2012 NFL Re-Draft: Patriots Can’t Grab Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower


The 2012 NFL Draft was supposed to go down as having one of the best quarterback classes in league history. That’s looking doubtful at this point.

Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck are two of the NFL’s top young quarterbacks, but Robert Griffin III and Brandon Weeden haven’t lived to their lofty billings. Kirk Cousins and Brock Osweiler have potential after earning big pay days this offseason, and Ryan Tannehill has been average in four NFL seasons.

The 2012 draft did produce an unusually high amount of top-tier linebackers, however.

Here’s how the first round would shake out if the 2012 draft was redone today.

1. Indianapolis Colts: Russell Wilson, quarterback, Wisconsin (drafted No. 75 overall)
Actual pick: Andrew Luck, quarterback, Stanford

Luck still might have more potential, but Wilson has been the better quarterback in their four years in the NFL. Wilson had a 110.1 passer rating in 2015, compared to Luck’s 74.9.

2. St. Louis Rams: Andrew Luck, quarterback, Stanford (No. 1)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Washington Redskins, who took Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III

Luck had a down season in 2015, but he more than showed enough in his first three NFL seasons to still be a top-two pick.

3. Minnesota Vikings: Luke Kuechly, linebacker, Boston College (No. 9)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Cleveland Browns, who took Alabama running back Trent Richardson

There was a case to be made that Kuechly, not Cam Newton, was the Carolina Panthers’ best player in 2015. Richardson was out of the NFL in 2015.

4. Cleveland Browns: Fletcher Cox, defensive lineman, Mississippi State (No. 12)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Vikings, who took USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil

Kalil hasn’t lived up to his top-five billing, while Fox is a two-time All-Pro defensive lineman.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bobby Wagner, linebacker, Utah State (No. 47)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Jacksonville Jaguars, who took Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon

Wagner is the second-best linebacker in a stellar class at the position. Blackmon hasn’t taken an NFL snap since 2013 as he battles alcoholism.

6. Washington Redskins: Dontari Poe, defensive tackle, Memphis (No. 11)
Actual pick: Selection traded to Dallas Cowboys, who took LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne

Claiborne hasn’t worked out for the Cowboys, while Poe is the most versatile nose tackle in the league.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Cordy Glenn, offensive tackle, Georgia (No. 41)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Buccaneers, who took Alabama safety Mark Barron

Glenn has been a franchise left tackle for the Buffalo Bills. Barron didn’t work out for the Buccaneers as a safety, but a move to linebacker has turned around his career.

8. Miami Dolphins: Lavonte David, linebacker, Nebraska (No. 58)
Actual pick: Ryan Tannehill, quarterback, Texas A&M

David was a steal for the Buccaneers at the end of the second round. Tannehill has been fine for the Dolphins, but he hasn’t proven to be worthy of a top-10 pick.

9. Carolina Panthers: Josh Norman, cornerback, Coastal Carolina, (No. 143)
Actual pick: Kuechly

The Panthers were happy to franchise-tag Norman after a first-team All-Pro-caliber season. He was a steal in the fifth round.

10. Buffalo Bills: T.Y. Hilton, wide receiver, Florida International (No. 92)
Actual pick: Stephon Gilmore, cornerback, South Carolina

Hilton has recorded three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons for the Colts. He had 69 receptions for 1,124 yards with five touchdowns despite average quarterback play in 2015.

11. Kansas City Chiefs: Alshon Jeffery, wide receiver, South Carolina (No. 45)
Actual pick: Poe

Jeffery hasn’t been as consistent as Hilton, but he’s proven to have higher upside.

12. Seattle Seahawks: Dont’a Hightower, linebacker, Alabama (No. 25)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Philadelphia Eagles, who took Cox

Hightower has dealt with minor injuries in his past two seasons, but he’s one of the league’s most versatile linebackers.

13. Arizona Cardinals: Trumaine Johnson, cornerback, Montana (No. 65)
Actual pick: Michael Floyd, wide receiver, Notre Dame

The Rams decided Johnson was worthy of the franchise tag after he intercepted seven passes in 2015. Floyd hasn’t emerged as a No. 1 receiver for the Cardinals.

14. Dallas Cowboys: Olivier Vernon, pass rusher, Miami (No. 72)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Rams, who took defensive lineman Michael Brockers

Vernon earned a massive five-year, $85 million contract from the New York Giants this offseason after he proved to be one of the NFL’s top pass rushers in 2015.

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Chandler Jones, defensive end, Syracuse (No. 21)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Seahawks, who took West Virginia linebacker Bruce Irvin

Jones has two double-digit sack seasons in four years in the NFL. Irvin was a surprise pick in the first round. He likely wouldn’t be a first-rounder if the Seahawks could do it over again.

16. New York Jets: Michael Brockers, defensive lineman, LSU (No. 14)
Actual pick: Quinton Coples, defensive end, North Carolina

Coples has been a bust for the Jets, while Brockers has been a solid pickup for the Rams as a versatile starting defensive lineman.

17. Oakland Raiders: Harrison Smith, safety, Notre Dame (No. 29)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Cincinnati Bengals, who took Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick

Kirkpatrick has started just 20 NFL games, while Smith is one of the top safeties in the NFL.

18. San Diego Chargers: Stephon Gilmore, cornerback, South Carolina (No. 10)
Actual pick: Melvin Ingram, defensive end, South Carolina

Ingram’s young NFL career has been ravaged by injuries, but he showed his potential in 2015 with 10.5 sacks. Gilmore has put together two consecutive impressive NFL seasons for the Bills.

19. Chicago Bears: Malik Jackson, defensive lineman, Tennessee (No. 137)
Actual pick: Shea McClellin, defensive end, Boise State

McClellin had to switch from defensive end to linebacker. Jackson earned a five-year, $85.5 million contract with the Jaguars this offseason.

20. Tennessee Titans: Janoris Jenkins, cornerback, North Alabama (No. 39)
Actual pick: Kendall Wright, wide receiver, Baylor

Jenkins had off-the-field concerns coming out of North Alabama. He has been a productive NFL player, however, and signed a five-year, $62.5 million pact with the Giants this offseason.

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Vontaze Burfict, linebacker, Arizona State (Undrafted)
Actual pick: Traded selection to New England Patriots, who took Jones

Burfict went undrafted after an extremely unimpressive NFL Scouting Combine performance but landed with the Bengals in free agency. He’s had his issues, but he’s still a top NFL linebacker.

22. Atlanta Falcons: Whitney Mercilus, edge defender, Illinois (No. 26)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Browns, who took Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden

Mercilus had a breakout season in 2015 with 12 sacks. He’s also solid against the run. Weeden has been a major first-round bust.

23. Detroit Lions: David DeCastro, guard, Stanford (No. 24)
Actual pick: Riley Reiff, offensive tackle, Iowa

DeCastro missed most of his rookie season, but he was named a first-team All-Pro in 2015.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Daniels, defensive lineman, Iowa (No. 132)
Actual pick: DeCastro

The Packers wisely prevented Daniels from hitting free agency with a four-year, $41 million contract.

25. Denver Broncos: Ryan Tannehill, quarterback, Texas A&M (No. 8)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Patriots, who took Hightower

Tannehill hasn’t been worth a top-10 pick, but he still has played like a first-rounder. The Broncos would be happy to have Tannehill today.

26. Houston Texans: Brandon Marshall, linebacker, Nevada (No. 142)
Actual pick: Whitney Mercilus, defensive end Illinois

Marshall only lasted one season with the Jaguars, but he has emerged as a star for the Broncos.

27. New Orleans Saints: Mitchell Schwartz, offensive tackle, California (No. 37)
Actual pick: Selection traded to Bengals, who took Zeitler

The Browns let Schwartz hit free agency, and the offensive tackle was rewarded with a five-year, $33 million contract with the Chiefs.

28. Green Bay Packers: Damon Harrison, defensive tackle, William Penn (Undrafted)
Actual pick: Nick Perry, pass rusher, USC

Harrison is one of the NFL’s top nose tackles, while Perry hasn’t lived up to his first-round billing.

29. Baltimore Ravens: Derek Wolfe, defensive lineman, Cincinnati (No. 36)
Actual pick: Traded selection to Vikings, who took Smith

Wolfe emerged for the Broncos in 2015 as a extremely versatile defensive lineman.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Kirk Cousins, quarterback, Michigan State (No. 102)
Actual pick: A.J. Jenkins, wide receiver, Illinois

The Redskins thought enough of Cousins to franchise-tag him this offseason. A.J. Jenkins was a surprise first-rounder and currently is out of the NFL.

31. New England Patriots: Doug Martin, running back, Boise State (No. 31)
Actual pick: Selection traded to Buccaneers, who took Martin

The Patriots wouldn’t be able to grab Jones or Hightower in this first-round redraft. Martin was one of the NFL’s top running backs last season with 288 carries for 1,402 yards with six touchdowns.

32. New York Giants: Rodney McLeod, safety, Virginia (undrafted)
Actual pick: David Wilson, running back, Virginia Tech

McLeod went undrafted in 2012, but he has turned out to be one of the league’s best safeties. The Eagles gave him a five-year, $35 million contract this offseason.

Thumbnail photo via Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Sep 14, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (54) and defensive end Chandler Jones (95) laugh following the game against the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Vikings 30-7. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
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