The first 32 picks are always unpredictable — not an empty phrase, these picks are literally impossible to predict from top to bottom. (ESPN reportedly offered a cool $30 mil to anyone who could do it … but you’d have a better chance of being next year’s #1 pick.) That’s what makes this one of the great weekends in all of sport.
Here’s part one of our draft-day blow-by-blow, mining our epic live-blog and extended conversations from last night.
1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Not a huge surprise, though the contract negotiations between Newton and Jerry Richardson would make for epic television. Tim asks: “I wonder what Jimmy Clausen is doing right now?” As it turns out, he was tweeting his congratulations. Possibly while on a boat with T-Pain and a mermaid.
2. Denver Broncos: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
Okay, this was surprising. Granted, Schefter had been reporting that this was 90% of a done deal, but smart money had been on Marcell Dareus here. From Pro Football Focus: “So the Miller to Denver love today wasn’t a smokescreen. Now the onus is on Denver to use him correctly.”
3. Buffalo Bills: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
Says Tim: “All of my Bills friends were dying for Dareus. Congrats to them. Dareus is so versatile, perfect fit.” Adds Derek: “And Ryan Fitzpatrick keeps his job for one more year.” Kind of a shame Newton didn’t fall to the Bills, really. That could have been special. Do they go Kaepernick in the 2nd?
4. Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Debatable. NFP’s Wes Bunting loved it: “Best pick in the draft so far goes to the #Bengals…they get the best player in the draft at four in AJ Green & fill a huge need…” Granted, AJ Green is virtually bust-proof, but that will be put to the test with the roster disaster brewing in Cincinnati. Next year’s #1 overall pick?
5. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Tim calls this pick “The Bradford Effect.” Clearly a “best player available” pick in my mind, but a luxury for Arizona considering the staggering depth of needs on the O-line, defensive middle, and (ahem) at quarterback. No way they address even half their needs in this draft. Should have traded out. Meanwhile, Blaine Gabbert makes his first appearance on the ESPN SadCam….
6. Atlanta Falcons (via CLE): Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Jaws dropped. A stunning deal. Clearly, Atlanta wasn’t content to wait for Ryan Broyles or Justin Blackmon in 2012, and needed an elite complement to Roddy White… but wow, what a package of picks they gave up. This was the deal Arizona needed to make, honestly. What a win for Cleveland. And a part of me is now a Falcons fan…
7. San Francisco 49ers: Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri
This didn’t help our floor-bruised jaws any. Clearly he’s a special talent, but I hadn’t seen Aldon mocked higher than #11 to the Texans. Fits a pattern, though, says Brennan: “Two picks that could effect Bradford’s development. Peterson to the Cardinals and Smith to the 49ers.” Aldon becomes the first non-SEC player to be picked, and Prince Amukamara is officially “falling” right now. Meanwhile, Blaine Gabbert tries to grimace out a smile on the ESPN SadCam. It looks more like he smells a fart.
8. Tennessee Titans: Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Blaine Gabbert has just been leapfrogged. So has Al Davis, as Titans owner Bud Adams is now officially The Crazy Old Guy of the NFL Draft. Says Brennan: “Locker could easily be the second coming of Kyle Boller.” I think a Vince Young comparison is not out of the question, either — both are far better runners than throwers, though at least VY had some college success to bank on.
9. Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
A brief return to normalcy as the Cowboys take the player that made the most sense. Meanwhile, the Rams war room debate opens over Amukamara — who also would have been a sensible pick for Dallas — and how high he should be on the Rams’ draft board at this point. Says @ZacDuncan: “If Amukamara falls to 14, the Rams HAVE to give him a good, hard look.” However, @ToddMetheny boldly predicts a fall into the 20s for the Cornhusker CB.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars (via WAS): Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Washington got their wish, adding picks, as Jacksonville apparently didn’t trust Minnesota to not take Gabbert. Now the golden boy is all smiles… and the ESPN SadCam is looking for Nick Fairley. Meanwhile, brilliant exchange in the Amukamara debate… Says Zac: “Improving the secondary can only help the D-line. Imagine giving C Long an extra half-second to get to the QB.” Responds Todd: “Improving the D-line can improve the D-line, too. Unconventional.“
11. Houston Texans: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
Said Ross Tucker before the pick: “The Texans need to take Prince Amukamara & try to improve the worst pass defense in the history of the galaxy.” Instead, Wade Phillips gets an utterly non-threatening player to rebuild his defense around, passing on Robert Quinn, Nick Fairley, Cameron Jordan, Muhammad Wilkerson and Amukamara. Not at all a good pick here in my mind, and someone needs to check my friend @Zepp1978 for a pulse. Meanwhile, in our quick poll, Andy Dalton leads Ryan Mallett 60% to 40% as the next QB to be taken off the board.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
More “WOWWW” around the room as Ponder leapfrogs like eight other quarterbacks to land in the top 15. Ponder makes the fourth QB taken off the board so far, dropping a bunch of top talent well within reach of the Rams now. Says Derek: “No way Rams thought they would have a shot at Quinn & Prince & Fairley & Bowers & …” You know Billy Devaney and Steve Spagnuolo have just dropped their clipboards and begun dancing a little jig. Meanwhile, VanRam claims “No way” the Rams take Fairley.
13. Detroit Lions: Nick Fairley, DT, Alabama
The Lions are building Jim Schwartz a bone-crushing defensive front. Lining up next to the monstruous Ndamukong Suh is a perfect schematic and motivational fit for Fairley, and promises to make life hell for the rest of the division. Says Maurice: “That’s going to be a NASTY run defense.“
At this point, Rams fans are ecstatic. Either we draft an elite pass rusher in Robert Quinn, or collect a bounty of a trade package and still improve the team. As it turns out, the pick is Quinn, and the room erupts with cheers and high-fives (though the female contingent is largely non-plussed). Says @SmiFF620: “I wanted Prince but all good, Quinn is cool looks like I can’t cabbage patch in my boxers now.“
15. Miami Dolphins: Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida
Says Derek, as the ESPN SadCam goes on the prowl: “Looks like Mark Ingram and Liuget might be sharing a cab and a hotel room tonight. #sameplacesametimetomorrow” But this is a very Miami/Sparano pick to build the line in advance of getting your back. It shows that the Parcells influence is still in the building, even if he isn’t.
16. Washington Redskins: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Could Jim Haslett be looking for the next Chris Long to work with in Washington? If so, will he still insist on playing his botched up 3-4 defense? Lost in the Albert Haynesworth shitstorm last year was the simple truth that Haslett’s defense did not fit his talents. And now they draft a prototypical 4-3 DE, to line up where exactly? What in the hell is going on in DC?