Posted: Thu February 7, 2013 4:26PM; Updated: Thu February 7, 2013 4:36PM
Don Banks

Taking a second look at 2012 NFL Draft's first round

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Russell Wilson, originally picked 75th overall, shocked most NFL observers with his rookie season.
Russell Wilson, originally picked 75th overall, shocked most NFL observers with his rookie season.
Matt Slocum/AP

With the Super Bowl in the books, we can now stand clear enough to view the NFL's 2012 season through the prism of history, all 267 games worth (256 in the regular season and 11 in the playoffs). Before looking ahead to 2013, let's look back one last time at last April's NFL draft, this time with the advantage that only hindsight can offer.

Time for our annual redraft of the first round, and as always, it's an attempt to use what we know now to best determine what should have unfolded then. Rookie season production naturally carries more weight than mere projection or potential in this exercise, although we have our limits (no first-round kickers were selected, regardless of how valuable Blair Walsh, Greg Zuerlein and Justin Tucker proved to be. And fine rookie work, Kirk Cousins, but you're still not first-round material).

We didn't change picks just for the sake of change, which is why the very top portion of the round looks pretty similar. We don't fix what wasn't broken. But we did try to match teams with players who would have come in very handy due to the particular circumstances of 2012. And keep in mind we kept the first-round draft order just as it came off the board, trades and all. Why complicate things more than we have to?

As always, your results may vary....

1Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts (Original Pick: Andrew Luck, QB)
Re-do Pick: Andrew Luck, QB. In their wildest dreams, the Colts didn't imagine they'd get an 11-win season, a playoff trip and a four-month magic carpet ride out of Luck's rookie season. Whatever happened to taking your first-year lumps? Indy wasn't just Luck-y, it was good. I concur with Alec Baldwin. About the only thing that was ugly about Luck's first year in the league was that late-season neck beard.
2Washington Redskins
Washington Redskins (Original Pick: Robert Griffin III, QB)
Re-do Pick: Robert Griffin III, QB. In this, the year of the rookie quarterback in the NFL, no one was more electrifying, charismatic and hope-inspiring than Griffin, whose exploits in the Redskins' read-option offense made for must-see football whenever he had the ball in his hands. We can only hope the late-season/playoff knee injury suffered by the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year doesn't wind up turning his 2012 into a bittersweet memory in time.
3Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns (Original Pick: Trent Richardson, RB)
Re-do Pick: Russell Wilson, QB. A no-brainer for the perennially quarterback-needy Browns. At least with Luck and Griffin, great expectations came with the draft slot. Not so with Wilson. He sat and watched 74 other players have their names called before he heard his in the third round. Like the other two quarterbacks taken before him, Wilson led his team to the playoffs and left no doubt as to his readiness to become the face of the franchise. The Browns sure didn't turn a corner by taking a first-round running back, no matter how stout the Richardson pick might look in the future.
4Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings (Original Pick: Matt Kalil, OT)
Re-do Pick: Matt Kalil, OT. Kalil was everything the Vikings could have hoped for at left tackle, and even belatedly made the Pro Bowl as a replacement for the sent-home Trent Williams of Washington. With Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson winning the league MVP with a 2,096-yard rushing season, quarterback Christian Ponder's improved play due to better protection and the upstart Vikings being a surprise NFC playoff team, how can anyone quibble with the pick of Kalil? We can't.
5Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars (Original Pick: Justin Blackmon, WR)
Re-do Pick: Ryan Tannehill, QB. Blackmon had some first-year impact as the season unfolded, but this just in: Without a quality quarterback, big-play receivers don't make too many big plays. All I know is one NFL team in Florida used a top 10 pick to address its need at quarterback last season and feels pretty good about the position going forward. And one didn't, and doesn't. Taking first-round quarterbacks in back-to-back years as Jacksonville would have had to do with Blaine Gabbert and Tannehill isn't likely, I know. But it's also not completely out of the question any more with the rookie wage scale. And yes, you can consider this my official vote of no confidence in Gabbert.
6Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys (Original Pick: Morris Claiborne, CB)
Re-do Pick: Janoris Jenkins, CB. I'm not trashing the Claiborne pick in any way. He had a decent rookie season and showed flashes of the talent that made him the first cornerback taken last spring, and his year-two development might be significant. But Jenkins was one of the rookie defensive play-making stars of the season, and we all understood that he went in the second round due to character concerns. Jenkins had a league-rookie-record tying four return touchdowns, and the Rams had to love the payoff from the gamble they took.
7Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Original Pick: Mark Barron, S)
Re-do Pick: Doug Martin, RB. Martin was one of the league's rookie sensations this season, and his 1,926 yards from scrimmage ranked third in the NFL and earned him a Pro Bowl trip as a replacement for the Super Bowl-bound Frank Gore. Martin was a game-breaking threat, and Tampa Bay rookie head coach Greg Schiano rode him heavily as the Bucs got off to a strong 6-4 start. Washington rookie running back Alfred Morris out-rushed Martin 1,613 yards to 1,454 yards, but Martin also chipped in with 472 yards receiving and a touchdown, giving him 12 touchdowns overall.
8Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins (Original Pick: Ryan Tannehill, QB)
Re-do Pick: Luke Kuechly, LB. With no top-10-worthy quarterbacks left to select, the Dolphins would gladly scoop up the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year, who turned into a tackling machine for the Panthers in 2012. Kuechly started the year at outside linebacker and then moved to the middle to replace Jon Beason. Miami would find a role for Kuechly, and the threesome of Karlos Dansby and Koa Misi would make any Dolphins fan happy.
9Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers (Original Pick: Luke Kuechly, LB)
Re-do Pick: Bobby Wagner, LB. Having just missed out on Kuechly, Carolina could rebound by taking Wagner, who vastly out-performed his second-round draft spot in Seattle. Wagner led the Seahawks in tackles in both the regular season and the playoffs, and he could slide right into the middle linebacker slot that Kuechly manned so capably this season in Charlotte.
10Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills (Original Pick: Stephon Gilmore, CB)
Re-do Pick: Morris Claiborne, CB. I was one of many who thought Gilmore would be the best rookie cornerback in the league this season, but that was not the case. The Bills defense overall was perhaps the NFL's most underachieving unit, and while Gilmore remains a first-round talent, he had an uneven rookie season. I'd give Claiborne the edge based on his early work in Dallas, but neither player lived up to their top-10 spot as rookies.
11Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs (Original Pick: Dontari Poe, DT)
Re-do Pick: Fletcher Cox, DT. Clearly the Chiefs of 2012 were desperate for even average quarterbacking, but there are no first-round passers that make sense on this board. With Poe contributing little as a rookie nose tackle, we'll giving Kansas City Fletcher Cox, a versatile talent who can play both defensive tackle and 3-4 end, and whose 5.5 sacks with the Eagles was one of their few defensive bright spots.
12Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles (Original Pick: Fletcher Cox, DT)
Re-do Pick: Lavonte David, LB. The Eagles need play-makers in their defensive front seven, and David proved to be a second-round find for Tampa Bay. His 139 tackles led the Bucs, and he had 19 tackles for loss, with two sacks, one interception and five passes defensed. Taken 12 spots after Cal outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks by the Eagles in the second round, David out-performed Kendricks on the weak side.
13Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals (Original Pick: Michael Floyd, WR)
Re-do Pick: Alfred Morris, RB. The disaster at quarterback wrecked Arizona's season and got both head coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves fired. But it wasn't the only problem the Cardinals faced. Arizona had no one rush for even 400 yards, so Morris, a sixth-round pick who surprisingly won the starting job in Washington, is an easy choice. With 1,613 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns, Morris hit bigger than any long-shot draft pick in the NFL in 2012.
14St. Louis Rams
St. Louis Rams (Original Pick: Michael Brockers, DT)
Re-do Pick: Trent Richardson, RB. Brockers had a quality first season in St. Louis, and the value at defensive line is greater than it is at running back these days. But I'm still giving Richardson to the Rams based on the need to find a replacement for Steven Jackson, who might not be back in 2013. You can find quality running backs much lower, of course, but Richardson has a chance to be special and could be the answer in the Rams backfield for another six or seven years.
15Seattle Seahawks
Seattle Seahawks (Original Pick: Bruce Irvin, DE/LB)
Re-do Pick: Bruce Irvin, DE/LB. Not a bad draft in Seattle this season. The Seahawks' top three picks -- Irvin, Wagner and Wilson -- all go in our top 15 do-over. That will work most any year for Seattle general manager John Schneider and his personnel department.
16New York Jets
New York Jets (Original Pick: Quinton Coples, DE/LB)
Re-do Pick: Casey Hayward, CB. My thinking here is that while Coples showed some potential (5.5 sacks in limited action), he looked a little miscast as a 5-technique defensive end. Plus, once the Jets lost all-world cornerback Darrelle Revis, the season started to unravel. Hayward had an impact season in Green Bay, with the second-round pick leading all rookies with six interceptions.
17Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals (Original Pick: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB)
Re-do Pick: Justin Blackmon, WR. Bengals third-round receiver Mohamed Sanu was just starting to find the end zone when he got hurt, and that left Cincinnati still seeking another pass catcher to draw some coverage away from A.J. Green. The Bengals need another threat for quarterback Andy Dalton to throw to, and got nothing from Kirkpatrick in 2012.
18San Diego Chargers
San Diego Chargers (Original Pick: Melvin Ingram, LB)
Re-do Pick: Jonathan Martin, OT. The Chargers offensive line was makeshift at best this season, and Martin, a second-round pick of Miami's, would have been very useful in the effort to protect quarterback Philip Rivers. He started the season at right tackle and shifted to the key left tackle slot after Jake Long was injured. Ingram didn't make the quick transition to the pro game that was expected, and San Diego has to address the offensive line in this year's draft.
19Chicago Bears
New York Giants (Original Pick: Shea McClellin, DE)
Re-do Pick: Mitchell Schwartz, OT. I could virtually repeat everything I just wrote about the No. 18 Chargers. The Bears offensive line was dreadful again, giving up 44 sacks and leaving Jay Cutler running for his life (or concussed). Schwartz, a second-round pick, turned in a solid season at right tackle for the Browns and improved as the year unfolded.
20Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans (Original Pick: Kendall Wright, WR)
Re-do Pick: Chandler Jones, DE. The Titans still don't have a feared pass rusher in their defensive front seven, with defensive end Derrick Morgan's 6.5 sacks leading the team this season. Jones had six sacks as a rookie in New England, and although he didn't finish the season as strongly as he started it, he showed enough ability to get to the quarterback to make the Patriots believe they took a promising young play-maker at No. 21 last April.
21New England Patriots
New England Patriots (Original Pick: Chandler Jones, DE)
Re-do Pick: Stephon Gilmore, CB. With Jones coming off the board right before their pick, the Patriots would be wise to turn to their issues in pass coverage, which have defied permanent fixing in recent years. Gilmore wasn't as good as advertised in 2012, but he'd be a no-brainer in this slot, given where the Patriots' needs are. If New England liked Quinton Coples as a 3-4 outside linebacker, he'd be an easy replacement for the Jones pick.
22Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns (Original Pick: Brandon Weeden, QB)
Re-do Pick: T.Y. Hilton, WR. With Russell Wilson taken in the No. 3 slot, there's no need to reach for Weeden at No. 22. But more weapons in the passing game are required, and that's where third-round Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton fills the bill nicely. Hilton was one of Andrew Luck's favorite targets, and took on a larger role as the season progressed.
23Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions (Original Pick: Riley Reiff, OT)
Re-do Pick: Mark Barron, S. Free safety Louis Delmas is great when he's healthy, but that's always an iffy proposition. Fortunately the Lions had a need at strong safety as well, and Barron would have helped them there. He started his rookie season well in Tampa Bay, but then struggled in the final 10 games or so. Still, he's a first-round talent with obvious upside. If the Lions didn't have Delmas, I'd have given them productive Vikings' free safety Harrison Smith, who went 29th overall to Minnesota.
24Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers (Original Pick: David DeCastro, G)
Re-do Pick: Harrison Smith, S. The Steelers lost DeCastro to injury for most of the season, and would have done well to snatch the play-making Smith, whose showing was one big reason for the Vikings' defensive improvement this year. With Troy Polamalu's injury history and age, and Ryan Clark having his own issues to contend with, the Steelers need to get younger at safety.
25New England Patriots
New England Patriots (Original Pick: Dont'a HIghtower, LB)
Re-do Pick: Michael Brockers, DT. Hightower did fine as a rookie, but the Patriots lacked any semblance of pass rush from their defensive interior. Brockers was a beast in some games, and he'd give New England the disruptive thrust at defensive tackle that it's probably looking for in the 2013 draft.
26Houston Texans
Houston Texans (Original Pick: Whitney Mercilus, LB)
Re-do Pick: Dont'a Hightower, LB. Without the injured Brian Cushing, the Texans for a good bit of the season had to rely on the likes of Bradie James and Barrett Ruud at inside linebacker. Mercilus had his moments of impact at outside linebacker, but the greater need was inside, and that's where Hightower would have fit like a glove.
27Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals (Original Pick: Kevin Zeitler, G)
Re-do Pick: Kelechi Osemele, OL. Zeitler was more than solid for the Bengals at guard, but Osemele was a revelation of sorts for the Super Bowl champion Ravens. Taken in the second round, K.O., as they call him, started all 16 regular season games at right tackle, and then slid over to left guard in the postseason, putting together four quality games and helping cement a Baltimore offensive line that was almost flawless in the playoffs.
28Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers (Original Pick: Nick Perry, LB)
Re-do Pick: Quinton Coples, DE/LB. Perry didn't really show up in the pass rush like the Packers had hoped. Coples is a natural 4-3 defensive end, but he can play the 3-4 outside linebacker slot, too. He needs more consistency, but Coples' 5.5 sacks in limited playing time represented a solid rookie contribution in New York.
29Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings (Original Pick: Harrison Smith, S)
Re-do Pick: Kendall Wright, WR. With Smith and Barron already gone, the Vikings could have used another receiver for Christian Ponder to target. Other than Percy Harvin and tight end Kyle Rudolph, the pickings were slim. Wright didn't have many big plays, but he caught 64 passes for 626 yards and four touchdowns.
30San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers (Original Pick: A.J. Jenkins, WR)
Re-do Pick: Kendall Reyes, DE. The 49ers swung and missed on Jenkins, at least in 2012. Given the late-season arm injury to Justin Smith, they could have used a versatile defensive lineman like Reyes, who held down the starting left defensive end job in San Diego, picking up 5.5 sacks as a rookie. With Smith having 12 years in the league, Reyes would make for his eventual replacement, too.
31Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Actual Pick: Doug Martin, RB)
Re-do Pick: Kevin Zeitler, G. The Bucs struggled mightily at guard after losing both Davin Joseph and free agent signee Carl Nicks to season-ending injuries. Zeitler was dependable and proficient as a rookie starter for the Bengals, who returned to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in 30 years.
32New York Giants
New York Giants (Original Pick: David Wilson, RB)
Re-do Pick: David Wilson, RB. Colts fifth-round running back Vick Ballard had more than 960 yards of combined rushing and receiving, but I'm sticking with Wilson for the Giants because by season's end he had overcome his fumbling issues and started to come into his own. He's got big-play potential, and he showed up in the kickoff return game in the season's second half as well. With Ahmad Bradshaw released this week, Wilson looks like he'll be the Giants' No. 1 back in 2013.
* First-round picks who did not make the cut this time: No. 11 Dontari Poe, Chiefs, DT; No. 13 Michael Floyd, Cardinals, WR; No. 17 Dre Kirkpatrick, Bengals, CB; No. 18 Melvin Ingram, Chargers, LB; No. 19 Shea McClellin, Bears, DE; No. 22 Brandon Weeden, Browns, QB; No. 23 Riley Reiff, Lions, OT; No. 24 David DeCastro, Steelers, G; No. 26 Whitney Mercilus, Texans, LB; No. 28 Nick Perry, Packers, LB; No. 30 A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois.

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