NFL Draft 2012: 10 Shocking Picks That No One Saw Coming
In the months of coverage leading up to the draft, there is a myth that prospects are constantly "rising" and "falling." The truth is, the grades NFL teams give each player remain pretty consistent throughout the process; the fluctuation in draft stock is a reflection of the media catching up to the thinking in NFL war rooms.
This is the reason why we see so many eyebrow-raising picks in the draft. Yes, teams cross-check their grades with what the rest of the league thinks about a player, but for the most part, their grades are independent from the general consensus.
If a team likes a supposed second-round talent enough to take him in the top 10 picks, it should not hesitate to pull the trigger.
With that, here are some of the biggest surprises in this year's draft.
Seattle Seahawks Select Bruce Irvin 15th Overall
This pick was a perfect example of the media being outside the loop in terms of evaluating Irvin's value in the draft.
Seattle certainly took a fair amount of heat for taking the one-dimensional player, but according to Len Pasquarelli of the Sports Xchange, the Jets had their eyes on Irvin as well. It is easy to see the Jets' interest in Irvin, as they have made a concentrated effort to make their defense faster and more athletic.
Irvin may very well be a one-dimensional player, but in today's NFL, his explosiveness and pass-rushing ability far outweigh his other limitations.
The pick certainly was surprising, but that is not to say Irvin cannot succeed in the NFL.
New York Jets Select Quinton Coples 16th Overall
When Melvin Ingram slipped to the Jets at 16, roars of "We want Ingram!" rang throughout Radio City Music Hall.
However, the chants of Jets faithful came to no avail, as a once-energized Jets crowd quickly adopted a more confused and somber tone after Roger Goodell announced the Jets' pick.
There are two reasons why this pick was a bit of a shock. For one, the Jets were showing a ton of interest in Melvin Ingram before the draft, as rumors about making a trade up for him began to swirl. It was a dream scenario to see him fall to 16, but the Jets passed on the opportunity to fill their need at linebacker.
Second, Coples' résumé is far too reminiscent of Vernon Gholston's to make Jets fans comfortable. While I believe Coples is a completely different player than Gholston, if you were to utter the words "inconsistent production" to any Jets fan, he or she would immediately think of the massive bust of the 2008 draft.
St. Louis Rams Select Brian Quick 33rd Overall
Brian Quick's stock was "rising" all through the draft process, but few thought that he would be selected just one pick after the first round.
Quick has only a few years of experience at receiver, but he has the tools to be an eventual star.
While he certainly fills a need at receiver, the Rams need a guy who can step in and start right away—someone like Justin Blackmon. The last thing a developing Sam Bradford needs is a receiver who needs a lot of work with route running and in the cerebral aspect of the game.
Carolina Panthers Select Luke Kuechly 9th Overall
It's not that Luke Kuechly cannot be a very good player for the Panthers. It's the fact that they passed on Fletcher Cox to take him.
It's no secret that the Panthers' situation at defensive tackle is nothing short of dire. Passing on the top defensive tackle who some argue to be the best defensive player in the draft was shocking to say the least.
Clearly, the Panthers have a lot more faith in the development of their interior linemen than everyone else, because they have done next to nothing to fill the need.
San Francisco 49ers Select A.J. Jenkins 30th Overall
Just like when the Seahawks picked Bruce Irvin, this was another classic case of one NFL team just falling in love with a particular prospect enough to take him in the first round, with complete disregard for the consensus projection of the player.
While it was no surprise that the 49ers took a receiver early, the pick would not have been as much of a shock if Rueben Randle and Stephen Hill were not still on the board.
The 49ers must have seen something really special in Jenkins, because he was probably going to be around when they picked again in the second round.
Jacksonville Jaguars Select Bryan Anger 70th Overall
Even if the Jaguars were a complete team (which they certainly are not) and were just missing a punter, this pick is tough to justify.
To be frank, Anger is not any kind of rare talent. He could be a nice pro, but he will never provide the kind of value that a third-round pick would provide.
No matter how much the Jaguars liked Anger, they should have waited at least another two rounds before pulling the trigger. If he is taken before then, so be it—bring in some competition from the free-agent market and go from there.
In any case, it is clear the Jaguars want to be ready for all of the punting they will be doing this season.
Washington Redskins Select Kirk Cousins 102nd Overall
Some media outlets will push for a quarterback controversy in Washington, but make no mistake about it: Robert Griffin III is the future of the burgundy and gold.
So why was Cousins drafted by the Redskins?
In the NFL, quarterbacks are viewed as a form of currency. Because of the insatiable demand for passers, teams in excess of quarterbacks can exploit the market to collect picks.
The Redskins thought the value was too good to pass up in the fourth round, so they picked Cousins in hopes that he will develop into a potential starter who can be used as trade value. With patience, they can turn a fourth-round pick into a higher pick in the future.
In the worst case, Cousins becomes a long-term backup for Griffin.
New England Patriots Select Tavon Wilson 48th Overall
Bill Belichick has proven me wrong before, but I have a hard time buying into this pick.
Tavon Wilson was expected to be a barely draftable player, never mind a second-round pick. While he does provide much-needed depth at a need area, they could have easily gotten him several rounds later.
He is, however, a versatile player, which is something Belichick covets. But it will take some results on the field for many to start believing that this was a smart pick.
Denver Broncos Select Ronnie Hillman 67th Overall
I'm all for adding running back depth to the Broncos roster, but why select Ronnie Hillman when Lamar Miller is still on the board?
Miller is not only a second-round talent that wound up sliding to the fourth, but his running style would also be perfect in the "old Colts" offense.
Either the Broncos brass fell madly in love with Hillman, or they were unprepared and unable to adjust their board in time to make a better pick.
Pittsburgh Steelers Select Mike Adams 56th Overall
The Steelers filled a need with a talented player with the selection of Mike Adams. So why was this pick surprising?
Pittsburgh tends to be very careful in terms of the kind of characters it brings into its locker room. Remember, this is the team that shipped out Santonio Holmes for a fifth-round pick and flirted with trading Ben Roethlisberger because of off-field issues.
Adams failed a drug test at the combine, testing positive for marijuana.
On the football side, Adams is more of a pass-protector that lacks a certain mean streak that you look for in the run game. As the Steelers try to become more of a run-heavy offense, it surprises me that they would take a chance on Adams as early as the second round.
Perhaps Adams changes his demeanor once he gets into the locker room, but this pick is very un-Steeler-like.