- Round 1: RB Adrian Peterson
- Round 2: WR Percy Harvin
- Round 3: OLB Justin Houston
- Round 4: CB Janoris Jenkins
- Round 5: QB Kirk Cousins
- Round 6: LT Sam Baker
- Round 7: WR Reggie Wayne
- Round 8: G Logan Mankins
- Round 9: C Jonathan Goodwin
- Round 10: WR Cecil Shorts
- Round 11: CB Cortez Allen
- Round 12: S Stevie Brown
- Round 13: ILB Davis Harris
- Round 14: OT Zach Strief
- Round 15: G Dan Connolly
- Round 16: DE Tyson Jackson
- Round 17:
- Round 18:
- Round 19:
- Round 20:
- Round 21:
- Round 22:
Round 1, Pick 22: Adrian Peterson, Running Back
Prior to kickoff of the #RSPWP2, I broke down the draft order into two categories: QBCZ and NQBCZ. More specifically, the quarterback comfort zone and the non-quarterback comfort zone.
When my slot was announced as 22nd in the first round, I felt reasonably sure I was in the NQBCZ. After all, there were 14 quarterbacks I’ve already seen enough of to confidently build my team around, one that my faith was largely secured in, and one that is as polarizing (at least from a perception standpoint) as any other quarterback in the league.
The 14 quarterbacks I was confident in were taken, unsurprisingly, within the first 17 picks, with Ryan Tannehill going 19th.
That left me, at 22, with the one quarterback I was hoping I wouldn’t have to make a decision on: Tony Romo. As others have alluded to, Romo is better than public perception paints him to be, but he’ll be 33 by the time the NFL draft kicks off in April and is still searching for his first postseason win. He does things that few other quarterbacks can do, but those are sprinkled in along with a mix of irrational decisions and an at-times curious demeanor that I can’t imagine strikes confidence into his teammates.
I imagine Romo won’t last much longer on this board, but he’s not the one for me.
My pick came down to ACL’s. Sort of.
Is post-ACL surgery Darrelle Revis going to be pre-ACL surgery Darrelle Revis? Or will the reconstruction of a knee relegate him to something less than the best defensive player in football? I’m not a doctor, have no idea how he’ll bounce back, and certainly don’t have any idea what team he’ll be on in real life for 2013 or beyond.
But for the purpose of this project, he won’t be on my team, as another player — who has perhaps set a bar for recovery time from an ACL tear that is unreasonable to expect others to achieve — with an ACL tear in his rearview mirror is the choice.
Adrian Peterson wasn’t just good in 2012. He was transcendent, utterly freakish and a beast among men. Nine yards or ninety yards short of Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record, I’ve never in my lifetime seen a running back control and dominate a game like he did for Minnesota in 2012. He made an offense with Christian Ponder under center, Percy Harvin out of the lineup for eight games and a largely anonymous offensive line before the season started scary. A literal threat to take it the distance on every play, Peterson was a man possessed and rightfully earned his first ever NFL MVP.
The devil’s advocate inside my head has screamed, “but, running backs!” It’s a point well taken, and I don’t need to spell out the risks of investing in a player at a position that includes the proverbial “post-age-30 wall.” Or the fact that, for all we know, another sixth-rounder will be taken in April and rush for 1,500 yards, once again calling into question the soundness of drafting a running back early.
But Peterson separated himself in 2012 in a way that is just too tough to ignore at pick 22.
Round 2, Pick 43: Percy Harvin, Wide Receiver/Kick Returner
I toiled with the idea of taking Darrelle Revis with my first pick, and for more than a moment I thought he’d fall to me with my second pick. Such a scenario would have taken the effort out of surveying all the available options, as I still consider Revis to be the best defensive player in football, provided he returns to health (yes, a big if).
Once Revis was picked, my line of thinking turned towards a handful of players, highlighted by notable pass rushers (DeMarcus Ware remains available) or other players who have dominated in recent seasons (Vince Wilfork was a tempting pick).
But as I continued my exploratory research, I found that many of my options included players at or near 30 already. With an eye towards the future, I opted to pass on such a player, keeping in mind that Father Time is unpredictable in when he will catch up with even the best of them.
I weighed the available quarterbacks again, but the value at 43 didn’t match up. Reach for a below average QB, or take a player who is dynamic enough to mold one side of your football team around?
That brought me back to a teammate of Adrian Peterson’s (my initial pick), and at the risk of being accused of being Rick Spielman in a 175-pound frame, my choice is Percy Harvin.
Harvin is just 24, offers obvious value as a slot receiver, running back and kickoff returner, crossing off a down-the-line need. His behavior can reportedly be maddening and he missed the final seven games of 2012, but when he did play, he starred, making defenders miss and proving that he’s more than just a pint-sized human joy-stick. He’s a powerful dude who exerts every ounce of force his 184-pound frame affords him.
A quarterback and defense will have to wait until later.
Round 3, Pick 75: Justin Houston, Outside Linebacker
After consecutive offensive picks (and no quarterback I felt comfortable taking at this juncture), it became clear to me that I needed to look at a defensive cornerstone with my third selection.
The overwhelming sentiment among drafters appears to be that cornerbacks and pass rushers are the most valued defensive players (outside of rare players at other positions — Patrick Willis, Earl Thomas, etc.). I’d argue that there’s a larger pool of valuable edge rushers in today’s NFL than there are true lockdown cornerbacks, and most of those top-tier corners were long gone.
Houston’s an intriguing guy: he just turned 24, had 10 sacks in 2012, and benefits from playing opposite of Tamba Hali (who was also under consideration for the pick). His talents have never been in question, it’s simply been about his behavior and maturity. He seems to have curtailed any concerns relating to those questions and turned into the high-level prospect some foresaw him to be prior to the 2011 draft.
He’s a versatile rusher with power, speed and length off the edge, and he should continue to improve each season. He made dramatic strides even during the 2012 season, and is a guy that Kansas City is counting on for another stellar year in 2013.
I’m counting on him to anchor my defense for 2013 and beyond.
Round 4, Pick 115: Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback
The question with Jenkins has never been about talent. Concerns over his behavior pushed him out the door at Florida and then out of the first round of the 2012 NFL draft, but he made the Rams look wise for plucking him as their counterpart for Cortland Finnegan in the secondary.
Jenkins is an elite reactive athlete because of his physical skills, but he has also very good instincts and on-ball production. He was a star for St. Louis during parts of his rookie season, and he learned more about being a physical defender from spending time with Finnegan (at least his game suggested as much).
With a young cornerback and pass rusher locked in, my feeling is that I’ve identified the foundation of my defense. Jenkins will further develop into the type of cornerback that will feast on mistakes from under-pressure quarterbacks, and my hope is to surround Houston with complementary rushers.
Round 5, Pick 135: Kirk Cousins, Quarterback
I was shut out of the top tier of franchise quarterbacks in round one, which put the idea in the back of my mind to build the foundation of my roster for roughly 4-6 rounds before exploring the reserve quarterback market.
Truth be told, I was hoping that no one else would consider a player like Cousins or Mallett or one of the other seldom-discussed available quarterbacks this early, but when I saw Mallett go off the board, I knew I couldn’t wait any longer.
Cousins may actually be a starter when things kick off in 2013, and he did plenty to impress in a limited sample size last season. While the Redskins would be unwise to let him get away any time soon to become a starter elsewhere, I’ll be glad to have him as my own signal caller for many years to come.
With weapons around him that can deflate the pressure he’ll face, Cousins gives me the quarterback I need for my team to have any chance to be successful.
Round 6, Pick 182: Sam Baker, Left Tackle
Round 7, Pick 203: Reggie Wayne, Wide Receiver
Round 8, Pick 246: Logan Mankins, Guard
Round 9, Pick 267: Jonathan Goodwin, Center
Round 10, Pick 308: Cecil Shorts, Wide Receiver
Round 11, Pick 330: Cortez Allen, Cornerback
The RSP Writers project is brought to you by the 2013 Rookie Scouting Portfolio. Learn more about the 2013 RSP Writers Project and check out the completed 2012 RSP Writers Project where we built teams under a realistic salary cap. You can try it yourself.