The 2012 NFL Draft featured one of the worst top-ten selections in recent draft memory. However some elite talent found throughout (Luck, Wilson, Kuechly, Wagner), saves it from being a complete bust of a draft.
Many of the first rounders in the original draft are already out of the league, either through poor play or early retirements due to injury.
As always, I have undone the draft day trades, but kept the trades made before the draft. I don’t think the Rams would’ve traded out of the 2nd overall pick if they had known what Russell Wilson would’ve become. These redrafts operate under complete hindsight bias, therefore draft day trades made 8 years ago don’t make a lot of sense today.
1) Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
(Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford)
There is nothing to change here, even with Luck’s early retirement. He retired due to a series of nagging injuries, no doubt brought on by a lack of talent on the offensive line over the years. The Colts neglected the offensive line for too many years, something they would change in a do-over of the decade.
2) St. Louis Rams – Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin
(Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor)
The Redskins traded up to nab Robert Griffin III, but in this redraft, the Rams wouldn’t trade out of getting Russel Wilson. It’s hard to argue that Russell Wilson will end up with the best career out of anyone in this draft. He already has two Super Bowls under his belt and the next best QB is already retired. If Robert Griffin III hadn’t suffered his gruesome leg injury, things in the NFL might be way different right now; especially for the Redskins.
3) Minnesota Vikings – Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
(Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama)
The Browns traded up one spot here on draft day with the Vikings to draft Trent Richardson, which turned out to be one of the biggest busts in recent draft memory. Luke Kuechly doesn’t have a “fix” to his injuries that caused an early retirement like Luck, but he’s still the best non-QB from this draft class. One can only hope that a different team would mean different circumstances surrounding his injuries.
4) Cleveland Browns – Bobby Wagner, LB, Utah State
(Matt Kalil, OT, USC)
Bobby Wagner is barely a step below Kuechly. He’s clearly on a path to the Hall of Fame and he’s the best inside linebacker in the NFL today. The Browns had a decent defense, but they severely lacked capable linebackers. They have one more pick (even in this redraft) to address the offense.
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
(Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State)
Another draft day trade, the Jaguars jumped up to grab Justin Blackmon. In one of the worst top-fives in recent draft memory, Blackmon turned out to be the biggest bust. He had many off-field issues and was barely in the league. Gilmore was good in Buffalo, but he really broke out in New England. Gilmore is coming off a 2019 campaign that ended with him winning NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
6) Washington Redskins – T.Y. Hilton, WR, Florida International
(Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU)
Yet another draft day trade, the Cowboys swapped with the Rams (from the Redskins) to select Morris Claiborne. Reversing that trade, the Redskins really needed help at QB and WR, but there isn’t a QB of value here. Hilton has consistently been a top-10 receiver in the league over the past 5 years. It’s hard to pass on Fletcher Cox here, but Hilton fills a bigger need.
7) Jacksonville Jaguars – Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
(Mark Barron, S, Alabama)
Finishing up the Jaguars-Buccaneers trade, the Buccaneers selected Mark Barron, who did not live up to his top-10 draft billing. Fletcher Cox is the best interior defensive lineman in the league (Aaron Donald plays more DE). The Jaguars built a phenomenal defense that led them to the AFC Championship Game in 2017.
8) Miami Dolphins – Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
(Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M)
Tannehill didn’t work out in Miami and he’s only had half of one good season so far in Tennessee, so I’m not ready to crown him yet. Jones, on the other hand, has been one of the best at his position since entering the league. In fact, he leads the entire league in sacks since entering the league in 2012.
9) Carolina Panthers – Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska
(Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College)
The Panthers miss out on Kuechly in this redraft, but they still get one of the best linebackers of this decade. David is routinely underrated since he has played on a bad team his whole career (which will most likely change this season). The Panthers need that big hulking presence right in the middle of their defense.
10) Buffalo Bills – Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame
(Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina)
The Bills miss out on redrafting the top CB from this class, but they still get the second best defensive back. Smith has been roaming the back end of the Vikings’ defense since he was drafted and has become one of the best safeties in the league. The Bills lacked much talent in their secondary at this time.
11) Kansas City Chiefs – David DeCastro, G, Stanford
(Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis)
Poe was good for a couple seasons in Kansas City, but they really needed help on their offensive line. David DeCastro remains one of the best interior offensive linemen in the league, something the Chiefs could still use today.
12) Seattle Seahawks – Melvin Ingram, EDGE, South Carolina
(Fletcher Cox, DT, South Carolina)
The Seahawks traded out of this spot during the draft, sliding back a few spots to select an edge rusher. Staying at 12 this time around, the Seahawks get the second best edge rusher in this class. Ingram has been a force on the edge since entering the league.
13) Arizona Cardinals – Brandon Brooks, G, Miami (OH)
(Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame)
Floyd ended up being a bust with some off-field issues. The Cardinals needed offensive line help in 2012, and they still need it today in 2020. Brooks has proven to be one of the best guards in the NFL in the last decade.
14) Dallas Cowboys – Akiem Hicks, DL, Regina
(Michael Brockers, DE, LSU)
In the original draft, the Cowboys traded up to 6th overall to take a CB who ended up being a bust. Hicks has proven to be a dominant force on the defensive line, able to trap in blockers to free up teammates, but also with the strength to win any one-on-one battle.
15) Philadelphia Eagles – Casey Heyward, CB, Vanderbilt
(Bruce Irvin, DE, Vanderbilt)
This is where the Seahawks traded back in the original draft, while the Eagles traded up for Fletcher Cox. That move certainly worked out for the Eagles, but in this redraft they’ll have to settle for a different position. Heyward is the second best CB to come out of this draft class.
16) New York Jets – Olivier Vernon, EDGE, Miami
(Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina)
The Jets went with a different edge rusher in the original draft, so here they get an upgrade. Coples turned out to be a decent player, but Vernon has flashed some dominance and his floor has turned out to be much higher than Coples’ floor.
17) Cincinnati Bengals – Josh Norman, CB, Coastal Carolina
(Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama)
Just like the Jets, the Bengals get an upgrade at the same position they drafted back in 2012. Josh Norman was nothing short of dominant for a few seasons in Carolina. It seemed like he was shaping up to be the best in the league for the next decade. A fallout with the Panthers during contract negotiations landed him in Washington, where he ultimately fell off his game. If that fallout with Carolina didn’t happen, who knows how good Norman could’ve been.
18) San Diego Chargers – Mike Daniels, DT, Iowa
(Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina)
The Chargers miss out on their great edge rusher in this redraft, but they still fortify their defensive line with Mike Daniels. The Chargers didn’t have any who could routinely rush the QB before this draft, so they needed to find someone who could.
19) Chicago Bears – Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
(Shea McClellin, EDGE, Boise State)
The Bears botched their first round pick in Shea McClellin but nailed their second round pick in Alshon Jeffery. They couldn’t wait this time around for Jeffery, however. Jeffery ended up leaving Chicago after his rookie contract, but he was still one of the better receivers they’ve had in quite some time. Who knows where either side would be right now if they had brought him back for another contract.
20) Tennessee Titans – Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
(Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor)
Wright is yet another bust from this first round. And although the Titans needed a receiver, this draft is very light in that position. Like I said above (see: Chiefs pick), Poe was dominant for a few years in Kansas City. Maybe a different city like Tennessee could’ve resulted in a longer period of good play from Poe.
21) Cincinnati Bengals – Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
(Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse)
In the original draft, the Patriots traded up to select Chandler Jones. The Bengals ended up signing undrafted free agent Vontaze Burfict to fill the hole at middle LB. Hightower turned out to be a comparably talented player, but without the many issues that have befallen Burfict. The Bengals didn’t have a good LB unit before or after Burfict.
22) Cleveland Browns – Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
(Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State)
The Browns missed on another QB in this draft in Weeden who turned out to be a bust. My hopes with this pick is that RGIII doesn’t suffer the same injuries as he did in Washington. Still, we only saw him play in 15 games before his injury, so who knows if RGIII would’ve continued upward, or would’ve just been a flash in the pan.
23) Detroit Lions – Matt Kalil, OT, USC
(Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa)
The Lions really needed help on their offensive line after not addressing it in the previous few drafts. Reiff was a capable player, but it was hard to lean on him every single game. Matt Kalil would’ve filled in much better in Detroit at either left or right tackle.
24) Pittsburgh Steelers – Kelechi Osemele, G, Iowa State
(David DeCastro, G, Stanford)
The Steelers did not have a good offensive line during this period, which is why they selected DeCastro. Osemele is hardly a consolation prize as he has proven to be one of the best guards in the NFL since 2012. The Steelers wouldn’t miss much of a beat with this redraft.
25) Denver Broncos – Malik Jackson, DT, Tennessee
(Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama)
The Patriots really nailed this draft in 2012, trading up again to select Dont’a Hightower. The Broncos selected Malik Jackson in the 5th round in the original draft, but they have to take him much sooner in this draft. The Broncos built a great defensive line between Jackson, Von Miller, and Elvis Dumervil.
26) Houston Texans – Whitney Mercilus, EDGE, Illinois
(Whitney Mercilus, EDGE, Illinois)
The Texans end up drafting Whitney Mercilus again in this redraft. He has paired nicely with J.J. Watt since he was drafted in 2012. The Texans really needed another pass rusher anywhere on their roster besides Watt.
27) New England Patriots – Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
(Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin)
This is the other half of the Cincinnati trade where the Bengals traded back and selected Kevin Zeitler. The Patriots miss out on Dont’a Hightower in this redraft, but they still get a very good linebacker. Vontaze Burfict has his problems, but we’ve seen many players with issues go to New England and straighten out (usually).
28) Green Bay Packers – Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
(Nick Perry, LB, USC)
Nick Perry seemed like a great pick at the time. Pair this USC linebacker with their former first round USC linebacker Clay Matthews. However, Perry ended up being a bust. Green Bay lacked talent at the CB position, so Janoris Jenkins fills a hole here.
29) Baltimore Ravens – Mitchell Schwartz, OT, Cal
(Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame)
The Ravens traded back into the second round in the original draft, with the Vikings moving up to snag their guy in Harrison Smith. The Ravens has a decent offensive line, but it wasn’t much outside of Marshal Yanda at the time. Mitchell Schwartz has proven to be one of the best right tackles in the league, and if necessary, he could be one of the better left tackles as well.
30) San Francisco 49ers – Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
(A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois)
The 49ers had a need at WR, but they also had a big need at guard. Jenkins turned out to be a bust, and there isn’t another WR worth this pick in this redraft. Glenn can slot in at either guard or tackle, but would’ve filled the void at right guard for the 49ers.
31) New England Patriots – Bruce Irvin, EDGE, West Virginia
(Doug Martin, RB, Boise State)
This is the back half of the trade with the Buccaneers, who selected Doug Martin after trading back. The Patriots also miss out on Chandler Jones, but they get another edge rusher in Bruce Irvin in this redraft. Irvin was a consistent contributor in his first few seasons, but a change of scenery in New England may have unlocked his true potential.
32) New York Giants – Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin
(David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech)
The Giants relied on their running game in 2011 and featured a balance offensive attack to win Super Bowl XLVI. Adding another running back could’ve fortified a strong offense, but this running back class is very weak. Instead, the Giants can help their running game another way, adding a good offensive lineman in Kevin Zeitler.