Quarterback Depth Will Help the Bottom Feeders Dominate the 2011 NFL Draft
After two weeks, there are eight NFL teams without a win: Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, San Fransisco, St. Louis, Buffalo, Cleveland, and Carolina. Varying slightly from this, according to ESPN.com's NFL Power Rankings, roughly the 10 worst teams in the NFL are in order from worst—not quite as terrible:
St. Louis Rams
San Fransisco 49ers
Now, power rankings don't usually account for the ease of schedule. When considering this, here is how the 2011 draft order could very well look:
1) Buffalo Bills: Just plain the worst team in the NFL in possibly the toughest division
2) Cleveland Browns: Little talent in arguably the toughest division
3) Detroit Lions: Tough Division, hellacious out-of-division schedule
4) St. Louis: Horrible team, but weakest division in football, easy out of division schedule
5) Carolina Panthers: Tough division, bad team
6) Jacksonville Jaguars: See Panthers, Carolina
7) Arizona Cardinals: They're just plain terrible
8) Oakland Raiders: Weak Division, but still a bad team
9) Seattle Seahawks: Weak division, great home field, just not a lot of talent
10) Minnesota Vikings: Disinterested team in a tough division with glaring flaws, health concerns, and a brutal inter-divisional schedule
The strength of this draft is that there are three great quarterback prospects, as long as Andrew Luck and Ryan Mallett decide to come out early. You have to have a competent quarterback in today's NFL in order to be a legitimate contender.
How many of these ten teams would take one of these three quarterbacks if they fell to them? It's possible, if not probable, that every team EXCEPT Detroit and St. Louis, who have already invested in quarterbacks with first overall picks the past two years, would take one of these quarterbacks. Along with these bottom ten teams, once you include other teams like the 49ers, Chiefs, Bengals, possibly the Dolphins, Steelers, Redskins, and Titans, there is a fortuitous amount of demand for potentially elite quarterbacks.
Because the Browns used a third round draft pick on Colt McCoy in the 2010 draft, along with having an exorbitant number of holes, there is a very good chance that they, along with the Lions and Rams, could look to trade their first pick. Assuming the Bills take a quarterback with the first overall pick, the Browns, Lions, and Rams would all have hot commodity picks that are generally very tough to trade. If the Browns do decide to invest in a franchise quarterback, Detroit's potential third pick would be worth more than Terrence Cody's weight in gold.
If teams like Arizona, Minnesota, Oakland, Seattle, and San Fransisco decide to stay pat (and Oakland already traded their first-round pick to the Patriots), they could end up getting stuck with the likes of Derek Anderson, Tavaris Jackson, Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Whitehurst, and Alex Smith for another year. Meanwhile, a good draft including an elite quarterback could push teams like the Vikings and 49ers over the edge.
It's conceivable that the top three picks in no particular order could be Andrew Luck, Jake Locker, and Ryan Mallett.
If Minnesota is considering selling its soul for a chance to get Vincent Jackson, who won't even be able to play until the middle of the season, what would they be willing to give for a chance at Ryan Mallett or Jake Locker (assuming Luck's going first overall)? No one's going to trade into the top five (for economic purposes) to pick up a defensive tackle or safety. Those positions just aren't sexy enough. But teams would almost certainly be more likely to justify trading up to grab a potentially elite quarterback. The Jets proved that two years ago when they traded up to No. 5 overall to grab Mark Sanchez.
Would teams like Minnesota and San Fransisco be willing to part with something like their first, a second and a third or fourth rounder for a chance at one of these QBs? If they don't, you can be sure that Jacksonville, Carolina, or Arizona will jump at the opportunity to grab one, making them fringe playoff teams for the next couple of years during their all-pro running backs' primes.
Detroit, St. Louis, and Cleveland all lack talent in many places, so one pick isn't going to save them, even if it's an elite player. I'll bet at least one of these teams trade back, maybe even all three, and they will strike gold in doing so.
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