In this exercise we will be giving NFL teams the opportunity to re-do their 2012 1st Round selections. For purposes of clarity, we will pretend that all other factors surrounding each selection are exactly as they were at the time of the draft. So let’s have at it…
Indianapolis Colts (Round 1, Pick 1):
2016 Selection: Andrew Luck – Quarterback, Stanford
2012 Selection: Andrew Luck – Quarterback, Stanford
Remember when there was actually a discussion whether RGIII or Luck was the pick? Luck is coming off a sub-par injury-riddled season, however prototype franchise QBs remain the Holy Grail in the pass-centric NFL.
Washington Redskins (Round 1, Pick 2):
2016 Selection: Russell Wilson– Quarterback, Wisconsin
2012 Selection: Robert Griffin III (“RGIII”) – Quarterback, Baylor
RGIII came into the league with a vengeance, stupefying defensive coordinators on the way to a Rookie of the Year performance. Unfortunately it was all downhill in D.C. for Griffin since then. Meanwhile Russell Wilson has led the Seahawks to two NFC Titles and a Lombardi Trophy, all the while looking the part of what Washington was hoping for when the organization mortgaged the future to select RGIII.
Cleveland Browns (Round 1, Pick 3):
2016 Selection: Kirk Cousins – Quarterback, Michigan St.
2012 Selection: Trent Richardson – Running Back, Alabama
Browns fans were optimistic heading into the 2012 Draft, having netted an extra 1st Round pick from the Atlanta Falcons as part of the 2011 Draft day trade that saw Julio Jones go to the Falcons with the 6th overall pick. In what will go down as one of the worst individual team’s drafts in NFL history, the Browns expended their two 1st round picks on two players whose careers have been underwhelming to say the least (RB Trent Richardson & QB Brandon Weeden). Kirk Cousins was not selected until the 4th round by Washington; however, judging from his performance last season, Cleveland would jump at the opportunity to draft the Michigan State product at #3 overall.
Minnesota Vikings (Round 1, Pick 4):
2016 Selection: Alshon Jeffrey – Wide Receiver, University of South Carolina
2012 Selection: Matt Kalil – Offensive Tackle, University of Southern California
Alshon Jeffrey was the 7th wide receiver selected in the 2012 NFL Draft, as there were concerns about his speed and ability to create separation at the NFL level. Those concerns were obviously frivolous in hindsight and the Vikings add an explosive big-bodied playmaker at wide receiver, something the team has lacked for some time now. Ironically there are many similarities between Jeffrey and the Vikings’ real 2016 1st Round selection, Laquon Treadwell.
Jacksonville Jaguars (Round 1, Pick 5):
2016 Selection: T.Y. Hilton – Wide Receiver, Florida International
2012 Selection: Justin Blackmon – Wide Receiver, Oklahoma St.
While it is tempting to slot in a Quarterback for the Jaguars here, remember that the organization selected Blaine Gabbert with the 10th overall selection in the 2011 Draft. Clearly the front-office was intent on surrounding Gabbert with offensive playmakers at the time and so we’ll stick with the theme and slot in T.Y. Hilton, who was not selected until the 3rd round by the Colts in 2012.
Dallas Cowboys (Round 1, Pick 6):
2016 Selection: Fletcher Cox – Defensive Tackle, Mississippi St.
2012 Selection: Morris Claiborne – Cornerback, LSU
When Jerry Jones selected Morris Claiborne in 2012, Cowboy fans were hoping for the second coming of another LSU defensive back, Patrick Peterson. With LB Luke Kuechly and DT Fletcher Cox still on the board at the time, Cowboys fans can’t help but wonder “what-if”. Cox has developed into one of the most dominating defensive linemen in the NFL and would immediately bolster the Cowboys’ pass-rush, a unit that has performed at a sub-par level for years.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Round 1, Pick 7):
2016 Selection: Luke Kuechly – Linebacker, Boston College
2012 Selection: Mark Barron – Safety, Alabama
Tampa Bay underwent large-scale organizational changes following the 2011 season and Barron was the first selection made under new Head Coach Greg Schiano. At the time, the Buccaneers believed that Josh Freeman was their long-term solution at the Quarterback position. Though the organization struck gold with its 2012 2nd Round selection Lavonte David, in this exercise the Buccaneers would sprint to the podium to select all-world linebacker Luke Kuechly. Interesting to note, Kuechly had been rumored to be the Bucs’ pick throughout the process leading up to the draft in 2012; as the organization ranked league-worst in run defense in the 2011 season.
Miami Dolphins (Round 1, Pick 8):
2016 Selection: Ryan Tannehill – Quarterback, Texas A&M
2012 Selection: Ryan Tannehill – Quarterback, Texas A&M
Tannehill has started at Quarterback for the Miami Dolphins in all 64 games since being selected with the 8th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Organizationally the franchise has been a complete mess, undergoing full-scale changes to the coaching staff and front office alike. The Dolphins have featured one of the league’s worst offensive lines over the past few years and the front office has failed to surround Tannehill with the right offensive playmakers. We should get a better idea if Tannehill really is the Quarterback of the future for Miami, as new Head Coach Adam Gase has a track record of success working with the likes of Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler.
Carolina Panthers (Round 1, Pick 9):
2016 Selection: Bobby Wagner – Linebacker, Utah St.
2012 Selection: Luke Kuechly – Linebacker, Boston College
This has to be one of the more intriguing situations to think about. Bobby Wagner has been an all-pro linebacker on the Seattle Seahawks’ defense, which has consistently ranked among the league’s elite units. Wagner and Kuechly have both performed at an all-pro level and are the rare game-changing middle linebackers in today’s NFL.
Buffalo Bills (Round 1, Pick 10):
2016 Selection: Lavonte David – Linebacker, Nebraska
2012 Selection: Stephon Gilmore – Cornerback, University of South Carolina
At the time of the 2012 NFL Draft the Buffalo Bills felt confident the organization had its franchise Quarterback in place after signing Ryan Fitzpatrick to a long-term extension. While Gilmore has developed into a quality NFL cornerback, Buffalo would be glad to select linebacker Lavonte David out of the University of Nebraska. David has developed into one of the elite linebackers in the NFL, with arguably the best coverage ability of anyone at his position.
Thanks for reading, check back for the rest of Round 1…