In April, the 2012 NFL Draft will take place. As is with most drafts, not much is known. At this point, the only thing we know is that the Colts will take Stanford QB Andrew Luck first overall to be the successor to arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, Peyton Manning. Beyond that, we can only speculate on the future, or listen to professional speculators of said Draft Day, i.e. Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay, Mike Mayock, and the like. In most football circles, Andrew Luck is regarded as a “savior” – as most top quarterback prospects are, but Luck is regarded as one of the best QB prospects in recent memory, perhaps the best one since – and I can’t possibly be the only one who finds this ironic – Peyton Manning.
While Luck is probably the best conventional drop-back, pocket passer in this year’s draft, there have been an influx of quarterbacks in recent years who can not only throw the ball, but also can run. Even the pocket passers in recent years are not statues in the pocket and are required to move around a little more than they used to. Guys like Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Tim Tebow (though his throwing ability leaves much to be desired), and Vince Young have caught the eyes of scouts because of the simple fact that when you have a quarterback who can throw it as well as move the chains with his legs, you will have opposing defensive coordinators up late every night, if nothing else.
This year, the dual-threat QB is Robert Griffin III out of Baylor, commonly referred to as “RG3”. In the draft process, few have questioned his arm, speed, athleticism, or smarts, but some have questioned his size (but at 6’2” and 3/8, he isn’t short enough to warrant concerns), and others have questioned that Baylor’s offense was simple. Like any draft prospect would do, he’s denied that Baylor’s offense was simple – and while that may be true, we must bear in mind that Cam Newton was relentlessly accused of playing in a one-read offense at Auburn, which he may have, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he isn’t mentally ready for the NFL. In fact, Cam started from the get-go for the Panthers, and won Offensive Rookie of the Year by a wide margin.
Not only was he as advertised with his legs, he was perhaps better than anyone thought with his arm. In Robert, lots of people see similarities. Both won Heisman Trophies, both are athletic freaks, both are (probably) going to pretty bad teams, and both are considered dual-threat quarterbacks. Griffin is the consensus second best quarterback in this year’s draft class, and his stock is soaring after an impressive combine in which he ran a 4.41, and some are saying it was a 4.35, which would make him fast for a position where speed is a requirement, such as wide receiver, corner, or running back.
In his last two years at Baylor, RG3 was nothing short of masterful, with 7,499 yards, 58 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. His senior season was his best year, with 3,998 yards, 36 touchdowns, just six interceptions, 644 rushing yards, nine touchdowns, and he even had a 15-yard reception.
Before the combine, he was considered a top-five pick, but now he has vaulted himself into top-three status. The top three teams in this draft are the Colts, St. Louis Rams, and Minnesota Vikings. As I previously mentioned, it would seem a foregone conclusion that the Colts will take Andrew Luck, perceived as the more polished passer, first overall. The Rams could use Griffin, but there isn’t a need for him. In 2010, they drafted Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford with the first overall pick, and as a rookie, he launched them from ineptitude to mediocrity. It’s still mediocrity, but it’s an admirable accomplishment for any quarterback, and even more so a rookie.
In 2011, Bradford wasn’t nearly as good, with 2,164 yards, six touchdowns, and six interceptions, but we must remember he was given a horrible team to work with, and was also out for six games. The Rams, as any smart team would do in their situation, are entertaining the idea of trading the pick. RG3 is compared to Cam Newton and any team with a need would love to have that guy right now. All indications say the Rams will demand an Eli Manning 2004 Draft Day Trade-esque package. Not only is it unrealistic, it doesn’t make sense for any of the parties involved.
The Browns are linked as the team most likely to get him because they have two first round draft picks and have somewhat of a need at quarterback. Plain and simple, the Browns need to ask themselves: “do we believe in Colt McCoy?”. While Colt hasn’t given them an Aaron Rodgers-esque first two years of football, he can hardly be blamed for that. Before the Browns worry about getting a “face of the franchise”, they need to worry about getting McCoy some people to throw to and some people to block for him. In his first two years in the NFL, he has 4,309 yards, 20 touchdowns, and as many interceptions.
For a Browns quarterback, I think that’s respectable enough to deem a follow-up evaluation necessary. While the Browns could use Griffin, it would set them back because they would have to completely re-do their offense to cater to Griffin’s skill set, which is a lot different from McCoy’s.
The Redskins are also linked as a team to possibly get Griffin. To me, the Redskins make the most sense, and it makes all the sense in the world for the Redskins. However, if I’m the Rams, I don’t think the Redskins have enough to get him. Sure, they’ll offer the minimum of a first, second, and maybe fourth round pick this year and possibly even a first in 2013. One must bear in mind that better could be had, and the Rams would be moving down to sixth in the draft, as opposed to what they would if they did a deal with Cleveland, where they’d have fourth and 22nd overall.
The last true legitimate team involved is the Miami Dolphins. Again, doesn’t make sense. Miami has even less to bring to the table than the Redskins, and it has come out that the Dolphins aren’t motivated to trade up for Robert – and why would they be? Miami is becoming a bit younger, and while getting Robert would make them young at quarterback, per se, it would also stop them from having a second round pick, fourth round pick, and a first next year, which could be crucial to getting second-year RG3 some more weapons to work with outside of Brandon Marshall.
It has also been reported that a “sleeper” team has checked with the Rams about Griffin. It wouldn’t be sports without a twist that nerdy sports fans like myself can speculate on for days! Rotoworld, a reliable fantasy football source, speculates on the Chiefs, Eagles, Broncos, Jets. Also, none of those teams make sense for both parties.
The Chiefs would certainly be scary with Robert Griffin, but the Chiefs have even less to offer than the Redskins, and also the Chiefs don’t need to risk their next two drafts to get RG3 in order to win – they just need to re-focus their energy on giving Jamaal Charles the ball and rush the passer. In fact, just two years ago, they were in the playoffs.
The Eagles – doesn’t make sense. At all. They can’t possibly have money for a guy like RG3 especially with the asinine contract they gave Nnamdi Asomugha and Michael Vick and the asinine contract they will give LeSean McCoy and possibly DeSean Jackson (if he redeems himself). Also, if they sign RG3, they are assuming that Michael Vick will not stay healthy – which seems like a logical assumption – but nothing is guaranteed. It wouldn’t make any sense for the Eagles who also have needs all over their defense which they need to address in the draft which they won’t have a chance to do if they trade up for RG3.
The Broncos seem like an even wilder speculation. While I am of the opinion that Tim Tebow will ultimately fade away and his skills are extremely limited, right now, he is the quarterback for the Denver Broncos and did show something, overblown as it may have been. For that, he must be rewarded by being trusted, and getting Griffin shows a complete lack of trust.
The Jets I could see being that Rex Ryan is Rex Ryan. In 2009, he took a chance by trading up for Mark Sanchez, who at this point is not a bust, but is not “Sanchize” as he was hyped up to be as a rookie. Plain and simple, Sanchez has to be given one more year. While Sanchez has struggled at times during his NFL career, he has generally been good, and for a quarterback with very limited experience, I would say he’s at least “promising” – a vague term, sure – but it means something. Additionally, much of his struggles can be blamed on the poor play calling of former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer who is now the offensive coordinator for….you guessed it, the St. Louis Rams. Lastly, the Jets have been good for a few years now, and are picking in the 20’s, which I doubt will peak the Rams interest.
While there are certainly some intriguing packages for the Rams to look at, and the Rams are merely doing the logical thing, it doesn’t make sense for both parties in any of the hypothetical trades. That makes one ask: “what should the Rams do?”. Fortunately for the Rams, there are plenty of options. They could possibly draft some protection and take USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil, brother of Carolina Panthers tackle and three-time Pro Bowler Ryan. Drafting the offensive tackle always seems like a safe pick, and would be a step in the right direction.
They could get Bradford a playmaker in Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon, a big, physical receiver who has the talent to be a go-to NFL receiver, and compares very well to Ravens wide out Anquan Boldin.
They could build a good defense and get LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne.
Heck, they could even take Griffin and get rid of Bradford.
As you can see, there are tons of options. In my opinion, the best option is to take Kalil. Blackmon is a good receiver, but at second overall, he’s quite a reach; he’s not in the class guys like AJ Green or Calvin Johnson were when they entered the draft. Kalil would be a safe pick and if Bradford has some time to throw, he has the accuracy to make his receivers look better.
There are many options for the Rams, but trading the pick should not be one of them.