JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 1: Indianapolis Colts fans look on during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on January 1, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Jaguars defeated the Colts 19-13 as Indianapolis secured the first pick in the 2012 draft. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
I don't know if you guys remember, but last year I participated in a Twitter-based mock draft called MockOne (hashtag: #mockone). Well, this year's iteration is much better. Brandon Nall, the creator of MockOne, and programmer Brian Bullard spent many hours creating a web application through which participants in MockOne could make their picks, make trades, and see available players left on the board. The site can be found here; hopefully you're following along!
The first six picks went fairly uneventfully; Luck, RG3, Kalil, Claiborne, Trent Richardson, and surprisingly David DeCastro went off the board quickly, leaving me to pick at seventh overall or trade the selection. What did I end up doing?
As the seventh pick approached, I started exploring trade-down options to move into the early teens and target one of Justin Blackmon, Kendall Wright, Stephen Hill, Melvin Ingram, Courtney Upshaw, or Riley Reiff. I approached every team from Carolina at nine through the Jets at 16, and they all turned down my trade offers. None of them were willing to move up to seven. I had preliminary discussions with the Cardinals GM, but he decided to wait it out and still got the guy he was targeting at 13 (Riley Reiff).
Stuck at seven, I had no choice other than to take the player highest on my board at the time. That player was Quinton Coples, defensive end from North Carolina. I believe Coples has elite pass-rushing ability, and others, including Dr. Jene Bramel of Footballguys.com, do as well. He needs some good coaching to achieve that potential, but Joe Cullen should be up for the task.
The rest of the first round continued onward, and some talented players I really liked started to fall. I considered Kendall Wright worthy of a top-15 pick, but 18 and 19 rolled around and he was still on the board. I started exploring trade-up opportunities with the Browns at 22, but the Titans threw a wrench in my plans by selecting Wright at 20. I had attempted to contact the Titans' GM, to try to trade for his selection, but he wasn't interested in moving the pick and wanted the player instead.
Stephen Hill, however, was still dropping. Ever since Eric Stoner had pointed him out to me as guy with special talent and possibly the only true potential "X" receiver in this draft, I've been enamored with the idea of Hill as a Jaguar. That and the fact that he shares a name (including spelling) with my dad. Anyway, Hill was still on the board as of the mid-20s, so I started talking to GMs about what it would cost to move from 38 (my second-round pick) to the late 20s. I knew the 49ers and GM were interested in Hill at 30, so I was targeting trades above that pick.
I ended up talking to the Bengals' GM who had traded down to the Ravens' spot at 29, about what it would cost to move up to 29. The price? A swap of 4th-round picks and my 5th-rounder. Now THAT'S a price I could get on board with! I waited until he was on the clock to ensure Hill was still around. He was. I pulled the trigger on the trade and moved back into the first round to select Stephen Hill, wide receiver from Georgia Tech.
All in all, I exited the first round minus a fifth-round pick and with a fourth-round 15 spots lower than the one I had entered the draft with, but I also left with the services of Coples and Hill, two players with star potential that could help transform the Jaguars into a Super Bowl contender.
Let me know your thoughts on the first round! What would you have done? Any questions regarding my strategy? There's more to come later; I will write the rest of this draft up in a couple other posts. Follow MockOne on Twitter and via the website and see what happens next!