With the 2012 NFL Draft, as with every draft before, every team and their fans believe that now is the time that my team will get better.
Teams rating players on everything from game tape to interviews, combine scores to intangibles. Teams make trades to put themselves in the best position to win, and did they ever.
With the Washington Redskins trading three first round picks to St. Louis months ago to ensure drafting Robert Griffin III, the trading mill started up early and didn’t stop. Before the draft, Cleveland moved up from fourth to third to take their man, running back Trent Richardson.
In a draft that was expected to be chaos because of trades, the first four picks went in order. The Colts selected Andrew Luck, quarterback from Stanford, with the number one overall pick. The Redskins soon followed selecting Robert Griffin III from Baylor with the second pick.
The Browns, after moving up to three, selected Richardson from Alabama. Then Minnesota, who traded down to four, picked offensive tackle Matt Kalil.
Then the trades began.
Dallas traded up from 14 to six to pick up Morris Claibourne, the top cornerback in the draft. Dallas has been desperate for corner help on defense.
Philadelphia, not to be outdone by a division rival, traded up to 12 to take defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, one of the best defensive linemen in the draft.
New England, who is notorious for compiling draft picks, finally used them. They traded up twice with their first pick at 21 with the Bengals to take defensive end Chandler Jones, then traded to 25 to take Dont’a Hightower, an inside linebacker, shoring up their defense which struggled last year.
In total, 16 first round picks were traded this year, which is the NFL record for trades in the first round.
The Cleveland Browns had an interesting draft this year. The team had many holes, and missed out on certain key free agents such as wide receiver Pierre Garcon. The Browns also tried to move up for Griffin, but similar to Garcon, Washington outbid them.
The Browns used 11 picks in this year’s draft, with two first round picks.
With the number three overall, they picked Richardson, who is a tailback believed by many to be a feature back in the league, being able to play inside and outside the tackles, receiving and blocking.
He will take pressure of the Brown’s woeful passing offense and quarterbacks Colt McCoy and Brandon Weeden, the Browns 22nd overall pick.
Weeden, the 28-year old quarterback from Oklahoma State, shows accuracy and the ability to throw the deep ball, something Cleveland has lacked for years.
In the second round, the Browns shored up the right side of the line with Mitchell Schwartz, offensive tackle from California. Despite lacking quality receivers, the Browns didn’t target any receivers until the fourth round with Travis Benjamin from Miami (FL.)
Following a season where the Cincinnati Bengals were expected to fair, yet made the playoffs, the team had a few holes left to fill to solidify the team.
In the first round, they picked up cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick from Alabama. Kirkpatrick was instrumental in Alabama’s national title run and will greatly help the Bengals in the AFC North.
Kevin Zeitler, the Bengals second first round pick from Wisconsin, is an excellent blocker who will help the Bengals run the ball and protect quarterback Andy Dalton.
In the second round, the Bengals went defense, drafting defensive tackle Devon Still from Penn State. Still will join the defensive line rotation and will improve the Bengals run defense and shows surprising pass rushing ability from a tackle.
The Steelers Achilles heel the past few years has been the ability to protect Big Ben. With the team’s first and second pick, Pittsburgh picked offensive linemen.
Offensive guard David DeCastro from Stanford was the team’s first round pick at 24. This is a steal for the Steelers as DeCastro was projected to go at 11, and at 24, the Steelers needed to take an impact lineman like him.
In the second round, the Steelers drafted Ohio State tackle Mike Adams. Adams, a top ten talent, fell on many boards for off the field issues, including failing a drug test at the combine. However, Adams talent makes this pick worth the risk. The Steelers have great veteran leadership that will keep him in his place.
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