Tannehill's coach at Texas A&M is now the Offensive Coordinator in Miami, so he's all ready got a pro style offense under his belt.
#9 Carolina Panthers: Luke Kuechly
With a fourth of the draft gone in less than an hour, the Panthers have taken Boston College's LB Luke Kuechly. He offers so much more than a linebacker. The kid is an athlete, and in a division with several great tight ends, that's important for match ups.
#10 Buffalo Bills: Stephon Gilmore
The run on defense continues. The third DB and the fourth defensive player taken in the last five. Having a good defense in the same division as the Patriots is key. The Bills did not have that last season. They were ranked in the bottom half of the league in points, rushing yards, passing yards and total yards given up on defense.
The picks have been relatively predictable, but the TRADES have been hectic. Expect several more. The average is seven in the first round. There will be more than that tonight. Much more.
#11 Kansas City Chiefs: Dontari Poe
The Chiefs take the nose tackle from Memphis to help bolster their defense that gave up 132 rushing yards per game. Poe, who bench pressed 225 pounds 44 times at the Combine, will be able to control the line with his freakish strength.
Remember that thing about trades? Yeah ANOTHER one happened. The Eagles have traded with the Seahawks. My fingers hurt. Almost as much as Tom Brady's pride at the end of Superbowl XLVI. Burn?
#12 Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox
The Eagles gave up fourth and a sixth round picks to Seattle to move up a few spaces to grab DT Fletcher Cox. The scouts are high up on him because of his speed, size and versatility. The SEC players continue to fly off the board. Five in the first dozen picks.
Apparently the theme song for the night is Machine Gun Kelly's Invincible. I'll take it. I also have the longest gap in between picks that I've had all night. PEE NOW! WHILE YOU CAN!
#13 Arizona Cardinals: Michael Floyd
The break is over! The Cards take a WR to set up shop on the other side of the field from Larry Fitzgerald. Fitz hasn't had a #2 since Anquan Boldin left for the Baltimore Ravens. Which is amazing because they are almost mirror images of each other. Boldin at 6'1" 223lbs. and Floyd at 6'3" 220lbs. This duo should reek havoc on the NFC West.
Also, for all you Supernatural fans out there, I just love that the spokesman for Pepsi Max is The Trickster.
#14 St. Louis Rams: Michael Brockers
The Rams FINALLY DRAFT SOMEONE!!!! After two trades which accrued them several more picks, the Rams went from 2nd to 14th. Jeff Fisher just LOVES his defensive line. He tends to have a stable of linemen on the sidelines so that he can switch them in and out every other down. The fresher that they are, the better they can rush the QB. This definitely won't be their last defensive pick of the draft, and it probably won't be their last defensive tackle taken over the course of the weekend.
#15 Seattle Seahawks: Bruce Irvin
After the first five picks being offensive players, only two people have popped up from the offensive side of the ball since. The Seahawks take Bruce Irvin from West Virginia. Wouldn't ya know it!? Pete Carroll takes a player with a questionable off field story. It's like USC all over again.
The giant story leading up to the draft was the comparison of Andrew Luck and RG3, however, the last hour has been dominated by defensive picks. The Jets are on the clock...we know they don't need a QB!!!
#16 New York Jets: Quinton Coples
The Jets defense was pretty stout last season (5th in total yards). The reason why the J-E-T-S wound up at 8-8 is because their offense was anemic (25th in total yards). They need offensive help. Easy, right? So what'd they do? Picked a defensive end. This team...is the Mets. Congrats. The Giants are the Yankees and the Jets are the Mets. SEE HOW CLOSE THAT IS!?! They now have two QBs and bad first round pick. J-E-T-S? Just End The Season.
#17 Cincinnati Bengals: Dre Kirkpatrick
The Bengals shipped Carson Palmer to the Oakland Raiders for a 6'2" cornerback. Size is an important thing that is popping up in the decisions for defensive backs. When you have WR's like Michael Floyd (6'3") and Justin Blackmon (6'1"), you're going to need a CB that can match up with that height.
#18 San Diego Chargers: Melvin Ingram
ANOTHER DEFENSIVE PLAYER! ANOTHER SEC PLAYER! DRINK! Wait...what? Did I just create a Draft drinking game? The Chargers had a great offense last season (however look for them to take some help at the RB and OL positions later in the draft), but their defense was middle of the road. Bolstering their defense in a division that now has Carson Palmer AND Peyton Manning? An SEC linebacker is usually a good choice.
#19 Chicago Bears: Shea McClellin
Da Bears! Ok. I'm done. I had to do it. Don't judge me. Shut up. They decided to take a defensive end in a division that is dominated by QBs Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford. With Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher, the Bears have decided to put pressure on the QB. If they are committed to Jay Cutler, they need to put some more offensive weapons around him later in the draft.
#20 Tennessee Titans: Kendall Wright
My Titans (yes, I'm a Titans fan) need to figure out if they want to be a good team or a bad team. The Colts were 1-15 last season. Ya know who that ONE was? The Titans. When we were in the middle of a playoff run, we lost to the worst team in the LEAGUE! We were the epitome of "middle of the road" last season, so both sides of the ball need help, and we are taking offense! He was the man that RG3 threw the deep ball to. Kenny Britt tore his ACL early in the year, and the passing game hurt for the rest of the season. The Titans have been trying desperately to have a #1 guy since Derrick Mason shot off to the Ravens years ago. If Britt can stay healthy, Wright will be a good #2 or #3.
#21 New England Patriots: Chandler Jones
ANOTHER TRADE! DRINK! The Pats make a trade with the Bengals to take a Defensive End
Roger Goddell moves to the podium too quickly for me to make a joke about how badly I hate Tom Brady.
I hate Tom Brady.
#22 Cleveland Browns: Brandon Weedon
WHOA! Browns taking a QB after taking Colt McCoy in 2010, Cleveland is showing that they don't really have a lot of faith in the man for Texas. They take the fourth QB in the draft to create a nice competition with Colt over the summer and preseason. Mike Holmgren isn't known for taking QB's in the first round. QB controversy in NYJ. QB controversy in Cleveland. QB controversy in Miami. You get a QB controversy! You get a QB controversy! EVERYBODY GETS A QB CONTROVERSY!!!
#23 Detroit Lions: Riley Reiff
Calvin "Megatron" Johnson moseys to the podium to announce the 23rd overall selection due to his status as the Madden 13 cover athlete. Good choice for a team that has a franchise QB that has a history of getting injured. PROTECT THE FUTURE!!! And the future for Jim Schwartz and the Lions is bright.
Also...how awesome of a nickname is Megatron?
#24 Pittsburgh Steelers: David DeCastro
The Steelers decide to take an offensive lineman. Well...two in a row. You've got to protect the QB, but with Ben Roethlisberger, you need to protect people from him. Especially female fans. Too soon?
#25 New England Patriots: Dont'a Hightower
ANOTHER TRADE! DRINK! The Patriots manage to screw up my live updates again by being overachievers and making their selection in 3.5 seconds. I hate the Patriots. They take the fourth member of 2012 National Champion Alabama team. That means ANOTHER SEC PLAYER! DRINK! You'd think with all the dropped balls in the Superbowl, they'd take some WR's.
#26 Houston Texans: Whitney Mercilus
The Texans were a team that I said were on the brink for years. They picked defense FOR SOME REASON (they were in the top 5 in all the important defensive categories). This is a team that needs more help on offense. Once Andre Johnson went down with an injury, they needed a bit of help in the passing game so that Arian Foster didn't have to kill himself. But I will say this, Whitney Mercilus (pronounced Merciless)....For a defensive player? best. last name. ever.
#27 Cincinnati Bengals: Kevin Zeitler
After making a trade with the Patriots, the Bengals decide to take an offensive lineman to protect their new QB Andy "The Red Rifle" Dalton. And if there is anything that needs protection in this country, it's a ginger that's trying to be athletic.
#28 Green Bay Packers: Nick Perry
Wow. Twenty-eight picks before we hit a guy from USC. Remember when they had THREE wide receivers go in the first round? My, how the Trojans have fallen. GET IT!?!?! It's an Iliad joke. You don't really get a chance to make many Iliad jokes, so you have to take them while you can.
#29 Minnesota Vikings: Harrison Smith
ANOTHER TRADE! DRINK! The Vikes make a move out of the second round to pick up their second pick of the round. Harrison Smith gives them a good defensive back to take care of the passing game of the Lions and Packers. The NFC North seems to be bolstering their pass defenses. Wise choice. For all of the NFC really.
The NFC has always been the more pass happy conference while the AFC seems to be more run friendly. The last two 2000 yard rushers came out of the AFC (Jamal Lewis and Chris Johnson). Whereas Drew Brees just broke Dan Marino's record for passing yards.
#30 San Francisco 49ers: A.J. Jenkins
The Niners were ANOTHER team that went after Peyton Manning, even though they have a franchise QB in Alex Smith. So what's the best way to suck up to your QB that you betrayed in the off season? Give him another weapon other than Vernon Davis. But with Mario Manningham, Ted Ginn Jr., Michael Crabtree AND Randy Moss...how many WR's do you need?
#31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Doug Martin
ANOTHER TRADE! DRINK! The Bucs move up out of the second round for their second pick of the round. The Broncos and Ravens both traded out of the round to collect more picks in later rounds, which is something that the Broncos are going to desperately need. The Bucs take a running back since their rushing game was horrid last season at 91 yards a game. Tampa Bay, just like Minnesota, take an offensive and defensive pick in the first round.
#32 New York Giants: David Wilson
IT'S TIME! The final pick is in! The champions of the world decide to get some help in the running game. The Giants were good last season but this addition to their backfield will be great for them. It's going to be another one of those running back committee situations that the Giants have utilized over the last few years.
This has probably been the most complicated thing that I've ever written for this site (but seeing as I've only written three articles, I don't really have much competition). It was, however, and extremely fun process for me. It was a strange kinda draft. Sixteen of the thirty-two picks (that's HALF for you Mathletes) changed hands at least once. A lot of your big skill position players dominated the stories leading into the draft, but you're more "mundane" positions lorded over the first round. Defense edges out offense 17-15 for the most picks for their side of the ball. The picks were quite safe, but the trades made the night interesting. Three hours. The shortest first round in draft history. I appreciate what the NFL is doing by putting their show in primetime, but I miss the days when I could start drinking at noon and watch the draft ALL DAY. Nothing says fun like day drinking.
And on that note...Thanks for sticking with me, and those are the picks as you...and we...have seen them. Good night.