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…
New England Patriots (Round 1, Pick 25):
2016 Selection: Derek Wolfe – Defensive Tackle, Cincinnati
2012 Selection: Dont’a Hightower – Linebacker, Alabama
Don’t’a Hightower was named a First Team All-Pro in 2014 by Pro Football Focus and was a key playmaker on the Patriots’ Super Bowl winning championship team two seasons ago. Meanwhile, Derek Wolfe won a Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos this past season. Originally drafted 36th overall by Denver, Wolfe has blossomed into one of the better all-around 3-4 defensive tackles in this league. New England struck gold in 2012 in the 1st round but with Hightower unavailable, Wolfe provides solid value from a pick this late.
Houston Texans (Round 1, Pick 26):
2016 Selection: Brock Osweiler – Quarterback, Arizona St.
2012 Selection: Whitney Mercilus – Linebacker, Illinois
Another Super Bowl winning Denver Bronco, Quarterback Brock Osweiler spurned the Broncos this off-season and signed a long-term deal with the Houston Texans. The jury is still out on whether Osweiler will be able to blossom into a franchise Quarterback but the Texans have been seeking a stable solution at the position since Matt Schaub’s departure. Whitney Mercilus, a great player in his own right has started 63 out of a possible 64 games and produced a total of 30.0 sacks, since being drafted by the Texans.
Cincinnati Bengals (Round 1, Pick 27):
2016 Selection: Kevin Zeitler – Offensive Guard, Wisconsin
2012 Selection: Kevin Zeitler – Offensive Guard, Wisconsin
Kevin Zeitler entered the NFL and immediately became a force for the Bengals’ running game. Zeitler was the leader of the Wisconsin offensive-line on a team that featured RB Montee Ball & QB Russell Wilson. With Zeitler paving the road in front of him, Montee Ball and the Badgers averaged 236 rushing yards per game. Zeitler is the type of anchor on the interior of an offensive-line that any coach would want and has proven to be worthy of the #27 overall selection.
Green Bay Packers (Round 1, Pick 28):
2016 Selection: Mychal Kendricks – Inside Linebacker, UCLA
2012 Selection: Nick Perry – Linebacker, USC
The Green Bay Packers have not gotten the production out of Nick Perry that the organization expected when it selected Perry with the #28 overall pick. Mychal Kendricks was selected 18 picks later by the Philadelphia Eagles but has had by far the more productive career of the two. With Kendricks manning the inside linebacker position the Packers would be able to move Clay Matthews back to his natural position of outside linebacker.
Minnesota Vikings (Round 1, Pick 29):
2016 Selection: Michael Floyd – Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
2012 Selection: Harrison Smith – Safety, Notre Dame
The Minnesota Vikings were very fortunate with their selection of Harrison Smith with this selection back in 2012. However with Smith already off the board in this exercise, the Vikings will select the best receiver on the board to team up with 2nd year pro Christian Ponder. Minnesota has long sought a dependable large-bodied receiver and Floyd fit that bill perfectly.
San Francisco 49ers (Round 1, Pick 30):
2016 Selection: Malik Jackson – Defensive Tackle, Tennessee
2012 Selection: A.J. Jenkins – Wide Receiver, Illinois
A.J. Jenkins caught a total of 17 passes, his entire career. So while almost anyone the 49ers select here would be an upgrade, San Francisco adds Malik Jackson to a loaded front-seven that features the likes of: Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, Justin Smith, NaVarro Bowman and Ahmad Brooks. Clearly the position of need for the 49ers was at wide receiver but the talent gap is so significant between Jackson and the next best receiver (Kendall Wright & Reuben Randle). Malik Jackson signed a six-year, $90 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars after winning a Super Bowl ring with the Denver Broncos this past season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Round 1, Pick 31):
2016 Selection: Mitchell Schwartz – Offensive Tackle, UCLA
2012 Selection: Doug Martin – Running Back, Boise State
Doug Martin has been a force on the ground for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when he has been able to stay on the field. Martin has amassed two 1400-yard rushing seasons, two Pro Bowl selections and was named a First-Team All-Pro in 2015. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers Martin was selected earlier in this draft re-do by the Cleveland Browns. Tampa Bay has struggled offensively in recent years due to the sub-par production from its offensive-line. Mitchell Schwartz has started all 64 games since being drafted by the Cleveland Browns and was named to Pro Football Focus’ 2nd Team All-Pro this past season. Schwartz signed a considerable contract with the Kansas City Chiefs this March.
New York Giants (Round 1, Pick 32):
2016 Selection: Bruce Irvin – Outside Linebacker, West Virginia
2012 Selection: David Wilson – Running Back, Virginia Tech
David Wilson’s NFL career was abruptly ended after a significant neck injury. Wilson was voted a 2nd Team All-Pro as a kick returner in his rookie season and averaged 5.0 yards per carry in 2012. The Giants clearly were unable to recover the value the organization hoped for when it selected Wilson. While the Giants have not selected a linebacker in the 1st Round of an NFL Draft since they selected Carl Banks in 1984 out of Michigan State, in recent years the Giants could have certainly used a player like Bruce Irvin on its defense.
If you missed the first part, you can check it out here: