Looks like the biggest winners in the Suck for Luck Sweepstakes are the second place winners – the St.Louis Rams.
How did we end up here? In the last six months, we’ve gone from the Suck-for-Luck sweepstakes, to him not even being on the radar. Sometimes the surest pick, the one with the fewest question marks, gets the least sizzle and gets lost in the mix of the wildly controversial, flashy performers. These are players that get forgotten, fall in the draft, then resurface mid-season and show why they were so good to begin with.
This is the inherent problem with the NFL Combine, if you don’t make yourself into a story with ridiculous workouts or insane measurable that could be coupled with a questionable character/work ethic/past, you are forgotten, you’re not talked about. Seems unthinkable that the number one overall pick could attract such little attention, doesn’t it?
Then we got a closer look at Robert Griffin III, former Baylor quarterback, Heisman trophy winner, now surefire No. 2 overall pick. Forget the side-by-side comparisons of wins, passing yards or completion percentage; the only numbers that matter when it came to RGIII were 4.38 and 6’2”, his 40-yard dash time and height.
Let me repeat that in case you missed it - All this attention over RGIII which has skyrocketed since the end of the college football season has been caused by his height and 40 time. The man does not have to throw a pass until he gets drafted to ensure his status as the most sought-after prospect since, oddly enough, Andrew Luck.
Whoever trades up for RGIII fully proves this theory, and there are several teams who will be tempted to do so, with none of them making perfect sense. So, we’ll dabble in the rise of Poe and Melvin Ingram due to their combine performances, speculate on where Justin Blackmon and Trent Richardson will end up, throw out some possible trades that could occur in the first round, and try to see who will take place on the high talent/character concern of this year’s draft – Janoris Jenkins.
So if you’re worried this will be all about Griffin, don’t worry because there are plenty of other prospects to discuss, but for those of you who are fans of teams salivating the idea of RGIII, stick around because there’s probably a scenario for you.
The Cleveland Scenario
Can you imagine if he goes to Cleveland? Nevermind that it’s a football town that hasn’t seen their beloved Browns come to relevance since before being deactivated by the league from 1996-1999.
Never mind Mike Holmgren, a man who wants to bring the success he created in Green Bay and Seattle to Cleveland, overseeing the whole operation. Never mind not having 5 identifiable players on their entire roster (go ahead and try, see how long it takes you). This is a town still jaded from LeBron bolting town.
Griffin will be showered with praise upon arrival, and no fan will care if it takes 10 future first round picks to get him. No pressure though. Some team will mortgage their future to make him their future.
While the Rams may not get quite as much as what the Saints gave up to get Ricky Williams, it will be in the neighborhood. But everyone in Cleveland will understand. This could be a time of great revival for Cleveland football. Urban Meyer is running Ohio State, and the Browns could bring Michael Vick 2.0 to save their franchise.
While Holmgren is regarded as smart football mind, the pressure is on him, given the ammunition he has in two first round picks, to make a move for the potential franchise savior. While there is much the Browns need to do to be competitive, for a fanbase starving for a winner, and a team unsure of their current quarterback situation, how do they not make the move?
Formula for a Mock Draft
It’s worth reiterating what the formula is, but given the time of the offseason, the critical fifth factor has been added — Combine results.
Four tools were used in making this mock draft as credible as possible:
3) Team needs, and, most importantly,
5) NFL Combine results
Before going on, it cannot be emphasized enough - Any mock draft that tries to be completely logical is not worth considering, because no NFL Draft is completely logical.
A major reach here, a player inexplicably falling there — that’s the nature of the Draft. Post-combine means an influx of mock drafts based on 40 times, vertical jumps, and bench presses. There were quite a few standouts from this year’s group who made themselves a lot of money with their showing, but the biggest story remains Robert Griffin III, the Baylor quarterback who will shape this year’s NFL draft.
Rather than try to decide which team will ultimately make the move to get Griffin with just one mock draft, this is the first of a series of mock drafts that will outline several scenarios in which a different team could trade up to get the pick. Other changes will be noticeable among the mock drafts including Minnesota’s pick (Morris Claiborne or Matt Kalil), how high Dontari Poe will climb, and how far Trent Richardson will drop.
That’s the beauty and frustration behind mock drafts, because for as many scenarios that make perfect sense on paper, you always have to account for teams taking the best available pick or just falling in love with a player and reaching 10 spots than their “value” would have you believe.
After looking at all the post-combine notes, analysis, videos and mock drafts, I’m done trying to rationalize this mock draft because there is no such thing as being rational when it comes to the NFL Draft.
 With all due respect for the deceased, the Oakland Raiders under Al Davis were known for making atypical, irrational-at-the-time, spectacularly disastrous selections. Whether they were seen as such at the time (e.g. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Michael Huff, Sebastian Janikowski) or flamed out later on (Robert Gallery and JaMarcus Russell), Oakland’s selection were also one to watch the day of, and in the years following.
#1 – Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
***#2 –Cleveland (from St. Louis Rams): Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
#3 –Minnesota Vikings: Morris Claiborne, DB, LSU
*** #4 –St.Louis (from Cleveland Browns): Matt Kalil, OT, USC
#5 –Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dre Kirkpatrick, DB, Alabama
- WHY RGIII MAKES SENSE FOR CLEVELAND: One word…LeBron
- WHY RGIII DOESN’T MAKE SENSE FOR CLEVELAND: Cleveland lacks a No. 1 or 2 receiver, a legitimate running game or a top-15 TE. That’s a recipe for disaster for any rookie quarterback. Considering the cost for RGIII, that would leave Cleveland with very limited opportunities to build a team around him this year, and next year
- PICK TO WATCH…No. 5 Tampa Bay: Tampa Bay could go in a variety of directions. Their need is on defense, so any of the top defensive players (Kirkpatrick, Kuechly, or Coples) could be the pick; however, they could really use a running back. But considering that he’s not that much better a prospect than his predecessor Mark Ingram, who went in the latter half of the first round, no runner has been taken in the top five since Darren McFadden in 2008.
#6 –Washington Redskins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
#7 –Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
#8 –Miami Dolphins: David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
#9 –Carolina Panthers: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
#10 –Buffalo Bills: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
- ANALYSIS: Manning would be crazy to sign with Washington, a team with a questionable offensive line, running game and receiving groups. If last year taught us anything, teams will reach if they think a “quarterback-of-the-future” is there for them. Considering Blackmon is not overwhelmingly tall or fast, he slips to the Jaguars making Blaine Gabbert a very happy man. Every mock draft has Miami addressing their offensive line, which I just don’t believe they do when they could have one of the top pass rushers in the draft at this pick. Nevertheless, I give them the best overall offensive line prospect, despite the fact that he plays guard.
- PICK TO WATCH…No. 7 Jacksonville: Blaine Gabbert needs help, in so many more ways than one. The line is a mess, and he has perhaps the worst receiving group in the league, so which do you target? This is determined by how high Floyd is on their board. Since receiver is such an overwhelming need for them, they may reach for a target to help Gabbert along in his development if Blackmon is taken. And they have to consider the defensive line as it hasn’t been the same since the Marcus Stroud-John Henderson combo they boasted years ago.
#11 - Kansas City Chiefs: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
#12 – Seattle Seahawks: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
#13 - Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
#14 – Dallas Cowboys: Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
- ANALYSIS: Considering the offseason moves they made to shore-up their defensive backfield, and secure Dwayne Bowe, the Chiefs must address their offensive line and keep Matt Cassel upright. Kelicky and Philadelphia are too perfect a match for this to actually happen – much in the same way that everyone had Miami taking Mark Ingram last year. Kelicky should go higher, but I would not be surprised if he dropped. Seattle’s most glaring need is to acquire some playmakers on offense (something the entire division needs), but with Blackmon long gone, they take the best pass rusher available and roll the dice on Cople’s immense talents. Don’t be surprised if they take Trent Richardson as a “best-player-available” pick.
- PICK TO WATCH…No. 14 Dallas: There are so many directions Dallas could go. Jerry Jones definitely wants to address the offensive line so Cordy Glenn or Mike Adams could be an option. Their defensive backfield betrayed them last season so Dre Kirkpatrick or Mark Barron would make sense, and starting outside linebacker Anthony Spencer could be let go in the offseason. The last point is particularly important as DeMarcus Ware, coming off another All-Pro season, could use some help from opposing teams focusing solely on him. Upshaw is a great value pick at No. 14, but again, Dallas could go in so many directions.
#16 – New York Jets: Don’t’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
#17 –Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland Raiders): Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
#18 – San Diego Chargers: Andre Branch, DT/DE, Clemson
#19 – Chicago Bears: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State
#20 – Tennessee Titans: Whitney Mercilius, DE, Illinois
- ANALYSIS: Cincinnati’s dream scenario comes true. They complete a trip that could carry their offense for the next decade by adding Richardson to Andy Dalton and AJ Green. San Diego makes a bit of a surprise pick going for Branch, but they sorely miss Shawne Merriman, and sorely whiffed on Larry English. Jay Cutler is happier than the N-64 kid to find out he finally gets someone on the offensive line that can protect his blind side. Tennesee is just as confusing a team as any to project – a receiver to compliment Kenny Britt when he comes back from injury, a corner to replace Cortland Finnegan if he leaves and an offensive lineman because you can never have too many good lineman with a young quarterback waiting in the wings. Given his combine performance, Mercilius ultimately lands here for a team that never really got over losing Jevon Kearse, and more recently, Albert Haynesworth.
- PICK TO WATCH…No. 16 New York: Bart Scott may not be with the team next year which would leave a hole in the middle of the defense. Plaxico Burress may not be resigned leaving even less options for Mark Sanchez, who needs as many opportunities to succeed as possible. LaDainian Tomlinson’s duture is in doubt, and Rex Ryan may hesitate to put the full load on Shonne Greene who hasn’t quite proven himself as the game-changing running back they had hoped he would develop into. It would be VERY tempting for New York to grab Richardson if he’s there, but ultimately, Ryan gets back to retooling the defense and gets someone with the experience in a 3-4 system to step in right away and infuse some life into that unit.
#21 –Cincinnati Bengals: Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
***#22 –St.Louis (from Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta Falcons): Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
#23 –Detroit Lions: Stephen Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
#24 – Pittsburgh Steelers: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
#25 – Denver Broncos: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
- ANALYSIS: The Bengals have never been shy about taking chances on “character risks.” Given how badly Adam Jones got beat in the playoffs and how much they miss Jonathan Joseph, it’s essential that the Bengals walk away with a defensive back with one of their first two picks. Brockers, once a top-ten prospect, tumbles to Pittsburgh due to a very poor combine showing. Given the age of their defense, Pittsburgh takes the very young, yet talented Brockers without hesitation. The Broncos will get their “backup” quarterback in round two. I say Elway finds a way to get Nick Foles, Kirk Cousins, or Brandon Weeden.
- PICK TO WATCH…No. 22 St. Louis: What do the Rams do with their second first round pick? If Floyd is available, it should be a no-brainer taking a receiver to pair with Sam Bradford; however, the Rams have needs EVERYWHERE and could opt for the best available player, whatever position he plays.
#26 –Houston Texans: Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
#27 –New England Patriots: Nick Perry, OLB, USC
#28 –Green Bay Packers: Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
#29 – Baltimore Ravens: Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
#30 –San Francisco: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
#31 –New England Patriots: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
#32 – New York Giants: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford
- ANALYSIS: Houston got a glimpse of life without Andre Johnson, and they didn’t like what they saw. Sanu becomes what they want Jacoby Jones to be and provides more offensive firepower in a division with very questionable defenses. Green Bay gets a great value pick with the No. 1 safety in the draft. Baltimore gets the top center to replace Matt Birk, and San Francisco does not get scared away by Wright’s 40 time. Don’t be surprised if the 49ers grab the top TE on the board if they don’t rate the second tier of wide receivers highly enough.
- PICK TO WATCH…No. 31 New England: This is more for who will they trade this pick to, and for what player. New England is notorious for shuffling picks during the draft for future considerations, but I have a hunch that this is the year they will keep both picks. They need to fix the defense and they could use an extra outside target for Tom Brady (not that he’s struggling with what he’s got, but still) I think the player people will target is Stephen Hill from Georgia Tech. Somehow, I see him sneaking into the first round, and this is a prime spot to get him.