The more mock drafts I run, the more I realize that a few picks and teams will largely determine the order of the draft. This is basically a look at the major possibilities which will force teams to make a decision and change the order that players will come off the board. It’s not a look at what I think teams should do, but rather what they will do. Some of the most interesting “decision points” and players are detailed below, I’ve rated them according to “Highly probable” “Probable” “50-50” “Possible” and “Possible but unlikely”.
One quick fact: How many trades will happen on draft day? History says in the first round well see between 4 and 6 trades in the first round with another 3-5 in round 2. Of the first round trades (that occur on draft day) 2 on average will be in the top 12 picks, with the remainder happening after that.
Pick 3 Minnesota – Chris Spielman has been all but publicly auctioning this pick on Ebay. Originally he was looking for two #1 picks but has apparently come off that demand. Right now, he might be comfortable with a 2nd and 4th round selection. Also very interesting is that ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that he’s “convinced” the Vikings will not select Kalil. I’m not sure that’s written in stone but Schefter is probably 3rd in terms of sourced at ESPN behind Bommer and Mortonsen so it certainly bears watching. Odds Minnesota Trades the Pick: Highly Probable, odds the pick is someone other than Kalil: possible but unlikely. (I figure a team moving up will be doing so for Kalil).
Pick 4 Cleveland - Justin Blackmon vs. Trent Richardson. Since teams are just now stacking their draft boards neither player is a lock of yet. It bears watching because Cleveland has two prevailing arguments: 1. Is that Richardson is the better player. 2. The Browns cannot draft a #1 WR later in the draft (at least not one with instant impact) but can draft a starting caliber RB at 22 or even the second round. Tannehill I’d consider Possible but highly unlikely. Ultimate call on this will belong to Holmgren, but I’m expecting it’ll be a fierce fight up until then.
Pick 5 Tampa – (Not really a unique pivot or decision point but hey were Buc fans). All indications are that, if available, Tampa will take Trent Richardson. Second will probably be Morris Claiborne baring a trade back for a good offer.
Pick 7 Jacksonville – I’d call it Probable that Jacksonville trades backwards. Ideally they would like to improve their offense first given how bad their offense was last season, but Blackmon is not likely available and I can’t see them pulling the trigger on Malcom Floyd with his issues. Also prevailing wisdom in Jacksonville is they need at least 3 new starters out of the draft so moving downward makes a good deal of sense for them. Odds Jacksonville trade: Probable.
Pick 8 Miami & Tannehill – Only Jeff Ireland knows what Jeff Ireland is thinking. They have profound needs at places other than QB, but I think this decision comes down to Tannehill’s college coach Mike Sherman. Sherman’s coached in the NFL before, If he believes he’s an NFL QB he could talk Ireland into it. However, Ireland also comes from the Bill Parcell’s school of thought on drafting QB’s, he had a hard fast rule which was you don’t select a QB with less than 25 college starts and less than 20 wins (along with a 2.5 to 1 TD to INT ratio and a 60% completion percentage). If you wonder why they’ve chose Chad Henne or any other QB, it fits this metric. If they pass, Tannehill could tumble though I might suspect the Browns will move up from 22 to get back into position to take Ryan. I still call it Probable that the Dolphins pick Tannehill.
Pick 10 Buffalo Bills – Have barely kicked the tires on Reilly Reiff but are smitten with Matt Kalil and appear less than enthused about their options at 10. If the Bills decide Kalil is the only instant starter to secure their line (and move Hairston back to guard) they may move up. Buffalo, whether or not anyone agree’s with it, believe they are a win now team. So they may be inclined to move up for Kalil. Odds Buffalo Moves Up: 50-50. Side Note: I think a deal with Minnesota gets down with Buffalo giving up a 2013 first rounder, 2012 4th rounder (#105 overall), 2012 6th rounder(#178 overall), and getting the #3 Pick along with the Vikings 2013 2nd rounder. It allows both teams to save face with Minnesota getting the future first rounder they covet but makes the deal palatable for the Bills by getting back a Minnesota 2nd rounder in the same draft.
Pick 14 Dallas Cowboys & Mark Barron – You can call this Lock-it (better than 95%) if Barron is still there the Cowboys will take him.
Pick 16 New York Jets & Melvin Ingram – If the Jets stand pat Ingram is likely off the board, right now they are having a big love fest with an ideal 3-4 OLB pass rusher and I’d say it’s highly probable them move up into the top 10 to take him.
Cincinnati 17&21 – Ton’s of fans(of all stripes) want to trade down with Cincy for both picks. The Bengals seem content to stand pat. They “might” move a 1st and 2nd for Richardson if he slides out of the Top 10(that seems highly unlikely). However they also seem very content simply sitting back and taking two players. You can “lock it” they’ll take two in the first round, and highly probable the stick to those two spots.
Pittsburg 24 - Dont’a Hightower – Lock IT. If he’s available his skill set matches Pittsburgh’s defense to a T and their not exactly hiding their interest. If he’s there he’s their pick.
Denver Broncos & Lamar Miller – Denver appears set to go DT at 25, however for a second round trade expect Denver to move up in the second to secure Lamar Miller. They’ve flirted with him in the past for their first round pick before they couldn’t resign Bunkley. Need will trump desire but a move up in the second is highly likely given that Miller matches their running scheme exactly. (Before anyone says Denver doesn’t take backs high – usually not, but they did when they got their last “just right” fit with Clinton Portis and also took Knoshown Moreno in the first a few seasons back).
Houston 26 – Kendall Wright is WAY overmocked here. He’s not as tall as the WR’s the Texans prefer to draft and more importantly, the Texans demand their WR’s can block something Wright isn’t very good at. Stephen Hill and Reuben Randle fit that bill a lot more succinctly than Wright. I'd say better than 90% the Texans pass on Wright.
New Englad 31 & Harrison Smith – If the Patriots pass on Harrison Smith (one of two instant starters at safety) – The top of the second round could become a scramble for his services. I call it Probable that Harrison is still there at the top of round 2.
NY Giants 32 & Doug Martin – Martin is the #2 RB on far too many team boards at the back end of the first round. I’ll call it 90% Martin won’t make it out of the back half of the first round. So call this a decision point to start out round 2.
When will the trades happen? On draft day obviously, but as the board begins to shake out and teams decide that a certain player isn’t going to naturally “fall” to them, someone can and will move up.