We will be live-blogging the 2012 NFL Draft (the ESPN telecast, anyway), so keep it here for live updates on each of the 32 first round selections, trades, Robert Griffin III musings, Mel Kiper’s hair, etc. Also, for anyone heading downtown tonight, don’t forget to swing by Rocket Bar on 7th Street near Gallery Place and visit Riggo’s Rag head cheese Kevin Mawher II.
7:15 p.m. – *Nervously biting fingernails despite knowing fully well it has already been confirmed by the Colts and Redskins that Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III will be the respective first and second selections in the 2012 NFL Draft*
7:45 – Figures the first big trade would go down the instant I get my hands on some grease-soaked refreshments. ESPN’s Adam Shefter is reporting that the Minnesota Vikings have traded the third overall pick to the Cleveland Browns for the fourth overall selection plus fourth (118), fifth (139) and seventh round picks (211). The bet is here that Browns President Mike Holmgren is trying to ensure he gets Trent Richardson at No. 3, but there’s also a chance he has targeted wide receiver Justin Blackmon and was worried that either Minnesota would take him or St. Louis would trade up from No. 6 to land a top playmaker for quarterback Sam Bradford.
7:50 - MEL KIPER HAIR UPDATE: Setting the bar high before the Colts are even on the clock. Mel will be hair-pressed (Ha!) to keep up this kind of performance all night.
7:55 - Ed Werder is reporting that the Dallas Cowboys want safety Mark Barron at No. 14, but aren’t willing to trade into the top 10 to ensure they get him ahead of the Bills at No. 10 and, perhaps via a trade with Arizona, the Jets at No. 13.
8:00 - Attention to all rookies: Ray Lewis will eat your face.
8:03 - And we’re underway! Begin the countdown to see how long the Colts will just jerk us all around…
8:06 - SHOCKER!!!…just kidding, Colts take Andrew Luck. Best prospect since John Elway, blah blah blah. Nothing to see here.
8:07 - plzplzplzplzplzplz….
8:08 - And the RG3 chants have begun, in New York City no less.
8:10 - RG3 lovefest aside, Colts fans should be excited. Not only are they getting a franchise quarterback whose floor is probably Pro Bowl-caliber, but they’re getting an excellent, classy kid to represent their team for the next decade-plus.
8: 13 - YYEEEEESSSSSSSS!!!!!!
8:18 - That is a wide grin, but there’s a whole bunch of people in the DMV smiling even brighter.
8:19 – “The plan is to go in there from Day One and showing the veterans I’m there to work.” Excellent. Also, B&G socks an excellent finishing touch.
8:21 - As expected, the Browns take Richardson, who should really help take pressure off of quarterback Colt McCoy. Probably the most talented running back to come out since Adrian Peterson.
8:24 - Guess here is Minnesota traded back knowing Cleveland wouldn’t take Matt Kalil with Joe Thomas already protecting McCoy’s blindside.
8:27 - Tampa Bay has traded the No. 5 pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have targeted Blackmon, who will give Blaine Gabbert a No. 1 receiver. And the Vikings have selected Kalil to protect Christian Ponder. Young quarterbacks getting some reinforcements for their sophomore campaigns.
8:32 - Tampa Bay gets the No. 7 pick and Jacksonville’s fourth round selection in exchange for the No. 5 pick.
8:33 - Justin Blackmon is headed to Jacksonville to catch passes from Gabbert. Poor guy. Great attitude and work ethic, Blackmon will fun to watch, especially since he’ll be going after (and snatching) off-target passes all the time.
8:37 - Well crap. The Cowboys might not have been willing to trade into the top 10 for Barron, but it looks like they have done so for LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. RG3 and Pierre Garcon won’t like have to face this guy twice a season. Claiborne, along with Brandon Carr, transforms the Dallas secondary from a weakness into a strength.
8:43 - The Cowboys gave up the 14th pick and their second round selection (45) to move up to No. 6, by the way. Rams are stockpiling picks. St. Louis fans should be ecstatic.
8:47 – This may be a bit high for Barron, but he fills a hole for Tampa Bay. Hard hitter, excellent tackler, and just as good in coverage. Smart player and a leader in the secondary who directed Mark Saban’s offense and will do the same for the Bucs. Solid choice.
8:51 - This is way high for Ryan Tannehill, but if any team was going to take him, the Dolphins were, where he will be reunited with Mike Sherman, his former coach at Texas A&M. Excellent kid, extremely hard worker. Hopefully Miami will let him sit for a year and learn from the sidelines. He’s not ready to step in and play quarterback in the NFL right away.
8:54 - MEL KIPER HAIR UPDATE: Still going strong. Really impressive stuff from Kiper so far.
8:58 - Carolina’s defense dreadful last year, so what do they do? Take a guy who can be the defensive field general for the next decade in Luke Kuechly, who ACC fans got plenty of looks at over the last four years. Excellent linebacker, elite instincts and tackler (532 career tackles), can do everything you want a middle linebacker do. Best interior linebacker to enter draft since Patrick Willis.
9:00 - Buffalo didn’t waste any time taking cornerback Stephon Gilmore to upgrade their secondary. You need corners when you play in the same division as Tom Brady. Excellent size, solid kid, not the most fluid in coverage, but an great tackler for a corner, so he’s versatile enough to play safety if NFL receivers give him trouble in one-on-one coverage.
9:07 - Perhaps no first-round prospects stock rose more since the NFL Combine since Dontari Poe, who has incredible measurables but often does not live up to his potential on the field. Now it will be up to Romeo Crennel to ensure Poe fulfills his talent in Kansas City.
9:10 - Philly’s on the clock after trading up from No. 15 to get Seattle’s No. 12 pick. The Eagles will also send their fourth (114) and sixth round (172) choices to the Seahawks. Here’s hoping they don’t select Melvin Ingram…
9:14 - And they didn’t. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox is the pick, and this is about potential. As a Skins fan, I’m not thrilled about having this guy rush RG3 up the middle, but I prefer it over having Ingram come off the edge. Cox could be among the game’s elite tackles in a few years, or he could be a supremely-talented rotation-player. Time will tell.
9:19 - Adam Shefter is reporting the Cardinals will take Michael Floyd. I feel sorry for NFC West secondaries who will know have to spend two games a year trying to catch and tackle Larry Fitzgerald and Floyd (assuming he doesn’t booze himself out of the NFL). Oof.
9:21 - And Shefter had it pegged, per usual. Well, at least Kevin Kolb has no excuse to not perform now, not that he had many before. So where does this leave the Rams, who’d certainly like to find a top receiving threat for Bradford?
9:25 - Why is this guy rapping terribly? Stop it.
9:30 - The Rams have selected LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers, which might be the most questionable choice so far, given how much St. Louis needs help on offense at receiver and along the line. But the Rams have plenty of picks later to address those needs, and Brockers gives them a very good run-stuffer on the defensive line.
9:35 - Ok, nevermind, Seattle just made the 2012 draft’s first head-scratching pick, selecting West Virginia pass rusher Bruce Irvin, who most draft “analysts” had graded as a mid-second round pick, at best. Some character concerns, but possesses elite speed and athleticism. High-potential, high-risk selection for the Seahawks.
9:36 - The Jets are on the clock, and the New York fans are chanting “We want Ingram!” Yes, please, just keep him out of the NFC East and away from RG3.
9:43 - Do’h! The Jets pass on Ingram and opt for North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples, who has great talent and measurables, but disappears in games too often. Here’s betting Rex Ryan can figure out how to motivate this guy.
9:47 - The Bengals have two first round picks, and spend the first one on Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. Played for an elite defense and coach in Nick Saban, but has average speed for a corner and is not elite in coverage. A willing tackler with a winning attitude, he has the mindset to improve as a cover man, but does he have the ability?
9:57 - San Diego takes the best player left in Ingram, who gives the Chargers a potential gamechanging pass-rusher. Doesn’t have great size, just an all-around great football player. Kind of guy who is easy to root for and will be loads of fun to watch. Chargers hit one out of the park with this pick, my favorite of the first round (except RG3, of course).
9:59 - With the 19th pick, the Bears have selected Boise State linebacker Shea McClellin. A little early here, especially for a team that plays a 4-3 base defense. A better fit rushing the passer as a 3-4 outside linebacker, McClellin has good athleticism and a great motor, the kind of prospect that will work hard to maximize his talent. Solid choice.
10:04 - Tennessee is one the clock. Meanwhile, Shefter is reporting New England has traded up for Cincinatti’s No. 21 pick with their sights set on Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones.
10:10 - Whoa. The Titans have selected Kendall Wright, RG3’s top receiving threat at Baylor. Doesn’t fit with Tennessee’s needs (only 28 sacks last season), but the Titans must have liked the idea of drafting a dynamic threat as a receiver and in the return game.
10:12 - MEL KIPER HAIR UPDATE: Sweet Jesus, how does the man do it?
10:13 - The Patriots were horrendous on defense last season, so they traded up to get Jones, as Shefter reported. Jones reminds me a bit of Jason Pierre-Paul. I’m sure Bill Belichick is hoping for something similar.
10:16 - The Browns did not waste any time selecting Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden, who at 29 has a great story and will be a fan favorite in Cleveland. The Browns may have wet the bed letting RG3 get away, but they sure did get the most out of their two first round picks. Well done.
10:17 - RANDOM PATRIOTIC INTERLUDE
10:20 - Why, NFL fans? Why would you choose Calvin Johnson for this year’s Madden curse? He was so much fun to watch…anyway, the Lions selected Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff, an excellent selection this late in the draft, especially for a team that needs to do more to protect its franchise signal caller. Great value.
10:22 - And the Steelers could hardly have sent Roger Goodell back on stage faster to select Stanford guard David DeCastro, maybe the best prospect at the position since Steve Hutchinson. Another excellent value, maybe the best so far this draft, DeCastro will significantly upgrade Pittsburgh’s offensive line, which seems to be horrendous every year.
10:27 - Oh New England, why must you be so good? Belichick’s M.O. has always been “trade back, trade back, trade back,” but so far they’ve traded up twice to select high-impact defensive players, this time Alabama lineback Dont’a Hightower, who is probably a bit big to line up as an inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense but can easily slide outside and wreak havoc blitzing into NFL backfields. The leader of Nick Saban’s defense at Alabama, Hightower is a perfect match for Belichick.
10:32 - Houston has selected Illinois linebacker Whitney Mercilus, a good fit in the Texans 3-4 defense. Good motor, good instincts, didn’t produce until his final year at Illinois. A one year wonder, or rising talent? My bet is the latter.
10:36 - With their second first-round pick, the Bengals have chosen Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler, a solid player, but a bit of a reach at this point. Like all Badgers, Zeitler is a mauler in the run game and won’t be outworked on the field, but there were better players available. If the Browns maximized the value of their two first-round picks, I’d say Cincinnati did not.
10:39 - The Packers take USC linebacker Nick Perry to rush the passer opposite fellow Trojan Clay Matthews. Strong, fast and athletic, Perry doesn’t possess elite explosiveness like Matthews, but is more of a bull edge rusher ala Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo. Solid pick.
10:45 - Minnesota has traded back into the first round, trading its second (35) and fourth round (98) rounds selections to Baltimore for the 29th overall pick.
10:47 - And Minnesota has taken Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith, the best safety left on the board. Great makeup, Smith isn’t an elite athlete but has very good field awareness and can play centerfield as well as up in the box. Vikings got a solid player here.
10:51 - The 49ers have selected Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, a speedster with good size who produced in college. Good, smart kid. Will fit right in with the culture Jim Harbaugh is instilling in San Fran.
10:55- Now Tampa Bay has traded back into the first round and sent their second round pick (34) to the Broncos, who originally traded back from 25 and picked up a fourth round pick from New England, for the 31st overall selection. The Buccaneers have taken Boise State running back Doug Martin, an excellent complement to incumber LeGarrette Blount, who is always an injury or some on- or off-field catastrophe away from being in active. Martin is a natural runner with good speed and breakaway ability. With Vincent Jackson and Martin, Josh Freeman is going to have a bit more to work with next season.
11:05 - And with the last pick of the first round, the Superbowl champion New York Giants *retch* have selected a local player, Virginia Tech running back David Wilson. A little surprising Wilson was taken this high, but who am I to question the Giants front office? Wilson is a burner as a runner, but he’s great between the chains and will cough the ball up from time to time. Redskins defenders won’t have fun chasing this guy around, but he won’t break many tackles if they can get their hands on him.
11:15 - And that’s a wrap. Check back tomorrow, as I’ll post my first-round draft grades for each team. For now, just know the Redskins received an ‘A++’ from me the moment they traded up for the No. 2 pick. WELCOME TO D.C., RG3!!!