This week in 4 Downs I am going to tackle at least four questions that I still have going into this draft. Obviously I have more than four questions, but these are the four that I’ve deemed worthy of admitting my confusion about. While this first round, and this draft in general, does not have the intrigue that it’s predecessors presented, you can always find some questions. Here are my Draft Week Questions 2015:
Where will Marcus Mariota be playing next season? Admittedly I am a Mariota believer, possibly even an apologist, but I just think that this young man has what it takes to be successful at the next level. When we get to this “elite” percentage of athletes I think work ethic and dedication to craft really help mask certain shortcomings (see Russell Wilson) and I don’t know that you’ll find anyone more dedicated to their craft than Mariota.
That said, I think we could see four teams potentially jockeying for his services Thursday.
Team 1) Tennessee Titans: They already hold the cards here as they’re picking 2nd, but will they pull the trigger on a signal caller when they have so many other needs. I am wondering if the smart move here is to take a “godfatherish” trade package and move forward in anticipation of Philip Rivers free agency or even then throwing a later pick at Chicago for Jay Cutler. While they absolutely need a signal caller I think throwing Mariota into this snooze-fest of an offense would simply be setting him up to fail.
Team 2) San Diego Chargers: This has a real appeal to it, which is probably why it won’t happen. When trades seem logical and almost destined they often disintegrate over really superfluous detail. This makes almost too much sense to happen. Rivers has stated his desire to avoid moving to LA, the Titans are geographically the closest NFL team to where Rivers grew up as a football Icon and the Chargers are said to have serious interest in Mariota. Oh, did I mention that Rivers has informed the Chargers that he has no intention of signing an extension? Again, this makes so much sense from every angle that I am assuming non-cooler heads will prevail and he’ll end up in a talent depleted offense like Tennessee or Cleveland.
Team 3) Cleveland Browns: What? Really? They quite literally spent last year’s first round pick on a Quarterback, and if they did get Mariota it would be the 3rd of the last four first rounders to be spent on a signal caller. Why this could happen: Cleveland holds two picks inside the top 20, and that’s it. They have the most ammo to bring to the table (pick-wise) and they’re apparently also enamored with Mariota. Side note: I am not going to bash Cleveland as a destination here, although I do think their offense is horrifically boring. Let me just say that I hope they would make some other moves to secure a few pass catchers that could grow into a stable offense with Mariota.
Team 4) (the Long Shot) Philadelphia Eagles: I know, I know, this is never going to happen. But, that is why a part of me is wondering if it just may. Occam’s razor, we have been listening to Chip Kelly drag on about how he is moving forward with Bradford, and we have also heard how Cleveland is still pining over him too. Wouldn’t it be incredibly Chip’ish to ship Bradford to Cleveland for a 1 & and 2 and then turn and burn those picks to bring in his prize pupil? Why yes it would…..and it would also help Eagles fans feel a little better about the off season.
Where does Randy Gregory end up playing next season?
We’ve all been made aware of the issues that Gregory has had with Marijuana, and we have all now heard the whispers about his ability to handle the mental strain of the NFL game. For me, a lot of this seems like much to do about nothing. He has had marijuana issues, he acknowledged that it’s an issue and provided the backdrop for it. And you know what? I understand why a young man who had that kind of a system shock would resort to that; in fact, the ownership he took of it actually made me feel a little better about him as a prospect. Here’s the reality, on football acumen alone Gregory is the best pure pass rusher in this class, period. My guess is that with the Josh Gordon and Johnny Manziel issues hanging out there he slips a little bit, probably ends up being a steal for a team like the Saints or the Steelers. Pittsburgh would be especially thrilled as Jones has not exactly lit the world on fire thus far and Gregory would provide that pass rush that they’ve been missing. The Steelers had their lowest sack total last year since 1989-1990, or before Gregory was even born.
What does Atlanta do at 8?
I will admit that I am as excited about this pick as almost any other pick in the draft, even my Seahawks. 1) they have an very solid nucleus of players on both defense and offense, so if they draft well they should immediately be back in contention. 2) I can see a couple of splash opportunities here (Gregory, Dupree, GURLEY!) 3) if they happen to fall in love with an offensive player I am super excited, as a fantasy owner, to see what the Shanahan offense looks like there. Maybe they trade back and acquire more ammo, or maybe they take Gregory or Gurley and swing for the fences, we’ll find out Thursday.
What surprise trades are going to happen?
Every year we have a player or two get moved and a team that nobody expected shoot up or down the board. Without getting too reckless I am going to throw out a handful of scenarios:
1) Minnesota trades Adrian Peterson to the Dallas Cowboys for this year and next years 2nd round picks when Tevin Coleman and Ameer Abdullah are staring them in the face in round two.
2) Philip Rivers is traded to the Tennessee Titans with the #17 overall pick for the right to draft Mariota at #2 overall and a 3rd rounder next year.
3) Seattle trades defensive centerpiece Michael Bennett to Atlanta for their second round pick, they then use the pick on a Wide Receiver Dorial Green-Beckham who has slipped into the second round
4) At least one of Grayson, Petty or Hundley will go in the first round possibly via trade (teams are looking for the 5th year option). and I think two of the three go to the Saints and the Broncos.
5) The Detroit Lions move back from 23 and then select a Running Back with their first pick (Lions fans are hoping Coleman is available)
6) Mike Glennon will be a starting Quarterback somewhere after the draft. Why? Because dammit he is better than a lot of the garbo that is rolled out there regularly. My guesses: Bills, Jets, Rams, Titans.
7) The Minnesota Vikings will select Devante Parker, Bridgewater’s former teammate, which will then lead to them trading Cordarrelle Patterson for a late round pick (say a 4th or worse).
8) The much talked about Dallas Cowboys will select nobody with their first round pick. They’ll trade out as soon as Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon come off the board. The ‘Boys will select Yeldon, Johnson or Abdullah in round 2.
9) I think we will see at least 5 trades in the first round this year, and I think we will see 2 in the top 10 picks.