The first round of the 2012 NFL Draft advanced with breakneck speed. Teams fired off trades and made unexpected picks. Inside Radio City Music Hall, the sweaty members of the media, loaded up on carbohydrates from the catering spread, didn't know what the hell was happening. The fog of war descended over the whole place. Heads sank as mock drafts were rendered irrelevant.
I was really shocked when most NFL teams elected not to heed the calls of mock drafts. How dare they?
Did teams do better than the mock drafts? And how about the predictions? Lest I embarrass myself by comparing my mock drafts with the real thing (Real Clear Sports already did that for me), I though we'd see how the hive mind compared to the results of the first round. Let's match up SB Nation's NFL bloggers mock draft with the real thing.
Sadly, we only nailed three correct picks. You can thank all the trades for that.
This is like getting a point for putting your name on the paper.
Again, if you missed this one, mock drafting may not be for you. This was the second-easiest pick in this draft.
Radio City Music Hall fell silent when they announced this trade over the PA system. Even the Jets fans in the cheap seats took a moment to scratch their bald spots. It sure looks like Cleveland got fleeced. The third and fourth picks were supposed to unfold with these two players -- just not in this order.
4. Actual pick: Minnesota Vikings (via Cleveland), Matt Kalil, OT, USC
4. Mock draft pick: Cleveland Browns, Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Richardson and Blackmon were common picks for the Browns. I think Blackmon would have made sense for Cleveland's West Coast Offense. So does Richardson. As for the Vikings, they did not outthink themselves with this pick. Kalil was a good selection for them.
In the media pit at Radio City, I looked in front of me at the CBS guys and to my left where the team from BET was sitting. I imagine the look on everyone's face to be similar to being trapped in a rocket as it crashes to Earth. The pace of the draft was out of control. Ballsy move by the Jags, and it was probably smart to get a receiver for Blaine Gabbert to work with ASAP. The Bucs ended up getting a defensive back two picks later, but not Claiborne.
In hindsight, I should have known Richardson would not make it to the Rams in the draft. As for Dallas, everyone had them pegged as a potential trade-up candidate, but we all thought Mark Barron was the target. Think about a defense with Brandon Carr and Claiborne at corner; I'm sure Eli Manning will. Good move by Dallas.
7. Actual pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via Jacksonville), Mark Barron, S, Alabama
7. Mock draft pick: Jaguars, Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
The fate of these two players was reversed from mock drafts. Coples fell; Barron went in the top 10. Tampa needed to get better in their secondary, and this helps.
Ryan Tannehill was a top-10 pick. Think about that for a moment. The reunion between Mike Sherman and his former signal caller just made too much sense. I wonder where Tannehill would have been drafted if Miami had taken someone else. Seattle?
Mock drafters assume that if a team's run defense is bad, they need to take a defensive tackle. Instead, Carolina took a blue chip linebacker who will wall off the middle of the field. He also create matchup problems for opposing tight ends. Great pick.
Gilmore was a late riser. I tolerated the internet buzz, but when I listened to Mike Mayock rave about him, it drove the point home. Buffalo beefed up its pass rush, and this solidifies the back of the defense. Meanwhile, Adams tumbled to the 56th pick. The Buffalo Rumblings GM is jeered.
Poe was a pretty common pick in mock drafts, and it made sense that Kansas City would take a chance on an anchor for their defensive line. Can they get the most out of him? Will he live up to the Haloti Ngata comparisons? Reiff slid to the 23rd pick in the draft.
The Eagles-Cox talk was happening weeks before the draft. The only question was how far they would trade up to get him. Three spots, it turns out. Upshaw tumbled all the way to the second round.
He trained with Larry Fitzgerald, you guys. Larry Fitzgerald! If I had a nickel for every time I heard that refrain, I'd have at least a couple extra bucks to buy something nicer than Natty Light (blogger problems). People were a little confused by this pick. It helps their offense, and they did not have an option for improving the quarterback in this spot. Arizona really needs those middle-round linemen to catch on fast.
This pick confused people too because it did not directly match up with the Rams' biggest needs. Pulling back and looking at the results, the Rams really improved their defensive line, already one of the team's few strengths. Fisher loves players like Brockers, guys with the potential to be disruptive anywhere along the front four. The Rams got their guy at No. 14 that could've reasonably considered at No. 6.
15. Actual pick: Seattle Seahawks (from Philadelphia), Bruce Irvin, DE, West Virginia
15. Mock draft pick: Philadelphia Eagles, Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Pete Carroll gets this year's Tyson Alualu award, for drafting a player out of left field. Seattle already has a very good defensive line, which should help Irvin. Time will tell if he really was worth the 15th pick.
Correct on the position, in the ballpark on the Carolina thing, but a twist on the player. Coples was facing motor questions, and some wondered if he would fall later than this. It was a surprise to see him go before Ingram, who seems like a more natural fit as a rushing linebacker. Can Coples make the transition?
Ok, we get half a point for getting the position right. Corner was such a big need after losing Johnathan Joseph. I think it's battle between Baltimore and Cincinnati for the top of the AFC North this season.
18. Actual pick: San Diego Chargers, Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
18. Mock draft pick: Chargers, Mark Barron, S, Alabama
San Diego got lucky that Ingram slipped as far as he did. On the mock scene, it looked like they may not have as good of a match as this. Norv Turner needed a pass rusher, and got the one many considered to be the best in this year's class. We were way off on Barron, who went seventh.
McClellin was a late riser. The media got turned on to the man from Chicken Dinner Rd. somewhere in rural Idaho as a first round pick late in the mock draft season. The pick was even a surprise for McClellin, who had almost no contact with the Bears prior to the draft.
Mock draft secret: there's an inherent bias to go with team needs over all else in mock drafts. Predictions are tough, so you have to take whatever context you can. The trick is not to over-rely on it. Wright gives Tennessee a fast offense that can stretch the field. Simple as that.
The Patriots traded up. Twice. They had to. New England's defense cost them a Super Bowl win. Jones was a common mock draft pick to the Patriots with the 27th pick.
22. Actual pick: Cleveland Browns (via Atlanta), Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State
22. Mock draft pick: Browns, Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
This really happened. The Browns drafted Brandon Weeden, 28, and stayed with the same fine group of receivers they had at the end of last season. Mike Holmgren will probably be pitching for Tommy Bahama next year as his only gig.
I wonder how far Jenkins would have fallen if the Rams passed on him at No. 39 in the second round. Detroit made the right move here. Keeping Matthew Stafford upright will keep them in the playoffs. Reiff was predicted to go higher, but this was a good spot for him.
Spreadsheet guys really overvalued DeCastro. His talent is elite, but he is a guard. You can find good guards elsewhere, as opposed to say receivers or pass rushers. It worked out for Pittsburgh, who has to be really happy with a guy many thought would go in the top 15.
25. Actual pick: New England Patriots (via Denver), Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama
25. Mock draft pick: Denver Broncos, Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
I really like this move by the Patriots. Hightower is an animal, and he also has some upside as a pass rusher. He will be a staple of the Pats' defense for years to come.
Few saw this pick coming, but it makes sense in hindsight. Houston lost Mario Williams. They needed another pass rusher. Wade Phillips' defense will not surprise anyone this year with how good it is.
27. Actual pick: Cincinnati Bengals (via New Orleans via New England), Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin
27. Mock draft pick: Patriots, Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois
Guard was a common pick for the Bengals, and it was a smart move to draft Zeitler, especially after trading down. The former Badger is a pure run blocker. I wonder if that's why he was off the board before Cordy Glenn, who many had pegged to go in the middle of the first round.
Still ended up falling into the second round. With Perry, Green Bay added another pass rusher to pair with Clay Matthews. In the next round, they found defensive line help with Jerel Worthy. That matches up well with what most people imagined for Green Bay.
29. Actual pick: Minnesota Vikings (via Baltimore), Harrison Smith, FS, Notre Dame
29. Mock draft pick: Baltimore Ravens, Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin
Baltimore traded out of the first round completely. They really scored with Upshaw in Round 2 and Kelechi Osemele later in that same round. Ozzie Newsome is a genius. As for the Vikings, they could have had Harrison Smith early in the second. Why not wait? Newsome is a genius in part because others help make him that way.
In hindsight, pundits probably were a little irrationally exuberant on Hill. He was risky for a first round pick, but more risky than Jenkins? Another surprise pick, but he would not have been on the board when San Francisco picked again in Round 2. The Rams planned on taking him with their next pick. Is it a kiss of death that two NFC West teams wanted to draft a player?
People were appalled at three running backs going in the first round of the draft. I liked this move for Tampa Bay. Martin is a three-down running back who is already better than most of his pro counterparts as a pass blocker.
I saw Doug Martin going to the Giants in several mock drafts. Wilson is also a very good running back whose explosiveness is a real plus for the Giants offense. Look, teams still have to run the ball, and the smart ones find runners like this who create matchup problems and go way beyond the principles of Marty Ball.