Stream of Consciousness - 2012 NFL Draft

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Apr 26, 2012


Off-the-cuff notes and analysis of the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

Stream-of-Consciousness

2012 NFL Draft

E-mail Pete Fiutak
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Welcome again to my pretentious, goofy and self-serving stream-of-consciousness thoughts and notes on the big games, the broadcasts, the ads and the teams for the attention deficit disordered. E-mail me with your own thoughts and notes and what you'd like to see. 

- Kobe going for the NBA scoring title; two NHL Game 7s; the NFL draft. It’s going to be a fun night.

- After drafting Pujols ahead of Kemp, I need a good sports night.

- Fine, I’ll be the one that says it – Robert Griffin isn’t a safe pick and Andrew Luck is by far – BY FAR – the better pro prospect. More to the point, RGIII doesn’t really fit what Mike Shanahan likes to do with his offense. There’s no questioning Griffin’s smarts, drive, or attitude, and he’ll work himself into being a good player, but he’s a downfield bomber whose stats were bulked up because 1) the Art Briles offense overinflates quarterback numbers and 2) the defense was so bad that he had to keep throwing. When he threw he had open receivers running in space. Throw in the durability issue – he’s not built like Cam Newton and can’t take a pounding in the pocket – and no, he’s not slam-dunk pro.

- Deion Sanders is my favorite football player of all-time. Michael Irvin was one of my favorite wide receivers to watch both in Miami and Dallas. I wish they were better analysts.

- Why would Cleveland give up anything to get to the three? Minnesota must have sold the Browns that Tampa Bay was looking to move up to get Trent Richardson.

- Love Matt Kalil at the three. Love him even more at the four.

- When are teams going to learn? The odds are that the fourth, fifth, and seventh round picks Minnesota got to move down aren’t going to pan out – the seventh pick is particularly worthless. That’s not enough to move from the three to the four if Cleveland really wanted Richardson.

- I love going on the NFL Network, and I don’t like going elsewhere, but 61% of the fun of the draft is the train wreck that is the ESPN presentation.

- Thank you, Melissa Stark, for spending half of the afternoon on my TV.

- Other than Mel Kiper.

- Richardson is saying all the right things, but being from Florida, he'll soon be ticked to be living in Cleveland over Tampa Bay.

- The PA announcer at the draft sounds like Principal Skinner. “Don’t forget to purchase some orange drink for the long right home.”

- RGIII … Claude Henry Smoot called. He wants his suit back.

- If the recent statistics hold up, 80% of the top prospects on stage have more money in their pockets right now than they will in five years.

- Awesome Katy Perry remix in the Rose/Beckham Addidas ad.

- How can ESPN not have Mel Kiper and Bill Polian at the same table giving analysis at the same time? - If the NFL doesn't work out for Ryan Tannehill he'll be a lock for a supporting role in Jarhead II.

The Mommy, that man is scaring me "ARE YOU READY FOR THE DRAFT, WE ARE!!!" from Chris Berman will live for 1,000 years in talk radio sound drops.

- I’ll be the one to say it. Ray Lewis is sort of silly.

Indianapolis - QB Andrew Luck, Stanford (Jr.) 6-4, 234
Overall Pick No. 1 CFN Overall Ranking: 1
CFN Analysis: Of course this is the right pick. Luck would’ve been the first overall pick in each of the last two drafts, and despite Indianapolis pretending to be interested in RGIII, this is the obvious, no-brainer, once-in-a-generation pick. Fortunately for the Colts, it’s a new generation after the Peyton Manning era. Unlike Cam Newton of last year, there’s no guesswork here. It’ll take a year or two for Luck to start looking like a franchise star – unlike Newton – but once the team starts to fill in around him. He’ll hold up well under the pressure of doing the impossible and filling Manning’s shoes and he’ll handle the rookie disappointments and struggles without a problem.

- Luck would’ve gone No. 1 overall last year. Would Indy trade Luck for Cam Newton right now?

- “We’re going to be commercial free for the next hour thanks to (sponsor), (sponsor), and (sponsor).”

Washington - QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor (Jr.) 6-2, 223
Overall Pick No. 2 CFN Overall Ranking: 4
CFN Analysis: And here starts the ride. RGIII has more question marks than it might appear, and he’s not the sure thing everyone is making him out to be, but he sure will be a fun player for the Redskins to work around. For a franchise that needs a new star and someone to be the main man, there couldn’t be a better spokesman. However, he has to make a major transition from the spread offense to what Washington is going to want to do, and now the pressure is on. Considering what the Redskins gave up, he has to win a Super Bowl or the pick doesn’t work.

- Jon Gruden is doing everything to say that RGIII won't fit the Washington offense without saying RGIII won't fit the Washington offense.

- If you have to try to figure out how a quarterback is going to work out at this point, it's probably not going to work.

- And now the fun begins.

Cleveland (from Minnesota) - RB Trent Richardson, Alabama (Jr.) 5-9, 228
Overall Pick No. 3 CFN Overall Ranking: 6
CFN Analysis: Cleveland wanted its guy and it moved up to get him. At the No. 3 pick he needs to become a feature workhorse back who becomes another LaDainian Tomlinson or Adrian Peterson. Can he last? Can he be a 25-carry, 16-game back? Unless the Browns have plans at some point to address the quarterback situation, he had better be the prepared to be the entire offense right away. On the plus side, though, the Browns didn’t give up all that much to move up one spot, giving Minnesota a 4th, 5th, and 7th.

Minnesota (from Cleveland) - OT Matt Kalil, USC (Jr.) 6-7, 306
Overall Pick No. 4 CFN Overall Ranking: 3
CFN Analysis: Minnesota moved down one spot and got its man. Kalil is a left tackle who can sit on the line for the next ten years. Yes, of course you take the starting left tackle over the top corner or wide receiver, and Kalil is the rare athlete and talent who can be a fixture. If you believe Christian Ponder is the main man to carry the franchise forward, then you need to protect him. Kalil has almost no down side and should turn out to be one of the locks among the top five picks.

Jacksonville (from Tampa Bay) - WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State (Jr.) 6-1, 207
Overall Pick No. 5 CFN Overall Ranking: 15
CFN Analysis: Alright, Jacksonville; you gave Blaine Gabbert his target. The team desperately needed a No. 1 wide receiver, but Blackmon is no sure thing to be a superstar who can carry a receiving corps all by himself. He might turn out to be a stronger piece to the puzzle rather than a main man, but this was a must pick for a team that has to come up with playmakers. St. Louis has to be really, really ticked off by the Jaguars’ hustle.

Dallas (from St. Louis) - CB Morris Claiborne, LSU (Jr.) 5-11, 188
Overall Pick No. 6 CFN Overall Ranking: 9
CFN Analysis: Dallas saw Claiborne still on the table and moved up to grab the best corner in the draft. Considering the LSU star was on the table for Minnesota at the three, the six is good value for a need pick. The Cowboys love top defensive backs and they love playmakers, and while he’s not going to be another Deion Sanders, he could be the team’s best corner since Prime was taking away one side of the field. He’s going to erase one side of the field and there will be a ton of second-guessing in Tampa Bay if he turns out to be special.

Tampa Bay (from Jacksonville) - S Mark Barron S Mark Barron, Alabama (SS) 6-1, 213
Overall Pick No. 7 CFN Overall Ranking: 13
CFN Analysis: Everyone wanted Mark Barron. Dallas wanted him, but wasn’t going to pay the high price to take him. Name the team and it wanted the best safety in the draft. Not only is Barron the best safety, he’s the best safety prospect by a ten-mile wide margin. The Tampa Bay defense needed a defensive back, and while Morris Claiborne was there for the taking have the Bucs stayed put, Barron is a good value pick at a position that doesn’t value safeties all that high.

Miami - QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M 6-4, 221
Overall Pick No. 8 CFN Overall Ranking: 28
CFN Analysis: Everyone wants to dog the pick and everyone wants to worry about what Tannehill isn’t. Yes, the No. 8 pick is a big reach, and yes, he needs at least a year or two of seasoning, but almost every rookie quarterback needs a year or two. He’s not going to be Andy Dalton out of the box, but there’s tremendous upside if Miami is patient enough expect him to start paying off in 2014. The Dolphins desperately need to finally solidify its quarterback situation, and instead of rolling the dice on the 2013 class, they’re going to be a year ahead of schedule in the development. At least that’s the hope.

Carolina - ILB Luke Kuechly, Boston College (Jr.) 6-3, 242
Overall Pick No. 9 CFN Overall Ranking: 5
CFN Analysis: Carolina has its quarterback for the defense for the next several years. A rock in the middle, he’s great pick. However, the Panthers needed to find a defensive tackle and passed over Dontari Poe and Fletcher Cox for a linebacker who can do just as much for the run defense, but now the Panthers have to address the D line and the corner situation next. There’s no arguing, though, with a player who’ll be one of the top five tacklers in the league right away.

Buffalo - CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina 6-1, 190
Overall Pick No. 10 CFN Overall Ranking: 61
CFN Analysis: The Bills are loading up on defense. The line is emerging as one of the best in the AFC, and now it’s time to beef up a secondary that needed a corner. The tools are all there, and he was projected to go by many in the top 15, but with so many offensive tackles on the board the Bills could be questioned if they don’t help the offensive line soon. This isn’t a reach, but he had better be phenomenal to be worth the pick.

Kansas City - DT Dontari Poe, Memphis (Jr.) 6-3, 346
Overall Pick No. 11 CFN Overall Ranking: 7
CFN Analysis: This is the chance at greatness. Call this a chance worth taking; if he busts, there’s no blaming the Chiefs for taking a shot at the stars. When a player this big, this strong, this athletic, and with this much upside is on the table at the No. 11, you have to go with him. Great defensive tackles are worth their weight in gold, and if Poe can bring it and if he can be consistent, the potential is there to be a ten-year anchor at a high level.

Philadelphia (from Seattle) DT Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State (Jr.) 6-4, 298
Overall Pick No. 12 CFN Overall Ranking: 8
CFN Analysis: Few players shot up the draft board faster. Cox was one of the highest risers the more teams started to examine the back half of last year. Very athletic and very strong, he can fit a variety of roles for an Eagle defense that really, really needed help on the defensive front. Philly could’ve stayed put and gotten a strong defensive tackle, but it made the move to get its guy.

Arizona - WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame 6-3, 220
Overall Pick No. 13 CFN Overall Ranking: 17
CFN Analysis: Is Larry Fitzgerald the general manager? He wanted more offensive weapons to take the heat off, and he got one in Floyd who’s in the perfect position. He’s a No. 1-caliber wide receiver who doesn’t have to be No. 1. All he has to do is handle single coverage and go get the ball when it’s thrown in his general direction. Arizona might have wanted Fletcher Cox, but this is hardly a bad consolation prize.

St. Louis (from Dallas) - DT Michael Brockers, LSU (Soph.) 6-5, 302
Overall Pick No. 14 CFN Overall Ranking: 23
CFN Analysis: How badly did St. Louis get pantsed by not getting Justin Blackmon or Michael Floyd? The Rams traded their way into the abyss and didn’t get a desperately needed wide receiver and didn’t target another huge need, offensive tackle. Brockers is a big-time prospect with tremendous upside, but he’s hardly a finished product and needs to grow into a pass rusher. This is a huge boom or bust pick that could be a disaster considering what the Rams needed to do in the first round.

Seattle (from Philadelphia) - OLB Bruce Irvin, West Virginia 6-3, 245
Overall Pick No. 15 CFN Overall Ranking: 66
CFN Analysis: Uhhhhh, huh? Over Melvin Ingram? With the 15? Irvin is a nice prospect and he’s a good player, but he’s not worth a top 15 pick. Seattle probably could’ve traded down – way, WAY down – and now the second guessing will begin. The Seahawks needed a hybrid pass rusher, and they got him. But they paid an extremely steep price to do it.

New York Jets - DE Quinton Coples, North Carolina 6-6 284
Overall Pick No. 16 CFN Overall Ranking: 10
CFN Analysis: If there’s one team that’s perfect for Coples to play for, the Jets might be the right fit. All he needs is to get his butt kicked and be coached up right, and he’ll get that with Rex Ryan and his staff. All he’ll be asked to do is attack, attack, attack, and the Jets will get that out of him. The upside is tremendous – he has top five overall talent – and this is a good spot to take the chance. A bust at 16 isn’t the end of the world; a bust at the five is a killer.

Cincinnati - CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama (Jr.) 6-2, 186
Overall Pick No. 17 CFN Overall Ranking: 37
CFN Analysis: This is just so … so … Cincinnati. There’s a world of talent, but there are also plenty of big issues and concerns with his off-the-field attitude and demeanor. Can he handle the responsibility of what he’ll be asked to do? He HAS to be a key starter right away for a Bengal secondary that needs help right away, and if he can mature a bit and if he can take on the challenge, this will fill a big need.

San Diego - DE Melvin Ingram, South Carolina (OLB) 6-2, 265
Overall Pick No. 18 CFN Overall Ranking: 11
CFN Analysis: Perfect. After misfiring on Larry English, the Chargers have been looking for a Merriman-like pass rusher to fill the void on the outside. A terrific value pick for a defender with top ten overall talent, he’s a disruptive force and a pass rusher who makes big things happen. With his bulk, size, and athleticism it’s all there to be a special playmaker who’ll go to the right team at a great time. This is a phenomenal value pick.

Chicago - DE Shea McClellin, Boise State6-3, 260
Overall Pick No. 19 CFN Overall Ranking: 113

CFN Analysis: Ugh. He was one of the highest-rising prospects over the last few days, he’s a pass rusher for a defensive front that’s getting old in a hurry at linebacker and needs more defensive end help to go along with Julius Peppers. The Bears needed defensive linemen and didn’t go for a tackle, and they need another receiver and didn’t go after Kendall Wright, and not the pressure is on new GM Phil Emery to have nailed this pick. There’s talent and potential, but it’s still a bit of a reach.

Tennessee - WR Kendall Wright, Baylor 5-10, 196
Overall Pick No. 20 CFN Overall Ranking: 48
CFN Analysis: The offense needs playmakers to help out Jake Locker, and Wright showed enough during his pro day to work into the first round. However, is the Combine speed more indicative of his upside and talent? He looked great on the field in an offense that jacks up the stats, but while he might not be a No. 1 target he should be a nice piece of the puzzle. You don’t go for nice pieces of the puzzle at the 20.

New England (from Cincinnati) - DE Chandler Jones, Syracuse (Jr.) 6-5, 266
Overall Pick No. 21 CFN Overall Ranking: 114
CFN Analysis: The Patriots really, really need pass rushers, and while Jones might be a top all-around talent. There might concerns about his knee and he might be more of a project than a polished prospect coming out of the box, but he’ll be asked to get into the backfield right away for the Patriots at a spot where he can claim a starting job from Day One.

Cleveland - QB Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State 6-4, 221
Overall Pick No. 22 CFN Overall Ranking: 54
CFN Analysis: He’ll be a sitting duck in the pocket and he has to start NOW for the pick to work, but Cleveland has its backfield and has upgraded its offense in a huge, huge way with Trent Richardson at the three and now with Weeden. The Browns needed big-time players to try to create more of an identity, and now they have one. No, there’s no quarterback controversy. Weeden needs to be the starter from the second the wheels touch down.

Detroit - OT Riley Reiff, Iowa (Jr.) 6-6, 313
Overall Pick No. 23 CFN Overall Ranking: 14
CFN Analysis: Nice, NICE pick considering in late March he was considered by some to be a possibility at the three to Minnesota. He might need a little while to pan out at left tackle, but he’ll be a right tackle immediately and should be a fixture for a long time. The Lions need help in the secondary and the really, really need a running back, but there’s no arguing with getting a potential franchise tackle in the 20s.

Pittsburgh - OG David DeCastro, Stanford (Jr.) 6-5, 316
Overall Pick No. 24 CFN Overall Ranking: 2
CFN Analysis: This is why the Pittsburgh Steelers are the Pittsburgh Steelers. The offensive line fell off the map last year with Ben Roethlisberger getting whacked around, so what does Pittsburgh do? It gets the sure-thing guard to plug-and-play from Day One. DeCastro is the perfect fit for the perfect team for him, and when all is said and done, this could go down as the best value pick of the draft.

New England (from Denver) ILB Dont’a Hightower, Alabama (Jr.) 6-2, 265
Overall Pick No. 25 CFN Overall Ranking: 25
CFN Analysis: He’s the type of player who seems to do very, very big things for New England. He doesn’t really fit anything the Patriots do on defense, that finding ways to use talent has never been a problem for Bill Belichick. Considering the defense needed a defensive end and an outside linebacker coming into the draft, it’s coming out of the first round with both grabbing Chandler Jones and now Hightower. This should be an instant upgrade for a defense that needed just a slight tweaking.

Houston - DE Whitney Mercilus, Illinois (Jr.) 6-3, 254
Overall Pick No. 26 CFN Overall Ranking: 19
CFN Analysis: The Texans might have lost Mario Williams, and now Mercilus could be a terror working on the other side of J.J. Watt. The defense has its bookend pass rushers, and while he might need to do more against the run, and while he might be nothing more than a pure pass rusher right away, there’s outstanding potential. Houston has other needs, but there’s no complaining considering the sudden concerns on the defensive front.

Cincinnati (from New Orleans from New England) - OG Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin 6-4, 314
Overall Pick No. 27 CFN Overall Ranking: 40
CFN Analysis: It’s a slightly strange pick. Cincinnati needs guards, but it also needs wide receiver help and could use a defensive end. Even so, Zeitler is a solid prospect who has low bust potential. The value might not be great, but he’ll be a mainstay on a line that needs an upgrade to help protect Andy Dalton. Infrastructure is never boring.

Green Bay - DE Nick Perry, USC (Jr.) 6-3, 271
Overall Pick No. 28 CFN Overall Ranking: 22
CFN Analysis: Perfect. The Packers needed more defensive help and really needed more pass rushing help for Clay Matthews. There are concerns and he has to prove he can bring it game-in and game-out, but there’s a world of upside with the potential to dominate with so much attention paid to Matthews on the other side. It was a little bit of a surprise that the Packers didn’t go for more of a hybrid outside linebacker, but there’s no arguing with the idea of improving the line.

Minnesota (from Baltimore) - S Harrison Smith, Notre Dame (SS/FS) 6-2, 213
Overall Pick No. 29 CFN Overall Ranking: 33
CFN Analysis: In a disastrous draft for safeties, Smith is a value pick. No, he might not be the 29th best player in the draft, but considering the Vikings need more help just about everywhere, getting one of the few good safeties is fine. However, considering Alshon Jeffery was still on the board, and receiver is a must at some point, there will be some major second-guessing if Smith isn’t great. 

San Francisco - WR A.J. Jenkins, Illinois 6-0, 190
Overall Pick No. 30 CFN Overall Ranking: 109
CFN Analysis: How’s that Michael Crabtree pick working out? The former sure-thing star prospect has been okay, not great, and the Niners need more firepower. There were inklings that Jenkins was rising up draft boards in a hurry, and now Alex Smith has another option to stretch the field and add more pop to an attack that couldn’t match the production of its great defense. However, considering guard is a must, the Niners have to be ticked Minnesota moved up to grab Kevin Zeitler.

Tampa Bay (from New England from Denver) - RB Doug Martin, Boise State 5-9, 219
Overall Pick No. 31 CFN Overall Ranking: 29
CFN Analysis: Let the debate and analysis begin. Instead of making a big move to get Trent Richardson and missing out on the running back the team needs early on, Tampa Bay got one of the top running backs late for a much, much cheaper price. However, does Martin compliment LeGarrette Blount? The offense could use more speed to go with Blount’s thump, while Martin is more of a do-it-all back.

New York Giants - RB David Wilson, Virginia Tech (Jr.) 5-10, 206
Overall Pick No. 32 CFN Overall Ranking: 38
CFN Analysis: The Giants struggled running the ball last year, and now they have a weapon. Wilson isn’t built to be a workhorse, but he’s a flash of lightning who could fit in perfectly for what the offense needs him to do. He’ll be used 10-to-15 times early on in a rotation and should be very, very productive when he gets his chances. Considering offensive line and defensive line are both areas that could use some boosting, this was a luxury pick. However, it’s a luxury pick that should work.