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Winners, losers from first round of NFL draft

04.27.12 at 1:19 am ET
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With first round of the draft in the books, there’s time the breathe a sigh of relief and take in the hectic night, which featured the quickest first round in history. Now, we take a look at the five winners and losers of Day 1.

WINNERS

1. Bruce Irvin, DE, Seahawks Many teams knew of Irvin’€™s explosive — but raw — pass-rushing skills, with some seeing him as the most talented pass rusher in the draft. However, Irvin had a lot of character concerns coming into the draft, leading some teams to take him off of their boards completely. Mock drafts anticipated him going anywhere between the late first and late second rounds, so his selection at No. 15 wasn’€™t too many picks ahead of where some had him going. What’s surprising is that Irvin was the first edge rusher off the board in what was perceived to be a decent class for the position.

2. Rams — During much of the draft process, the Rams made it clear to other teams that they were looking to trade down from the No. 2 spot and collect as many picks as possible to rebuild their roster. After trading down to No. 6 weeks ago and again to No. 14 on draft day, the Rams have picked up two second-round picks to use on Friday in addition to two future first-round picks. They also grabbed dynamic LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers at No. 14 once they were finished wheeling and dealing.

3. Patriots fans — While a fan base tends to call for a lot of things heading into the draft, there was a near consensus with Pats fans as to what they wanted this year: They wanted Bill Belichick to draft a top-flight pass rusher early on, and they wanted him to stop trading down in the draft and to trade up to get an elite player. Much to their surprise, they got exactly what they wanted.

4. Cowboys — The Cowboys are always an aggressive team on draft day (Jerry Jones‘€™ trade up to No. 6 on Thursday night marked his 59th draft-day trade). However, the move to grab LSU corner Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall pick was a perfect strike in a draft class that was considered to have six ‘€œelite’€ prospects. The ability to grab one of those six (the Cowboys reportedly had Claiborne as the second-best player on their board) at the last available spot all the way from No. 14 was a great move for the Cowboys, despite having to sacrifice a second-round pick for it.

5. Jets — The Jets had only a few basic needs heading into the draft: a premiere edge rusher and a safety, mainly. In the end, they landed Quinton Coples, possibly the most talented pass-rusher in this draft class, without having to trade up with their choice at safety long off the board. There are questions about Coples’ work ethic and there will always be concerns about a player who is a bit of a head case in that locker room. On the other hand, Rex Ryan having that type of talent at his disposal should be a concern for the Patriots.

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Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick, Bruce Irvin, Jerry Jones

Bucs, Giants select running backs to wrap up first round

04.26.12 at 11:08 pm ET
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The first round ended with a pair of running backs Thursday night.

The Broncos traded down for a second time, getting second and fourth-round picks from Tampa Bay as the Bucs moved up to get Boise St. running back Doug Martin, who rushed for 1,299 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior.

The Giants then wrapped up the first round with Virginia Tech’s David Wilson, who became the third and final running back taken in the first round. The Browns selected Alabama’s Trent Richardson third overall.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft,

A quick look at Chandler Jones and Donta Hightower

04.26.12 at 10:57 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio mentioned it a few times over the course of the offseason — when asked what stood out for him about this draft, he made it a point to mention the front seven. And on Thursday night, New England went out and acquired itself two premier front seven defenders in Syracuse defensive lineman Chandler Jones and linebacker Donta Hightower.

Jones, taken at No. 21 overall, is a long, lean player in the mold of Willie McGinest, a 6-foot-5, 265-pound defensive end who is known for his ability to get after the quarterback. He secured a first-team Big East nod in 2011 even after missing the first five games of the season with a knee injury. In seven games, Jones managed to accumulate 39 tackles, 4 1/2 sacks, one forced fumble and an interception.

As for Hightower, who was taken at No. 25, he can fill multiple spots. He’s worked as an inside linebacker in Alabama’s 3-4 defense, but has shown some positional versatility, including some work as an edge player. At 6-foot-2 and 265 pounds, he was a consensus All-American — one of the captains of the Crimson Tide defense, he finished with a career-high 85 tackles (40 solo), with four sacks and 11 tackles for loss.

Read More: chandler jones, Dont'a Hightower, Nick Caserio, Willie McGinest

Vikings trade up for Harrison Smith, 49ers reach for A.J. Jenkins

04.26.12 at 10:54 pm ET
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The Vikings moved back into the first round, trading with the Ravens to get the 29th overall pick and select Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith.

Smith was the Viking’s second first-round selection, as they took Matt Kalil fourth overall.

The 49ers then turned some heads by drafting Illinois receiver A.J. Jenkins 30th overall. Jenkins can stretch the field, but there may have been better options on the board, such as Alshon Jeffery, Rueben Randle and, arguably, Stephen Hill.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft,

Texans take Whitney Mercilus, Bengals get Kevin Zeitler, Packers add Nick Perry

04.26.12 at 10:35 pm ET
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The Texans helped to make up for the loss of Mario Williams by taking Whitney Mercilus 26th overall in the NFL draft Thursday night.

The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Mercilus had 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles as a junior before declaring for the draft. He’s been called a one-year wonder, but so too were Jason Pierre-Paul and Aldon Smith.

We took a closer look at Mercilus while at the scouting combine in February. Click here for that story.

The Bengals were next up on the clock and took Wisconsin’s Kevin Zeitler. Then came the Packers, who finally got a legitimate complement for Clay Matthews by selecting USC pass-rusher Nick Perry.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft,

Patriots trade up to draft Dont’a Hightower out of Alabama

04.26.12 at 10:26 pm ET
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The Patriots traded up for a second time Thursday, as they moved from No. 31 to No. 25 and get Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower.

The Pats sent their fourth-round pick to the Broncos in the deal, meaning that their only remaining picks in the draft are the two second-round picks they have Friday.

This pick has Bill Belichick written all over it. Hightower played under Nick Saban at Alabama, and past drafts — notably the 2010 draft — have shown that Belichick is prone to select players who played their college ball under associates of Belichick.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, Dont'a Hightower,

Brandon Weeden to Browns, Lions end Riley Reiff’s slide, Steelers take David DeCastro

04.26.12 at 10:22 pm ET
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The Browns made a somewhat surprising move Thursday, selecting 28-year old quarterback Brandon Weeden out of Oklahoma State. The Lions followed the pick by ending Iowa tackle Riley Reiff’s slide at No. 23, while the Steelers took Stanford guard David DeCastro.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft,
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