Tomorrow morning, as everyone gets ready for the craziness that is 'Black Monday' in the NFL, you're going to see the first of what are to be manymanymanymanymanymanymany mock drafts between now and late April. At the top of all those mocks, you will see the words Indianapolis Colts.
After starting 0-13 and then winning two games in a row, Indy has finally completed their quest to 'Suck For Luck' after the Jags and Maurice Jones-Drew ran all over them en route to a 19-16 win today. A 2-14 record for Indy means they draft No. 1 overall in 2012. The last time they had that high a pick, they took some goofy-looking dude with a big forehead and a laser rocket arm named 'Manning.'
Note: The No. 4 and 5 positions could change by this evening.
Amazingly, the Rams, Vikings, Bucs, and Jags all have young quarterbacks that were taken high in the last three drafts. This is rather unusual because, normally, teams at the top of the draft order are there because they don't have a young, 'franchise QB.' But, with these teams, we have:
- Sam Bradford (No. 1 overall in 2010 to the Rams)
- Christian Ponder (No. 12 overall in 2011 to the Vikings)
- Josh Freeman (No. 17 overall in 2009 to the Bucs)
- Blaine Gabbert (No. 10 overall in 2011 to the Jags)
For the Colts, the age and health uncertainly of Peyton Manning virtually guarantees they will select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck No. 1 overall. News coming out of Baylor is that in seems likely Heisman Trophy winner Robert 'RG3' Griffin III will forgo his senior year enter the NFL Draft.
Griffin, like Luck, is a major talent. Teams desperate for a playmakers at quarterback might be strongly inclined to move up into the Top Five and take RG3 to be their 'franchise' QB.
While it is certainly possible that the Colts could use their No. 1 prize to trade for a bounty of picks in an effort to rebuild their roster around Peyton Manning, it's unlikely. Manning will be 36 in March. He missed all of 2011 with a destabilized neck. Again, we're talking neck here. Discs. Spine. Lost feeling in the triceps muscle of his throwing arm. It took three surgeries (that we know of) to stabilize the neck. Now, Manning is throwing again, but it would be complete and utter insanity for Colts owner Jim Irsay to simply assume Manning will return in 2012 looking like the Manning we saw win the MVP in 2009.
Shockingly, a rookie from Stanford is a safer bet at quarterback for the Colts right now than Peyton friggin Manning.
Also, it's not like the Colts are just a few players away from contending again. They were 2-14 for a reason, and they seem unlikely to re-sign free agents Robert Mathis and Reggie Wayne this off-season.
The Colts and Luck are a lock. I don't see any scenario where they trade, and if they do, Jim Irsay will have to deal with torches and pitchforks in the Heartland.
For the other teams in the Top five, this draft will be very, very interesting.
Dan Kadar at SB Nation's NFL Draft site Mocking The Draft has the top five players likely to enter the draft listed:
- Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
- Matt Kalil, OT, USC
- Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
- Morris Claiborne*, CB, LSU
- Jonathan Martin*, OT, Stanford
Note that Kadar has USC's Matt Barkley currently listed at No. 3, but Barkley has already stated he will stay at USC in 2012. Also, Claiborne and Martin haven't declared for the draft yet, but signs point to them doing so. Kadar has RG3 as low as 15th. But, Griffin's recent performance in the
Tecmo Bowl Alamo Bowl (295 passing yards, 70% completion, two touchdowns, 55 yards rushing) might push him into the Top Five of some draft boards.
Now, straight-up, the Rams, Vikings, Bucs, and Jags could stay right where they are and get players that could immediately help their respective football teams. The Rams taking Kalil provides them with more talent along their offensive line. Keeping Sam Bradford healthy in 2011 was a chore in St. Louis. With Kalil, Rodger Saffold could move to right tackle, and Bradford would have two bookend tackles to keep him clean in the pocket.
Adrian Peterson's late-season knee injury means his status of 2012 is iffy. Thus, Minnesota taking Richardson isn't too much of a stretch. The Bucs need all the help on defense they can get, and Claiborne was arguably the best corner in college football last year. Like the Rams, the Jaguars want to add more pieces around Gabbert. Taking Martin would shore up their o-line.
Other players to consider are OK State's Justin Blackmon, UNC's Zach Brown, Nore Dame's Michael Floyd, and Alabama's Courtney Upshaw.
However, consider for moment the following:
- The Redskins will probably pick at No. 7, and they' made it known they want a quarterback.
- The Browns have two first round picks in 2012. One will probably be the No. 6 overall pick while the other is likely the No. 22 pick. For a team like the Rams, who could use both first round picks to add weapons around Bradford, those two first rounders have to look like gold.
- The Bengals also have two first round picks, and while they are not in the market for a quarterback, they could be targeting a playmaker like Richardson or a lineman like Kalil.
If you're RG3, you have to like your options here. Lots of teams could be vying to move up and take the Baylor phenom. and, really, we don't know how the draft order will completely shake out. the Browns could lose this evening and move up to No. 5, and that might be high enough to get RG3, if they want him. The Redskins also might draft ahead of the Jaguars.
What teams like the Redskins and Browns are willing to give up to get RG3 will be a major story between now and late-April.