The 2012 NFL draft always will be remembered for its quarterbacks.
Seattle Seahawks signal-caller Russell Wilson already has won a Super Bowl, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is on his way to being one of the best in the NFL and Robert Griffin III has showed unlimited potential in his first two seasons with the Washington Redskins. The Miami Dolphins’ Ryan Tannehill and the Philadelphia Eagles’ Nick Foles also are on their way to having great careers.
If any quarterback class can come close to matching 1983, when Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino were selected in the first round, it’s 2012.
Check out how the quarterbacks would fall off the board if the 2012 NFL draft was held today.
1. Indianapolis Colts: Russell Wilson, quarterback, Wisconsin (drafted No. 75 overall)
Actual pick: Andrew Luck, quarterback, Stanford
This could look foolish years down the road, but we have just two years to judge these players, and Wilson is the only quarterback in this class with a Super Bowl ring. Luck still could become the best quarterback in the NFL, but through two seasons, Wilson has been better.
2. St. Louis Rams: Andrew Luck, quarterback, Stanford (No. 1)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Washington Redskins, who took Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III
With Wilson going No. 1, Luck and Griffin each slide down one spot. The Rams would gladly take Luck over Sam Bradford if given the choice.
3. Minnesota Vikings: Robert Griffin III, quarterback, Baylor (No. 2)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Cleveland Brown, who took Alabama running back Trent Richardson
It’s unbelievable that the Browns actually traded up for Trent Richardson. It’s even more unbelievable they received a first-round pick from the Colts one year later in a trade.
4. Cleveland Browns: Luke Kuechly, linebacker, Boston College (No. 9)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Vikings, who took USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil
Kuechly won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in just his second season, which is no easy feat. He also won Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Lavonte David, linebacker, Nebraska (No. 58)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Jacksonville Jaguars, who took Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon
David could have been selected over Kuechly, despite his lack of hardware. David doesn’t pile up tackles like Kuechly, but he’s the more productive pass rusher, and he’s better in coverage.
6. Washington Redskins: Dontari Poe, defensive tackle, Memphis (No. 11)
Actual pick: Selection traded to Dallas Cowboys, who took LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne
Claiborne still has the potential to be great, but he hasn’t lived up to his top 10 billing yet. Poe has been an unbelievably productive and disruptive nose tackle.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars: T.Y. Hilton, wide receiver, Florida International (No. 92)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Buccaneers, who took Alabama safety Mark Barron
It took only one year for Hilton to become the type of receiver that opposing teams need to game-plan around. Hilton’s true breakout game came in the first round of the 2013 playoffs, when the Colts receiver had 13 catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns. As long as Hilton stays healthy, he’s on his way to an All-Pro career.
8. Miami Dolphins: Alshon Jeffery, wide receiver, South Carolina (No. 45)
Actual pick: Ryan Tannehill, quarterback, Texas A&M
Tannehill has been great, but he’s not on the same level as Wilson, Luck or Griffin yet. Jeffery tore the league apart in 2013, when he earned a Pro Bowl selection for catching 89 passes for 1,421 yards with seven touchdowns.
9. Carolina Panthers: Cordy Glenn, offensive tackle, Georgia (No. 41)
Actual pick: Kuechly
The Panthers can’t get Kuechly this time, but they’ll settle for Glenn, who has proven to be a franchise left tackle in his first two seasons in the NFL. Glenn was expected to play guard or right tackle, but his athleticism has allowed him to stay on the blind side.
10. Buffalo Bills: Fletcher Cox, defensive lineman, Mississippi State (No. 12)
Actual pick: Stephon Gilmore, cornerback, South Carolina
Gilmore hasn’t had a breakout season for the Bills yet, but Cox has been a disruptive five-technique defensive end for the Eagles.
11. Kansas City Chiefs: Bobby Wagner, linebacker, Utah State (No. 47)
Actual pick: Poe
Wagner has been a major part of the Seahawks’ success on defense while manning the unit from middle linebacker. He was a second-round steal.
12. Seattle Seahawks: Matt Kalil, offensive tackle, USC (No. 4)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Philadelphia Eagles, who took Cox
The Eagles wisely traded up for Cox at No. 12. He’s not around, so the Seahawks will take a potential franchise left tackle in Kalil.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Michael Brockers, defensive lineman, LSU (No. 14)
Actual pick: Michael Floyd, wide receiver, Notre Dame
Brockers was a late riser in the 2012 draft after coming out of LSU after his sophomore season. He’s been a great fit at defensive tackle for the Rams.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Chandler Jones, defensive end, Syracuse (No. 21)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Rams, who took Brockers
Jones had his first double-digit sack season in 2013, and he has the potential to be even better. So far, the Patriots got a steal in Jones.
15. Philadelphia Eagles: Nick Foles, quarterback, Arizona (No. 88)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Seahawks, who took West Virginia linebacker Bruce Irvin
The Eagles get to keep Foles, though they have to select him two rounds earlier. Foles had an unbelievable 2013 season. It remains to be seen if he can repeat that success, though he seems to be a great fit for Chip Kelly’s offense.
16. New York Jets: Ryan Tannehill, quarterback, Texas A&M (No. 8)
Actual pick: Quinton Coples, defensive end, North Carolina
The Jets are still looking for their future starting quarterback. Tannehill has been good but not great in his first two seasons.
17. Oakland Raiders: Alfred Morris, running back, Florida Atlantic (No. 173)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Cincinnati Bengals, who took Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick
Morris was a steal for the Redskins as a sixth-round pick. He certainly benefits from having Griffin as his quarterback in a zone read system.
18. San Diego Chargers: Michael Floyd, wide receiver, Notre Dame (No. 13)
Actual pick: Melvin Ingram, defensive end, South Carolina
Ingram showed a ton of potential before tearing his ACL in OTAs. In a few years, he could easily crack the first round of a draft reset, but there’s no enough there after two seasons. Floyd outproduced Larry Fitzgerald in 2013.
19. Chicago Bears: Mitchell Schwartz, offensive tackle, California (No. 37)
Actual pick: Shea McClellin, defensive end, Boise State
Schwartz has starred at right tackle for the Browns, but a move to guard could be in his future. He could be a potential All-Pro if he moves inside.
20. Tennessee Titans: Kendall Wright, wide receiver, Baylor (No. 20)
Actual pick: Wright
Wright had a breakout season for the Titans in 2013, so they would be happy to do this pick over again.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Vontaze Burfict, linebacker, Arizona State (Undrafted)
Actual pick: Traded selection to New England Patriots, who took Jones
Burfict originally had first-round buzz, then an awful 2011 season and NFL Scouting Combine dropped him out of the draft. After his first two seasons, Burfict would be back to being a first-rounder.
22. Atlanta Falcons: Bruce Irvin, linebacker, West Virginia (No. 15)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Browns, who took Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden
The Seahawks shocked the world when they drafted Irvin No. 15 overall. He played defensive end in his first season and strong-side linebacker in 2013. He likely will play a combination of the two roles in 2014, which could be his breakout season. The Browns traded up for Richardson and Weeden in this draft. That’s awful.
23. Detroit Lions: Kevin Zeitler, offensive guard, Wisconsin (No. 27)
Actual pick: Riley Reiff, offensive tackle, Iowa
Reiff has been good for the Lions, but Zeitler has been even better at guard for the Bengals. Reiff might move to guard in 2014.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dont’a Hightower, linebacker, Alabama (No. 25)
Actual pick: David DeCastro, guard, Stanford
Hightower had a shaky stretch in 2013 after fellow linebacker Jerod Mayo was placed on injured reserve. Hightower bounced back to have a fantastic end to the season, however. DeCastro was good in 2013, but a knee injury forced him to miss most of his rookie year.
25. Denver Broncos: Akiem Hicks, defensive tackle, Regina (No. 89)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Patriots, who took Hightower
Hicks was one of the best run defenders in the NFL in 2013. He was a third-round steal for the Saints.
26. Houston Texans: Damon Harrison, defensive tackle, William Penn (Undrafted)
Actual pick: Whitney Mercilus, defensive end Illinois
Harrison emerged as one of the league’s top nose tackles in his second season.
27. New Orleans Saints: Riley Reiff, offensive tackle, Iowa (No. 23)
Actual pick: Selection traded to Bengals, who took Zeitler
Reiff and Zeitler just switch places in the 2013 draft reset. Reiff isn’t an ideal fit at left tackle, but if the Lions need him to stay there, he can.
28. Green Bay Packers: Doug Martin, running back, Boise State (No. 31)
Actual pick: Nick Perry, pass rusher, USC
Perry still has potential, but he hasn’t lived up to it yet. Martin was one of the best running backs in the league before injuring his shoulder in 2013.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Danny Trevathan, linebacker, Kentucky (No. 188)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Vikings, who took Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith
The Broncos found a steal in the sixth round when they took Trevathan. Smith had a solid rookie season and would be a very early second-round pick in a draft reset.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Olivier Vernon, pass rusher, Miami (No. 72)
Actual pick: A.J. Jenkins, wide receiver, Illinois
Vernon was so good in his second season that he likely made the Dolphins regret taking Dion Jordan No. 3 overall in the 2013 draft. Jenkins was a bust for the 49ers. They’ve already traded him to the Chiefs.
31. New England Patriots: Coby Fleener, tight end, Stanford (No. 34)
Actual pick: Selection traded to Buccaneers, who took Martin
Without Jones or Hightower on the board, the Patriots can take Fleener in the first round. Fleener’s Colts teammate, Dwayne Allen, actually was better in 2012, but a hip injury sidelined him in 2013.
32. New York Giants: Mark Barron, safety, Alabama
Actual pick: David Wilson, running back, Virginia Tech
It came down to cornerback Janoris Jenkins, defensive lineman Malik Jackson, cornerback Brandon Boykin, defensive end Quinton Coples and Barron for the Giants. Barron has been the best of those five players.