The first round of the 2012 NFL Draft has come and gone (in just over 3 hours), teams are now settling in and getting ready for the second and third rounds, which will take place tonight. Outside of the first two spots occupied by Andrew Luck and RG III, the first round was highlighted by a flurry of activity with teams wheeling and dealing to jockey for positioning to get the player(s) they coveted. In fact, the wheeling and dealing began roughly 45 minutes prior to Andrew Luck being announced as the first pick. The Cleveland Browns — who started the night with 13 picks — traded the fourth pick over all and their fourth-, fifth- and seventh-rounders to take over the Minnesota Vikings’ third overall pick (detailed below). Apparently concerned that another team was going to try to get in front of them, the Browns made the move to select Alabama running back Trent Richardson. That was the first of a record 19 trades, the most since 1970, including two out-of-character moves up by the New England Patriots, which they used to shore up their defense.
The trades were made easier and more appealing by the rookie wage system that went into place when the new collective bargaining agreement was agreed to last summer. That system reduced the price tag of the top picks by about half from what they were paid before the new deal, reversing the trend of just two years ago, when the price of the top few picks was so prohibitive that nobody wanted them.
Here’s a breakdown of each one of the trades made in round 1 on Thursday night:
- Cleveland gives up a 4th, 5th and 7th round pick to Minnesota to move up from 1.4 to 1.3 - Minnesota made a killing! They got 3 picks for a player they clearly were not going to draft by simply threatening Cleveland with the idea that they could make a deal with someone else to jump up and get Trent Richardson. Minnesota gets the player they were going to take at 3 anyhow at 4 and now add 3 more picks. Nice move for them. Cleveland better hope Richardson is the real deal and is another Adrian Peterson-like performer o else they got fleeced on this one, big time.
- Jacksonville gives 4th rounder to Tampa Bay move up from 1.7 to 1.5 - Huge move for Jacksonville! They got what they see as the best offensive playmaker in the receiving game and they only had to give up a 4th rounder to do it!
- Dallas gives up a 2nd rounder to St. Louis move up from 1.14 to 1.6 -Bold trade by Dallas. They saw that Tampa Bay moved back to #7 and they immediately trade up in front of them to nab Morris Claiborne. Getting the best CB in the draft is worth giving up their 2nd rounder. As for the Rams, they have turned the #2 pick into the #14 pick and 2 second rounders this year and 2 first rounders next year. Awesome job by a team with lots of needs!
- Philadelphia gives up a 4th and 6th round pick to move up from 1.15 to 1.12 – Seattle does well to get a 4th and 6th rounder to only move down 3 spots. Good move for them. But the Eagles get arguably a top-8 player in this draft in Fletcher Cox and only have to give up two late round picks to move up to get him. That is the definition of a great trade!
- New England gives up a 3rd round pick to move up from 1.27 to 1.21 – We are so used to seeing New England move down and get better picks or future picks, that I am surprised to see them move up for once. They know what they are doing. And only giving up a 3rd rounder to end up with Chandler Jones is a hell of a move. Being the anti-Boston fan I hate them!…..but damn they are smart and good at what they do during the draft.
- New England gives up a 4th rounder to move up from 1.31 to 1.25 – And the rich just keep getting richer. After one heck of a move to get Jones they land Hightower for simply a 4th rounder to move up. I am sick. Nice job New England.
- Minnesota gives up a 4th rounder to move up from 2.03 to 1.29 – The trade itself was fair for both sides. But I did not like the selection for Minnesota. Baltimore does a nice job to fall back only 6 or so picks and get a player that is the same caliber of what they would have picked at 29 while adding another 4th rounder.
- Tampa Bay gives up a 4th rounder to move up from 2.05 to 1.3 1- Nice job by Tampa. They moved back and still got Barron then used the pick Jacksonville gave them to move up in order to move up here and select the second best RB in the draft. Hell of a job working the board by TB.
Now that I’ve taken a look at the trades from round 1, it’s time for the winners and losers despite it being way to early to make any such determination but what the hell? Let’s do it anyway!
Minnesota Vikings – Able to trade down one spot, still get the player they wanted.
Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers are great at evaluating players and the really good ones tend to fall in their laps. This year was no different when they grabbed David DeCastro at #24
San Francisco 49ers – The surprise team of 2011 surprised everyone with the selection of WR A.J. Jenkins at #30. Jenkins is a very good receiver who might start at the next level. The question here is whether his value justified the selection.
What can we expect when rounds 2 and 3 get started tonight at 7:00PM? More trades? We’ll all have to tune in and find out. I’ll be back tomorrow to give my winners and losers just as I did today.
It’s a good time to be RG3 a.k.a. Robert Griffin III. The reigning Heisman trophy winner is wowing scouts and making headlines this week at the draft combine in Indianapolis. The former Baylor quarterback has already recorded the fastest 40 time for a quarterback, and continues to impress potential employers in the interview process. He’s got the entire league drooling over him and would surely be the first overall pick in the draft if it wasn’t for that guy Andrew Luck.
As if that isn’t enough to brag about, the man known as RG3 has made his way to the cover of EA Sports NCAA Football ’13 video game. There’s nothing else left to say except…
Let the bidding begin!
Two months shy of the NFL draft, the St. Louis Rams have already made it known that they intend to trade their No. 2 pick in the draft to some NFL team desperate for a franchise quarterback. That quarterback will undoubtedly be Baylor’s Robert Griffin III, and the potential suitors are rumored to be the Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins. The Rams, of course, are set at QB with Sam Bradford.
Griffin was impressive enough running and jumping and cajoling at the NFL combine, that he’s got the the entire league drooling over him. Sure, he didn’t throw a single pass at the combine, but Tim Tebow has already proven that it’s ok now for NFL quarterbacks to be terrible passers. So somebody move up and snag Griffin! You got nothing to lose.
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King calls Griffin the most intriguing second pick in the draft since 1998, when Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf were both expected to set the world on fire coming out of Tennessee and Washington St. As the NFL has shifted even further toward a pass-first, quarterback-dominated league, the 2012 demand for Griffin is even higher than th 1998 demand for Leaf — which was immense. Every NFL team knows that you can no longer win in the league without a franchise QB, and there just aren’t enough of them to go around.
Matt Flynn, who was Aaron Rodgers’ backup in Green Bay, is expected to get a nice free agent contract to be someone’s starter next season. But under the new NFL collective bargaining agreement in which the contracts given to top draft picks will be more reasonable, Griffin — and the No. 2 pick — is even more valuable.
“The Rams will drive a hard bargain,” King writes. “Cleveland (fourth overall pick), Washington (sixth) and Miami (eighth) will be in the derby to move up; Seatlle (12) and a couple of mystery teams could too.
“Add the fact that the money involved (four years, about $22 million) is likely to be less than the money paid to the top (current) free agent Matt Flynn, and the market for Griffin will be hopping.”
The Rams, King says, will be hoping for two teams with top-ten picks to get in a bidding war.
“You can’t tell what the musical chairs will do,” said Rams COO Kevin Demmoff. “Maybe someone will get left out and need Griffin. You don’t know.”
The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft is in the books, and there’s plenty to talk about before round two starts up again tonight. Cam Newton was picked first overall and fellated unceasingly by pretty much everyone with a microphone for the rest of the night. The lockout scared a bunch of teams into taking quarterbacks who might not otherwise have.
Here is, in my humble estimation, the biggest winner and losers of round 1.
Cleveland Browns – There’s a reason you don’t often see a bunch of trades at the top of the draft. It just costs too much to move very far when you’re talking about those top picks. Nevertheless, the Atlanta Falcons made one of the boldest deals you’re ever going to see, trading all the way up to number six overall to take Julio Jones with the Browns’ pick.
The reason the Browns get the win here is because Atlanta literally traded the farm for the pick. The Browns moved from 6 down to 27, but in return for that move they received Atlanta’s second- and fourth-round picks in this year’s draft, and the Falcons’ first- and fourth-round picks in next year’s draft.
You don’t often see a team acquire four extra draft picks all in one fell swoop, but that’s exactly what the Browns did, and very well could have moved their rebuilding schedule up a couple of years in the process.
Detroit Lions - Yesterday, the Detroit Lions used the 13th overall pick in the draft to gather their second consecutive Lombardi Award winner in two years. Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley—the defensive star of the undefeated 2010 BCS National Champion Tigers —will now line up next to former Lombardi Award winner, AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and rookie Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
In addition to Suh and Fairley, the Lions’ defensive tackle rotation includes Corey Williams, Andre Fluellen, Sammie Hill and Robert Callaway. With Fairley, Kevin Siefert of ESPN.com described the Lions front four as “probably the best defensive line in football.”
Atlanta Falcons – I’m sure there are plenty of people who will laud the Falcons for their bold move in trading up 21 spots to nab Julio Jones, but I’m not one of them. It’s not that I don’t believe in Jones. I think he’s going to be a very good receiver, and the combo of Jones and Roddy White should make Atlanta more than a handful for any team to face. NFC South cornerbacks are going to be getting a whole lot less sleep this year.
Even so, history has shown time and time again that trading away huge loads of draft picks to get one particular player just doesn’t work. Ask Mike Ditka how Ricky Williams worked out for him. Draft picks are just too important to give up a whole heap of them to pin all your hopes on just one player.
The Falcons may look awfully good this coming season, but I think when you look at the load of players the Browns will get with all the picks Atlanta traded away we’ll all be wondering what in the world the Falcons were thinking.
Roger Goodell – To be quite honest, the best moment of the entire night may have been Goodell, in all his smug glory, taking the stage and being roundly booed by the gathered throng, then forced to endure the chants of, “WE WANT FOOTBALL,” as he tried to quiet the crowd by telling them he agreed with them. It was squirm-inducing television at its very finest, witnessing the fans have their say on the most public stage imaginable, while the man who represents the NFL stood helplessly by, looking for all the world like he would prefer to be literally anywhere else in the world at that moment.
Is Jon Gruden really considering trading in his TV headset for a headset of a different kind? The suit and tie for a polo shirt and slacks? It’s certainly possible but maybe even more likely with each passing day. The University of Miami has made it known to the former Bucs and Raiders coach that he is their top target but just how mutual is the interest? The “U” is hot on Gruden’s trail and in fact, Miami’s A.D. is flying to Gruden’s home in Tampa to meet with him in person and Miami is already working on a marketing plan built around Gruden, per the Miami Herald.
I may be off base here, but hear me out. How much of the interest on Gruden’s end is just an effort to boost interest in NFL teams? I find it hard to believe that a guy with as big of an ego as Gruden would be content at the college level, even if it were Miami. In my opinion, he would be foolish not to kick the tires on NFL possibilities before committing to Miami. The options in the NFL are sure to be plentiful this off-season. For instance, say, the 49ers or the Browns or maybe even the Broncos, where he’d get to turn Tim Tebow into an NFL quarterback.
The possibility of Gruden coaching in Denver is perhaps the most intriguing. As I said, he would inherit the task of trying to turn Tim Tebow into a quarterback in the NFL, a task in which I think he would embrace with open arms. I’ve always been under the impression that Gruden really likes Tebow and thinks he would translate well to the NFL. I’m not sure I’d elevate it to man crush status but I could see those two doing well together.
Gruden goes back on the map and is relevant in the NFL again, while he gives Denver the high profile presence they have missed and were so used to during the years of Mike Shanahan and John Elway. So, blogosphere, here’s my question to you… is Jon Gruden the next Mile High hero to ride in on the white horse or is he really inclined to leave the booth to coach kids on Saturday’s?
UPDATE 5:00p.m.: Well, that about settles it. A report from ESPN says ‘zero’ chance that Jon Gruden will leave his Monday Night Football gig to coach at the University of Miami. This is what Gruden had to say in a statement:
“I am committed to ‘Monday Night Football’ and to ESPN. I enjoy working with Mike, Jaws and our entire crew and am just trying to get better at this job.”
Spurred on by chatter on my favorite Sunday morning pre-game show – NFL GameDay Morning – it has come to my attention that Peyton Hillis might be one of the biggest surprises of the first half of the NFL season. If you recall, Hillis’ start in Cleveland began much the same way as it did in Denver, listed down the depth chart at both tight end and fullback. Also like his start in Denver, Hillis was thrust into the starting spot for the Week 3 game against the Baltimore Ravens. The result was a 144 yard romp – a 6.5 yards per carry average – against the Ravens’ staunch rushing defense, which allowed just 3.4 yards per carry in the 2009 season. Hillis also added 36 yards on 7 receptions for a total of 180 all-purpose yards. The next week, Hillis again ran for over 100 yards at home against the Cincinnati Bengals, leading the Browns to their first victory in the 2010 regular season. A hamstring pull in practice limited Hillis in Week 5 against the Atlanta Falcons, though Hillis did add a 19-yard reception for a touchdown. Coming off a bye week in Week 8, Hillis set career marks in both rushing and all-purpose yards against the New England Patriots in Week 9, finishing the game with 184 rushing yards and 220 yards of total offense.
Yeah, I’d say that warrants him being a breakout star for the first half of the season.
Peyton Hillis may not always be remembered in Cleveland, but more so how he got there. Remember, Hillis was traded from the Broncos for Brady Quinn and draft picks back in March. At the time, it was a move that looked like it had some upside for Denver. Now, it might be one of the worst of Josh McDaniels tenure in Denver. That’s saying a lot because McDaniels has certainly made his share of bold and somewhat questionable moves during his time in the Mile High city, not to mention risky.
Oddly enough, Cleveland wasn’t the place where Hillis surfaced, but where he broke out.
Hillis attended college at the University of Arkansas -Fayetteville from 2004–2008. As a true freshman, Hillis gained 240 yards rushing, 97 yards receiving, and scored 8 touchdowns, ranking 4th in the SEC in total touchdowns and tying Georgia’s Thomas Brown for most touchdowns scored by a SEC freshman that year. As a sophomore was where he stated his claim. Hillis accounted for 947 all-purpose yards (including more than 200 in kick-off and punt returns) and seven touchdowns while also serving as a blocker for up-and-coming star running back duo Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.
In the NFL, Hillis led the Broncos in rushing in his rookie season of 2008 (with only 343 yards, which is kind of impressive in an odd way) under Mike Shanahan, but McDaniels could find no place for him on a roster he was determined to remodel by demolition.
Right now, it’s probably safe to say that is one move that McDaniels regrets.
In week 10 Hillis and the Browns are set to take on the Jets as they try to keep the upset streak they’ve had going recently. Meanwhile, Josh McDaniels’ Broncos are at home and taking on the up start Kansas City Chiefs.
Day two wouldn’t exactly be classified a frenzy. We haven’t had a lot of player movement but there were certainly no shortage of rumors. Let’s get to it.
UPDATE: 7:00PM – The Arizona Cardinals finally gained something in free agency. They were starting to be known as the off-season talent supplier. Today though, the Cardinals pulled off a trade with the New York Jets for safety Kerry Rhodes. The Jets will receive a fourth round pick this year and a seventh rounder next year.
UPDATE: 7:45PM – The Washington Redskins and free agent guard Artis Hicks have reached a contract agreement. The former Viking will be in D.C. under a 3 year contract.
UPDATE: 8:25PM – Free agent DT Fred Robbins will almost certainly reunite with St.Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo - his D-coordinator for two of his six seasons with the New York Giants. If things go well, Robbins will fly to St. Louis on Sunday to sign a contract.
UPDATE: 8:42PM - Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that RB Thomas Jones will visit Kansas City on Monday.
UPDATE: 9:05PM -Adam Schefter ESPN reports via Twitter that former Colts CB Marlin Jackson is scheduled to visit the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday.
UPDATE: 9:35PM -Free agent DE Dwan Edwards will visit the Denver Broncos this weekend. The signing will possibly be setting up a reunion with his former Ravens teammate Justin Bannan who signed earlier on day one. At one point is appeared that Baltimore wanted to keep both Bannan and Edwards, but it appears they’ll get outspent.
With the NFL’s free agency officially underway as of midnight on Friday, we’ve already seen a lot of happenings around the NFL.
I will do my best here to keep a running log of the biggest moves and rumors. It’s a daunting task for sure but I’ll give it my best shot. It may be late, but better late then never.
- In the first few hours of free agency we saw the Jets bolster the DB position along side Darrel Revis, by trading for the Chargers’ Antonio Cromartie. In exchange for Cromartie, the Jets will receive A 2011 third-round pick will go to the Chargers. It could turn into a second-round pick. On the heels of trading for Cromartie, it was found that he has more legal problems to deal with. Talented player, but an interesting situation the Jets have found themselves in.
UPDATE: 2:05PM – The Chicago Bears continue to stay busy. They have completed a signing for RB Chester Taylor. Taylor has agreed to a 4 year deal.
Julius Peppers will be joining Taylor in Chicago. He is taking a physical and a deal is imminent.
UPDATE: 3:00PM – ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Seahawks are strongly considering signing Broncos wideout Brandon Marshall to an offer sheet.
UPDATE: 5:30PM – SI’s Peter King tweets that the Ravens are “closing in” on a deal for WR Anquan Boldin.If this deal gets completed, the Ravens would be adding a much-needed weapon to Joe Flacco’s arsenal. I wonder if Boldin does indeed get traded would Derrick Mason still fit in Baltimore?
UPDATE: 6:30PM – The Ravens have indeed dealt for Anquan Boldin. Bolin signed a three-year, $25 million extension on his current deal, including $10 million in guaranteed new money. He’s due $28 million over the next four years. It looks as though Baltimore has finally found a number one receiver. (At least they hope he’s a number one.)
The Baltimore Ravens couldn’t pass up the opportunity to add a talented pass catcher to their roster: three-time Pro Bowl standout Anquan Boldin. Under the circumstances, the Ravens made a good move in signing Arizona receiver Anquan Boldin. The Ravens were limited as far as the offseason moves they could make because they were one of the top eight teams in the NFL a year ago.
Baltimore obtained Boldin from the Arizona Cardinals on Friday for a third- and fourth-round pick in the 2010 draft. Baltimore also got a fifth-round pick from Arizona.
The 29-year-old Boldin has amassed at least 1,000 yards receiving in five of his seven seasons, including 1,024 yards on 84 catches last season.
Boldin received a new four-year, $28 million deal with Baltimore in which $10 million is guaranteed.
Granted, he won’t be putting up his monster numbers like in Arizona, where they averaged about 3,401 pass attempts per game, but he’ll be a huge weapon for the offense. Anybody who says this trade isn’t smart, or is ill-advised is pretty dim and ill-advised themselves. Try to tell me that those two players selected in the third and fourth round would’ve become NFL stars. Now try to tell me that it’s worse to have a current NFL star than to draft one. Yeah, didn’t think so. A huge addition, Boldin is the answer to every Ravens fan’s prayers for the past 10 years.
UPDATE: 8:18PM – LB Carlos Dansby is the latest Arizona Cardinals player to change addresses. Dansby is now a Dolphin. He’s expected to get $43 million over five seasons. $22 million is guaranteed and he’ll make $27 million in his first three years.
UPDATE: 10:09PM -One last note before I shut it down for the night. In a move that makes me happy, my New York Giants have signed former Arizona Cardinals SS/CB Antrel Rolle to a five-year deal worth $37 million, an NFL record for a safety. Rolle gets $15 million guaranteed and $22.5 million over the first three years.