Five Surprises of the 2012 NFL Draft

Any NFL Draft is full of surprises.  Thousands of sports writers all over the planet spend countless hours putting together draft profiles, mock drafts, sleeper lists, overrated lists, and anything else to rank players from how well they throw a football to how they part their hair.

And then in a span of three days, 32 NFL teams blow all of that work out of the water.

For example, the Miami Dolphins didn’t listen to us when we warned them not to overpay for Ryan Tannehill.  They took him with the No. 8 overall pick, anyway, despite our efforts to caution them.  Suit yourselves, Dolphins.

Despite our total genius surrounding the 2012 NFL Draft, however, there were some moves that surprised us.  Here are five of them.

No. 5:  Seattle Seahawks select Bruce Irvin at No. 15 overall

This was the first “What the…???” moment of the 2012 NFL Draft.  The Seahawks, in dire need of a pass rusher, traded down from the No. 12 spot and picked up a couple of late round picks from the Philadelphia Eagles.  Things were looking good at this point.

With the way the draft was going to this point, every pass rusher was still available at No. 15.  So who’s it going to be?  North Carolina’s Quinton Coples?  South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram?

No, it’s West Virginia’s Bruce Irvin.  A guy that no one—except, apparently, Seahawks GM John Schneider—had as a first-round prospect.  ‘Hawks fans’ mouths were still hanging open in shock when Coples went to the New York Jets with the next pick and Ingram went to the San Diego Chargers two spots after Coples.

No. 4:  Washington Redskins select Kirk Cousins in fourth round

The Redskins sold the farm to trade up to the No. 2 overall selection.  As everyone knew they would, they selected QB Robert Griffin III out of Baylor.  Why, then, did they feel the need to select Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins three rounds later?  To motivate Griffin in camp?  To have a viable backup in the event Griffin is injured?

If having a viable backup was the goal, burning the No. 7 selection of the fourth round on a backup QB seems excessive.  The Indianapolis Colts, who selected QB Andrew Luck at No. 1 overall, waited to draft a backup QB with the very last selection of the draft:  Mr. Irrelevant, Northern Illinois QB Chandler Harnish.

National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell at the podium at the 2009 NFL Draft, at the Radio City Music Hall, New York City.

No. 3:  Kansas City Chiefs do not draft a quarterback

This decision puzzled us.  Is Kansas City really confident in Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn, and Tyler Palko as their signal-callers?  Houston’s Case Keenum and Boise State’s Kellen Moore were left undrafted.  The Chiefs didn’t think one of these guys was worth a seventh rounder in the hopes that the rookie could at least beat out Palko and improve the team?

No. 2:  Jacksonville Jaguars draft a punter…in the third round

As bad as the Jaguars offense was in 2011, it’s not much of a surprise that they drafted a punter.  But when Cal’s Bryan Anger went to the Jags with the No. 7 selection in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, the football world gasped and then giggled.  Anger is the highest-drafted punter in 17 years.  He’s also the only punter drafted in 2012.

At least they’ll get a lot of use out of him next season.

No. 1:  Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard drops all the way to 7th round

Granted, Dennard made an incredibly bad decision, allegedly punching a police officer in the head outside of a bar less than a week before the 2012 NFL Draft.  But the kid has first- or second-round talent at defensive back.

Teams avoided Dennard like the plague in the draft until the New England Patriots scooped him up with No. 17 selection of the seventh round.  What a steal!  If he gets his head screwed on straight, the Patriots are geniuses.  If he continues to be his own worst enemy, the team didn’t invest much in him.

Our money is on New England laughing all the way to the Super Bowl with Dennard in their defensive backfield.