The first round of the 2012 NFL Draft was completely wild. There were a multitude of trades, too many to mention here. I could not believe how many teams traded up in the first twelve picks, and how many traded back after that. Here are just a few of my thoughts from the first round:
- The Buccaneers picking Mark Barron from Alabama with the 7th overall pick was seemingly a win for the Falcons. The Bucs were slotted at 5th overall, and traded back to 7th, and I thought the jig was up, and that it was just an afterthought that the Bucs would draft Morris Claiborne. Unexpectedly, Dallas traded up to 6th, and drafted Claiborne, leaving Tampa in the cold. I know that new Head Coach Greg Schiano says he likes Barron so much that he would have willingly taken him at No. 5, but I think its him covering his butt, or lip service if you will. Nobody expected Dallas to make such a big move, and Tampa got caught looking. Mark Barron is a good player, and a smart player, but he is a strong safety. I don’t know that he is a very good safety in coverage, as he will not have anywhere near the pass-rush or supporting cast that he had in Alabama. I think Barron will struggle to cover tight ends in the NFL, and he will absolutely NOT be able to cover receivers. Tampa got a fine player, but I don’t think Barron is an elite safety when asked to cover in the passing game.
- Carolina selected Luke Kuechly 9th overall, and I think this is a very good pick for them. Last season they lost and Jon Beason–two very fine linebackers–to injuries, and they miss most if not all of the season. As a result, the Panthers were very weak up the middle at defensive tackle and linebacker. Kuechly is not a transcendent talent at the position, but he certainly helps them answer a big question mark at a position with lots of problems. This pick definitely makes the Panthers better.
- Dallas’ selection of Morris Claiborne gives them a very good secondary. The Cowboys have outside corners in Morris Claiborne, newly acquired Brandon Carr, and a good albeit routinely injured nickel corner in Mike Jenkins. They have a lot of talent at the position, and could be very dangerous with their pass-rush/coverage combination. The Falcons face the Cowboys at home in week 9 on Sunday Night Football, and they will have to bring their A-game if they are to defeat this suddenly dangerous team.
- I also liked Detroit’s pick of Riley Reiff at No. 23 overall. The Falcons have a huge need at Left tackle, and Reiff is the second best tackle in the draft. It is interesting that the Browns had the No. 22 overall pick, a pick that they acquired from the Falcons in the Julio Jones trade. I’m not saying that the Falcons would have been quite as successful without Julio Jones, but if they hadn’t traded up they would certainly have taken Reiff. I’m just making an observation here.
The Falcons will pick at No. 55 overall tonight, and here are some things to look out for in the 2nd round:
- I think there may be a run on offensive linemen early in the 2nd round. They guys on NFL Network even mentioned it immediately after the 1st round ended. Every team has a need along the offensive line, so many linemen will go. That being said, I think the Falcons will take Zebrie Sanders at No. 55 overall. He is the 8th best offensive lineman left according to NFL.com, and is an excellent pass blocker. He will almost certainly be there for the Falcons, and they would be wise to pick him.
- Tight ends appear to not be in as high demand as I previously thought. Stanford’s Coby Fleener was invited to Radio City Music Hall for the 1st round, but never heard his name get called. While he will not be around for the Falcons in the 3rd round, I don’t think there is any doubt that another tight end of a very high caliber will be available at that slot. Atlanta may want to select one there, and they will probably have options.
After the Falcons make their 2nd and 3rd round picks I will try to get out an ‘Instant Reaction’ with a profile of the player, how he will fit with the Falcons, and how I like the pick in general. Here we go Falcons fans!