By: John Catona, Staff Writer
The football spotlights were on in New York this past week as the NFL held its annual entry draft. The three day event highlights the beginning of 253 new young players who will one day become the future of the league.
The first two picks in the draft were virtual locks ever since the Washington Redskins traded up from the sixth pick to the second pick, trading places with the St. Louis Rams. It was known that with the first pick the Indianapolis Colts would choose Stanford Quarterback Andrew Luck, and with the second pick the Redskins chose Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Robert Griffin III from Baylor. The two picks will forever be connected with one another, as there was debate upon who the Colts should choose with the number one pick. Some scouts preferred Griffins speed and playmaking skills to the Intellect and pocket presence that Luck held. In the end both players will be held to a high standard in Washington and Indianapolis and wins will be expected relatively soon.
After the first two picks the craziness ensued, with the third pick the Cleveland Browns traded up one spot with the Minnesota Vikings in order to choose running back Trent Richardson from Alabama. With the fourth pick the Viking chose offensive tackle Matt Kalil from USC, and with the fifth pick the Jaguars traded up and chose wide receiver Justin Blackmon from Oklahoma State. The sixth pick brought more surprise as the Dallas Cowboys moved up eight spots from pick 14 to pick 6 to choose LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. With the seventh pick the Tampa Bay Buccaneers chose Alabama safety Mark Barron. The Miami Dolphins went with quarterback Ryan Tannehill out of Texas A&M with the eight pick, with the ninth pick the Carolina Panthers sured up their linebacking core by choosing Luke Kuechely out of Boston College. To Round out the top ten the Buffalo Bills chose cornerback Stephon Gilmore out of South Carolina.
Many draft experts thought that the Philadelphia Eagles had the best and most complete draft. The team addressed their issues in the front seven with several selections. First they moved up from pick 15 to pick 12 and selected defensive tackle Fletcher Cox out of Mississippi State. The versatitlity that Cox has will ensure him a good amount of playing time in his rookie year. With the first of their two second round picks the Eagles chose outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks from Cal Berkley. Kendricks ran a 4.4 forty at the combine in April, his speed should help him cover tight ends and ensure him a spot in the starting lineup from day one. With the other second round pick the Eagles chose defensive end Vinny Curry from Marshall University. Curry was projected as a late first or an early second round pick so picking Curry at the end of the second round was a good value pick. With their third round pick the Eagles chose Nick Foles out of Arizona. Foles will start out as a backup for the birds but could develop into a starter one day, possibly for the Eagles or for another team. The last big selection that the Eagles made was fourth round pick Brandon Boykin, a cornerback from Georgia. Boykin will immediately become the kick returner and could work his way into the slot corner role that Joselio Hanson is currently in. Altogether this draft showed immense improvement over the past two years, and the majority of these picks should contribute immediately for the birds.
The Steelers also had a successful draft according to many experts. In the first round the Steelers stayed patient and selected Stanford guard David Decastro. Decastro was considered a top three offensive lineman in this draft; he fell due to the lack of value at his position. Decastro will slide right into the starting lineup at guard. In the second round the Steelers went with offensive live again with the selection of Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams. Adams was considered a first round lock before the season began. His four game suspension for accepting illegal goods and a positive test for marijuana at the combined were the reason that he slipped into the second round. In the third round the Steelers chose outside linebacker Sean Spence from Miami (FL). Spence is a speedy linebacker with great instincts. He should have a spot in the starting lineup come training camp, and will immediately help the Steelers aging defense. With their fourth round pick the Steelers found a future replacement for nose tackle Casey Hampton in Washington defensive tackle Ta’amu Alameda. To wrap up the notable selections they chose speedy Florida running back Chris Rainey in the fifth round. This draft was an important one for the Steelers who have a lot of age and rust on their roster. It was important to bring in young players who had both skill and potential, in the 2012 draft the Steelers did just that.
The defending champs put together a strong draft as well despite selecting at the end of the end of the round due to their super bowl win. In the first round with the thirty second pick they selected skilled running back David Wilson from Virginia tech. Wilson will receive the carries that were given to Brandon Jacobs in previous years. In the second round the G-Men chose wide receiver Reuben Randle, Randle posses great speed and is a solid route runner. In the third round the giants selected cornerback Jayron Hosley, he will add to an already talented secondary. Finally with their fourth round selection the Giants chose tight end Adrien Robinson from The University of Cincinnati. Robinson will team up with the newly acquired Martellus Bennett to form a solid tight end core.
The 2012 Draft had the highest rating of all time this year. Both ESPN and the NFL Network both saw dramatic spikes in their viewership. This was due to the primetime audience, and the new fast paced pick selection. This year we truly saw the birth of an annual event that general sports fan will look forward too. This is a far cry from a decade ago when only sports nuts and geeks truly looked forward to the draft. This is a respect to the exponential growth that the NFL see’s every year, and all th other major sports better get used to competing with the NFL year round and not just from September thru February.