NFL Draft

The NFL Draft isn't a a three-ring circus, it's a THIRTY-TWO-ring circus. And the ebbs and flows can change at any given moment. Photo courtesy ESPN.com

The other day, as I was driving home, a friend called me with a proposal. He wanted to do a mock draft pool. In other words, he wanted to do March Madness over again but with NFL draft picks. And as someone who had Duke and Kentucky in the Final Four, who can blame him?

But I told him no. I told him it wouldn’t be successful or competitive or anything that makes filling out brackets so much fun. Because trying to predict which college athlete an NFL team will pick is a different beast entirely.

As someone who has recently tried his hand at both, believe me, I know.

With any tournament like March Madness, you can get a pick early on and still be right. With the NFL draft, once one of those early picks is different, the game changes completely.

Just look at this upcoming draft, for example. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are all but guaranteed to go one and two and, more than likely, in that order. You can pencil those guys in as your #1 seeds over the #16 seeds. After that, Minnesota is on the clock. They will probably take USC tackle Matt Kalil. You can write that down as a #2 seed over a #15 seed (unless its Lehigh or Norfolk State).

But then, with the number four pick, things really start to get interesting. Cleveland has a number of ways they can go here, and almost all of them would fill a need the Browns have. Realistically, running back Trent Richardson, wide receiver Justin Blackmon, cornerback Morris Claiborne, or quarterback Ryan Tannehill are all options.

Whoever they take will ultimately shape how the rest of the first round goes.

Let me explain to you how it would work. After Cleveland, you have Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Jacksonville, and Miami picking. All their picks, and those of the teams after them, depend greatly on who the Browns draft.

The two most realistic picks for Tampa Bay are either Claiborne or Richardson. If Cleveland picks one of them first, it’s fair to say their hand will be forced into taking the other. Then you have St. Louis. With Sam Bradford at quarterback and Steven Jackson at running back, the Rams probably aren’t interested in Tannehill or Richardson. But what if Cleveland takes Blackmon or Claiborne and Tampa Bay takes the other? What does St. Louis do then?

If you think this is all starting to get a little confusing, wait until I remind you about the possibility of trades. Maybe St. Louis doesn’t wait for Blackmon to fall to them and they trade up to get him. Now one of the key players is off the board, the draft is reordered, AND all the teams’ priorities remain the same.

How silly do you feel for thinking March had the madness?

To avoid a massive headache, let’s ignore the possibility of trades for the moment. Here are four possible scenarios of how Cleveland could decide who the other teams with top picks in the draft take; one scenario for each of the four players the Browns could possibly take.

Pick #/Team

Player Selected

 

Pick #/Team

Player Selected

4. Cleveland

Trent Richardson, RB

  4. Cleveland

Justin Blackmon, WR

5. Tampa Bay

Morris Claiborne, CB

  5. Tampa Bay

Trent Richardson, RB

6. St. Louis

Justin Blackmon, WR

  6. St. Louis

Riley Reiff, OT

7. Jacksonville

Riley Reiff, OT

  7. Jacksonville

Quinton Coples, DE

8. Miami

Ryan Tannehill, QB

  8. Miami

Ryan Tannehill, QB

9. Carolina

Dontari Poe, DT

  9. Carolina

Dontari Poe, DT

10. Buffalo

Luke Kuechly, ILB

  10. Buffalo

Morris Claiborne, CB

 

   

Pick #/Team

Player Selected

 

Pick #/Team

Player Selected

4. Cleveland

Ryan Tannehill, QB

  4. Cleveland

Morris Claiborne, CB

5. Tampa Bay

Trent Richardson, RB

  5. Tampa Bay

Trent Richardson, RB

6. St. Louis

Justin Blackmon, WR

  6. St. Louis

Justin Blackmon, WR

7. Jacksonville

Morris Claiborne, CB

  7. Jacksonville

Quinton Coples, DE

8. Miami

Riley Reiff, OT

  8. Miami

Ryan Tannehill, QB

9. Carolina

Dontari Poe, DT

  9. Carolina

Dontari Poe, DT

10. Buffalo

Luke Kuechly, ILB

  10. Buffalo

Riley Reiff, OT

Just on these four scenarios alone, Riley Reiff and Morris Claiborne go to four different teams, Luke Kuechly and Quinton Coples only make it as a Top 10 pick half the time, and Jacksonville and Buffalo draft as many as three different players.

And that doesn’t even include the other 22 picks just in the first round.

So, if you’re looking at the crumpled up piece of paper that WAS your March Madness bracket on the floor, do yourself a favor: don’t try to do a mock NFL draft. More than likely, you will be even more disappointed. Just tune in later this month to see how it all pans out.

Now, I know what you’re saying. “But Bryan, you yourself did FOUR mock drafts in just one article! Why don’t you take some of your own advice?” Well, to that I say….

-THE END-

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NOTE: This column was originally published on SportsHead. To read this article and others click here.
When Bryan isn’t writing, he’s on Twitter! Follow him @bclienesch!