Tuesday 24 October 2017 / 01:08 PM

Bold Moves Abound In The 2014 Draft?

We’re heading into late April. We need to talk about the draft. But I don’t want to roll out Michael Airhart’s mock draft 1.0, or talk about each team’s needs and how they might be met. You can peruse all this data at NFL.com.

There are a million mock drafts out there and they’re all crap. I still pore over them religiously, of course, but they really are all crap. NFL general managers make a million bucks or more a year; sportswriters are paid in Pringles and hot dogs. There’s a reason no mock draft ever looks anything like the real draft.

I don’t have a clue who ought to be drafted and when. My job is simply to write an article that’s entertaining enough for you to set down the nacho cheese for a minute and read or sufficiently inflammatory that you’ll throw your mouse at the monitor and call me a f-ing moron in the comments section.

Anyhow … let’s get to it.

 

It was just two years ago that the Washington Redskins rolled the dice big time on draft day by trading away a whopping three first round picks, as well as an additional second rounder, in order to slide into St. Louis’s #2 slot and draft QB Robert Griffin III out of Baylor.

In terms of WTF trades it was a fairly safe move. With Andrew Luck and RGIII coming out in the same draft, NFL general managers were pretty much looking at the most sure-bet quarterback crop since John Elway, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, and three other QBs were taken in the first round in 1983.

It’s still a little too early to know for sure whether this bold move paid off for Dan Snyder’s Skins or not, but now that the Rams are picking #2 again (thanks to Washington) it’s got me wondering if we’ll be shocked by a draft day trade in 2014, or if teams will prefer to take the safe route.

Too much speculation surrounding the quarterbacks to see any knock-your-socks-off deals.

 

Bortles, Manziel, Bridgewater, and Carr. While there’s never a guarantee in the NFL draft, every one of these players is flawed enough to wonder how many QBs will head off the board in the first ten picks.

The general consensus is that most QB needy teams don’t believe in any of these guys strongly enough to give away mid-round picks just to move up a few positions. At best we might see a couple GMs attempt to trade back into the first round if one of these top four signal-calling prospects is still available.

This isn’t to say there will be an absence of significant trades, but for the most part clubs don’t bet the farm unless they’re after a long-term solution under center.

There have been whispers that Atlanta might be interested in making a deal with Houston to take Jadeveon Clowney at #1, but for now it’s just a rumor. In all likelihood the Falcons will take either Jake Matthews or Greg Robinson to anchor their line and protect Matt Ryan. Pretty much they’ll take whichever of the two is left at the number six pick. The Rams are looking tackle as well at #2 if they’re unable to trade down for more selections.

There’s a reason why fans don’t draw up the draft boards. We all want to trade up for a flash Wide Receiver.

 

With less than two weeks to go before the start of the 2014 NFL Draft, fans worldwide are busy in their basements, drinking cheap beer and crafting together ridiculous draft scenarios that leave their team with a surefire Super Bowl winner.

In honor of these bonehead trades that would get any real GM fired by week’s end, let’s take a look at the three worst draft day gambles in the history of the NFL … and then to keep things positive we’ll look at the top three risk/reward moves that did pay off.

Woah, bad move:

 

The Great Train Robbery: And I didn’t make this up, this is the actual nickname of the trade. It’s not all that often that a trade is given a special moniker, but when the Minnesota Vikings shipped off five players and eight draft picks in 1989 to the Dallas Cowboys for Herschel Walker and four lesser selections, a nickname is warranted.

Not only did Walker never materialize into the franchise-saving superstar they’d hoped he’d become, he never even tallied a single 1,000 yard season in Minneapolis.

Dallas, on the other hand, used their slew of picks over multiple years to select Emmitt Smith and build a three-time Super Bowl winning dynasty.

All-in for Ricky: It’s hard to imagine a team shelling out a pile of picks for a running back these days, but in 1999 Mike Ditka literally traded every single pick held by the New Orleans Saints to draft Ricky Williams out of Texas. Sure, he’s won the Heisman Trophy and broken the all-time college rushing record, but every single pick?

Oh yeah, he also gave up the Saints’ first and third rounders in 2000.

Seriously, how did nobody else in the organization step in to stop this trade?

Williams was out of The Big Easy by 2002. His career later enjoyed resurgence with the Miami Dolphins, but he never became the kind of player you’d trade all your picks for.

By George we’ve got to have him: Many NFL fans have forgotten how dismal the Indianapolis Colts’ franchise was during the 1980s. They went to the playoffs only once during the entire decade and lost in the first round. The pre-Manning era was downright embarrassing.

In 1990 the Colts went all-in to try and find a franchise-changing quarterback. Indy traded six-time Pro-Bowl tackle Chris Hinton, WR Andre Rison, a first round pick, and a fifth round pick to the Atlanta Falcons for the right to take QB Jeff George number one overall.

George was never terrible, but never great. He played for six different teams over a 12-year career. Andre Rison went on to play in five Pro-Bowls, have his mansion burnt to the ground by crazy rapper girlfriend Left Eye, and squander $19million on cars and jewelry.

But don’t get me wrong. I like Andre Rison. Unlike other players who ignored my stadium tomfooleries back in the day, Rison ran over to my seat and taunted me with his Spiderman celebration move after scoring a TD against my Seahawks in the Kingdome. I had been talking mad shit from my end zone seat during warm-ups.

Anyhow, I respected the fact that this multi-millionaire (not for long, hahaha) superstar receiver went out of his way to belittle a ridiculous face-painted buffoon dressed in homemade Seahawks coveralls. True story.

Yes, it paid off:

 

Michael Vick (pre-prison): In 2001 the San Diego Chargers held the #1 pick in the draft. It was pretty much a consensus that they’d select QB Michael Vick, but the Atlanta Falcons made them an offer that they couldn’t refuse.

Atlanta gave up the #5 pick that same season, as well as future second and third rounders and speedy WR Tim Dwight. The Chargers went on to draft LaDainian Tomlinson at #5, who was a franchise changer in his own right, but Michael Vick was simply electric in Atlanta. If it hadn’t been for Vick’s legal troubles he would have been the Falcons’ franchise QB for well over a decade.

Tony, Tony, Tony: In 1977 the Seahawks held the #2 pick in the draft, but the Dallas Cowboys had their eye on Tony Dorsett. Dallas sent Seattle the #14 pick and three second round selections to move up and take the promising young running back.

Dorsett was so effective as a rookie that he led the Boys to a Super Bowl XII victory.

Eli’s a big baby: In 2004 when San Diego took Eli Manning #1 overall, Eli’s daddy convinced him to whine and moan like a little bitch until the Chargers agreed to trade him. The NY Giants finally bit and sent #4 overall Philip Rivers out west, along with several additional picks that included a first rounder.

At first the Chargers appeared to get the best of the deal. Rivers developed quickly and has always been solid, but in the end Manning won two titles for New York while Rivers is mostly famous for providing false hope to Bolts fans.

Keep reading. We’re almost to the end here.

 

Since we’re not likely to see any big time trades at this season’s draft, here’s a blockbuster scenario that would be interesting to see even if it will never happen:

San Francisco trades up for another superstar WR: With 12 picks, San Francisco owns the most selections in the draft. In general, Harbaugh prefers to stockpile picks and trades down instead of up, but with his Super Bowl window possibly beginning to close and a complete roster he bets it all in 2014.

SF offers Cleveland the Niners first round pick, both second round picks, and a pair of late round selections to move up to #4 and take WR Sammy Watkins out of Clemson. With Watkins lining up across the field from Michael Crabtree, even the Legion of Boom will be shaking in their boots a little bit.

So there you go, my draft preview that wasn’t really a preview at all. But like I said, mock drafts are rubbish. Stay tuned and in a couple of weeks I’ll get back to being serious and give you my in-depth thoughts about which teams were winners and losers in the draft and how the results might affect the 2014 season.

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Michael Airhart

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