If the season ended today, Carolina would own the #1 overall pick with Buffalo selecting second. Here’s how the top ten would shape up:
6. San Francisco
The Seahawks of course would be picking no earlier than 21st overall, because they’d be NFC West Champions. I still firmly believe the division is a lottery and that there’s a distinct possibility three teams could be in contention in week 17. I wouldn’t want to try a predict anything right now, even though the Seahawks have a one-game lead over the Rams.
It could be a bizarre situation, with the division winners picking late in the first round next April and the other three teams selecting amongst the top 10-15 picks. The margin of difference could be as little as head-to-head record.
In my updated mock draft tomorrow, I’m going to review a situation I’ve yet to cover – what happens if all the quarterbacks go before Seattle is on the board? Looking at the current top ten order, it wouldn’t be unrealistic to see three or even four QB’s taken. Andrew Luck would be an absolute shoe-in to go first overall to Carolina. Buffalo, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Minnesota and Arizona are all logical QB takers. A case could even be made for a team like Dallas – stranger things have happened.
Previously I’ve had Luck, Jake Locker and Cam Newton going in round one. Ryan Mallett is a first round pick based on his on-field talent. Could they all leave the board before #21?
I’ve long argued the importance of Seattle drafting a QB early. The longer they wait to draft a quarterback, the bigger the issue becomes. Whether the Seahawks win their division this year or not – this is still a re-build. Any re-build – in my opinion – has to start with the quarterback. Look at St. Louis’ improvement simply by drafting Sam Bradford. Tampa Bay have rebounded this year – in large part because of Josh Freeman. Atlanta and Baltimore were 4-12 and 5-11 before drafting Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco.
Atlanta turned a bad situation into a positive by drafting Ryan and putting the LT, RB and TE around him. They already had a #1 receiver. That for me will be the road to extended success – getting your QB and putting the pieces around him.
There is the possibility that a quarterback (or more than one) could fall. We’ve seen it before – Aaron Rodgers being a key example. Projecting the stock of Jake Locker, Cam Newton and Ryan Mallett is particularly difficult right now. Nevertheless if the Seahawks did pick later in round one there won’t be any guarantees any will remain available.
Of course there’s always the opportunity to trade up. If a QB is there you simply must have, then that has to be a serious consideration. In 2009, the New York Jets moved up 12 places to draft Mark Sanchez. Obviously that was a considerable jump. However, it’s not unusual to see teams make minor moves up the board to ‘guarantee’ the quarterbacks they want.
In the same 2009 draft, Tampa Bay moved up just two places to get Josh Freeman. In 2008 - having moved from #8 down to #26 – Baltimore moved back up to #18 to draft Joe Flacco. Last April Denver moved back into round one to get Tim Tebow. It’s not unusual to see teams make these kind of moves. I don’t include trades in my mock drafts, but that has to be considered – particularly when I don’t place a QB with the Seahawks as I will tomorrow.
So what are the alternatives if they won’t or can’t move up?
It’s a good year for cornerbacks – would a player like Colorado’s Jimmy Smith fit the bill? Will Cameron Jordan be available to add some depth on the defensive line – not to mention another Golden Bear on the roster? What about a wild card on the offensive line? I’ll publish my updated mock draft tomorrow.