Image Credit: Allen Eyestone/Palm Beach Post
Welcome to Zach’s Draft Corner, where it’s always amateur hour.
It’s mock draft season! However, there’s the old adage that goes “the real draft will be crazier than any mock you see.” What could happen on April 25 that would make the first round qualify as crazier than any mock draft (from a reliable source, of course) you’ll see? Let’s take a look.
ALL THE QUARTERBACKS!
My final grades will not have any quarterback graded out as a first round prospect. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a chance for a lot of quarterbacks to be taken in the first round. General managers do not have the longest of leashes, especially if they have endured a season or two of losing. Fans of quarterback needy teams will call for their teams to “Tank for Tua” or “Just Lose for Justin” and try to get a quarterback in 2020 when the prospects are a little stronger, or even “Tank Twice for Trevor” to get the Clemson phenom in 2021. Unfortunately, if GMs lose again in 2019, they may not be around to make those picks. Drafting a new quarterback can generally buy a GM another couple of years, and there’s no telling who might feel like they need a quarterback now instead of later.
So what happens if four quarterbacks go in the top ten? Say Kyler Murray gets taken first overall by the Cardinals, who trade Josh Rosen away to New England. I don’t see the 49ers passing on Nick Bosa, but Denver stews while San Francisco is on the clock and gets nervous once the Jets are on the clock. Dwayne Haskins would be a great fit in Denver, and the Broncos might trade up with the Jets to bypass the Giants. With two quarterbacks gone in the top three, Jay Gruden and Washington start to twist in their chairs, realizing they need a quarterback if they want to buy themselves some time. Jay makes a deal either with his brother Jon or Tampa at 5 and trade up for Drew Lock. Now with three quarterbacks gone in the top five, Dave Gettleman and the Giants are pushed to take Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick. That’s four of the top six picks being quarterbacks, with Bosa going to the 49ers and Quinnen Williams going to either the Raiders or the Buccaneers.
What about a fifth? Tyree Jackson has the physical traits that could get some cocky GM thinking that they can turn him into an elite talent. In walks Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock at pick 24, wanting to make a big splash and move on from Derek Carr. In a draft heavy with defensive talent, five quarterbacks going in the first round could push some good players into the second round.
NONE OF THE QUARTERBACKS!
What if teams are actually (gulp) smart? Say this draft resembles 2013 when E.J. Manuel was the first and only quarterback taken in the first round at pick 16, or 2000 when Chad Pennington was the first and only quarterback taken in the first round at pick 18? Let’s send Dwayne Haskins to Washington to learn under Alex Smith, with Arizona deciding to stick with Josh Rosen. While this means we will see a lot of talent go in the first round, I think it will make those first few picks of the second round very valuable. The quarterbacks will start flying in the second round, and you will likely see a lot of trades early on Friday.
Ultimately, the perceived chaos of the first round will be based on how many trades there are. Teams typically trade up looking for quarterbacks, but that’s not always the case. There are a few teams that underachieved last year while also having a lot of valuable picks. There are also some teams who are already contenders with a hefty amount of draft capital. Combine all of that with some teams that have a lot of holes to fill and not a lot of picks to fill those holes, and you get a recipe for some big trades. Here are the candidates to make the surprise trade for a non-quarterback:
Green Bay Packers
The Packers have Aaron Rodgers and two first-round picks. While they certainly could stand pat and use their ten draft picks on a wider array of talent, they could also package some of those picks to move up in the first round, even into the top five. With Rodgers under center, you’re never far away. One or two top talents may do more for Green Bay’s Super Bowl hopes than ten rookies.
A few years removed from the Super Bowl and one year removed from a playoff appearance, the Falcons fell on some hard times. However, with nine overall picks, including a top-15 draft pick, Atlanta isn’t too far away. Atlanta’s lack of success has coincided with a severe drop in their ability to rush the passer, and there are some strong pass rushers pegged to go in the top ten. Atlanta could give up some of their remaining picks to move into the top ten and bolster their anemic pass rushing situation.
The Colts turned around so much of their team this past year. The offensive line went from one of the worst to one of the best, and their secondary was surprisingly strong. With additional picks in both the second and fourth round, the Colts could conceivably move up into the teens to take their guy if they feel a top prospect will be the push they need to get over the hump in the AFC.
New England Patriots
Nobody wants to see it. But the Patriots have a whopping 12 picks in the draft, including six in the first three rounds. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are getting up there in age, and neither of them will likely be around when their first round pick finishes his rookie contract. So what should they care about building for the future? They have one of the most complete teams in the league, as evidenced by the fact that they just won the Super Bowl. The Patriots might not even have room for six rookies, and that’s disregarding their six picks on day three. Why not move up from 32 and get a talented prospect to add to an already stacked roster? Don’t be surprised if you see the Patriots move up from 32 to Seattle’s spot at 21 if one of the Iowa tight ends fall into the 20s.
THE CARDINALS ACTUALLY TOOK BOSA!?
What? This will cause chaos for me…
You can follow Zach on Twitter here!
Stay tuned to 49ersHub for more great 49ers and Draft analysis!