Better than Cinemax! Stats and data from the 2012 NFL draft
Cold, Hard Football Facts for April 30, 2012
By Kerry J. Byrne
Cold, Hard Football Facts draft beer guru
The 2012 NFL draft was the most-watched unexciting moment in television history. Some 25 million people reportedly tuned into the first round Thursday night. The huge audience proves that the NFL is so brilliant that it can turn hours of middle-aged guys in suits blowing smoke up the a$$es of 22-year-old football players into a ratings bonanza.
We expected something different. When we heard the draft was on TV, we were hoping for images of large-breasted Bavarian beer girls serving up liters of tasty lager. Instead, we got Mel Kiper and Mike Mayock serving up gallons of needless hyperbole. So sad.
Regardless, we were glued to the tube much like a 15-year-old boy obsessed by Cinemax, or a 42-year-old man obsessed by visions of those large-breasted Bavarian beer girls. Meanwhile, our man Bill Enright of Football Nation was on the ground at Radio City Music Hall. He even chatted with the Gridiron Godfather himself.
We’re working on all our grades and finalizing team-by-team analysis right now. You can see all the picks right here, sorted by team. In the meantime, here are plenty of interesting stats, nuggets and bits of trivia we harvested from the 2012 NFL draft.
Teams Build from the Outside In
The draft tells us a lot about how teams are built. Essentially, as we’ve noted before, baseball teams are built from the inside out. But football teams are built from the outside in – teams look for playmaking talent on the edges of the field, and then build inward from there.
Wide receivers and cornerbacks, for example, are typically the most drafted positions. The 2012 draft was no different. NFL teams selected 33 wide receivers, more than any other position, but mirrored nearly perfectly by the number of cornerbacks taken, too (32). It’s amazing how that dynamic typically unfolds year after year: teams match player for player on the edges of the passing game.
The same dynamic unfolds as we move inward: teams take defensive ends than defensive tackles (thought it was close this year); more outside linebackers than inside linebackers; and more offensive tackles than guards and centers.
The phenomenon of building from the outside in is completed with centers. They are the least drafted offensive or defensive position year after year and 2012 was no different: just five centers were taken among 252 picks.
Here’s a look at the number of picks at each position
33 wide receivers
26 offensive tackles
24 defensive ends
22 defensive tackles
21 running backs
12 tight ends
That's 126 defensive players, 121 offensive players and six kicking specialists, for those of you keeping score at home.
Those Shiny Hood Ornaments sparkle brightly on draft day
Teams continue to triple-down on wide receivers. They drafted 33 this year, which may be the most of any draft in history (going through the history books now to confirm). NFL teams took 28 wide receivers last year and 30 in 2010.
We’ve long lamented the miserable bust rate of highly touted wide receivers. But the problem may not be with the players themselves, though the position does seem to attract a certain prima donna type athlete. The problem may simply be that NFL teams are so enamored with Shiny Hood Ornaments that they simply draft them too often and expect too much out of talent not up to the task.
Movers and Shakers
Cleveland handed the Vikings four picks to move up one stop to land Trent Richardson. But the Browns still ended the weekend with 11 draft picks, more than any other team.
Jacksonville caused plenty of guffaws when it drafted punter Bryan Anger in the third round. But the organization seems to have a rare affinity for specialists. Anger is the fourth punter or kicker the Jaguars have taken in the last 11 drafts. Only Seattle has taken more specialists (5).
Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Minnesota, Seattle and St. Louis each landed 10 draft picks.
The Patriots were their typical draft-day wheelers and dealers: all of their picks came via a move with another team. Put another way, they didn't use a single on of their scheduled draft picks ... another reason mock drafts are largely useless and grossly inaccurate, a fact we've chronicled often in the past.
The Colts landed both the very first pick (Andrew Luck, of course), and the very last. This year's Mr. Irrelevant is also a quarterback: Chandler Harnish of Northern Illinois was grabbed by the Colts with pick No. 253.
Harnish is an Indiana schoolboy legend. He was a three-sport star at Norwell High School in Ossian, Indiana and led its football team to a 14-1 record his senior year.
The SEC dominates on the field and in the draft
The SEC, as usual, produced the most NFL draft picks, with 42. But the Big 10, which has declined in the talent sent to the NFL in recent decades, was right behind with 41 draft picks.
National champion Alabama led all schools with 8 draft picks; 6 of Alabama’s 11 starters on defense were drafted, all within the first 146 picks
The rest of the major-conference scorecard: ACC, 31; Pac 12, 27; Big 12, 25; Big East, 12.
Two schools produced seven draft picks: Oklahoma and Georgia. Seven schools boast six draft picks.
Beware the Mighty Broncos
Once-little and disrespected Boise State had produced 45 NFL draft picks in its history (1970-2011); it produced six draft picks in 2012, tied for third most of any school. For a little perspective, national-title contender and SEC powerhouse LSU produced five draft picks.
Boise State joins the Big East in 2013, confounding geography students everywhere – even those at Rutgers. The move has the potential to move the balance of power in the Big East way out west. After all, the rest of the Big East this year produced a total of 12 draft picks, led by Cincinnati (4).