Philadelphia, PA – If a name had to be given to commemorate the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, it would have to be "Tornado Day."
It was fast, twisting and powerful. And it likely destroyed many a prognosticator's prediction sheet in its fury.
It took only a shade over three hours to complete the process of Thursday's 32 selections, and the impact was as sudden as it was swift. Three trades were consummated in the first six picks, resulting in many of the event's star attractions wearing those stylish New Era caps emblazoned with far different team logos than any onlooker would have initially envisioned.
Jacksonville and Dallas pulled off two of the night's biggest bombshells, with the usually vanilla Jaguars making an unforeseen splash by moving up two spots to land Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon and the always-flashy Cowboys vaulting from the No. 14 slot up to No. 6 to snare coveted LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. And there would be plenty of other shocks and surprises to follow.
The volatility of an opening round that saw two players chosen from college football's "Little Engine That Could" program of Boise State -- which would be two more than historical Goliaths Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Florida and Miami combined -- could perhaps be best summed up by the actions of the New England Patriots.
The team that turned the method of trading down in the draft to an absolute art form actually climbed up the board on two separate occasions to nab their two prized defensive targets, skyrocketing Syracuse end Chandler Jones and versatile Alabama linebacker Donta Hightower. The aftermath of those unforeseen maneuvers had the defending AFC champions, generally known for placing a premium on middle-round picks, without a single selection after their two remaining second-round choices at the moment.
Here's a brief recap and analysis of some of the more notable happenings on what was one wild first day:
Best Trade Up: Philadelphia. The Eagles only had to go up three spots and surrender fourth and sixth-round picks to Seattle to reel in Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, an expected top 10 choice and the player the team had coveted most, at No. 12. The early entrant's exceptional agility and length make him a perfect fit as an interior pass rusher in line coach Jim Washburn's Wide Nine scheme.
Best Trade Down: Cincinnati. The Bengals were able to extract the Patriots' third-rounder (No. 93 overall) to slide from No. 21 to 27 and take Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler. The former Badger not only gives Cincy a necessary power presence up front, but the move also kept him away from guard-needy AFC North rival Baltimore (the Ravens traded out of the 29th spot immediately afterward).
Best Value Picks: Melvin Ingram, OLB, South Carolina (San Diego, No. 18). The Chargers were wise to stay put and let one of this draft's best pass rushers fall to them to bolster one of last year's greatest weaknesses on defense.
David DeCastro, OG, Stanford (Pittsburgh, No. 24). The Steelers also benefited by remaining patient and securing one of Andrew Luck's prime protectors at the college level, gaining a day-one starter widely believed to be one of the top 15 players of this overall class.
Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Illinois (Houston, No. 26). The addition of the disruptive Illini junior, who led the FBS ranks in both sacks and forced fumbles this past season, helps soften the blow of losing two-time All-Pro Mario Williams in free agency.
Most Questionable Picks: Brandon Weeden, QB (Cleveland, No. 22). Passing on Ryan Tannehill in favor of bruising Alabama running back Trent Richardson at No. 3 was understandable for the Browns, but Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert may have an inflated opinion of the 28-year-old Weeden's true worth. It's debatable as to how many teams held the former minor league pitcher in such high regard because of his advanced age and lack of seasoning in a pro system, and Cleveland had an early second-rounder (No. 37) that could have possibly been used to get him.
Michael Brockers, DT, LSU (St. Louis, No. 14). Taking the raw but incredibly promising youngster wasn't a bad idea by a team that's thin on the defensive line. However, the Rams' decisions to move down twice from their original No. 2 slot cost them the opportunity to acquire both of the draft's two elite wide receivers, as the Jaguars jumped in front of them to catch Blackmon and Arizona picked Notre Dame's Michael Floyd one spot ahead of Brockers after St. Louis made its deal with Dallas to descend from No. 6 to 14.
Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame (Minnesota, No. 29). Smith's a solid player who can certainly help a shaky Minnesota secondary, but the Vikings probably could have obtained him with their early second-round choice (No. 35) rather than climb up to the late first.
Most Notable Second-Day Sliders: Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia; Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama; Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech; Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford; Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Names That Will Be Called Early In The Second Round: Rueben Randle, WR, LSU; Kendall Reyes, DT, Connecticut; Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall; Brandon Thompson, DT, Clemson; Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia