Posted: 2:19 pm Monday, April 21st, 2014
By Jeff Schultz
I’m tired of waiting for the draft.
I’m tired of sifting through bad rumors about the draft.
I’m really tired hearing about debates over Johnny Manziel. Seeing video posted everywhere (and below) of him throwing a football to a guy on a Jet Ski and people saying, “Wow!” – as if that mad skill will somehow translate to playing in Cleveland in December – didn’t help.
But while we’re waiting for the draft to finally get here (May 8-10), here are a few things I’m 100 percent certain of (at least until tomorrow).
1. HOUSTON IS STUCK: I’m more convinced than ever that the Texans are looking to trade the first overall pick. Here’s why: They desperately need a quarterback. There is no quarterback worthy of being the first pick. There may not be a quarterback worthy being selected in the first round. The potential downfall of taking a quarterback so early is the significant financial commitment that comes with that. If a mistake is made on an offensive or defensive linemen, a team can hide or protect the player to some degree. It’s just not as high-profile of a miscue. But a quarterback is center stage for all to see, usually for at least three seasons because his contract mandates it. The best player in this draft is South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, but because Houston isn’t as desperate for defensive line help – and Clowney isn’t a perfect fit for its defense – the Texans probably would rather trade the pick. Until then, they’re creating rumors like they make take Khalil Mack over Clowney. It keeps everybody guessing and stirs trade interest. Because of the uncertainty at the top, I don’t believe it would be as expensive as some fear for the Falcons (or anybody) to trade up to that spot. And ultimately, I believe the Texans want out of that spot.
2. FALCONS’ PLANS: If the Falcons get to draft day and a trade hasn’t been made yet, general manager Thomas Dimitroff will have a number of contingency deals in place. For example: He’s willing to trade “X” for a certain player at No. 1, “Y” for a certain player at No. 2, etc. I’m convinced there are three players Dimitroff would be willing to trade up for: Clowney, Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack and Auburn tackle Greg Robinson. And my guess is he ranks them in that order. The defensive and offensive lines both are significant needs and the Falcons can’t go wrong drafting either way. But it’s more difficult to get a difference maker on defense. Offensive lines operate as a unit and a team can get a solid tackle or guard later in the draft. A great pass rusher is going to be a great pass rusher regardless.
3. FALCONS’ PLANS, PART II: The Falcons’ might be content to stay at sixth and see who falls to them, but it would be the first time Dimitroff didn’t significantly explore moving up for a player they’ve targeted. But if they make a deal, there’s way too much concern about the potential of “mortgaging” their draft. Going from sixth-to-wherever wouldn’t be a Julio Jones type of trade. Because this draft is considered so much stronger, Dimitroff also could be willing to trade higher picks from the 2015 draft than this year’s.
4. FALCONS’ PLANS, PART III: I know the Falcons are saying publicly they remain confident in running back Steven Jackson and this doesn’t rank as their biggest need. But don’t they need to come out of this draft with a running back? My ranking of the team’s draft priorities: 1) Defensive line/pass rusher; 2) Offensive tackle; 3) Safety; 4) Running back; 5) Tight end. Agree or disagree?
5. MANZIEL FATIGUE: I’m really tired of the Manziel debate. I think I’m more tired of him than I was Tim Tebow, only because in Manziel’s case I’m convinced a greater percentage of the hype has been instigated by him. The video below is exhibit A. And yes, I guess I’m a part of the hype machine because here we go:
About the Author
Sports blogger and columnist Jeff Schultz has been with the Atlanta-Journal-Constitution since 1989. He has been honored several times by the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE), National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA) and several other organizations.