The next big NFL “event” will be the annual draft which is scheduled for April 26th through April 28th. Draft season is also known as the “lying season” as it’s the time for subterfuge and dishonesty, as teams will try to gain any advantage they can.
Often during this time of deceit false rumors of which players teams are considering are abundant as well as players “rising” and “falling” based on exhibition games and workouts. The moral of the story is believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.
Now, on to our misconceptions.
The Gap is Narrowing Between Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck
It has been decided for roughly 13 months that Andrew Luck will be the number one pick in the 2012 draft. Luck is the most NFL ready rookie coming into the league since Peyton Manning and there really isn’t a weakness in his game. Although Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy and he’s a wonderful prospect, there is simply no way that the Colts or any other team in need of a quarterback would pass on Andrew Luck.
Robert Griffin III could have have a higher upside than Andrew Luck and whichever team trades up to draft him will shout from the mountaintops that Griffin was the number one quarterback on their board. Believe none of it as Andrew Luck is the player that teams have been pining over for the last two years and barring a major offseason injury it is an absolute lock that Luck’s name is called first on April 26th.
The Rams Will Get a King’s Ransom for the Second Overall Pick
We know that Andrew Luck will go first overall and quarterback needy teams such as Cleveland, Washington and Miami among others will explore the possibility of trading up for Robert Griffin III. Although the Rams own the second-overall selection, they won’t be able to put the proverbial gun to the head of possible trade partners.
There’s a zero percent chance that St. Louis would select Griffin with the second overall pick. The Rams have already made a sizable financial commitment to Sam Bradford and they can’t afford to have that much money wrapped up in two quarterbacks. What hurts the Rams even more is that Minnesota owns the third-overall pick and they are committed to 2011 first-round pick Christian Ponder. If the Rams ask for too much compensation for their second-overall pick, teams can simply call up Vikings general manager Rick Spielman and negotiate for a more fair price to get their guy.
The final thing to keep in mind is that if Robert Griffin III shows poorly at the combine, the Rams second-overall pick might be completely worthless in terms of a trade.
Justin Blackmon is a Top 5 Pick
We are fully aware that the St. Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns both select in the first four picks and desperately need help at wide receiver. We are also aware that not one but two wideouts went in the top six picks last season. Unfortunately for the Rams, Browns and the Blackmon family, Justin Blackmon simply does not have the measurables of A.J. Green and Julio Jones. Blackmon has good size at 6-foot-1, 215 pounds but he’s not as big as last year’s top wideouts. Blackmon also lacks top-end speed as he’s expected to run somewhere in the low to mid 4.5’s in the 40. 2011 sixth-overall pick Julio Jones was bigger at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds and ran a blazing 4.39 second 40 while the at 6-foot-4, 210-pound A.J. Green ran in the 4.4’s.
Blackmon had a fantastic collegiate career and won the Biletnikoff Award for the nation’s top wideout two years in a row. His game projects fairly well on the next level but to take a wide receiver in the top ten picks, much less the top five picks he must have great size, speed and hands and Blackmon possesses none of the three.
It’s Easy To Trade Back
Most fans are in favor when their teams trade back in the draft to acquire extra picks in the hopes of filling more needs. Whereas the idea makes sense, it’s simply not as easy as checking a “trade back box” on the draft card.
To trade back in the draft, someone must first find a player of enough value to come up for, usually a quarterback. With there likely being just two first-round quarterbacks in this draft, there may not be very many players worthy of giving up additional compensation to move up and acquire, thus we may not see more than a couple trades in the first round.
Trading Back is Always Smart
There are no absolutes in the draft business. It makes sense to have as many draft picks as possible, but continuously moving back can prevent a team from acquiring an impact player.
The perfect example is the New England Patriots. The Patriots seemingly move back year after year and are loaded with draft picks. They do as good of a job as any team at protecting their future, but at what expense?
It’s difficult to argue with New England’s recent success, as the team went 13-3 and made it to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for the Pats, they were short playmakers and that ultimately kept them from taking home the big prize.
Make no mistake, most franchises would love to have had the success the Patriots had over the past decade, but they haven’t won a Super Bowl in seven seasons. Mediocre drafting has been an issue, despite having as many picks as any team in the NFL.
Last season the Atlanta Falcons traded up from the 27th spot all the way up to pick number six to take Alabama wideout Julio Jones. Jones helped the Falcons to the playoffs and looks the part of a future elite receiver. What if the normally stingy Patriots splurged on Jones and Tom Brady had an outside threat who could consistently get deep and beat man coverage? There may have been a parade through Boston last week instead of Manhattan.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie