Today was the final day of the NFL Combine and that means the NFL Draft is up next. The first round takes place on Thursday, April 28. There's only two months left!
As we approach the draft, there are many intriguing storylines to follow. If the hundreds of mock drafts out there are any indication, there are numerous potential outcomes for the first round alone.
Here’s a look at some things to think about as we approach draft day.
The current CBA expires in less than two days. Once expired, the NFL is officially in a lockout, meaning no NFL season unless a new CBA is agreed to by September.
To clear up some of the confusion for those of you that don’t know, a lockout is when the owners “lock the doors,” preventing the players from participating in team functions. This is NOT the same as a player strike, when the players refuse to play the game. In that case, the owners would get replacement players to play instead, still providing a season.
The owners and players association doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to coming to an agreement, making the lockout seemingly inevitable. No agreement means no season. No season means the new draftees will have to find a new way to earn their money. On that note…
One of the key disagreements between the owners and players association is the rookie wage scale. The owners want to do away with the annual record setting contract for rookies. Last year, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford got a $78 million contract, of which $50 million is guaranteed. All that for a man who hadn’t done anything on the professional level.
If there is a lockout, draftees won’t be able to talk to teams until a deal is reached. That means no contract, no playbook, no meetings…nothing.
If the league is under a lockout, rookies won’t be the only players prevented from talking to teams. Free agents will not be allowed to negotiate with teams either. This makes the draft all the more important.
At least with their draft picks, teams know who they have to work with. Free agents almost don’t even exist until there is a new deal.
As is befitting the most important position in the game, the draft is full of quarterbacks this year. The big names include Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton.
There are many teams that are in the market for a new quarterback, so it will be interesting to see how long teams are willing to wait before they pick one off the board. The teams most likely to select a quarterback in the first round are: Cincinnati, Arizona, Tennessee, Washington, Minnesota and Miami.
There are trades just about every year. However, will this be the year we see a big name move for a high draft pick? Some names thrown around include Kyle Orton, Carson Palmer and Steve Smith.
The other side of the coin is: Who is willing to trade down? We’ve seen teams in the top five of the draft trade down to acquire additional draft picks before. Buffalo is the most likely of the top-five teams to do so this year, although some think Carolina might too.
This is a very legitimate question as many teams may be reluctant to draft him. His recent comments have him sounding more like an “all about me” guy rather than a team player. We saw how that worked out for Vince Young in Tennessee. Keep in mind too, most favor Blaine Gabbert over Newton anyway.
If you ask me, he will wait a while because of the teams in position to draft him.
Panthers: Too many other dire needs to give up on Clausen already.
Broncos: They will go for defense.
Bills: ESPN’s Mel Kiper has Newton going to the Bills. As a Bills fan, I would be furious to hear his name on draft day. Name any position on defense and Buffalo needs help at it.
Bengals: They don’t fully believe that Carson Palmer is going to retire.
Browns: They have their chips on Colt McCoy.
49ers: New head coach Jim Harbaugh wants to keep Alex Smith.
Titans: Maybe, but as I said, they already have one Vince Young, they may not want another.
Cowboys: Romo isn’t done yet. They have other needs.
Redskins: Best chance. Shanahan hates McNabb and if you were to tell me Grossman is the guy, I would promptly laugh in your face.
There are the first ten picks. Does a team trade up to get him? If not, Cam could fall. Maybe he can work on his “icon” skills.
Of all the mock drafts I’ve seen (maybe 20-25), the majority of them have the Carolina Panthers selecting Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley with the first overall pick. Why? Yes, I know, he had an awesome 2010 season and an impressive showing in the BCS National Championship, but there are a few major red flags that are being overlooked.
Fairley’s work ethic and character are often in question.
The overview on NFL.com reads, “While there are almost no flaws with Fairley's physical tools, his character and work habits should be checked out.”
His bio on CBS.com says, “Has developed a reputation as a dirty player; repeatedly flagged in 2010 for late hits and there have been instances when he has speared ballcarriers with his helmet, banged into their lower legs purposely and pushed off downed players to lift himself up.”
Is Carolina willing to overlook these red flags and give him a shot?
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