2012 NFL Redraft: Colts take Russell Wilson at No. 1 over Andrew Luck

Every year, people love to read redrafts and draft grades for draft class before we have really had time to evaluate them. I have been guilty of this as well, but in recent years, I have waited until we hit the five year mark before dishing out draft grades and looking to do redrafts. It takes at least that long to evaluate a draft class. And, as you can see by the 2012 redraft I did back in 2016, five years isn’t always enough. Still, I can’t stay away and I really enjoy looking back on what could have been. Especially with a draft class like this one!

There are a few things I want to clarify before I jump in. I undid every trade that happened on draft day. With the benefit of hindsight, it is much easier to say every team would have just stayed put and taken the best player available. One other thing I want to point out is that just because a team selected a player at a given position does not mean they have to draft the same position. For example, the Jaguars selected Justin Blackmon back in 2012. They are not bound to taking the best receiver from the class (T.Y. Hilton) just because he plays the same position. Hilton was a good player, but there are plenty of other needs Jacksonville could have filled instead. I tried my best to go with the best player available given the roster composition of that team in 2012.

With all of that in mind, let’s revisit this famous 2012 draft class featuring some future Hall of Famers and a number of notable busts.

1. Indianapolis Colts
Original selection: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Redraft pick: Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin

Andrew Luck was widely viewed as the best college quarterback prospect to come out since Peyton Manning. He had his moments during an injury-riddled career, but Russell Wilson’s continued excellence makes him the clear choice in this redraft. Wilson has a Super Bowl ring, seven Pro Bowl appearances and a fantastic touchdown-to-interception ratio is his career. He earned MVP buzz early in 2020 and continues to play like a top-five quarterback every season. Wilson’s mobility and penchant for making off-schedule throws would work well for the Colts, who struggled to protect Luck throughout the early portion of his career.

2. Washington
Original selection: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Redraft selection: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Luck’s fall is a short one. Even though he only lasted five full seasons as a starting quarterback, he led the Colts to several playoff appearances and showcased elite arm talent in the process. In each of the four seasons that Luck played all 16 games, Indianapolis reached the playoffs. Perhaps Luck would have fared better in Washington with Trent Williams protecting his blindside. Robert Griffin III had a great rookie season and might have been a solid NFL starter if injuries had not derailed his career. Despite Luck’s own injuries, he offers an upgrade over RGIII.

3. Minnesota Vikings
Original selection: Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Redraft selection: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

Minnesota traded down one pick on draft night back in 2012 and took Matt Kalil. Kalil was serviceable as a starter in the NFL, even reaching the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2012. Unfortunately, he never built on that debut season. Meanwhile, Luke Kuechly went on to have a Hall of Fame career for the Panthers. He was an incredible tackler with impressive athleticism, which resulted in five first-team All-Pro selections and seven Pro Bowl appearances in eight seasons. Injuries cut his career short, but his leadership and production over those eight years make him worth the pick. Minnesota’s defense would have had a star to build around during those Christian Ponder years.

4. Cleveland Browns
Original selection: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Redraft selection: Fletcher Cox, DL, Mississippi State

This was one of the worst draft picks the Browns made during the 2010s, and that’s saying something. Trading up one spot to grab Trent Richardson proved to be a huge mistake, but give Cleveland some credit for cutting ties and recouping a first-round pick for Richardson a year later. With the benefit of hindsight, the Browns would have been much better off selecting Fletcher Cox. Cleveland started sixth-round Billy Wynn at defensive tackle in 2012. Cox would’ve been a massive upgrade. In his career, he has earned six Pro Bowl nods and an All-Pro selection. Cleveland’s defense would have looked very different with Cox and D’Qwell Jackson dominating the middle.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Original selection: Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Redraft pick: Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State

Mark Barron went on to have a lengthy career as a box safety and might have been a bit ahead of his time. The NFL in 2021 loves to find those hybrid types, but that movement was still in its earlier stages. At least the Buccaneers slid down two spots before selecting Barron. Instead, the Buccaneers could have grabbed one of the best tackling middle linebackers in NFL history. Bobby Wagner is still at the top of his game nearly 10 years later. He is one of just three players in this draft class to go to seven Pro Bowls. The other two are Russell Wilson and Luke Kuechly. Tampa was in need of a linebacker at this point, too, as they ended up landing Lavonte David in the second round. Filling a huge position of need with a future Hall of Famer feels like a slam dunk.

6. St. Louis Rams
Original selection: Michael Brockers, DL, LSU
Redraft pick: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

On draft day, the Rams traded back with the Cowboys and landed an extra second-round pick. It was a pretty good move. Dallas selected Morris Claiborne, who never really figured out how to play corner in the NFL. Meanwhile, St. Louis landed a solid interior lineman in Michael Brockers. Passing up on Stephon Gilmore just does not make sense in this redraft. Keep in mind that the Rams started second-round selection Janoris Jenkins at corner that year, so it was definitely a position of need. Gilmore is one of the best cover corners in football. He became the first corner since Charles Woodson to win Defensive Player of the Year in 2019. He can lock down half the field and is one of just five players in this draft class to be named first-team All-Pro more than once.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Original selection: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Redraft pick: Chandler Jones, EDGE, Syracuse

Justin Blackmon had all the talent in the world, but he only lasted until 2014 in the NFL due to off-the-field issues. To make matters worse, Jacksonville actually traded up two spots to get him. Without a star receiver available in this draft class, the Jaguars tag the best edge rusher in the class to boost their defense. Chandler Jones would be an immediate upgrade over Austen Lane or Jeremy Mincey, Jacksonville’s starting defensive ends at the time. With 97 career sacks, Canton feels well within reach for Jones by the time his career wraps up. His impact probably would not have ended the Jaguars suffering, but it would have given them a talented player at a crucial position to build around.

8. Miami Dolphins
Original selection: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Redraft pick: Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State

I struggled with this pick a lot. Ryan Tannehill has experienced an incredible resurgence with the Titans, but he struggled a lot for the Dolphins. You could argue that simply not hiring Adam Gase would have solved all of Tannehill’s problems, but I can also understand if fans are hesitant about taking Tannehill again. Believe it or not, Kirk Cousins actually has more touchdowns, fewer interceptions and a better career completion percentage than Tannehill. However, Cousins didn’t truly take over the starting job in Washington until 2015. Would he have been as successful in Miami where he would have needed to start sooner? It’s hard to tell, but there is a chance he would’ve offered better stability than Tannehill did.

9. Carolina Panthers
Original selection: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Redraft pick: Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska

It’s tough to miss out on Luke Kuechly, but Lavonte David is a solid consolation prize. David has a nose for the football and actually leads this draft class in tackles, ahead of both Kuechly and Bobby Wagner. He has been incredibly reliable as well with just seven missed starts in nine seasons. He has not always received the same level of love as his draftmates with one Pro Bowl selection and one first-team All-Pro honor, but he is still paying dividends for the Buccaneers in 2021. He was a major part of the team’s success in the Super Bowl for his ability in pass coverage. As a bonus for the Panthers, he would no longer be suiting up for their division rival.

10. Buffalo Bills
Original selection: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Redraft pick: Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina

While he has had some rocky moments, at his peak, Josh Norman was one of the best corners in football. While he is definitely a step down from Stephon Gilmore, this is not a bad consolation prize for the Bills. Norman proved in 2020, actually playing for the Bills, that he is still a serviceable corner capable of starting in the NFL. Considering that Buffalo eventually let Gilmore walk in free agency anyway, maybe they would’ve done more to keep Norman around.

11. Kansas City Chiefs
Original selection: Dontari Poe, DL, Memphis
Redraft pick: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

Dontari Poe has had himself a solid NFL career, but Kansas City cannot pass up on a chance to find a long-term solution at quarterback. Matt Cassell would be gone after the 2012 season and had not done much in 2011 to indicate he deserved to be the unquestioned starter. As we discussed before when debating Tannehill vs. Cousins, Tannehill has really taken off over the past two seasons. Perhaps a chance to work with Andy Reid, who arrived in 2013, would have jumpstarted the version of Tannehill we have seen in Tennessee a few years earlier. Either way, he would’ve given the Chiefs a much better plan going forward at quarterback.

12. Seattle Seahawks
Original selection: Bruce Irvin, EDGE, West Virginia
Redraft pick: Mitchell Schwartz, OT, California

Seattle really loses out big time in this redraft. Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner are both off the board. The team is also set to go forward with Matt Flynn at quarterback with the next best option available in this draft being Nick Foles. The Seahawks traded down a couple spots on draft day and took Bruce Irvin. Irvin has actually had some bright spots, but he has never quite lived up to this draft slot. Mitchell Schwartz would give Seattle a pair of talented young tackles to bookend their offensive line. Schwartz has spent nine seasons as a quality starting right tackle for the Browns and Chiefs including an All-Pro nod in 2018. He did not miss a game prior to the 2020 season. There are few players as reliable and unheralded as Schwartz has been.

13. Arizona Cardinals
Original selection: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Redraft pick: T.Y. Hilton, WR, Florida International

Pretty much Arizona’s entire offense needed an upgrade outside of Larry Fitzgerald heading into the 2012 season. Michael Floyd had his moments, but he only managed 25 touchdowns in his career. Arizona needed a receiver, and T.Y. Hilton would have been a great addition across from Fitzgerald. Hilton has struggled with some injuries in recent years, but he has five 1,000-yard seasons, including 2016, when he led the league in receiving yards.

14. Dallas Cowboys
Original selection: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Redraft pick: Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame

Back in 2012, Dallas traded up to select Morris Claiborne. While the Cowboys were right to focus on rebuilding their defense, Claiborne turned out to be a terrible fit. Meanwhile, Harrison Smith is a five-time Pro Bowler with the most interceptions of any player in this draft class. You could make the argument that he was one of, if not the best safety in the league over a solid stretch. He would be a much-needed playmaker in that Cowboys secondary and provide a clear succession plan to Gerald Sensabaugh, whom Dallas cut following the 2012 season before he ultimately retired.

15. Philadelphia Eagles
Original selection: Fletcher Cox, DL, Mississippi State
Redraft pick: Brandon Brooks, G, Miami (Ohio)

Philly misses out on Fletcher Cox this time around, but they land a player who has been integral to their success in recent years. Brandon Brooks was selected in the third round back in 2012, but there is no way he lasts that long this time around. He was a decent player in Houston from 2012 to 2015, but really found his footing with the Eagles. He made three straight Pro Bowls and played a huge part in Philadelphia’s Super Bowl run in 2017.

16. New York Jets
Original selection: Quinton Coples, EDGE, UNC
Redraft pick: David DeCastro, G, Stanford

There are only a handful of players from this draft class who have been named first-team All-Pro more than once. David DeCastro has been a staple of the Steelers offensive line for close to a decade. New York made back-to-back AFC Championship Games in 2009 and 2010 behind an incredible offensive line. DeCastro would be an upgrade over Matt Slauson, or a potential successor to Brandon Moore. This would be a great value, especially instead of Quinton Coples, who was out of the league by 2015.

17. Cincinnati Bengals via Oakland Raiders
Original selection: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Redraft pick: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

It turns out the Bengals drafted a player at the right position from the right state, just the wrong school. Dre Kirkpatrick took three years to win the starting job and once he did, he never really lived up to his draft spot. Meanwhile, Janoris Jenkins turned out to be a steal for the Rams in the second round. He started his career with a bang in 2012, leading the league with three defensive touchdowns. He reached his peak in 2016 with a Pro Bowl appearance for the Giants. Jenkins has a good track record for making plays with 26 career interceptions. He has had some rough moments for sure, but he turned out to be a much more valuable player than Kirkpatrick.

18. San Diego Chargers
Original selection: Melvin Ingram, EDGE, South Carolina
Redraft pick: Melvin Ingram, EDGE, South Carolina

The then-San Diego Chargers were rewarded for their patience with Melvin Ingram. It took him a few years to get going after injuries derailed the early part of his career, but from 2015 to 2019, Ingram had at least seven sacks each season. He has been a crucial part of the Chargers defense in recent years playing across from Joey Bosa.

19. Chicago Bears
Original selection: Shea McClellin, EDGE, Boise State
Redraft selection: Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin

Shea McClellin turned out to be a colossal bust for the Bears. He managed just 8.5 career sacks and was out of the league after 2016. I don’t think there is an edge player worth taking here, and Chicago’s offensive line could have used a boost. Chilo Rachal started eight games at left guard and the front office signed Matt Slauson to take over before 2013. Adding Kevin Zeitler would have been a much better solution at the position. Keep in mind this is also a year before the Bears drafted Kyle Long. Zeitler has started from Day 1, and his consistency and longevity make him well worth going in the first round again, this time, even earlier.

20. Tennessee Titans
Original selection: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Redraft pick: Demario Davis, LB, Arkansas State

It turned out to be a pretty rough receiver class with Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright and A.J. Jenkins falling well short of expectations. The next best receivers available after T.Y. Hilton would be either Alshon Jeffery or Marvin Jones, and while both have been solid, neither is worth going in the top 20. On the other hand, Demario Davis has turned into one of the best players from this draft class. His career has been a bit odd, with a one-year stint in Cleveland before returning to the Jets, but after years of solid play, he was recognized as a first-team All-Pro in 2019 with the Saints. He has over 900 career tackles and would have fit very nicely in the middle of the Titans defense. If that wasn’t enough, Davis has not missed a game in his nine-year NFL career.

21. Cincinnati Bengals
Original selection: Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin
Redraft pick: Ben Jones, C, Georgia

On draft day, the Patriots traded up to this spot to select Chandler Jones. With Jones long gone and trades not allowed in the redraft, Cincinnati stays put and grabs an interior lineman to protect a young Andy Dalton. With Zeitler gone, Ben Jones is the next best interior lineman available. It took a few years for the Texans to determine where his best spot was, starting at both guard spots before finally moving him to center in 2015. Since then, Jones has started every game and become a huge part of the Titans’ sometimes unstoppable run game.

22. Cleveland Browns via Atlanta Falcons
Original selection: Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State
Redraft pick: Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama

The absurd run on linebackers continues as Dont’a Hightower is now the fifth to come off the board in the first 22 picks. I don’t think I really need to explain why Brandon Weeden is not going here again. I know the Browns desperately needed a quarterback, but reaching for Nick Foles here or either Kirk Cousins or Ryan Tannehill at No. 4 over more talented and impactful defensive players is bad process. Hightower was a fixture for the Patriots defense before opting out in 2020. He has two Pro-Bowl selections to his name as well. Adding him and Fletcher Cox would have made this defense one of the most exciting units in the league alongside 23-year-old Joe Haden.

23. Detroit Lions
Original selection: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Redraft pick: Olivier Vernon, EDGE, Miami

Riley Reiff was a fine player for the Lions. He played out his rookie contract in Detroit and has been a starter for the Vikings in recent years. However, Reiff was not the starter in 2012, so the Lions could have waited another year or gone to free agency to find an eventual replacement to Jeff Bakus. Instead, adding Olivier Vernon to start across from Cliff Avril would have given the Lions an elite pass rushing tandem. He could take the year to learn from Kyle Vanden Bosch before launching a career that has accumulated 63.5 sacks, second only to Chandler Jones in this draft class. The only thing that holds Vernon back from going even earlier is his injury history. He hasn’t played a full season since 2016.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Original selection: David DeCastro, G, Stanford
Redraft pick: Damon Harrison, DT, William Penn

Pittsburgh nailed its pick the first time around, but with David DeCastro gone, the Steelers must look elsewhere to build their roster. The defense was full of aging stars at the time, including 35-year-old Casey Hampton. Damon Harrison went undrafted back in 2012, but there is no way he makes it out of the first round in this mock draft. He was one of the best run defenders in the league from 2013 to 2017. He has bounced around in recent years, but he is still a quality rotation piece and short-yardage option. He would help soften the blow of missing out on DeCastro.

25. Denver Broncos
Original selection: Derek Wolfe, DT, Cincinnati
Redraft pick: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

Denver actually traded back twice on draft night and took Derek Wolfe with the 36th overall pick. Instead, the Broncos will stand pat and take Dontari Poe. Poe would have been an instant starter collapsing the pocket with Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil on the outside. Poe is a space eater at 346 lbs. He made the Pro Bowl in back-to-back seasons in 2013 and 2014. He might not be a future Hall of Famer, but he has been a solid contributor since he stepped foot in the league and is still worthy of a late first-round selection.

26. Houston Texans
Original selection: Whitney Mercilus, EDGE, Illinois
Redraft pick: Whitney Mercilus, EDGE, Illinois

There were only a few teams that not only took a quality player, but took in him in a realistic draft slot. Whitney Mercilus has been a solid contributor throughout his career. He has missed a decent amount of time due to injuries over the years, but his 54 career sacks and 68 tackles for loss speak for themselves. Taking him off this Texans’ defense would definitely be a detriment, even if he was not a perennial Pro Bowler.

27. New England Patriots via New Orleans Saints
Original selection: Chandler Jones, EDGE, Syracuse
Redraft pick: Michael Brockers, DL, LSU

New England worked some magic on draft night back in 2012, trading up twice to land two solid contributors on defense. Both Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower are long gone by this stage. Brockers has somewhat quietly put together an impressive NFL career. He has not racked up accolades, but he has been a steady presence on the Rams defense since he was drafted. His career totals are not staggering with 28 sacks and 48 tackles for loss, but Brockers is one of just eight players from this draft class who has been a full-time starter every year of his career. As the saying goes, the best ability is availability.

28. Green Bay Packers
Original selection: Nick Perry, EDGE, USC
Redraft pick: Akiem Hicks, DL, Regina

The run on defensive linemen and edge rushers continues. Green Bay hoped to find someone to play across from Clay Matthews in Nick Perry. He had a really good two-year stretch in 2016 and 2017 with 18 sacks. His career bizarrely ended after 2018 though and those two seasons are not enough to justify another first-round selection. Instead, Green Bay can grab Akiem Hicks to bolster its defensive line. Hicks was a decent player in New Orleans, but his career really took off after landing in Chicago in 2016. He peaked with a Pro Bowl appearance in 2018. His run stopping and disruptive playmaking would be greatly appreciated.

29. Baltimore Ravens
Original selection: Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama
Redraft pick: Kelechi Osemele, G, Iowa State

Baltimore traded out of the first round back in 2012. This roster had very few holes as the Ravens would go on to win the Super Bowl that season. If there was a weak spot, it would have been at right tackle. Believe it or not, Kelechie Osemele started at right tackle during that Super Bowl run. He later found his spot as a starter at guard. That type of versatility is worth the investment, this time in the first round. Osemele was solid in Baltimore, but really found his stride in Oakland. He made back-to-back Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro in 2016.

30. San Francisco 49ers
Original selection: A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois
Redraft pick: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

A.J. Jenkins lasted one season in San Francisco and just three in the NFL. Needless to say, this was a huge bust for the 49ers. Alshon Jeffery might have been the difference in the 49ers’ Super Bowl run. His huge frame and impressive catch radius would have made him a great red zone target. He reached the Pro Bowl in 2013 with 1,421 yards receiving. His career fell off a bit after a strong 2014 season. He has not topped 1,000 yards since then and has struggled to stay healthy, playing all 16 games just once since that point. Even if he eventually fell off, Jeffery’s short-term impact is well worth a late first-round selection.

31. New England Patriots
Original selection: Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
Redraft pick: Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State

If there is a team that found success with players who ran into issues with the NFL or stirred up trouble in the locker room. I think Bill Belichick would be willing to take the talent that Vontaze Burfict brings to the table and deal with the suspensions later. He was a Pro Bowler in 2013 after leading in the league in tackles. There is a good chance he would have become a bit more disciplined playing in New England. Even still, the short-term investment is worth it for the Patriots.

32. New York Giants
Original selection: David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
Redraft pick: Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt

The reigning Super Bowl champs went after a playmaker on offense, but there were no running backs that really deserved to go in the first round of this draft. Instead, New York can tab Casey Hayward to succeed Corey Webster. Even though the Giants drafted Prince Amukamara in the first round the year before, Hayward is too good a talent to pass up and this secondary would have benefited from a top cover corner. He burst out of the gate with six interceptions in his rookie season, but Hayward didn’t really become a full-time starter until 2016. This would be the perfect situation for him to develop into a starting caliber corner.

2012 NFL Redraft

Colts logoIndianapolis- Andrew Luck, Quarterback, Stanford
The top pick in the draft stays the same four years later. Luck had an injury riddled 2015 season, but the Colts would be average at best without him.

Washington made up logoWashington- Russell Wilson, Quarterback, Wisconsin
Washington still elects to take a mobile quarterback at number two, just a different one. Odds are Wilson would not have had the same amount of success as he did in Seattle, but Washington would have the quarterback position solved for the next ten years.

Browns logoCleveland- Luke Keuchley, Middle Linebacker, Boston College
Cleveland ignores all of the talk about Keuchley not being athletic enough and take him at three instead of Trent Richardson. The Browns’ defense instantly gets better and gives Head Coach Pat Schumur a great piece to pair with D’Qwell Jackson.

Vikings logoMinnesota- Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle, USC
Like Indy, Minnesota replicates its 2012 pick. Kalil hasn’t been always consistent but he has been great at times for the Vikings and continues to start for them today.

Jaguars logoJacksonville- Alshon Jeffrey, Wide Receiver, South Carolina
Instead of wasting a top five pick on a receiver with off the field issues, Jacksonville picks a slam dunk wide out instead in Jeffrey. Blaine Gabbert looks a whole lot better throwing to this big target, but still gets replaced in 2014.

Cowboys logoDallas- Josh Norman, Cornerback, Coastal Carolina
Jerry Jones originally picked Morris Claiborne here, but after several seasons of failing to take hold, Dallas moves on. Instead, Norman comes in and develops nicely into a shutdown corner for the Cowboys.

Buccaneers logoTampa Bay- Harrison Smith, Safety, Notre Dame
Mark Barron was a decent player for the Buccaneers, but Harrison Smith would have been even better. Smith might not put up huge interception numbers, but he is one of the most reliable safeties in the league.

Dolphins logoMiami- Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback, Texas A&M
There are some who would say Miami should have made a different selection. However, Tannehill has been solid and plays better than anyone else the Dolphins had on their roster in 2012. And we know they aren’t taking RG3 in the top ten.

Panthers logoCarolina- T.Y. Hilton, Wide Receiver, Florida International
With Keuchley off the board, Carolina has to improvise. They take the speedy Hilton to give second-year quarterback another weapon alongside Steve Smith.

Bills logoBuffalo- Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback, South Carolina
With the defensive line already set, Buffalo addresses corner again. Gilmore has been a solid starter for the Bills over the last four years. No need to change that.

Chiefs LogoKansas City- Dontari Poe, Defensive Tackle, Memphis
The run of repeat picks continues here with Kansas City plugging up the middle of their defense with Poe.

Eagles LogoPhiladelphia- Fletcher Cox, Defensive Tackle, Mississippi State
He has started every game over the past three season and registered 9.5 sacks last year. The Eagles would be smart to pick Cox again.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)Arizona- Bobby Wagner, Middle Linebacker, Utah State
Wagner does a little bit of everything. He is good in pass coverage, defends well against the run and even rushes the passer on occasion. Plugging him in to replace the aging Paris Lenon prepares this Cardinals defense for the future.

Rams logoSt. Louis- Michael Brockers, Defensive Tackle, LSU
He might not be fast or put up great numbers, but Brockers is a handful for offensive lineman to deal with. His ability to eat up blocks makes the Rams defense click and gives guys like Chris Long and Robert Quinn an opportunity to get to the quarterback.

Seahawks logoSeattle- Chandler Jones, Defensive End, Syracuse
Pete Carroll misses out on stealing Russell Wilson, but Jones would be a nice upgrade over Bruce Irvin. Let’s see how the Legion of Boom does with him rushing the passer.

Jets logoJets- Damon Harrison, Defensive Tackle, William Penn
Quinton Coples was a bust in New York, so the Jets take a defensive tackle instead to bolster their line. Harrison turns out to be a huge steal or the Jets after they sign him as an undrafted free agent.

Bengals LogoCincinnati- Vontaze Burfict, Middle Linebacker, Arizona State
Another undrafted rookie ends up going in the first round and to the team that later signed him. Burfict lead Cincy in tackles as a rookie and hasn’t looked back.

Chargers logoSan Diego- Whitney Mercilus, Defensive End, Illinois
The Chargers needed defenisve help and they get it here in the form of Mercilus. He has been the other half of the Houston wrecking crew, opposite J.J. Watt. San Diego could use a little bit of that.

Bears logoChicago- Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
The Bears needed to give quarterback Jay Cutler a new target and Floyd becomes exactly that. He fits in nicely opposite Brandon Marshall, giving Chicago a solid tandem at receiver.

Titans logoTennessee- David DeCastro, Offensive Guard, Stanford
DeCastro goes one pick sooner in the redraft, as Tennessee decide to pass on Kendall Wright. Instead, they bolster the offensive line while Chris Johnson and second-year quarterback Jake Locker try to jumpstart the offense.

Pittsburgh_Steelers logoPittsburgh- Kevin Zietler, Offensive Guard, Wisconsin
As a result of DeCastro going, Pittsburgh takes the next best guard available. The Steelers desperately needed line help to protect Ben Roethlisberger and Zietler has been a solid piece of the division rival Bengals’ line since he was drafted.

Patriots LogoNew England- Dont’a Hightower, Outside Linebacker, Alabama
With Chandler Jones off the board, New England settles for the guy they took later in this round. Hightower has been a rock for the Patriots defense since he entered the league.

Browns logoCleveland- Kirk Cousins, Quarterback, Michigan State
I really thought about making this RG3, but Cousins has shown signs of being the better option over the last four years. He finally hit his stride in year four, throwing for over 4,000 yards.

Lions LogoDetroit- Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle, Iowa
He certainly hasn’t been perfect, but the Lions need someone to protect Matt Stafford’s blindside. Reiff has started since day one in Detroit. No reason to change this pick.

Patriots LogoNew England- Doug Martin, Running Back, Boise State
This time around, Martin is the first running back off the board. New England always loves drafting versatile running backs. After a year or two though, Martin would likely take over the lead role in this backfield.

Texans logoHouston- Lavonte David, Outside Linebacker, Nebraska
The Texans went defense initially in 2012, but with Mercilus off the board already, they nab the former Cornhusker David. He might not be the pass rusher Mercilus was for Houston, but he is a tackling machine.

Bengals LogoCincinnati- Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback, North Alabama
Originally, the Bengals selected Dre Kirkpatrick with the 17th pick, but with Jenkins emerging as a solid number one corner, Cincinnati would much rather take him. Jenkins soon takes over the starting role for the aging Terrance Newman.

Packers logoGreen Bay- Lamar Miller, Running Back, Miami
You are probably thinking, well what about Eddie Lacy? Lacy was still in college and the Packers needed help in the backfield. Miller ends what had been a carosel of running backs starting the year before.

Vikings logoMinnesota- Tashaun Gipson, Safety, Wyoming
Harrison Smith got taken much earlier this time around, but Minnesota still needs help in the secondary. Gipson has turned into a very good safety in his time with both Cleveland and Denver.

49ers LogoSan Francisco- Olivier Vernon, Defensive End, Miami
A.J. Jenkins was a bust. Justin Smith turned 33 in 2012. The 49ers create a contingency plan for when he leaves and look to find receiver help later in the draft.

Buccaneers logoTampa Bay- Alfred Morris, Running Back, Florida Atlantic
With Doug Martin off the board, Tampa takes the next best running back they can get in Alfred Morris. He completely fell off with Washington this year, but he has a couple of great seasons already under his belt.

Giants LogoGiants- Mychal Kendricks, Middle Linebacker, California
New York has needed to address the need at linebacker for years now. Chase Blackburn and Michael Boley were serviceable at best. Kendricks can come in a make a big difference in the pass coverage right away and provides a boost to the run defense.

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Why Griffin Makes Sense in Cleveland

So I was right! I was just about six months early.

Robert Griffin III
Griffin has 40 career touchdown passes from his time in Washington.

Robert Griffin III signed with the Cleveland Browns this afternoon, joining the laundry list of quarterback to play for Cleveland over the last 15 years. While the internet might have had some fun with this, signing Griffin makes a lot of sense for the Browns.

It’s not like the Browns have many better options on their roster right now. Josh McCown is 36 going on 70 and that Manziel guy is now a free agent with some legal trouble. The only other guy on the roster is Austin Davis, whose 13 career NFL starts have left a lot to be desired.

So instead, the Browns are taking a gamble on the former Heisman trophy winner. And there is really no harm in that. Cleveland will likely draft a quarterback with the second overall pick and all signs point to it being Carson Wentz.

Wentz has looked solid during the pre-draft process and he is seemingly pro ready. However, the Browns know better than anyone else on planet Earth that forcing quarterbacks to play in the NFL before they are ready can be catastrophic.

Griffin’s contract is reportedly for two years and maxes out at $15 million. Paying about $7.5 million per year for a short term starting quarterback isn’t a bad deal and because the deal is short, the Browns are not really committed to Griffin. He essentially has a two-year window to show if he can still play in the league. If the answer is no, then start Wentz in 2017.

RG3
Griffin is 15-24 over the first three seasons of his career. 

The reality is that the Browns need someone to play quarterback and they are taking a low-risk high-reward gamble on RGIII. And this is not Denver where they are likely just a quarterback away from a deep playoff run. Cleveland would miss the playoffs this year with Russell Wilson under center. There just isn’t enough talent. Getting Griffin gives the Browns a stopgap while they continue to try to improve in other areas of the roster and groom a future starter.

Imagine for just a second if Griffin somehow reverts to his 2012, rookie of the year form during the next two seasons with the Browns. First of all, Griffin would then have suitors around the league after his contract is over and Cleveland would have the happy situation of having two starting quarterbacks.

In the best case scenario, Griffin proves to be a stud and the Browns ship him off to Denver or Philadelphia after his first season for some draft picks. Worst case scenario is that Griffin flounders again, or even more likely gets hurt, and Cleveland turns the keys over to Wentz at the start of his second year.

All in all, I think this is a great deal for both sides. Cleveland gets a two-year rental at quarterback and Griffin gets one last shot to prove he can still play in this league.

Could RG3 be headed for Ohio?

RG3
Griffin was named the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012.

With the second pick in the 2012 draft, Washington selects…

I bet that’s a moment fans in the Nation’s capital would love a do-over on. 2012 turned out to be one of the most talent-filled drafts the NFL has seen in some time. Between Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Luke Keuchley, Bobby Wagner, Chandler Jones and the list goes on.

Washington gave up eight picks to move up to second overall in that draft. The belief was that there were two franchise-altering quarterbacks set to join the league in Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Washington put itself in the position where whichever quarterback Indianapolis didn’t select would fall to them at two.

Indy took Luck and the rest is history. The Colts have been one of the best teams in the AFC over the last three seasons while Washington has gotten progressively worse.

After one fantastic year in DC that ended with a shocking knee injury, RG3 has had a rough time in the NFL. Griffin threw 20 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions his rookie year. In the last two years, he has only managed to throw 20 more scores while 18 of his passes were picked off. Griffin has been notorious for fumbling throughout his career as well. Not to mention the numerous reports that Griffin has a bit of an attitude problem and blames his teammates. It is clear that he has strayed from the path of franchise QB.

However, there is some upside to the former Baylor quarterback. His career completion percentage sits at a healthy 63.9 for his career, including last year when he completed 68.7 in limited appearances. He also has a respectable 7.62 yards per attempt passing during his career.

Robert Griffin III
Griffin has missed 10 games over the last two seasons due to injury and benching.

Teams could do a lot worse than having Griffin as their starting quarterback. He is definitely injury prone but still has the ability to be successful. Part of his being prone to injury might be due to the number of times Griffin has been hit when he drops back. Washington’s line has allowed more sacks each year since Griffin entered the league, ending last season with a whopping 53 sacks allowed, representing the second worst mark in the NFL. Griffin sustained a concussion during this preseason after he was sacked on three of his eight drop backs against Detroit as well. That stuff doesn’t happen to Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Drew Brees.

The management in Washington has also ruined any chance RG3 has of succeeded there. The coaching staff has made it clear that they want him out, as has the management, but rumor has it that Dan Snyder is insistent on keeping Griffin on the team. Washington is in a state of complete disarray at the moment and the best thing for both sides would be to trade or release Griffin. Washington simply needs to wash their hands of the terrible trade they made in 2012 and move on.

It seems unlikely that a trade would happen but it is more than possible that Griffin could hit the open market. Several teams have mentioned that they would have “medium” interest in RG3 if he was a free agent. No one seems overly eager to bring him in.

Johnny Manziel
Manziel, a former first round pick himself, has taken strides but is not ready to be the starter.

One team that makes more sense than probably anyone else to sign him has to be Cleveland. The Browns have had the worst luck in terms of quarterbacking play over the last three decades. They have their project Johnny Manziel in progress right now but he is nowhere near ready to roll quite yet. They also have Josh McCown under contract and he will likely be the team’s starter come week 1.

Believe it or not, Griffin would probably be a major upgrade for Cleveland. Bringing him in from Washington on a contract that doesn’t have a ton of guaranteed money over the next two years or so could make a lot of sense. Griffin desperately needs a fresh start and the Browns are searching for the answer at quarterback. Letting Griffin take the reins in Cleveland might just be the spark they need.

The Browns probably still aren’t going to be in the playoff picture but it could be a step in the right direction. It also gives Cleveland another option at quarterback to ensure that they will not need to prematurely throw Manziel on the field.

While moving to Cleveland would be a downgrade for Griffin in terms of his offensive weapons around him, he would have a much better offensive line. Cleveland allowed 31 sacks last season which was in the top half of the league. With five-time All-Pro Joe Thomas protecting his blindside and two-time Pro Bowler Alex Mack organizing the line at center, Griffin will have some time to survey the field from the pocket.

Josh_McCown_Browns_2015
McCown spent most of his career as a backup and had a very inconsistent year with Tampa Bay last season.

When given time, Griffin has proven that he can be an above average quarterback. He still has to learn how to play without relying on his legs quite so much but there is some hope for him. He is only 25-years old and has plenty left in the tank. He might be fragile but if the Browns can limit the number of times he is hit, then that shouldn’t be a problem.

A strong defense and an run-first offensive approach could benefit Griffin as well. Washington’s poor defense often meant that he was playing from behind but if the Browns can control the clock and the defense improves against the run then Griffin will be in a much better system.

Griffin moving to Cleveland makes a lot of sense. Washington already has a contingency plan in the form of Kirk Cousins. For the Browns, it means bringing in a quarterback with some potential without risking much. Griffin could be the ultimate low-risk high-reward type of player that Cleveland should take a chance on.

As a football fan, I hope Washington releases Griffin and he gets a chance to start elsewhere. I think RG3 could succeed in the right environment and I think it would be a lot of fun to see him in a Browns uniform. If Griffin has something of a turn around and survives the season, Cleveland suddenly would have someone to attract free agents for the first time in years.

Who knows, maybe three years from now we will be talking about how good the Browns are with their stud QB Robert Griffin III. Probably not, but all the same, it really couldn’t hurt the Browns to try. He can’t be much worse than McCown right?

Falling stars

Football is a brutal sport. You know that going into it. It is still demoralizing to have your season cut short by injury nonetheless. It is even more so when that injury occurs in a game that counts for absolutely nothing. The season ends before it ever really begins.

Jordy Nelson Already this year, we have seen stars get hit hard by preseason injuries. Jordy Nelson and Kelvin Benjamin have both torn their ACL. Robert Griffin III is out with a concussion. And those are just some of the bigger name stars that have gone out due to injury. There are dozens of other players who already have seen their season’s cut short or put on hold.

The problem is that the NFL doesn’t really have a solution to this. You play preseason games as an attempt to develop chemistry or give guys fighting for a roster spot an opportunity to play in a game like setting where the coaches don’t have to worry about the outcome. They are essential to team development and preparation. No one has yet to come up with an alternative to these games. The NFL also isn’t the only one who plays preseason games but that doesn’t make these injuries much easier to stomach for fans.

However, these injuries could provide new opportunities for other players. In Green Bay, Davante Adams showed flashes of his ability particularly in the team’s playoff win against Dallas. Now, he has an opportunity to show what he can do as a main target.

RG3For Washington, this could spell the end of the RG3 era if the concussion is serious. That could be a good thing though for both sides. Griffin probably needs a fresh start away from Washington and the team definitely needs to wipe its hands clean of the franchise altering trade and move on.

Down in Charlotte, Cam Newton might have to showcase his running abilities once again with Benjamin out and this could be a chance for other young receivers like Corey Brown and Devin Fuchness to display their skills in a much bigger role. 

This is an optimistic approach to these terrible situations. It is not easy for teams to rebound from monumental injuries. Very few teams in NFL history are built to. And yes, it sucks that these guys were hurt in completely meaningless games.

Kelvin_BenjaminAt the same time though, they still should be playing. I know it’s easy to just say that starters should play in the preseason but that is just foolish. These few games allow players to work on timing, new plays, cohesion with new players. Without any of that, it is very likely that the first two or three weeks of the regular season would be fairly rough and probably even sloppy. Realistically, as a fan, would you be able to simply look on and say, “Oh, my team’s star player suffered a season ending injury. Well at least it was in a meaningful game,” and actually mean that? No. There is no way you could. Whether these injuries happen in week 3 or the preseason or week 13 of the regular season, they are going to be crushing either way.

My point is that this should not be a cause for every starter to sit out the entire preseason. Maybe there are ways to be more cautious when these players are in but overall, the whole point of preseason is to put players in a game environment and see how they react. This grace period before everything starts to count is vital to the development of players in the league, especially rookies.

Can you imagine if Marcus Mariota had turned the ball over on the first two series of his career in a regular season game? That wouldn’t exactly be a confidence booster. There would be no chances for the coaches to say, “OK, don’t worry about the score, just try to learn from those mistakes.” The NFL is a win now league. Teams always want to win as soon as possible. There is simply no room for complacency.

Preseason helps avoid those situations and gives players a chance to grow. In the end, it makes for much better games to watch once the regular season rolls around because now these guys are warmed up and ready for the long haul.