Re-Drafting the 2012 NFL Draft at the End of the Regular Season
With the completion of the regular season, it's always fun to go back and play a little "what if" game with the draft. Last year's draft featured plenty of players that either overachieved or underperformed. This re-draft gives a good feel for those players that had a much better season than expected.
I kept the draft order as it was in the original draft. This means that I kept the trades in place because it's impossible to predict just how different each team would've approached the draft.
Check out the article to see what different players some of the teams likely would have picked up.
No. 1 Indianapolis Colts
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Original Pick: Andrew Luck, Quarterback
Re-Draft: Andrew Luck, Quarterback
The Indianapolis Colts made the right choice for their franchise when they selected Andrew Luck. He might not be as flashy as Robert Griffin III or Russell Wilson, but he brings a steady calm to the locker room. I doubt even the Colts felt that Luck would be able to lead this team to a playoff berth in his rookie season.
Griffin absolutely deserves some consideration to be the top overall pick, but his injury concerns really give Luck the edge. The Washington Redskins installed a unique offense in order to get the most of Griffin's talent. However, that game plan opens him up to take a larger amount of big hits.
Luck is more of a pocket passer who looks to protect himself.
The truth is that these two are very talented quarterbacks with an extremely bright future. Indianapolis couldn't have gone wrong with either choice.
No. 2 Washington Redskins
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Original Pick: Robert Griffin III, Quarterback
Re-Draft: Robert Griffin III, Quarterback
The Washington Redskins paid a steep price, but they finally have a franchise quarterback in place. Washington would make that trade with the St. Louis Rams every time if it knew how well Robert Griffin III would translate to the NFL.
Griffin has taken a stagnant Redskins offense and transformed it into one of the more explosive units in the league. Mike and Kyle Shanahan deserve a ton of credit for developing a game plan that fit the Griffin's skill set.
The St. Louis Rams are saying all the right things, but they have to have some regrets about trading the rights to Griffin.
No. 3 Cleveland Browns
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Original Pick: Trent Richardson, Running Back
Re-Draft: Russell Wilson, Quarterback
The Cleveland Browns headed into the 2012 draft looking to upgrade the quarterback position, and they decided that Brandon Weeden was the answer to their problems. However, it appears that Cleveland could've waited two rounds and made a run at Russell Wilson.
There's little doubt that the Browns would pull the trigger on Wilson if the draft was replayed tomorrow. Wilson possesses the leadership, versatility and football IQ to have a long, successful career in the NFL. He's shown all of these traits already as a rookie.
Despite proving capable when on the field, injury concerns limited Richardson, so it's difficult to grade the Browns selecting him in this slot. With so many other holes, Cleveland can't afford to deal with an injury-prone running back, and it looks as though that's what the bruising Richardson may turn out to be in the NFL.
No. 4 Minnesota Vikings
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Original Pick: Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle
Re-Draft: Matt Kalil, Offensive Tackle
Finding a top-notch left tackle is a difficult task—just ask teams like the Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals. The Minnesota Vikings made the right decision when they made Matt Kalil the No. 4 pick in last year's draft. Kalil has already made a major impact, as he helped pave the way for Adrian Peterson's dominating season.
As long as Peterson is on the roster, the Vikings will remain a run-first offense. This is why ensuring the offensive line is filled with talent is important. Peterson's talented enough to gain yardage on his own, but having a solid offensive line is what makes him dominant.
Kalil also has an obvious impact on the passing game, as his protection helps Christian Ponder locate open targets.
No. 5 Jacksonville Jaguars
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Original Pick: Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver
Re-Draft: Quinton Coples, Defensive End
Quinton Coples didn't exactly have a dominant season with the New York Jets. However, a lot of his struggles came because of the way New York used him. Coples' value comes from his balance as a player and ability to rush the passer.
New York's decision to use him sporadically at the five-technique position just wasn't a fit. The Jacksonville Jaguars would've benefited from having Coples line up at defensive end in their 4-3 alignment, because they ranked dead last in the NFL with only 20 sacks this season.
Coples was able to record 5.5 sacks this season in limited time. It's easy to speculate that he would've added a few more to that total in Jacksonville.
No. 6 Dallas Cowboys
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Original Pick: Morris Claiborne, Cornerback
Re-Draft: Morris Claiborne, Cornerback
The Dallas Cowboys' biggest need heading into the offseason was at the cornerback position. So even though Morris Claiborne had his share of ups and downs, it was the right pick to have the biggest impact on the roster.
Like most rookie cornerbacks, Claiborne was targeted early and often by opposing offenses. He made some mistakes but showed flashes of becoming a potential shutdown corner.
His development looks promising because he used every situation as a learning experience. Claiborne also showed the ability to maintain his confidence despite his struggles.
No. 7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Original Pick: Mark Barron, Safety
Re-Draft: Doug Martin, Running Back
The entire Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense runs through Doug Martin, and after the season he had, there's no way he'd last until the end of the first round in a re-draft. Martin's versatility is what separates him from the other running backs in this class.
He's able to pick up the tough yards between the tackles, break off long runs and contribute in the passing game.
Martin's solid build and low center of gravity helps him absorb contact. He's the type of running back that could handle the load and remain healthy.
No. 8 Miami Dolphins
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Original Pick: Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback
Re-Draft: Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback
I'll be the first to admit that I missed the boat on Ryan Tannehill. His tendency to make poor decisions in college yielded some major concerns. However, Joe Philbin and Mike Sherman did a great job developing a game plan to limit Tannehill's mistakes.
The next step for the Miami Dolphins is to make a push to add talent around Tannehill. It starts with finding playmakers at the wide receiver position.
This is the first time in a while the Dolphins can feel really good about the direction of the quarterback position. However, Tannehill has a few more hurdles to clear before he reaches his full potential.
No. 9 Carolina Panthers
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Original Pick: Luke Kuechly, Linebacker
Re-Draft: Luke Kuechly, Linebacker
Luke Kuechly finished the season with 15 more total tackles than anybody else in the NFL. His smooth transition helped the Carolina Panthers defense take a significant step forward. The Panthers absolutely would and should make this pick in a re-draft.
It's important to point out the stability Kuechly brought to the team. Over the past few years, Carolina's linebacking corps dealt with a ton of injuries. It happened again this year when Jon Beason was forced out of the lineup. Having Kuechly helped Carolina deal with that injury blow.
There's little doubt that Kuechly has already established himself as one of the top linebackers in the entire NFL.
No. 10 Buffalo Bills
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Original Pick: Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback
Re-Draft: Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback
Janoris Jenkins dropped to the second round of the 2012 draft because of concerns surrounding his character. However, he quickly showed this season that his talent level is well worth the risk of his off-the-field problems. Truth is, Jenkins is just a playmaker.
The Buffalo Bills shouldn't be ready to give up on Stephon Gilmore, as he had a solid rookie season. Jenkins just made too many game-changing plays to not warrant first-round consideration in a re-draft.
Jenkins' off-the-field issues still remain, but ensuring that leadership exists in the locker room is the key to any troubled player's success. Someone like Mario Williams would serve as a strong role model.
No. 11 Kansas City Chiefs
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Original Pick: Dontari Poe, Nose Tackle
Re-Draft: Fletcher Cox, Defensive Line
The Kansas City Chiefs originally added the big-bodied Dontari Poe to come in and play nose tackle. However, they would've been better off adding a potential five-technique in Fletcher Cox. The Chiefs haven't gotten enough production out of early picks Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey.
Cox is a versatile player who does a good job stuffing the run and working his way into the backfield. His combination of a non-stop motor and quick first step allows him to generate pressure on the quarterback. Adding him to the outside linebacker duo of Tamba Hali and Justin Houston would be highly productive.
Of course, the Chiefs need help at the quarterback position, but all the first-round-worthy quarterbacks are already off the board.
No. 12 Philadelphia Eagles
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Original Pick: Fletcher Cox, Defensive Tackle
Re-Draft: Lavonte David, Linebacker
The Philadelphia Eagles got good production out of second-rounder Mychal Kendricks, but Lavonte David had a much more productive season. David is an explosive athlete who uses his quickness and tenacity to make plays from sideline to sideline.
Teams shied away from David because he lacks the ideal size for a linebacker. However, he showed that his athleticism was more than enough to make up for that lack of size. David has no problem avoiding blockers and making the tackle in the hole.
Philadelphia could've used some help along the offensive line this year. However, there isn't a left tackle prospect worthy of this selection.
No. 13 Arizona Cardinals
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Original Pick: Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver
Re-Draft: Mitchell Schwartz, Offensive Tackle
The Arizona Cardinals' quarterback situation is a complete mess, but some of that has to do with the issues along the offensive line. Mitchell Schwartz has quietly put together a very strong season for the Cleveland Browns. While he might be a reach here at No. 13, Schwartz is consistent enough to have made a big impact for the Cardinals.
His best fit in the NFL is at right tackle, but he would've done a better job on the left side than the players currently on the Cardinals roster.
Selecting Schwartz here would've allowed the Cardinals to target a quarterback like Kirk Cousins in the second round.
No. 14 St. Louis Rams
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Original Pick: Michael Brockers, Defensive Tackle
Re-Draft: Trent Richardson, Running Back
The selection of Michael Brockers has worked out well for the St. Louis Rams, as it has given them a highly talented defensive line. However, finding a potentially elite playmaker like Trent Richardson would've been too hard to pass up.
St. Louis realizes that Steven Jackson doesn't have many years left. This is why bringing in a long-term replacement like Richardson would make a ton of sense. The fact St. Louis collected a ton of picks from the trade with the Washington Redskins also makes this pick realistic.
Of course, Alfred Morris would also receive some consideration at this spot. He had a much better season, but I still give Richardson the edge because he possesses more upside.
No. 15 Seattle Seahawks
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Original Pick: Bruce Irvin, Defensive End
Re-Draft: Bobby Wagner, Linebacker
The Seattle Seahawks' pick of Bruce Irvin received a lot of criticism, but his pass-rush ability has helped the defense become one of the better units in the league. However, it's the Seahawks' second-round pick, Bobby Wagner, that had made a bigger impact.
Wagner led the team with 140 tackles, while also making all the defensive calls. His leadership helped the defense remain in proper position throughout the game.
If it weren't for Luke Kuechly's excellent rookie season, Wagner would definitely receive some votes for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
No. 16 New York Jets
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Original Pick: Quinton Coples, Defensive End
Re-Draft: Alfred Morris, Running Back
Under Rex Ryan, the New York Jets have always aimed to feature a strong running game and dominant defense. The issue is that New York just doesn't have a top-notch running back to execute that game plan. Someone like Alfred Morris would absolutely represent a major upgrade over Shonn Greene.
Morris is the type of powerful runner who's capable of carrying the load. He also possesses deceptive speed, which helps him outpace defensive angles.
Mark Sanchez absolutely would've benefited from having Morris on the roster.
No. 17 Cincinnati Bengals
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Original Pick: Dre Kirkpatrick, Cornerback
Re-Draft: Harrison Smith, Safety
Dre Kirkpatrick was not able to make much of an impact this season because of an injury in training camp. He still possesses upside, but it's unclear just how his career will turn out. On the other hand, Harrison Smith has established himself as a true playmaker.
Smith does a good job reading the quarterback and breaking on the football. His quick burst is what allows him to close on the receiver. Smith is also a very aggressive run defender who isn't afraid to attack the line of scrimmage.
The Cincinnati Bengals defense would look a lot better with Smith in the lineup.
No. 18 San Diego Chargers
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Original Pick: Melvin Ingram, Outside Linebacker
Re-Draft: Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver
The San Diego Chargers selected Melvin Ingram in the first round to bolster their pass rush. However, Ingram only recorded two half-sacks this season. His inability to make an impact means the Chargers would absolutely give thought to going in a different direction.
Justin Blackmon's playmaking ability would've been a real benefit for Philip Rivers. The Chargers' receivers really had an inconsistent season, with some of the players dealing with a string of injuries.
San Diego's wide receiver situation was so poor that Danario Alexander led the team with seven touchdown receptions. The issue is that Alexander wasn't added to the roster until late October.
No. 19 Chicago Bears
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Original Pick: Shea McClellin, Defensive End
Re-Draft: Jonathan Martin, Offensive Tackle
The Chicago Bears offensive line was again one of the worst units in the NFL. This group allowed a total of 44 sacks on the year, but that number would be much higher if it weren't for Jay Cutler's ability to avoid the rush. There's little doubt that Chicago regrets not addressing this need somewhere in the 2012 draft.
Jonathan Martin had a very solid season for the Miami Dolphins. He began the year at right tackle but took over for Jake Long on the left side after an injury. Martin's best quality is his ability to protect the quarterback, which is obviously Chicago's greatest need.
Shea McClellin didn't have the type of season the Bears were expecting. He was mainly used as a situational pass-rusher, but he continued to lose playing time to Corey Wootton.
No. 20 Tennessee Titans
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Original Pick: Kendall Wright, Wide Receiver
Re-Draft: Bruce Irvin, Defensive End
The Tennessee Titans defense boasts a lot of young talent, but it desperately needs someone to generate more pressure on the quarterback. Bruce Irvin's quickness off the edge makes him the right player to fill that role.
Irvin's effectiveness comes in his quick first step, use of leverage and closing burst. He still needs time to develop more pass-rush moves, but he's still capable of generating pressure based on his natural ability.
The Titans gave Kamerion Wimbley a big-money contract, but he only produced six sacks this season. Irvin finished the year with eight sacks for the Seattle Seahawks.
No. 21 New England Patriots
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Original Pick: Chandler Jones, Defensive End
Re-Draft: Chandler Jones, Defensive End
The New England Patriots' decision to select Chandler Jones made sense on draft day, and it remains the smart pick. Jones has provided the Patriots with solid all-around play, as he isn't just a pass-rush threat. The Patriots defense has played much better this season thanks to the addition of Jones.
Jones' ability to both rush the passer and set the edge against the run is what makes him so valuable. His versatility is one of the main reasons why Bill Belichick targeted him in the draft.
New England could've targeted a cornerback with this pick, but having two first-round picks gives them options.
No. 22 Cleveland Browns
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Original Pick: Brandon Weeden, Quarterback
Re-Draft: T.Y. Hilton, Wide Receiver
After adding Russell Wilson earlier in the re-draft, the Cleveland Browns need to find someone to help open up the offense. T.Y. Hilton showed this season that he's a highly explosive playmaker. His big-play ability really helped the Indianapolis Colts earn a playoff berth.
Wilson possesses a strong throwing arm that would allow him to take advantage of Hilton's speed. It's tough to imagine any quarterback succeeding with the likes of Greg Little as the team's top target.
Teams like the Colts have realized that it's important to surround a young quarterback with playmakers. That's why going with a wide receiver in this spot makes a ton of sense.
No. 23 Detroit Lions
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Original Pick: Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle
Re-Draft: Casey Hayward, Cornerback
The Detroit Lions' problems in the secondary played a major role in their disappointing season. This group lacked both talent and depth. Casey Hayward would've been an immediate upgrade for the Lions. He showed this season that he has a knack for making plays, as his six interceptions ranked him fifth in the league.
Because of Detroit's solid pass rush, Hayward would've had plenty of opportunities to generate turnovers. A few more turnovers could've translated to a few more wins for Detroit this season.
Riley Reiff is still a valuable part of the Lions' draft class and will likely get a chance to start at either left or right tackle next season. However, there's no doubt Hayward would've made a more immediate impact.
No. 24 Pittsburgh Steelers
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Original Pick: David DeCastro, Guard
Re-Draft: Mark Barron, Safety
The Pittsburgh Steelers were without Troy Polamalu for a total of nine games this season. Even when he was in the lineup, Polamalu really didn't have his normal quickness and speed. The Steelers have been dealing with these injury issues for a few years.
Adding a playmaking safety like Mark Barron would make a ton of sense for the Steelers, as his versatility means that he can play any safety spot. The Steelers could've use him as the long-term replacement for either Polamalu or Ryan Clark.
David DeCastro really didn't have a chance to show his stuff this season, as he missed a lot of time due to an injury in the preseason.
No. 25 New England Patriots
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Original Pick: Dont'a Hightower, Linebacker
Re-Draft: Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback
Dont'a Hightower had a very solid season for the New England Patriots, but they could've gotten by without him. They would've received a greater benefit from adding a defensive back like Stephon Gilmore.
Gilmore's combination of size and quickness makes him an excellent all-around defender. This season, he showed the ability to hold up in man coverage or make plays in zone.
Despite making a handful of mistakes this season, Gilmore still would've been an upgrade over the likes of Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington.
No. 26 Houston Texans
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Original Pick: Whitney Mercilus, Outside Linebacker
Re-Draft: Kendall Wright, Wide Receiver
The Houston Texans were aiming to find a replacement for Mario Williams when they selected Whitney Mercilus in the first round, though they had a much greater need at wide receiver. Adding Kendall Wright would've helped open up the offense.
Wright's big-play ability is something that would've helped Andre Johnson avoid constant double-teams. He also possesses the talent to make the most of the one-on-one situations created by Johnson.
Houston really didn't need to add Mercilus, as it had both Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed at the outside linebacker position. Those two showed last season that they have the talent to generate a strong pass rush.
No. 27 Cincinnati Bengals
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Original Pick: Kevin Zeitler, Guard
Re-Draft: David Wilson, Running Back
The Cincinnati Bengals offense lacks the balance needed to be a top-notch unit. Andy Dalton has continued to develop, but he just isn't at the point to carry an entire offense. Adding a big-play threat like David Wilson could've really helped.
Wilson is an ultra-quick running back who possesses the burst to score from anywhere on the field. He also does a good job of lowering his pads and picking up yards after contact. The combination of Wilson and BenJarvus Green-Ellis would've been very dangerous.
Kevin Zeitler doesn't get much attention for his solid rookie season. He's an important part of the Bengals' offensive line, but that doesn't mean that Wilson wouldn't have had a bigger impact.
No. 28 Green Bay Packers
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Original Pick: Nick Perry, Outside Linebacker
Re-Draft: Courtney Upshaw, Outside Linebacker
Nick Perry struggled to provide the Green Bay Packers with the pass-rush help they wanted. Before his injury, he had only recorded two sacks.
This is an issue because the Packers needed him to help pull double-teams away from Clay Matthews, or at the very least take advantage of the situations created by Matthews.
Courtney Upshaw doesn't have the same type of quick burst as Perry, but he's still an effective pass-rusher. However, his real value comes in his ability to provide balanced play. Upshaw isn't just a pass-rusher, as he also does a good job supporting the run.
He would've allowed the Packers to move Matthews around the field more than they do already. Matthews is so dangerous because he can rush from any spot on the field.
No. 29 Minnesota Vikings
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Original Pick: Harrison Smith, Safety
Re-Draft: Michael Floyd, Wide Receiver
The Minnesota Vikings' passing offense lacks a playmaker to complement Percy Harvin. Michael Floyd's size and speed combination gives him the skill set needed to fill that role. Minnesota will absolutely target someone like him in the upcoming draft.
Floyd didn't have a productive season with the Arizona Cardinals, but that has a lot to do with the poor play of the Cardinals' offensive line. Minnesota used its earlier pick to add Matt Kalil, which ensures Christian Ponder will have solid pass protection.
The Vikings relied heavily on Adrian Peterson this season, but at some point in the near future, they'll wish they had a difference maker at wide receiver.
No. 30 San Francisco 49ers
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Original Pick: A.J. Jenkins, Wide Receiver
Re-Draft: Kendall Reyes, Defensive Line
A.J. Jenkins failed to do anything noteworthy for the San Francisco 49ers. In fact, he was left off the active roster for the majority of the season. San Francisco would've gotten a greater benefit from adding a defensive lineman like Kendall Reyes.
A defense can never have enough depth along the line. Reyes would've given San Francisco someone that could come in and help at all three positions along the line. He also gives the 49ers an eventual for Justin Smith.
The 49ers' 2012 draft class was a real bust, as none of the players selected have made an impact. Of that group, Jenkins is easily the most disappointing.
No. 31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Original Pick: Doug Martin, Running Back
Re-Draft: Zach Brown, Linebacker
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had to use their earlier pick to ensure they still landed Doug Martin. This means they had to go in a different direction with this pick. In the original draft, Tampa Bay added Lavonte David in the second round because it had a major need at the linebacker spot.
With David already off the board, the Buccaneers are forced to go with Zach Brown. There are a lot of similarities between Brown and David, as both players use their quickness and closing burst to make plays on the football.
Brown is a little more raw than David, but he has the potential to develop into a highly productive linebacker.
No. 32 New York Giants
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Original Pick: David Wilson, Running Back
Re-Draft: Dont'a Hightower, Linebacker
The New York Giants need to head into this offseason looking to upgrade the linebacking corps. They really didn't get great production from the group of Chase Blackburn, Michael Boley and Keith Rivers. Dont'a Hightower could've been an immediate upgrade at the position.
Hightower is a versatile linebacker capable of playing at either the inside or outside linebacker position. He also possesses the ability to generate some pressure on the quarterback. A team can never have enough pass-rushing options.
David Wilson didn't quite have the impact the Giants were hoping for this season, mainly because of fumble issues early in the year. However, he provided some explosive plays on kick returns.