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The 2012 NFL Draft wasn't as good as it seemed

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RG3 wasn't the only pick in 2012 that altered the course of a franchise.

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Robert Griffin III is on the bench, Trent Richardson is without a team and Justin Blackmon's rights were just acquired by the CFL's Toronto Argonauts, although it's looking increasingly unlikely that he'll ever play again.

Just over three years ago, those were three of the highest-valued offensive difference makers in a 2012 NFL Draft class that has since flopped. While the class started with Andrew Luck, who has since earned three trips to the Pro Bowl in as many years, the six picks that followed have ranged from subpar to terrible.

Yet, it's hard to say the 2012 NFL Draft was bad, altogether. While there was no shortage of disappointing picks, there were a few diamonds in the rough that have had a lasting affect on the league since entering three years ago.

Those six less-than-stellar picks in the top 10 began with Griffin, and regardless of your opinion of the embattled Washington quarterback, he's undoubtedly had a disappointing career after earning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2012.

Beyond the top 10, the first round was full of picks that never lived up to the investment that teams made, while a couple gems saved an otherwise disastrous draft class.

The top 10

While Griffin, Richardson and Blackmon have been high-profile disappointments, they aren't the only top 10 picks that didn't work out:

No. Team Player Pos College
1 Indianapolis Colts Andrew Luck QB Stanford
2 Washington Robert Griffin III QB Baylor
3 Cleveland Browns Trent Richardson RB Alabama
4 Minnesota Vikings Matt Kalil OT USC
5 Jacksonville Jaguars Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma State
6 Dallas Cowboys Morris Claiborne CB LSU
7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mark Barron S Alabama
8 Miami Dolphins Ryan Tannehill QB Texas A&M
9 Carolina Panthers Luke Kuechly LB Boston College
10 Buffalo Bills Stephon Gilmore CB South Carolina

After a strong start to his career in Minnesota, including a Pro Bowl nod as a rookie, Kalil's play has dropped off. Other teams haven't even been lucky enough to get one solid season from their picks.

The Cowboys traded up from the No. 14 pick to take Claiborne at No. 6 and he can't hold a starting job with the team. Barron's career with the Buccaneers started strong, but ended when he was traded to the St. Louis Rams during the 2014 season for a pair of third-day draft picks.

Only Luck and Kuechly can truly be described as successful top 10 picks, although Tannehill has done well enough to secure a nearly $100 million extension and Gilmore has developed into a solid starter for the Bills.

The star of the group is easily Luck. Hyped as one of the best ever quarterback prospects entering the league, he has lived up to his billing with 86 touchdowns in just three seasons. While he has nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions in six career postseason games, Luck enters the 2015 season as the favorite to earn NFL MVP honors.


In a class full of underwhelming selections, a few players have managed to stand out as some of the NFL's top talents. Particularly in the second and third rounds, where the Seattle Seahawks struck gold.

The Seahawks nabbed First Team All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner in the second round and the team's two-time Pro Bowl franchise quarterback Russell Wilson in the third. After the pair helped the Seahawks make it to back-to-back Super Bowls and earn a Lombardi Trophy in 2013, they each earned big pay days during the 2014 offseason.

Seattle added four years and $43 million to the contract of Wagner, while Wilson earned a franchise quarterback contract, signing a four-year, $87.6 million extension with $60 million guaranteed.

The Bears and Colts were wise to avoid the wave of first-round wide receivers, Blackmon, Michael Floyd, Kendall Wright and A.J. Jenkins, and instead nabbed Alshon Jeffrey and T.Y. Hilton, in the second and third rounds, respectively. While Jeffrey likely won't hit his pay day until next offseason, Hilton became one of the highest-paid receivers in the NFL when he signed a five-year, $65 million extension in August.


While the top 10 featured a few high-profile misses that truly define the 2012 NFL Draft, the rest of the first round had a few big whiffs, as well. Quarterback Brandon Weeden posted a 5-15 record as a starter for the Browns with 71.8 passer rating after he was selected with the No. 22 overall selection and is now a backup for the Cowboys.

The aforementioned A.J. Jenkins was even worse. In three career games with the San Francisco 49ers, Jenkins never even caught a pass and was eventually sent to the Kansas City Chiefs for 2011 first-round bust, Jon Baldwin, although the changes of scenery did nothing to save either career.

But at least those teams rolled the dice and didn't take a punter like the Jacksonville Jaguars when the team took Bryan Anger with the No. 70 overall selection, five picks before Russell Wilson and 22 picks before T.Y. Hilton.

Bad misses in the top 10 have a way of keeping a team in neutral, and of the six teams that made disappointing selections in the top seven picks, only the Cowboys finished with a winning record. For most of these teams, the problems run deeper than a single disappointing pick three years ago, but there's no doubt that better picks could have been made and each team could be in a better situation.

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Every NFL Draft class features its fair share of hits and misses, but few had as many franchise-altering busts (even if you're not ready to throw RG3 in that group) or a Super Bowl-winning franchise quarterback sitting on the board in the third round. Sometimes it's literally a better idea to just throw darts to select players than it is to try and successfully predict the futures of incoming rookies.

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