Commissioner Roger Goodell and new Carolina quarterback Cam Newton. Photo from Zimbio.com. Not pictured: boos.
The first 32 picks are always unpredictable -- not an empty phrase, these picks are literally impossible to predict from top to bottom. (ESPN reportedly offered a cool $30 mil to anyone who could do it ... but you'd have a better chance of being next year's #1 pick.) That's what makes this one of the great weekends in all of sport.
Here's part one of our draft-day blow-by-blow, mining our epic live-blog and extended conversations from last night.
1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Not a huge surprise, though the contract negotiations between Newton and Jerry Richardson would make for epic television. Tim asks: "I wonder what Jimmy Clausen is doing right now?" As it turns out, he was tweeting his congratulations. Possibly while on a boat with T-Pain and a mermaid.
2. Denver Broncos: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M
Okay, this was surprising. Granted, Schefter had been reporting that this was 90% of a done deal, but smart money had been on Marcell Dareus here. From Pro Football Focus: "So the Miller to Denver love today wasn't a smokescreen. Now the onus is on Denver to use him correctly."
3. Buffalo Bills: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
Says Tim: "All of my Bills friends were dying for Dareus. Congrats to them. Dareus is so versatile, perfect fit." Adds Derek: "And Ryan Fitzpatrick keeps his job for one more year." Kind of a shame Newton didn't fall to the Bills, really. That could have been special. Do they go Kaepernick in the 2nd?
4. Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Debatable. NFP's Wes Bunting loved it: "Best pick in the draft so far goes to the #Bengals...they get the best player in the draft at four in AJ Green & fill a huge need..." Granted, AJ Green is virtually bust-proof, but that will be put to the test with the roster disaster brewing in Cincinnati. Next year's #1 overall pick?
5. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Tim calls this pick "The Bradford Effect." Clearly a "best player available" pick in my mind, but a luxury for Arizona considering the staggering depth of needs on the O-line, defensive middle, and (ahem) at quarterback. No way they address even half their needs in this draft. Should have traded out. Meanwhile, Blaine Gabbert makes his first appearance on the ESPN SadCam....
6. Atlanta Falcons (via CLE): Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
Jaws dropped. A stunning deal. Clearly, Atlanta wasn't content to wait for Ryan Broyles or Justin Blackmon in 2012, and needed an elite complement to Roddy White... but wow, what a package of picks they gave up. This was the deal Arizona needed to make, honestly. What a win for Cleveland. And a part of me is now a Falcons fan...
7. San Francisco 49ers: Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri
This didn't help our floor-bruised jaws any. Clearly he's a special talent, but I hadn't seen Aldon mocked higher than #11 to the Texans. Fits a pattern, though, says Brennan: "Two picks that could effect Bradford's development. Peterson to the Cardinals and Smith to the 49ers." Aldon becomes the first non-SEC player to be picked, and Prince Amukamara is officially "falling" right now. Meanwhile, Blaine Gabbert tries to grimace out a smile on the ESPN SadCam. It looks more like he smells a fart.
8. Tennessee Titans: Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Blaine Gabbert has just been leapfrogged. So has Al Davis, as Titans owner Bud Adams is now officially The Crazy Old Guy of the NFL Draft. Says Brennan: "Locker could easily be the second coming of Kyle Boller." I think a Vince Young comparison is not out of the question, either -- both are far better runners than throwers, though at least VY had some college success to bank on.