The Vikings and new GM Rick Spielman were the undeniable kings of the first round this year. After letting the rumors fly that they were open to dealing the third overall pick, Minnesota closed a deal with the Cleveland Browns that added fourth-, fifth- and seventh-round selections to their 2012 class — AND only dropped from third to fourth overall. That shrewd move let them add picks and still draft their man, OT Matt Kalil, who should be an anchor for years to come on the offensive line.
But Spielman wasn’t done yet. He then traded back into the first round again to grab S Harrison Smith to fill another desperate need for his team. Overall, it was a great first day for the Vikings. (Oh, and they still have 10 selections left in this draft.)
Last night saw a classic Jerry Jones move: the Cowboys traded their first- (14th overall) and second-round choices to move up to the sixth overall pick in order to grab LSU CB Morris Claiborne. Here’s the kicker, though, the Cowboys never worked out, interviewed or even spoke to Claiborne before the draft. Regardless, the Cowboys filled a huge need with this pick, and now have a very good corner duo in Claiborne and Brandon Carr. This was a big risk, big reward move, the kind that Jones has always been willing to try.
While others might question the intelligence in drafting a running back at number four (Trent Richardson) and an older quarterback at number 22 (28-year-old Brandon Weeden), these two picks illustrate perfectly the Browns’ philosophy: win now. Is it risky? Absolutely, but in a stacked division with the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, the Browns had to be bold to put themselves in a position to do anything of importance for the next five years.
Other picks we liked: Arizona Cardinals (Adding WR Michael Floyd to play opposite Larry Fitzgerald means the Cards have the best receiver duo in the league), New England Patriots (Great picks in DE Chandler Jones and ILB Dont’a Hightower), Pittsburgh Steelers (Unbelievable luck to have OG David DeCastro fall to them at 24)
The folks in the Seahawks’ war room and Bruce Irvin’s family are probably the only people who think this is a good pick. Who’s Bruce Irvin? Well, that question and overall surprise were the common reactions when Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the selection. Irvin has the talent to be a good pass rusher in this league, but he has a long way to go in run defense and pass coverage (if he plays linebacker). The success of this pick will come down to whether coach Pete Carroll uses Irvin the right way without asking too much of him.
New York Jets
The Jets continued their string of strange personnel moves last night (Tim Tebow?) with the selection of DE Quinton Coples. The big knock on Coples is that he disappears for stretches, but his talent is undeniable. The reason the Jets made our Losers list, however, can be attributed to the fact that Melvin Ingram was still available. Ingram will be a beast in this league while Coples has serious bust potential.
The jury is still out: Carolina Panthers (Can head coach Ron Rivera justify LB Luke Kuechly as a top 10 pick?), Kansas City Chiefs (Will Dontari Poe be better than his tape suggests?)
What To Watch Today
Where will CB Janoris Jenkins go?
Top-10 talent, but loads of character issues. He’ll be picked in the second round, but who’s going to take the risk?
When will the Denver Broncos finally make a pick?
They traded out of the first round even though they must have a “win now” mindset after signing QB Peyton Manning in the offseason. Can they find immediate contributors today?
How will the St. Louis Rams use all those picks?
After trades with the Washington Redskins and Cowboys, the Rams have three second-round picks and one in the fourth-round. They have to get QB Sam Bradford some weapons at wide receiver and on the offensive line.
D.B. Mitchell is a freelance writer who covers sports, politics and pop culture. You can follow him at http://www.twitter.com/@DB_Mitchell