Tuesday, March 27, 2012

NFL Mock Draft Part I

"Just when you think you know the
answers, I change the questions."
We're eschewing the post tournament update that would normally appear on Tuesday and taking a little side trip this morning because (a) the Tiger story lines are being sufficiently run into the ground by every media outlet from ESPN to the Food Network, (b) I want to be fresh for the Masters, and (c) (the real reason) I took my kids to the Capitals-Wild* game Sunday night so I missed the final round which is now in the Tivo line behind the season premiere of Mad Men so I may never get to it.  Besides, watching the recorded final round of a golf tournament that you know was won by 5 strokes just to write a golf column sounds a lot like "work."

So to bridge the gap between now and Augusta, I present Part I of the FGR's first annual NFL Mock Draft.  I need to preface this by confessing that I have been obsessed with the NFL Draft since ESPN started televising it in 1980.  As part of its promotion for that first draft, you could write to them and request a free draft kit with a list of prospects, the draft order and sheets where you could write down the picks for each team.  I of course sent away for it and, to my mild amazement, it showed-up a few days before the draft.  (If you're a younger reader, you need to understand that we used to "send away" for crap we saw on TV all of the time but only about half of it would actually show-up, even if we paid for it.  When it didn't, we'd usually just say "whatever" and move on.  If this sounds kind of half-assed, remember we were living in a world run by adults who saw no potential harm in loading-up a sedan with 8 kids, 100 cubic feet of second hand smoke, cranking-up Howard Stern and driving to elementary school.  It was a simpler time).

You had me at "good morning." 
My plan for tracking every move of the draft was therefore in motion but I had one problem.  It was on a Tuesday starting at 9:00 a.m. in April a/k/a a school day and I had never faked an illness before so I didn't know what I was doing (Ferris Bueller wouldn't be released for another six years).  I made the mistake of starting off slow with some mild symptoms but my mother wasn't buying it.  For a second I thought she had made the connection between my sudden abdominal cramps and the draft kit because, as an 11 year old, I wasn't in the business of receiving a lot of mail and ESPN had screwed me by putting the whole thing in a giant bright red folder (damn you Berman!)  As we were about to head out the door, I was ready to pull out all of the stops including putting my arm between two boards and having Michael Caine break it with his foot.**  It finally took me practically collapsing in the doorway before she relented and I was able to scramble upstairs and get myself set-up just in time to see Pete Rozelle announce that the Detroit Lions would be taking Billy Sims with the first overall pick.  A draft geek was born.        

"This is not about whether the Colts
tanked to get the top pick.  They did."
Now I could have done a comprehensive mock draft evaluating team needs, incorporating combine results and quoting experts but that could have taken days and cost millions of lives.  No, for my first mock draft, I think I had to go all out.  I think this situation absolutely required a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.  (And you're just the guy to do it).  Thank you.  Let's do it!

1. Colts - Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford:  I still can't believe the Colts fell into this situation and, not to wish ill on young Mr. Luck, but I hope it comes back to haunt them for dumping the man who made their franchise.  If you're like me, and you're looking for a sign that this could happen, consider that HBO recently had to cancel its latest big time attempt at original programming, a show about horse racing and gambling, because three horses (colts) died during production.  The name of the show?  "Luck."  

"You're everyone's problem Snyder
. . . because you're an a-hole."
2. Redskins - Robert Griffin, III, QB, Baylor:  As a life long Redskins hater, it pains me to say that I think they absolutely made the right move trading for this pick but, as a Ravens fan, I'm glad they outwitted the Browns for it. (That is assuming that you can "outwit" an organization that would publicly admit that they wanted to make this trade but botched it by trying to low ball the Rams and then increase their offer after the deadline when it was too late).  Maybe the Redskins' luck is finally changing.  First the Browns screw-up, and then they slide into the Rams' spot.  Some teams wait decades to get a shot at a player like RG, III.  

3. Vikings - Matt Kalil, OT, USC: When you're being chased by bounty hunters, it's good to surround yourself with large people.

4. Browns - Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St.:  They have so many holes to fill on their roster that what they should do is trade down two spots and grab one of the picks the Rams landed from the Redskins. But they'll probably stay in this spot and take the best receiver in the draft so Colt McCoy can spend next season under throwing him until he inevitably gets injured and they bring in Seneca Wallace to over throw him.

5. Buccaneers - Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama:  The Bucs are exploring any and all alternatives to having Josh Freeman throw the ball this season after he threw 22 interceptions last year.  In addition to drafting a stud running back, other adjustments include instructing the center not to snap the ball under any circumstances when Freeman audibles out of a running play and keeping a pass rushing linebacker in the backfield to sack him in the event he goes rogue.

6. Rams - Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU:  You've got to hand it to the Rams.  Instead of doing something risky like drafting potentially the most dynamic quarterback to enter the league since . . . well . . . ever, they decided to trade the pick and build around an overpaid quarterback who missed almost his entire final season in college with an injury and then suited-up for only ten games last year.  In those ten games he threw six touchdown passes and six interceptions but that was because he didn't have any receivers (except of course for the last five games when he had Brandon Loyd who will have 1,400+ yards and 12+ touchdowns catching passes from Tom Brady in 2012).  The more I look at this, the more I'm convinced that the owner is trying to replicate the formula from Major League in an effort to move the team back to Los Angeles (everyone in St. Louis just muttered "that's not funny").

7.  Jaguars - Quinton Coples, DE North Carolina:  I have no idea who Quinton Coples** is but I'm guessing that since he never played a down of quarterback in college, the Jags are not drafting him to play that position for them which means they are going to give Blaine Gabbert the chance to solidify the fact that he was a bad pick even if it means wasting 16 more games of Maurice Jones-Drew's prime.  I've got two words for you Jacksonville:  "Kyle Boller" followed by two more words, "move on."

"What can I tell you Miami?
He just wasn't my type."
8.  Dolphins - Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa:  Miami is clearly making it a priory to protect their investment in David Garrard because, after striking out on Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn, they genuinely have to wonder if any other quarterback will come play for them.  How are you feeling today if you're a Dolphins fan?  Your team just signed a quarterback who was cut by the Jaguars which has to feel like dating Newman's ex-girlfriend.  The words "desolate" and "foreboding" come to mind which ironically are the same words Titanic director James Cameron used to describe what he saw on his submarine ride to the bottom of the ocean.**** 

9.  Panthers - Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis:  The Panthers will primarily be focusing on defense because they were the 5th highest scoring team in the league last year thanks to Cam Newton's 21 TD passes and 14 TD runs.  Not to belabor a point, but Robert Griffin, III is considered a better passer and is significantly faster than Cam Newton and the Rams said no thanks, we're good with Sam "Greg Oden" Bradford. To illustrate part of my point, check this out (Rams fans may want to avert their eyes) - Griffin v. Newton in the 40.     

So it turns out Ashley Judd
went to Harvard.  Who knew?
10. Bills - Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame:  After six games last year, the Bills were so impressed that they gave Ryan Fitzpatrick a six year $59M contract extension which he celebrated by throwing 12 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions in his last ten games (if you're reading this and not a football fan, I can tell you that, even if you reversed those numbers, they still wouldn't be very good).  The lesson as always, don't trust guys who went to Harvard with your money.  Didn't anyone in sports watch The Social Network? Anyway, the NFL's version of painting over a crack in the wall is drafting a receiver to try to make your crappy quarterback look better (the "Millen Theory") so Floyd's the pick.

11.  Chiefs - Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M: Despite the fact that Matt Cassell missed seven games last year, threw for 10 touchdowns and 9 picks in the games he did play and had a quarterback rating of 20.4 when the Chiefs got clobbered by the Ravens in the 2010 playoffs, Mel Kiper has them passing on Tannehill and taking a linebacker from Boston College.  I think the Chiefs take a look at their situation and ask themselves the most important question this time of year (everyone together) "do we have a quarterback who can get us to the Super Bowl?"  When they look at Cassel and recently signed Brady Quinn, the answer has to be "no" right? Then again, they did hire former Browns head coach Romeo Crennel and they signed former Browns quarterback Quinn so, considering that they're stocking-up on cast-offs from one of the worst franchises in the league, maybe they do believe they're just one linebacker away from greatness.  Sorry K.C. fans, at least you have the Royals.    

12.  Seattle Seahawks - David DeCastro, OG, Stanford:  If you're drafting outside of the Top Ten and you want to guarantee that everyone will say you made a smart pick, take a guard.  If you can get one from Stanford, even better, because everyone will talk about how smart he is and how smart you are for taking him.  Unless of course you're the Browns, in which case everyone will just assume that the guy you drafted has a wooden leg that your doctors missed during the physical.    

"Like I always said Phil, you can't spell
Citrus Bowl without a "u" and a "t".
13.  Arizona Cardinals - Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College:  The Cardinals might as well go with defense after somehow botching the Peyton Manning pitch meeting and not even making it to the final cut.  I'm still befuddled by this.  The only way it makes sense to me is if it went down this way: "Well Peyton we won 7 of our last 9 games last year with John Skelton and Kevin Kolb playing quarterback so you know we're solid at every other position, we have arguably the NFL's best receiver in his prime, we play almost all of our games in a warm climate and . . . oh yeah . . . we just hired Steve Spurrier as our offensive coordinator."

14.  Cowboys - Mark Barron, S, Alabama:  With all of the chatter surrounding Manning, Tebow, Luck and RG, III, it's been eerily quiet around Dallas this off season.  It almost makes you wonder if Dez Bryant started doing all of his shopping on line.          

15.  Eagles - Michael Brockers, DT, LSU:  You can never have too many defensive lineman so this pick makes sense in the first round but at some point the Eagles are going to have to address their clock management issues and draft a kid from M.I.T. or Cal Tech who can explain to Andy Reid the downside of running a 7 second play when you're down by 3 with 6 seconds left on the clock.

16.  Jets - Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama: Ah those kooky lovable Jets.  I just watched the ESPN lead-up to the Tim Tebow press conference and one of the commentators posed the question, "do you think the presence of Tebow will impact the development of Mark Sanchez as a quarterback?"  At first, that seems like a ridiculous question but let's apply an analogy to see if we can make it sound even more ridiculous.

"Am I going to take Sanchez's job?
Hold on . . . I'm sorry you got me,
that was a really good one."
Let's say you've been training to be a carpenter for four years and you've been making progress but are prone to making mistakes that create more work for your fellow carpenters and their frustration has started to show.  Add to this that (a) none of the guys at work like you much to begin with because you drive a Mazda Miata instead of a truck and (b) you do not take criticism particularly well after spending your teenage years having everyone tell you how great and handsome you are.  Now let's say the company you work for hires a younger carpenter (we'll call him Billy) who makes the same mistakes that you do but even more often.  Billy smiles a lot and is really popular with everyone on the jobsite from the electricians to the plumbers and especially your boss. One morning, your boss tells you that Billy is going to spend the day just standing there watching you because work is slow and he figures you could teach Billy a few things.  Unfortunately, you're having a bad day and before you even get to lunch you make two mistakes that have slowed down the whole job and pissed everyone off. After lunch, you make another mistake and everyone at the jobsite starts booing you and then they all start chanting and clapping, "WE WANT BILLY, clap...clap...clap, clap, clap...WE WANT BILLY!!!"  Do you think that might impact your development as a carpenter?

Look for Part II next week.    

Endnotes

* If you're a fan of not just sports but pure jaw-dropping athleticism, you need to go to an NHL game and sit within a few rows of the glass.  You don't need to know a thing about hockey to appreciate a perfectly executed 2 on 1 break performed on skates or the force of two players hitting the glass at 20+ miles per hour.  Just know that you're going to say "Holy Sh-t" the first time it happens so prepare your kids.  

"Wait a minute, you're that guy from
Nighthawks without the beard!"
** In Victory, Michael Caine has to break the arm of the goalie on his World War II POW camp soccer team so that Sylvester Stallone, who has never played the game before in his life, can replace him and travel to Paris with them to play the German National team.  Somehow this all makes sense when you watch it.  It's kind of like Mystery, Alaska with Nazis instead of the New York Rangers and Michael Caine as an unconvincing soccer player instead of Russell Crowe as an unconvincing hockey player.

*** This is about the point when my mock draft starts to look very similar to Mel Kiper's mock draft.

**** I'm assuming he meant it was "desolate" before his ego got there.

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