More time to kill, more time to kill… Well, this is getting closer.
And as the kickoff clock to the NFL Draft ticks and ticks away, the focus is coming clearer. Yeah, this could be a crazy night. The rookie wage scale and some differing opinions on the strength of this class will lead to a slightly wacky experience. As you might expect, I have some predictions…
Here are five things that could, maybe, possible, probably happen:
1. The Dolphins will take QB Ryan Tannehill — This has been smokescreen central. Loved it when personnel guys with the Jaguars publicly said everyone knew the Dolphins were picking the Texas A&M QB. Um, not quite. Even Tannehill hasn’t been told the Dolphins will draft him. And if they don’t (as I mentioned in this story) it could lead several teams to wonder why his old college coach Mike Sherman didn’t want him.
Still, the Dolphins were oddly lukewarm about Matt Flynn early this year, and the thought was they had something behind it. The thought was there was a reason they didn’t love Flynn. Tannehill may be the reason. All this drama, I think they just take him. A little early, yes. Probably should be a late-first, early-second rounder. But the Dolphins can win with that.
2. North Alabama CB Janoris Jenkins will go in the top 15 — I know, I know, he’s got all sorts of issues. Drugs, a bunch of babies, and it sounds like he’s a little immature. I understand all that. But have you seen him play? And shut down SEC receivers like A.J. Green? All that’s real. I don’t think he’s a bad guy, and the word from scouts and personnel people is they don’t think he’s a bad guy. Just surrounds himself with bad people and allows himself to make bad decisions. So, there is something endearing about him. And I think when a team from 9 to 15 is up on the board, and they want a cornerback, I think one of them will simply take the leap. Say, it’s worth the gamble. But that’s just a hunch.
3. The Mark Barron trade rumors will turn out to be true — I love draft rumors. Seriously. As much as I love the draft, I am infatuated with pre-draft rumors. I hope they keep rolling right up until the draft starts. But one rumor I do lend credence is the Mark Barron trade rumors. I know how much the Cowboys love him, and they aren’t alone. Alabama guys are NFL-ready, and Barron is no exception. He’s a rare safety who can stop the run, cover TEs, and be a leader. And he’s smart as anything. Those guys are hard to find, which is why I think a team will jump up and grab him between 11 and 13. That’s if the Bills pass on him, which they may not. But I find it hard to believe the Cowboys will get a chance to pick him.
4. The Patriots will make two first-round trades — This may be the easiest prediction of them all. I mean, who doubts the Pats will make some trades? But I think they will. My best guess? They’ll trade up to draft someone in the first round, maybe LSU’s Michael Brockers, then trade their second No. 1 for a team who wants a QB in exchange for a 2013 No. 1 pick. Maybe Brandon Weeden. This sounds like best-case scenario for the Patriots. Don’t be surprised if trading up becomes Bill Belichick’s new move with the rookie wage scale. It’s not as costly. In related news, I’ll also guess that the Chiefs won’t make the No. 11 pick, either.
5. South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram and Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw will fall — Every year, there are a few sure-fire first-rounders who inexplicably fall deep into the 20s or out of the first round. Aaron Rodgers may be the most famous, Da’Quan Bowers of Clemson was the most recent. My guesses this year are Ingram and Upshaw. And it’ll happen for the same reason. Both are short. Ingram is 6-2, Upshaw is 6-1. Both are kind of small to play defensive end and may or may not be athletic enough to play linebacker. That’s for teams to decide. But I think teams like to envision how a draftee will fit on their team. I think a bunch of teams wonder where both guys will play. Even with crazy athleticism (Ingram) and tons of production (Upshaw), both will fall.
Now, it’ll be interesting to see if any of this actually happens…