Anyone who loves the NFL draft also loves to try and predict what will happen in the NFL draft, and this year is no exception. Mock drafts in April become as fashionable as filling out brackets in March, and appropriately enough it’s about as hard to fill out an accurate mock draft as it is to fill out a perfect bracket.
I know how difficult it is to predict what will happen in the NFL draft, yet I try to do it each year. And each year before the draft there are a handful or so of teams that I feel confident in being able to predict. Except for this year. It’s been more difficult than usual to forecast the 1st round, and I’ve figured out the 7 factors that make it more difficult than usual.
Here they are…
1. Labor Situation
One of the side effects of the work stoppage is that free agency did not launch at its usual time. Typically, we have free agency before the draft, which allows teams to cover up some needs before having to rely on draft picks. Not the case this year; teams haven’t been able to sign free agents and therefore they have more needs. And all of that makes it twice as hard to predict what each team will do. And when you have 11 teams picking in front of the Vikings, you can see why it’s so tough to know who will be available when it’s the Vikings turn to pick.
2. We Aren’t Sure Carolina Will Select QB Cam Newton
In a normal draft year, it’s common to see the team with the #1 pick reach a contract agreement with its top choice. But with the work stoppage, Carolina was not permitted to negotiate a contract with its top choice and so we don’t know who their top choice is at this point. I think it’s Newton, but I’m not sure. Plus I know that if I was picking #1, I would pick Newton. So that leads to confusion and we all know how the top choice influences the rest of the early 1st round.
3. The Carson Palmer Situation
Bengals QB Carson Palmer has been steadfast in saying he no longer wants to play for Cincinnati. He’s also said he wants to be traded or released, and that if he’s not traded or released he’s going to retire. But we also know that Cincinnati is steadfast in trying to retain Palmer. Factor all of this in and consider that Cincinnati has the #4 pick and will likely be in prime position to pick QB Blaine Gabbert. Will they concede that Palmer is on the way out the door and pick Gabbert? Or will they stay stubborn in trying to keep Palmer and then use the #4 choice on a WR, such as A.J. Green?
4. Where Will The Trades Begin?
The #1 culprit in ruining mock draft accuracy is trading activity. Predicting which players will go in which spots is not just about evaluating the prospects, it’s about evaluating the teams in each spot and figuring out which players fit with which teams. So when trades happen, it messes everything up. I think the first big opportunity for a trade is at #5 with Arizona, where a team could try and jump up to grab their QB of choice or perhaps a guy like Green or WR Julio Jones. After that, hot spots for trades are at #6 (Cleveland), #9 (Dallas), #10 (Washington) and then the Vikings at #12.
5. The Da’Quan Bowers and Robert Quinn Dilemmas
There are a pair of DEs in this draft – Da’Quan Bowers and Robert Quinn – who in a normal year would each be considerations for the #1 overall pick. But both guys happen to have significant alerts; Bowers reportedly has a potential long-term issue with his knee and Quinn was ineligible to play this past season. The issue here is you have two guys in Bowers and Quinn who can potentially provide game-changing productivity as pass rushers, a coveted commodity in the NFL. But with their question marks, we don’t know where they’ll end up because each team has different tolerance levels for question marks.
6. Washington’s Desires At #10
The Washington Redskins have some natural unpredictability to them because of owner Daniel Snyder. But add in the fact that Mike Shanahan is their head coach and I think they become a bit more mystical. So I have no idea what their desires are and I certainly have no idea what they’re going to do. It seems as if both DT Albert Haynesworth and QB Donovan McNabb are on the way out, so that obviously puts DT and QB in the mix as possibilities at pick #10. I could also see Shanahan trading out of that spot and I can see him addressing the CB position.
7. The DE/OLB Position With Respect To 3-4 and 4-3 Defensive Schemes
There are scenarios when a great player is on the board for a team on the clock, but that particular player isn’t a good fit with that particular player because of scheme. The best and most common example of that predicament is outside pass rushers and the 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. I actually think LB Von Miller is a good example of this. He’s widely considered one of the best prospects in this draft and was extremely productive in college. In my estimation, he’s a bit undersized to be a traditional outside LB in a 4-3. But he’s a great edge rusher in the 3-4 scheme. So will a team that runs the 4-3 scheme take him because of his great talent, even though he might be a better fit in the 3-4? There are other examples this year, such as Ryan Kerrigan, Quinn and Aldon Smith.
Tags: 2011 NFL Draft
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 6 Comments »