29 Apr 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Most Intruiging Draft Questions
With the 2015 draft just days away, teams generally have their draft boards set. The Seahawks will take some dude 3 rounds higher than Mel Kiper deemed possible and the Pats will trade down. The Ravens will somehow draft amazingly and the Browns will continue to just be awesome. These things we know. Let’s look at some of the most interesting things we don’t yet know for this year’s draft.
Pick Number 2 – Tennessee Titans
In all likelihood, Mariota is the pick. That said, I’m not sure Tennessee thinks they need a QB; they like Mettenberger. I think their first instinct will be to trade down. I also think that their asking price will be too high. This is a fascinating pick because it will define the rest of the top 10, top 5 certainly. The other options, realistically, if they can’t trade down are one of consensus top prospect Leonard Williams (DL, USC) a pair of receivers in Amari Cooper (Bama) and Kevin White (WVU), and O-Lineman Brandon Scherff from Iowa. I think that if they don’t decide Mariota is too good to pass up (distinct possibility), Leonard Williams will be the pick. D-Line isn’t an area of need for the Titans, in fact it’s probably their biggest strength; however, his talent is just overwhelming. Further, I think number 2 is really high for a receiver and they took an O-Lineman first round last year.
Pick Number 4 – Oakland Raiders
Full disclosure, I’m in the bag for Derek Carr. I think he is going to be great. This take is based a lot on that faith. This is a really interesting pick for the Raiders. If, as we all expect, the top 2 QB’s go top 2, that leaves a group of 4 or 5 guys who are A+ blue chippers and Oakland will get their pick after Jacksonville screws up pick 3 (by the way, that pick has Dante Fowler ALL over it – undersized pass rusher with ‘athleticism’ and ties to Florida screams Jags). So theoretically the Raiders will have their choice at one of the top receivers in the best class for them in years, or they could take some beef on defense or O-Line. Uncle Al might be gone, but it’s still the Raiders. Receiver, baby.
I think Amari Cooper is a freak. He should have won the Heisman last year. Take him off that Bama team and they don’t sniff the playoffs; he was responsible for an absurd 45% of their passing offense. Now, I don’t know if he’ll make it in the pros – the problem is that he is not a great athlete. Kevin White, on the other hand, is. People have been comparing him to Randy Moss. That’s a little much, but I can understand the temptation. If we know anything about the Raiders it’s that they overvalue speed more than anyone overvalues anything other than the Browns overvaluing sucking. The pick here has got to be Kevin White, but this, like Tennessee at 2, is a major pivot point in the first round.
Cheech Gregory and Chong Ray: How much will teams care about weed?
This year, two prominent first round prospects have been caught with marijuana. Shane Ray (Pass Rusher, Mizzou) was arrested the week of the draft with over an ounce of marijuana – enough for real jail time even in states where it’s legal. Randy Gregory (OLB, Nebraska) tested positive for pot at the combine. He and his agent have admitted to past use but that Randy had quit after the end of the season. After being caught, the new narrative from Gregory’s camp is that he is a chronic, daily user and that he uses it medically. The two have slightly differing cases with slightly different implications.
Ray being arrested, especially this close to the draft, will likely do more to harm his stock than Gregory’s situation simply by the nature of its recency and that he got caught by the cops and not the league. That said, a few interesting topics arise from this. First, and we should remember this, it’s not the actual smoking of weed that worries teams. In the big scheme, it’s not ideal but they don’t care that much. What teams care more about is what being caught like this shows about these two as professionals. The combine drug test is also known as a stupidity test for a reason; you know the test is coming so failing it shows a tremendous lack of self-discipline.
In addition, it has been interesting listening to reporters giving reactions of teams. Most likely, these are all teams saying that these kids stock is falling, but likely they haven’t changed at all and this is all just trying to devalue them in the media. Certainly, if there are two guys rated similarly, a team will go with the guy who didn’t fail the stupidity test more often than not, otherwise, I don’t expect either of these guys to last into the mid-second.
The Browns, y’all. They are just the best. Real talk: would they be better, worse, or the same if Kevin Costner just had his role from Draft Day in real life? The carnival of sadness has two first round picks this year. Oh baby. I would bet genuine American dollars they take a running back. 1. There are 2 tip-top RB prospects this year. 2. The Browns were the last team to take a running back in the first and 3. If you had to bet on one team having the single most antiquated draft process in the league, wouldn’t you pick the Browns?
Running back is the position that has probably changed the most in the way it’s valued in the last 10 years of the NFL. First, as those late ‘90’s Broncos showed, it’s really easy to find running backs. There are just as many Arian Fosters and Justin Forsetts as there are Trent Richardsons or CJ Spillers and without the financial risk. Simply, it doesn’t make sense to spend money or high draft picks on running backs. But the Browns, of course, love paying running backs. They are the last team to take one in the first round and just last year they signed backup Ben Tate for 2yrs and over $6m… only to cut him by November.
So I see them taking at least one running back. After that, I think it probably depends on the talent available. The Browns need a quarterback, skill position players and secondary help most. On a personal level, I would love to see them take a running back at 12 and then a reach for a QB at 19. Just pure entertainment.
Side note, I take immense pleasure in the NFL’s ‘DOMINATE THE OFFSEASON’ strategy tanking. In an unsurprising bout of hubris, the NFL has constantly been pushing back the draft. This has resulted in Radio City Music Hall kicking them out, a top-10 pick being arrested this week, none of the top picks electing to attend in person, and most of all, nobody really caring about the draft this week. Hello – it’s NBA and NHL playoffs, the Kentucky Derby, AND Mayweather-Pacquiao this weekend, Rog. You are way low on the totem pole. Stay in your lane. It’s kinda like that tool in the 8 year old BMW who’s been tailgating your for 5 miles, cuts you off and then gets hit with a ticket. Just makes you feel warm and fuzzy. Enjoy this weekend, guys; it is about as good as it can get for a sports fan.