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.
17. New England Patriots: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
A loud “NO!!!” from a man sitting behind us wearing a Pats Adam Viniateri jersey. Apparently he wanted Ingram here. Though as Brennan says: “Nate Solder is the happiest man alive right now to protect Tom Brady. Castonzo falling is kind of a story though.” Meanwhile, thoughts of grabbing a new backup QB for the Ram in the back of the draft percolate. Says Todd: “Feeley was brought in to run the West Coast. Might not look too good running McD’s offense.” No, but Kyle Orton might…
18. San Diego Chargers: DT Corey Liuget
Some appreciative claps for Liuget as his name is announced. Says Maurice: “There’s been a few picks so far that aren’t scheme fits…” At least Liuget has the ability to get to the quarterback, which makes him a usable player at 3-4 DE. However, says Brennan: “Not the nose tackle they were looking for.“
19. New York Giants: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Reaction to this pick was somewhat muted by a prodigious 9-run rally from down 4-1 to up 10-4 by the Cardinals baseball team, playing on most of the TVs that weren’t hosting the draft. Lance Berkman is an animal. Meanwhile, the dwindling Amukamara-to-the-Rams contingent had one final moment on the soapbox to bemoan this pick.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
Lots of cheering for the Webster Groves kid who made it into the first round after suffering a lot of characterization as a guy who could fall. (Meanwhile, the SadCam tries desperately to find Da’Quan Bowers.) We know one thing for sure: @ottoman89 just became a Bucs fan. Says our friend @Bucco40, “Everyone should be a Bucs fan!“
21. Cleveland Browns (via KC): Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
Kind of a surprise here. Feels like the Browns wasted some of their draft pick trade chips to grab Taylor.. not sure who else was going to threaten for him here. Even more surprising, it took forever for Taylor to find the stage, walking with a pronounced limp all the way. Meanwhile, @caplannfl openly wonders: “I can’t believe Costanzo is still on the board. Shocking.“
22. Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Costanzo, OT, Boston College
Roundly applauded as a coup. Says Peter King: “Castonzo, T, BC. Really smart. It took Polian about 4 seconds to make this pick after passing on #Saffold last year.” Meanwhile, many Rams players are rushing to welcome Robert Quinn via Twitter, not knowing that @RQuinn42 was a fake account. Fooled us all.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Danny Watkins
And a piece of me just became an Eagles fan as maybe my favorite player on the board gets taken. But the big topic of conversation in the war room shifts to the Seahawks, and what move they’ll make.
New Orleans Saints: DE Cameron Jordan, Cal
Outright thievery here by the Saints, who get a monster player who will be able to step in immediately. Gregg Williams had to be salivating at having his choice of Jordan or Bowers here. Meanwhile, Mark Ingram gets extended time on the ESPN SadCam. Most emotional? LSU coach Nick Saban, in the green room with Ingram and Julio Jones.
Seattle Seahawks: OT James Carpenter, Alabama
The SadCam just gets sadder. Says Tim: “And the biggest shocker of the night James Carpenter drafted before Ingram. Saban sitting with Julio and Ingram all three are shocked.” But the Seahawks made a somewhat safe, if surprising, pick here. Banished are the Ryan Mallett and Andy Dalton rumors, and you have to wonder if Whitehurst — and Andrew Luck — might not be the preferred plan.
Kansas City Chiefs (from BAL): Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
Wait, wasn’t Baltimore on the clock? Confusion reigns as we try to figure out what we missed. As it turns out, it was Baltimore who missed their pick, apparently while trying to work out a deal with the Bears. Stunning. Meanwhile, Tim crows: “I told people Baldwin was 1st rd talent….. Spoke the truth.“
27. Baltimore Ravens (from KC): Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Ozzie Newsome puts aside Smith’s character concerns and makes the Baltimore secondary a lot more imposing, a fitting transition with Ed Reed at the end of his career. While doing research on our Draft Horror Stories article, Baltimore was one of the most consistently excellent teams in the draft, so even with the missed-pick hiccup, you have to think this will turn out well.
28. New Orleans Saints (from NE): Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
And the big man breaks into tears of relief. No longer on the SadCam, Ingram goes to a team that might be the best possible schematic fit for him in the draft. He will get deployed every which way in that New Orleans offense. Good for him, bad for the rest of the league. Meanwhile, the Patriots get another first round pick next year. But as Brennan asks: “Pats wheeling and dealing is all well and good but when do they actually turn the picks into something?“
29. Chicago Bears: Gabe Carimi, OT/OG, Wisconsin
Finally, perhaps spurred by the Lions’ frightening new defensive line, the Bears decide that maybe their quarterback is worth protecting. This decision has only been, what, 30 years in the making?
30. New York Jets: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple
An ideal draft setup for both Wilkerson and Rex Ryan, as the explosive big man gets placed in a defense that will ask him to attack, attack, attack. Meanwhile, Da’Quan Bowers wants to crawl in a hole every time his name comes up on the screen as Mel Kiper’s “best available talent.” Two teams that could have been ideal fits just passed him by.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cam Heyward, DE, Ohio State
Ho hum, another fearsome defensive player, another brilliant pick for Pittsburgh. There was some speculation that the offensive line might be the target here, but Heyward offers so much more value .. and makes the Rams’ December matchup at Heinz Field that much more difficult.
32. Green Bay Packers: Derrick Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
At this point, more attention is being paid to press conferences and such, including one by Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers explaining that he expects to line up Aldon Smith “all over the place.” But as we pack up our laptops and pay our tabs, it must be noted that Sherrod is a perfect-sense pick for the Packers. The strong get stronger. And it all begins again tonight.