Redrafting the First Two Rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft
What if the entire NFL just decided to take a mulligan on the 2012 NFL draft?
Knowing what we know now about the great unknown, what would be different? Which players would skyrocket up the draft board and which would plummet? Which coaches and general managers would have a shot to save their jobs with another go-round at talent acquisition?
Which teams would benefit and which teams would wince as their late-round gems became first-round picks?
Before we start, some ground rules.
First, for the purposes of this exercise, everyone is healthy. There's no reason to drop a guy down for something he can't control. Plus, drafts aren't just for the upcoming year—this is about long-term needs and overall improvement of the franchise's direction. A guy missing his rookie season isn't ideal, but it doesn't mean that it's a terrible pick.
Care was made to assess not only the current needs of the team, but also the needs immediately prior to the 2012 draft. However, teams that drafted a certain position because of a perceived need would now have the benefit of hindsight, so some teams might ignore positions they focused on a year ago.
Finally, just because "Player A" was better than "Player B" as a rookie, doesn't mean teams would take "Player A" first. Film study trumps stats, and long-term success is just as important as immediate.
Onto the picks!
1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck (QB Stanford)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Original Pick: Andrew Luck (QB Stanford)
I mean, duh.
Andrew Luck has been phenomenal for the Colts this season and is maturing into a top quarterback even sooner than expected.
He's perfect for what Bruce Arians wants to do on offense and has survived behind the Colts' porous offensive line better than anyone else could.
2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III (QB Baylor)
Al Bello/Getty Images
Original Pick: Robert Griffin III (QB Baylor)
If we really wanted to do a "what if," we could rewind to a time when this pick belonged to St. Louis and give them RGIII.
It is interesting, however, doing this exercise as Griffin lays in a hospital bed. Would this revisionist pick be different in a few years? It's very possible.
For now, RGIII clearly looks like the right pick, as he has turned the Redskins into a viable franchise once again.
3. Cleveland Browns: Russell Wilson (QB Wisconsin)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Original Pick: Trent Richardson (RB Alabama)
The Browns love Richardson, but Russell Wilson would have saved some jobs in 2012.
Look at what Wilson has done in Seattle. Then realize that the Browns have a better offensive line and weapons that he could utilize better than Brandon Weeden ever did.
Especially if we assume Josh Gordon is still in Cleveland in this scenario.
4. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil (OT USC)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Original Pick: Matt Kalil (OT USC)
The Vikings are extremely happy with this pick.
Kalil revitalized multiple positions along the offensive front, gave Peterson the ability to run to both sides of the field and kept Ponder a lot cleaner than he had been in the past.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trent Richardson (RB Alabama)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
Original Pick: Justin Blackmon (WR Oklahoma State)
If the Jaguars knew what they know now...
By the end of the season, they were just picking guys off the street to play running back for them.
Is MJD ever going to be MJD again? Is he even going to be in the plans of the next regime?
Richardson doesn't solve any major problems with the Jaguars, but he gives them an elite offensive weapon and changes the way teams have to prepare for them—something they lacked in 2012.
6. Dallas Cowboys: Morris Claiborne (CB LSU)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Original Picks: Morris Claiborne (CB LSU)
Claiborne wasn't the best rookie cornerback, but that's not what this exercise is about.
Claiborne is still the best young cornerback prospect in the NFL and (for stretches) he was one of the best defenders on the Cowboys not named DeMarcus Ware.
However, at other times, he made some pretty boneheaded errors.
The Cowboys would gladly take those errors again, knowing that Claiborne is going to grow into an elite NFL cornerback.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Doug Martin (RB Boise State)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Original Pick: Mark Barron (S Alabama)
The Buccaneers would get to this redraft with one goal—don't lose Doug Martin.
Does it stink for them that they have to take him a lot earlier than they did last time around?
Yes, yes it does.
8. Miami Dolphins—Ryan Tannehill (QB Texas A&M)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Original Pick: Ryan Tannehill (QB Texas A&M)
I'm not 100 percent sold on Tannehill as "the next Marino."
He showed that he can be, at times, in 2012, but as more teams got scouting tape on him and Mike Sherman's offense, he also looked a lot like "the next Chad Henne."
That said, QBs are in short supply, and Tannehill is the last of the elite prospects in this draft class.
The Dolphins will still need to get him more help than they did in the real world.
9. Carolina Panthers: Bobby Wagner (LB Utah State)
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
Original Pick: Luke Kuechly (LB Boston College)
Yes, Carolina Panthers fans, complain below.
Kuechly led the league in tackles in 2012. Panthers fans think that means he was the best rookie linebacker, deserving of a Pro Bowl nod and candidacy for Rookie of the Year.
None of that is actually true.
Wagner is as good a physical prospect and makes a lot more impacting plays. He fights through and stands up blocks better than Kuechly, and is just as good tracking from sideline to sideline.
10. Buffalo Bills: Mark Barron (S Alabama)
J. Meric/Getty Images
Original Pick: Stephon Gilmore (CB S. Carolina)
The Bills already have a good safety tandem in Jairus Byrd and George Wilson, but the latter of those two players isn't anywhere near the ball hawk that Mark Barron would be on the Buffalo team as it stands now.
As the defensive front hit its stride midseason, the Bills' biggest problem was that they weren't making teams pay when errant balls went up into the air.
Barron would change that, alongside Byrd.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: Chandler Jones (DE Syracuse)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Original Pick: Dontari Poe (NT Memphis)
It's easy to see why the Chiefs wanted a nose guard, but Poe just wasn't that guy (and no one at No. 11 would've been).
Instead, Chandler Jones joins the already great Chiefs defense as a slightly undersized 3-4 DE and a guy who could wear a lot of hats for a defense already filled with playmakers.
But seriously, the biggest "redo" pick would probably be a gigantic trade for one of the QBs. Scott Pioli's inability to staff that position was his biggest downfall.
12. Philadelphia Eagles: Bruce Irvin (DE West Virginia)
Al Bello/Getty Images
Original Pick: Fletcher Cox (DT Mississippi State)
The Eagles looked at their roster and, somewhat easily, figured out they had enough pass-rushers and needed some bulk in the middle.
Cox played well for the Eagles, but those pass-rushers they counted on were never able to get anything going.
Irvin, if nothing else, would've energized the Eagles on pass-heavy downs.
Maybe he's a lot like some of the rushers they already have, but he's still an upgrade.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Mitchell Schwartz (OT California)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Original Pick: Michael Floyd (WR Notre Dame)
I'm not sure Mitchell Schwartz would be a long-term solution at LT for the Cardinals, but he would be better than anyone they trotted out in 2012.
At RT, his natural position, he would've easily been one of the Cardinals' best players on offense.
14. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon (WR Oklahoma State)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Original Pick: Michael Brockers (DT LSU)
The Rams built a good defense in 2012 with Jeff Fisher at the helm, and I'm confident they could do so even with a slightly different focus at the top of the draft.
Brockers played well, but it was difficult for the Rams to stay in games when Sam Bradford had so little help.
If the Rams liked a lineman in this situation, that's a no-brainer, but the best player available is Blackmon, who would immediately improve the Rams offense.
15. Seattle Seahawks: Quinton Coples (DE N. Carolina)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Original Pick: Bruce Irvin (DE W. Virginia)
The 'Hawks would gladly take Irvin again, but he's off the board.
So Coples comes in as their situational pass-rusher in his first year, and probably has a little more upside as an every-down player in the future.
16. New York Jets: Kendall Wright (WR Baylor)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Original Pick: Quinton Coples (DE/OLB UNC)
The Jets still need a pass-rusher, but with hindsight, they would probably aim to do something about that atrocious offense.
Wright gives them a legitimate No. 1 target and would help whoever ends up under center.
Round 2 spoiler alert!
17. Cincinnati Bengals: Luke Kuechly (LB Boston College)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Original Pick: Dre Kirkpatrick (CB Alabama)
The Bengals turned to Vontaze Burfict at linebacker this season and he played well behind that terrific Bengals defensive line.
The irony of this pick is that Kuechly would likely be even more effective in Cincinnati than he was in Carolina, with a guy like Geno Atkins in front of him.
18. San Diego Chargers: Reilly Reiff (OT Iowa)
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Original Pick: Melvin Ingram (DE/OLB S. Carolina)
Ingram helped the Chargers defense this season, but the Chargers had nothing protecting Philip Rivers (and Rivers had little to throw to).
With Norv Turner at the helm, that was a huge problem.
Reiff would've been a steady presence, adding a handful of wins to the Chargers' total all by himself.
19. Chicago Bears: David DeCastro (OG Stanford)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images
Original Pick: Shea McClellin (DE Boise State)
The Bears got cute by taking another pass-rusher when the offensive line was in such dire need.
They trusted Mike Tice to fix the personnel they already had. That trust, as we now know, was misplaced.
DeCastro immediately gives Cutler and Forte a boost and is probably the difference as the Bears head to the playoffs.
20. Tennessee Titans: Harrison Smith (S Notre Dame)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Original Pick: Kendall Wright (WR Baylor)
Wright made some great plays for the Titans in 2012 and likely will in the future, but he's off the board.
Instead of reaching for another receiver, the Titans grab a playmaker for the defensive backfield—something they sorely needed this past season.
21. New England Patriots: Fletcher Cox (DT Mississippi State)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Original Pick: Chandler Jones (DE Syracuse)
Next to Vince Wilfork, Cox would be a terror to opposing offenses.
He would also help keep blockers off the Patriots linebackers, who had to deal with a lot of traffic in 2012.
22. Cleveland Browns: Kevin Zeitler (OG Wisconsin)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Original Pick: Brandon Weeden (QB Oklahoma State)
The Browns already added Russell Wilson, so they need to go about protecting him, giving him weapons, etc.
Mitchell Schwartz would probably be the pick here (earlier than they actually took him), but he's a Cardinal in this situation.
So Kevin Zeitler comes in to play either RG or RT and gives the Browns a dominant run-blocker and able pass-protector.
23. Detroit Lions: Dre Kirkpatrick (CB Alabama)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Original Pick: Riley Reiff (OT Iowa)
Every Lions fan who has clicked on this article probably thought Janoris Jenkins would be the pick for this slide. Sorry, guys.
Knowing what we know about the Lions' 2012 struggles with character and composure, Jenkins would not be a wise selection. Jenkins had some hiccups this past year that Jeff Fisher stamped out; there's no indication Jim Schwartz could have done the same.
Instead, Kirkpatrick (if he stayed healthy in Honolulu Blue) would give the Lions front four a chance at a few coverage sacks across from Chris Houston.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cordy Glenn (OT Georgia)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Original Pick: David DeCastro (OG Stanford)
If DeCastro had been able to stay healthy, the year may have been slightly better for the Steelers, so he'd be the pick if he weren't already selected by the Bears.
In his place, the Steelers reach a little bit for Cordy Glenn, who had a very underrated season up in Buffalo and would immediately step in as a starter for Pittsburgh.
25. New England Patriots: Melvin Ingram (DE S. Carolina)
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Original Pick: Dont'a Hightower (LB Alabama)
With teams above the Patriots eschewing pass-rushers for other needs, the Pats luck into Ingram, who would give them a versatile rusher who can put his hand down or stand up in the Patriots' hybrid scheme.
26. Houston Texans: Alshon Jeffery (WR S. Carolina)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Original Pick: Whitney Mercilus (OLB/DE Illinois)
Mercilus had his moments, and the desire to put pass-rushers around J.J. Watt is a very noble endeavor.
That said, the need for a second wideout across from Andre Johnson is even more pressing.
Jeffery proved he could step up and be a pro, and the Texans reap the benefits in this redraft.
27. Cincinnati Bengals: Janoris Jenkins (CB North Alabama)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Original Pick: Kevin Zeitler (OG Wisconsin)
All those Jenkins issues we talked about in the Lions slide are still very real here, and I don't trust Marvin Lewis to manage them as well as Fisher did.
However, as always, that doesn't mean they wouldn't take the chance.
28. Green Bay Packers—Whitney Mercilus (DE/OLB Illinois)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images
Original Pick: Nick Perry (DE/OLB USC)
Very close here to just selecting Perry in the redraft, but Mercilus is probably a better all-around player and could do more immediately for the Packers on their playoff run.
Really, either way it's a solid pick for a Packers team that doesn't have a shot at an impact lineman.
29. Minnesota Vikings: Casey Hayward (CB Vanderbilt)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Original Pick: Harrison Smith (S Notre Dame)
The Vikings need a defensive back to keep teams from running up the score on them, and Smith did extremely well in his rookie season.
Methinks Hayward would have similar success on the Vikings, especially across from Antoine Winfield.
This pick would probably move Chris Cook to safety.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Michael Brockers (DT LSU)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Original Pick: A.J. Jenkins (WR Illinois)
Maybe, long term, Jenkins will pan out for the 49ers, but the argument could be made that the offensive weapons around Alex Smith/Colin Kaepernick were more than capable this past season.
If we're looking at a longer-term pick, let's go with the best player available.
That's Brockers, who had a good season for the Rams and would give the Niners a versatile pass-rushing big body.
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Lavonte David (LB Nebraska)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Original Pick: Doug Martin (RB Boise State)
At this point, I almost feel bad for the Buccaneers.
They're filling the same needs, but they're suffering from a draft board that they seemingly played with foresight. But now others get to look back on their mistakes.
David has been phenomenal for the Bucs this season and is my pick for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
32. New York Giants: David Wilson (RB Virginia Tech)
Original Pick: David Wilson (RB Virginia Tech)
Last pick of the first round stays the same, as the Giants won't want to give up Wilson's special teams ability or upside as the lightning back.
Luxury pick? Absolutely, but a luxury the Giants are awfully comfortable with.
Win McNamee/Getty Images
2.1 St. Louis Rams: Stephon Gilmore (CB S. Carolina)
Gilmore falls here and probably ends up looking as fantastic as Jenkins did on that Rams offense.
2.2 Indianapolis Colts: Dwayne Allen (TE Clemson)
In real life, Allen went a round later, but there's little chance the Colts wouldn't ensure he's on their team (even over Coby Fleener) by taking him here.
2.3 Baltimore Ravens: Dont'a Hightower (LB Alabama)
The Ravens needed Upshaw in 2012, but Hightower falls to them as a long-term replacement for Ray Lewis.
2.4 Denver Broncos: Derek Wolfe (DT Cincinnati)
The Broncos, in hindsight, don't need a whole lot. If there were a better lineman available or a great tight end prospect, maybe. Otherwise, Wolfe looked like a great prospect who fit their system.
2.5 Cleveland Browns: Nick Perry (LB/DE USC)
The Browns have done a lot to improve their offense already; here's a pass-rusher to grow alongside that young defense.
2.6 Jacksonville Jaguars: Kirk Cousins (QB Michigan State)
Blaine Gabbert got his general manager and head coach fired. Kirk Cousins would get a shot to start after his job in relief as a Redskin.
2.7 St. Louis Rams: Peter Konz (C/OG Wisconsin)
The Rams need more protection for Bradford, who got his receiver in Round 1. Know that the defense is a priority, but these picks made the Rams a lot more balanced on offense.
2.8 Carolina Panthers: Kendall Reyes (DT Connecticut)
Former GM Marty Hurney never got a great defensive tackle, seemingly ignoring the position with abandon. Reyes and Bobby Wagner would have probably saved his job.
2.9 Buffalo Bills: Courtney Upshaw (DE/LB Alabama)
Mark Anderson is a bit of a bust as a free-agent acquisition. Once Mario Williams gets healthy in this redo reality, the Bills defense would be a lot better.
2.10 Miami Dolphins: Brian Quick (WR App St.)
OK, you got Tannehill, now get him a receiver. While Quick didn't have the best season of the receivers who are left on the board, he's the guy who looks most like a true No. 1.
2.11 New York Jets: Brandon Weeden (QB Oklahoma State)
Is Weeden a sure thing? No, absolutely not. Is he worlds better than the QBs on the Jets roster? Absolutely.
2.12 Kansas City Chiefs: Nick Foles (QB Arizona)
Everything said about Weeden above, yeah....the same thing here. With even average play from Foles (and excitement about that play), Pioli keeps his job.
2.13 Chicago Bears: Michael Floyd (WR Notre Dame)
Without Alshon Jeffery available, the Bears get a local prospect who would look awfully nice across from Brandon Marshall.
2.14 Philadelphia Eagles: Jonathan Martin (OT Stanford)
Without Foles behind Vick, the Eagles will have to protect Vick to keep him healthy. Martin would be able to bookend Jason Peters extremely well for years to come.
2.15 Seattle Seahawks: Amini Silatolu (OG Midwestern State)
Without Wilson, the Seahawks need to build around Matt Flynn. That means better protection on the interior for a quarterback who isn't nearly as effective on the run.
2.16 New England Patriots: Vontaze Burfict (LB Arizona State)
In the first, the Patriots grabbed a couple of awesome linemen. That means Burfict should have plenty of talent in front of him to duplicate the success he had in Cincinnati.
2.17 San Diego Chargers: Shea McClellin (DE/OLB Boise State)
The Chargers didn't get their pass-rusher in the first, so while another linemen here may be needed, they pull the trigger on one of the best players available.
2.18 St Louis Rams: Mike Martin (DT Michigan)
After passing on Brockers in the first and beefing up the offense so far, the Rams finally flip the switch and go defense. Martin reestablishes and holds the line of scrimmage better than almost any lineman in this class.
2.19 Green Bay Packers: Mike Adams (OT Ohio State)
Another defensive pick would make sense for a Packers team that was able to improve so much on that side of the ball from 2011 to 2012. However, protecting Aaron Rodgers should be more of a priority the second time around.
2.20 Tennessee Titans: Jerel Worthy (DT Michigan State)
In hindsight, the Titans know that Chris Johnson can still carry the offense, so they continue to stock the defense with a solid player along the front.
2.21 Cincinnati Bengals: Kelechi Osemele (OT/OG Iowa State)
The Bengals ran behind rookie Kevin Zeitler when they needed yards in 2012. In an alternate reality, they do the same thing behind Osemele.
2.22 Detroit Lions: Andre Branch (DE Clemson)
The Lions' fearsome pass rush wasn't nearly as fearsome as it should've been. Branch is a versatile player who can add much needed depth with their starting ends as free agents in 2013.
2.23 Atlanta Falcons: Zach Brown (LB North Carolina)
Brown was viewed as "just an athlete" before the draft. In reality, he was fantastic and made a ton of big plays for the Titans. For the Falcons, he makes their defense that much more dynamic.
2.24 Pittsburgh Steelers: Dontari Poe (NT Memphis)
The Steelers have put up with merely hoping for better play along their defensive front for years. Might as well push some chips in and grab another fantastic athlete who could pan out in the future.
2.25 Denver Broncos: Alfred Morris (RB Florida Atlantic)
Why not Morris sooner? The Redskins are a perfect storm for running back success—mobile QBs and zone-blocking schemes can make great running backs even greater. This redo would be a great opportunity to see if Morris could duplicate that success on another team.
2.26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tavon Wilson (S Illinois)
The Bucs have pretty much had the exact same draft, except for trading Wilson for Barron. If Wilson had the same success under Schiano that he had under Belichick, it's probably a draw for the Bucs.
2.27 New Orleans Saints: Pick Forfeited
Should the Saints get a pick in the redo now that Bountygate is over? Give me your opinion in the comments below.
2.28 Philadelphia Eagles: Devon Still (DT Penn State)
A local kid to make up for missing on Cox earlier. The Eagles come out on top with better line play.
2.29 Baltimore Ravens: T.Y. Hilton (WR Florida International)
Hilton lasts because he's not a true No. 1 and may not put up quite the numbers he did with Bruce Arians. Here, his deep speed adds another asset to the Ravens offense. Maybe Cam Cameron sticks around.
2.30 San Francisco 49ers: Mohamed Sanu (WR Rutgers)
Would the 49ers trade Jenkins for Sanu? Maybe, maybe not. Should they? Absolutely.
2.31 Green Bay Packers: Josh Robinson (CB Central Florida)
The Packers missed out on Hayward, who went in the first round to the Vikings. They return the favor here by stealing the athletic Robinson from the Vikings.
2.32 New York Giants: Trumaine Johnson (CB Montana)
The Giants need better coverage if they're ever going to stop teams from matching them point for point. Johnson could step in and improve that immediately.
Michael Schottey is the NFL national lead writer for Bleacher Report and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff at The Go Route.