From SmokeFilled Rooms to Thursday Night Primetime Welcome to The NFL Draft
The Draft is the lifeblood of the NFL. It brings in new talent, and keeps a competitive balance that distinguishes this sport from any other in the world. Each year the 32 teams take turns selecting the cream of the crop from the college ranks to become the newest members of their franchise,and how well they select will ultimately determine the future success they have on the field. There are seven rounds in the draft, with each team picking once in each round. The order teams pick is determined by their winloss record the year before the team with the worst record goes first in every round, whilst the Superbowl Champions select last. This helps avoid a league of haves and have nots, and is the reason why any team can win on any given Sunday. So without further ado, let’s have a nosey at the biggest stories surrounding the 81st Annual Selection Meeting, better known as the 2016 NFL Draft:
The Quarterback Arms Race
It is widely acknowledged amongst the NFL scouting fraternity that there are two standout Quarterbacks in this draft class California’s Jared Goff and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz. Both are considered first round picks, yet neither would be categorised as amongst the elite talents available for selection. However, the need for a franchise Quarterback is so imperative to a team’s success that every year Quarterbacks go higher than they perhaps should, and this year is no different. In fact, two teams The LA Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles have broken the bank to trade up into the first and second spots for the right to acquire one of these guys. They each gave an abundance of picks (both for this year and the years to come) to the Tennessee Titans and Cleveland Browns respectively, meaning they must be sold on these guys as the long- term answer to their Quarterback woes. The only remaining question is, who will go where?
The Elite 7
Despite the top two QB’s coming off the board first, there are more talented players in this draft class. In my humble scouting opinion there are seven prospects that are in a group above everyone else:
Laremy Tunsil, Offensive Tackle, Ole Miss Rebels
Jalen Ramsey, Cornerback/Safety, Florida State Seminoles
Myles Jack, Outside Linebacker, UCLA Bruins
DeForest Buckner, Defensive End, Oregon Ducks
Ezekiel Elliott, Running Back, Ohio State Buckeyes
Joey Bosa, Defensive End, Ohio State Buckeyes
Ronnie Stanley, Offensive Tackle, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Common sense would dictate that these seven would be the first seven off the board, but there are other factors to consider. Firstly, as already mentioned, the need for a QB trumps everything. Secondly, some prospects have injury concerns, causing them to fall in the draft as teams are unwilling to take a chance on someone who they’re paying big money to just to see them sidelined for their rookie year. Myles Jack falls into this category the supremely talented and versatile Linebacker might be the best player available, but a nasty knee injury has teams double-checking medical records. Thirdly, some prospects have character concerns, often described as ‘red flags’. This means that they might have been in trouble with the law or their college for off-the field misdemeanours. People like this are more likely to be in trouble at the next level, meaning possible suspensions and legal issues. Some teams remove these prospects from their draft boards completely, as they only want highcharacter guys in their locker room. Others may knock them down their list. Finally, a team need can often dictate the direction a GM will go when it comes his team’s selection. For instance, Laremy Tunsil might be the best player on the board at pick number four, but The Cowboys already have a very strong offensive line and might be inclined to go for a passrusher or running back, positions on their roster that are much weaker.
Draft Day Trades
If teams have their eye on a particular prospect and feel like they won’t be there when it’s their turn to pick, they might contact a team higher up the pecking order and negotiate a trade, switching picks and giving them some compensation in the form of some of their other draft picks or current players on their roster. Trades shake up the draft and increase the excitement, particularly when they happen during the first round. There are a couple of potential traders this year:
Miami Dolphins (13) With a big hole at Running Back, they might need to move up ahead of Dallas (4) or the New York Giants (10) in order to get Ezekiel Elliott, the consensus best rusher in this draft, as these teams also have Running Back needs. Teams like the Chargers (3), Browns (8) & Buccaneers (9) might be answering a call on draft day.
New York Jets (20) with Ryan Fitzpatrick yet to sign, the Jets have registered interest in Paxton Lynch, the Memphis QB regarded as the third best signal caller this year. Lynch is considered a borderline 1st/2nd round prospect based on talent, but obviously the position he plays makes him a likely board riser. The Jets might need to get above The Bills (19) to get him, who are interested in providing Tyrod Taylor with some competition. They have potential trade chip in Defensive Lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, who is looking for a pay day maybe Gang Green can’t afford and plays a position where they have plenty of talent.
Busts, Reaches and Steals
It often takes a good few years before anyone can fairly determine the success of a draft class, but there are always prospects that go higher than their perceived value, and those who fall in the draft due to injury or character concerns or just plain poor scouting. Anybody who is selected in the first round and fails to have a meaningful NFL career is known as a draft bust these likely spell the end of a General Manager’s tenure. Classic examples include Quarterbacks Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell, and it’s no surprise that these play in a position where teams are desperate to find an answer. But for every Leaf & Russell there is a Tom Brady or Richard Sherman, both sixth round picks. Finding Pro Bowl talent in the later rounds gives huge value to an organisation, and a better chance of reaching the ultimate prize.
Someone has to be picked last right? This unfortunate moniker is given to the prospect selected with the last pick of the draft, and is given a commemorative jersey in good humour as recognition that the draft has ended. The Denver Broncos currently hold pick number 253 the last pick of the seventh round. Some of these guys have become starters for their team, such as Kicker Ryan Succop for the Kansas City Chiefs. One ex New England Patriot’s Linebacker Marty Moore has even played in the Superbowl! It just goes to show value can be found in every round of the NFL draft.
I hope this brief introduction to The NFL Draft allows you to enjoy Thursday’s show half as much as I will. Despite there being no physical contact, it’s the only place to find any American Football drama between February and September it’s the only thing that keeps me sane! If you have any more questions just visit http://www.nfldraftuk.com from the history of the draft to prospect breakdowns, team needs, mock drafts and even some competitions come and explore, learn and appreciate the very entity that decides each year whether your team wins or loses.
Get some coffee on, it’s gonna be a long night!
NFL Draft UK
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