*** Draft night update – The New York Jets did not trade the #2 overall pick (I missed on that one but still think the J-E-T-S should have traded back and grabbed a few more picks). New England did NOT trade their pick (Correct!), and Dallas DID trade their pick (Correct!). As Meatloaf would sing, “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad!”
One year ago, your SwampSwami celebrated the 2020 NFL Draft by evaluating some of the legitimate and wackier proposed trades rumored ahead of Round 1.
It’s time to do it again in 2021!
On Thursday night, Round 1 of the NFL draft will take place. It will unfold at a snail’s pace with each team allotted up to 10 minutes to make their selection. With 32 teams, this process could take up 5 ½ hours just for the first day’s picks! On Friday, Round 2 will provide teams a slothful 7 minutes to make their selections and then Round 3 (with 5 minutes between picks) will end another long night. Saturday morning’s mop-up continues with Rounds 4, 5, 6, and 7. With 5 minutes allotted to selections in Rounds 4, 5, and 6, a merciful reduction to just four minutes in Round 7 wraps-up the draft on Saturday afternoon.
This year, the NFL is taking their annual event to lovely Cleveland, Ohio where a Cleveland-like cold rainy day will greet visitors with temperatures reaching the low 50’s for football fans.
In Cleveland, the NFL has established something called their “Draft Experience”. The league will have an “interactive football theme park” which is free and open to the public Thursday through Saturday outside of downtown Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium – the home of the NFL Cleveland Browns.
In addition to watching these future NFL players being selected on gigantic TV screens each day, football fans will be able to buy expensive NFL merchandise, have “virtual autograph sessions” (whatever that means or costs), see a display of Super Bowl rings, and have a photo opportunity with the Vince Lombardi championship trophy. Fans must wear face coverings and maintain social distancing.
As the beer flows freely in Cleveland, how well do you think that’s going to go as the night progresses?
The annual draft is the NFL’s version of going to the grocery store to select one or more items from various sections to complete their team.
Some of the NFL’s best teams in the past few years (Kansas City, New Orleans, and Green Bay, for example) may opt to trade down for more late round “hamburger” picks rather than go for a first round “steak”. The best teams always seem to know what they are shopping for at the NFL Draft Supermarket and are ready to make a deal to the perennial losers.
Some NFL teams head to the annual draft with lofty aspirations and, a few years later, learn that their shopping skills are just plain terrible.
Let’s take a look at the #1 pick in this year’s NFL draft. The Jacksonville Jaguars were a pitiful 1-15 last season and are now on the clock. The entire football world expects Jacksonville to select Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence to help turn around the fortunes of this woeful franchise.
Until the first game of the regular season, the hope that Trevor Lawrence will make J-ville into an NFL winner will no doubt translate into more season tickets sold and a huge merchandise money-maker, too. Lawrence might be able to justify his enormous salary (mostly in the form of a signing bonus) as locals use their stimulus bucks to buy tickets, jerseys, and the like.
After Lawrence (who is 99.9% likely to be picked by Jacksonville), what about all of the Round 1 needs the bottom feeder teams who failed to qualify for the NFL playoffs last year? Should some teams make draft-day trades to move up or move down in the draft order? Most years, the trade hype exceeds the actual results.
But that’s why so many people will watch the NFL draft! It has stretched into a three day football fan soap opera as millions of “coaches” around the country give unsolicited advice to their favorite teams from their living rooms.
Many questions abound as the NFL draft approaches on Thursday. Let’s once again play “NFL Draft – Deal or No Deal” and examine a few situations:
Question #1 – After Jacksonville selects Trevor Lawrence, the New York Jets are on the clock with the 2nd pick. Should they listen to offers to trade the pick or make yet another quarterback selection?
Evaluation: Let’s face it, J-E-T-S fans. Your team’s on-field performance and recent draft history has been a big zero for years. The team’s last Super Bowl winning quarterback (Joe Namath) is now 77 years old and shows-up on TV doing Medicare commercials 24/7 these days.
The team selected USC quarterback Sam Darnold a few years ago in the first round. He was just traded to Carolina, so the Jets need another quarterback (you’d think). A team whose record has been as bad as the Jets has more needs to fill than just a quarterback. The Jets just hired yet another new head coach (Robert Saleh) whose reputation was built on great defenses.
SwampSwami says: MAKE A DEAL! The New York Jets need a bushel full of talent to compete in the AFC East. Shopping the #2 pick in this year’s draft for several later picks this year or high selections in future years makes sense. The team has “missed” on top picks before so why fight the karma, Jets fans? Build your defense this year and grab a QB next season or look for a bargain in the later rounds this year.
Question #2 – The New England Patriots missed the playoffs last year but have to wait until the 15th pick of Round 1 to make a selection. With the Cam Newton Experience a big failure at quarterback in Foxboro last year, will Coach and GM Bill Belichick make a deal with another team to move-up and grab one of this year’s top-level quarterbacks earlier in Round 1?
Evaluation: Historically, New England is usually the most likely team to trade out of the first round and stockpile picks in the middle rounds. Based on their historical success with middle round draft picks (Tom Brady was a 6th round selection), this would seem quite out of character for the NFL’s most successful coach.
On the other hand, the New England Patriots have been signing expensive free agents like mad this offseason, too. That also goes against their long-time methodologies.
SwampSwami says: NO DEAL! Stats don’t lie, and I expect New England will either stick with the #15 pick or, perhaps, even trade down and out of Round 1 altogether to accumulate later draft picks. Coach Belichick doesn’t seem the kind of guy who falls in love with any particular athlete and believes that his system is what wins games. Why should they change now?
Question #3 – The Dallas Cowboys are on the clock with the #10 pick in Round 1. Unlike so many other teams, they just spent a fortune on keeping Dak Prescott as their quarterback of the future. The Cowboys have plenty of needs (especially on defense). Should they take an offer to move down in this year’s draft and trade the #10 pick?
Evaluation: Dallas owner Jerry Jones considers himself to be one of the world’s great wheeler-dealers. Unfortunately for Cowboys fans, ol’ JJ hasn’t been able to bring his investment back into the Super Bowl for the past 25 years. Dallas could use one of the top-level defensive players with their current first round pick, but, this IS Jerry Jones we’re talking about.
SwampSwami says: DEAL! The hot rumors have New England moving up to Dallas’ #10 pick in Round 1 to select a quarterback. I disagree (see Question #2). I do believe that a surprise team will make a last-minute trade to Dallas for their #10 overall pick this year. Sadly for Dallas fans, the Cowboys will make questionable choices with the other team’s picks and miss the playoffs again this year, too!
Regardless of how my predictions play out, it will be fun to see the NFL draft on Thursday night. The city of Cleveland could use a little positivity and love, right?
Enjoy the fun and festivities with this year’s NFL draft, but remember one thing.
With eleven offensive starters and eleven defensive starters needed for a football team, there are greater odds of seeing a Coronavirus spike two weeks from now in Cleveland than the chances that any single player drafted this weekend leading your favorite NFL team into the Super Bowl next season.