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On a night that NFL fans worldwide have been waiting all offseason for, the drama began a lot earlier than expected when the Cleveland Browns made a bold move for the third pick in the draft, giving up their fourth pick, as well as their fifth and seventh-round picks, to the Minnesota Vikings with less than an hour left till the beginning of the draft.
The night began with Roger Goodell arriving at the podium to announce that the Indianapolis Colts were on the clock, and was soon returning to do the same for the Washington Redskins who had the second overall pick. The Colts and Redskins drafted Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III respectively in two of the most widely expected draft choices in recent years.
The Browns then took Alabama running back Trent Richardson with the third overall pick that they acquired from the Vikings less than an hour before, arguably largely due to rumors that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were willing to trade up for Richardson. The Vikings still managed to get their man, despite dropping down the draft, taking Matt Kalil with the fifth pick.
The Jacksonville Jaguars traded their seventh overall pick and an additional fourth-round to the Buccaneers to move up and take wide receiver Justin Blackmon, before the Dallas Cowboys made unexpected waves to grab the sixth pick, trading their 14th pick as well as their second-rounder to the St Louis Rams. The Cowboys bolstered their under strength secondary with the selection of elite cornerback prospect Morris Claiborne.
With much of the early frenzy subsided, the Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins surprised no one with their drafting of Alabama’s Mark Barron and Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill respectively, both teams filling trouble positions for them over the last few seasons.
Many had the Carolina Panthers taking either a cornerback or wide receiver with their ninth-overall pick, but they selected Luke Kuechly to strengthen their group of linebackers and consequently allowed the Buffalo Bills to pick up Stephon Gilmore, the highly talented corner out of South Carolina, with the 10th pick of the draft.
Defensive tackle Dontari Poe was next off the board, taking recently retired Kelly Gregg’s place at the Kansas City Chief’s. Poe’s selection was somewhat of a surprise, with most predicting Fletcher Cox to be the top nose tackle in the draft. The Philadelphia Eagles, a team in dire need of a nose tackle, saw this as too good of an opportunity to turn down and traded the Seattle Seahawks for the 12th pick, allowing them to acquire Cox.
The Arizona Cardinals briefly bucked the trend of drafting defensive tackles with the acquisition Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd, much to the satisfaction of receiver Larry Fitzgerald, but the Rams returned to the defensive line by selecting Michael Brockers. The rush on defensive linesman seemed to get to the Seahawks who were picking at 15, as they shocked a lot of people when they drafted Bruce Irvin out of West Virginia, considered by many to be a third-round pick.
The New York Jets will be hoping that they have solved their need for a genuine pass-rusher with the addition of Quinton Coples whilst the Cincinnati Bengals took Alabama corner Dre Kirkpatrick with their initial pick in the first round. The San Diego Chargers improved their inconsistent defense with the addition of versatile linebacker Melvin Ingram who is one of the premiere pass rushers in this years’ draft class.
The Chicago Bears continued the run on defensive players with the 19th pick, selecting Shea McClellin to help out Julius Peppers on pressuring the quarterback. Baylor product Kendall Wright became the third wide receiver to be taken in the 2012 NFL Draft with the Tennessee Titans picking him up, whilst the New England Patriots, perhaps unsettled by the declining number of top class defensive ends, traded up to the 21st pick with the Bengals and took Chandler Jones out of Syracuse.
The Browns then used their second pick of the first-round to draft 29-year old quarterback Brandon Weeden, casting serious doubt on the confidence the Browns have in their current incumbent, Colt McCoy. The selection of a quarterback seemed to spark teams’ protective instincts, as both the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers drafting offensive linesmen, with Riley Reiff moving to Detroit and David DeCastro to Pittsburgh.
The Patriots proceeded to trade up for the second time in the draft already, trading with the Denver Broncos and allowing them to bring in Dont’a Hightower to aid what is a quickly improving defense. The Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers then took the last true pass rushers in the first round with Mercilus Whitney and Nick Perry respectively, either side of the Bengals selecting Kevin Zeitler with the 27th pick.
The Vikings then returned to the first round, giving up their second and third-round picks for the Baltimore Ravens’ 29th pick and consequently selected safety Harrison Smith out of Notre Dame. The San Francisco 49ers surprised some by taking A. J. Jenkins before the Buccaneers traded up to 31st pick, with the Broncos, like the Ravens, moving out of the first round. The Buccaneers then took running back Doug Martin with the pick before the New York Giants finished off the first round with the selection of David Wilson from Virginia Tech.