After all the lies, smokescreens, and overanalysis of the pre-draft process, we’ll find out what teams are really thinking Thursday night in New York. We’ve attempted to block out the noise in an effort to answer 10 big questions about the 2010 NFL Draft.
1. Can Detroit possibly pass on Ndamukong Suh?
Sam Bradford should go first to the Rams, handing Detroit the first dramatic of the draft. There are strong rumors the Lions are considering Oklahoma State tackle Russell Okung, but it sounds like a pre-draft smokescreen.
Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is the best player in this draft, and he plays a position that Lions coach Jim Schwartz covets. Schwartz wouldn’t be a head coach if he didn’t know the value of defensive tackles.
Okung is the best tackle in this draft, but not by that much. He’s not a transformative talent like Suh could be. We’ll take it even a step further. The left tackle Detroit has — Jeff Backus — is hardly one of the worst starters on the team. He’s competent.
Passing on a powerhouse like Suh to upgrade a position that doesn’t need to be upgraded that badly just doesn’t make sense. That’s why it won’t happen, unless the Lions make a bold trade for one of Schwartz’s former players …
2. What will the Redskins do with their outcasts?
Once the Redskins acquired Donovan McNabb, their No. 4 overall pick became predictable. They desperately need a left tackle, and have plenty to choose from.
Watching what Mike Shanahan and General Manager Bruce Allen will do with their unwanted veterans will be far more intriguing.
Albert Haynesworth wants no part of playing nose tackle in Washington’s new 3-4 defense, and Shanahan wants to show his new team who is running the show. Suddenly one of the best defensive players alive is very available, with a manageable contract attached to him. Redskins owner Dan Snyder is just crazy enough to eat all the guaranteed money he’s paid Haynesworth. A high second-round pick could get something done. The Lions, Titans, and Rams are all possibilities.
Quarterback Jason Campbell and linebacker Rocky McIntosh are also available.
Campbell has a ton of starting experience and throws a great deep ball. He’s better than at least five to eight starting quarterbacks out there and should be of interest. McIntosh wants a new contract and may not be a fit for the team’s new defense.
Add it all together and the Redskins could continue to make offseason headlines despite having only one pick in the top 100.
3. What other veterans could get traded?
The Redskins aren’t the only team looking to move veteran talent. A few other players who could move: Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora, Broncos tight end Tony Scheffler, Titans running back LenDale White, Bills running back Marshawn Lynch, Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown, Browns nose tackle Shaun Rogers, Dolphins quarterback Tyler Thigpen and Raiders linebacker Kirk Morrison.
Oh, and maybe, just maybe, Ben Roethlisberger. That’s all.
4. Will there be any trading in the top 10?
It’s very unlikely. The ridiculous rookie salary slotting system makes higher picks less desirable. Smart teams don’t want to give up picks just to pay a player more money. Every team wants to trade down, but no teams want to trade up unless it’s for a quarterback.
Bradford is worth trading up for, but the Redskins were the only logical team to make a play, and they just acquired McNabb. Jimmy Clausen is more likely to slip in the draft than have a team trade up into the top 10 for him.
There could be some wheeling and dealing after the top 10 by teams with multiple high picks (Denver, Seattle, San Francisco), but don’t expect any Rivers-for-Manning-like excitement.
5. Does Tim Tebow go in the first round?
Tim Tebow’s dad thinks he’s going in the top 15 picks. I’ve heard that Tebow’s camp fully believes this, and that he’s been told by certain coaches he won’t be available when their team picks in the 20s.
Scouts don’t view Tebow so highly, but scouts don’t make final decisions. General managers and coaches do. They are the ones who sit in a room with Tebow and get googly eyes for the kid. He could easily go in the top-25.
6. Do Dez Bryant’s off field problems really matter?
The Oklahoma State wideout is a top-five talent. His work habits are uncertain, but he’s the best receiver prospect since Calvin Johnson.
Bryant’s character concerns have been exaggerated by teams that hope he will slide, but his background can’t be ignored. Bryant has had a brutal life, and it’s fair to worry about how he’ll transition to being a professional.
There’s no in-between with Bryant. He’s the classic boom or bust pick, but he’s too talented to free fall. If he gets past Denver at No. 11, the Seahawks at No. 14 make a lot of sense.
7. How will the new draft format change strategy?
Look for more trading to open the second round as teams re-set their boards overnight, formulate strategy and go after specific players. This is the best draft for depth in the past five or six years. Considering the salaries and talent involved this year, picks in the top of the second round are gold.
Speaking of which . . .
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