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Some NFL teams will be better
This week NFL Draft will feature 256 picks over three days and seven rounds, but not all teams come into it with the same ammunition.
Thanks to trades and compensatory selections, a handful of teams enter the draft loaded with picks, while some teams mortgaged away their picks in previous seasons. Predicting the number of trades isn easy the first round has seen seven, 14, and five trades the past three seasons but with rookie contracts now more reasonable under the new collective bargaining agreement, we can certainly expect to see some dealing between clubs.
Houston Texans: Their 2 14 season was rough, but the Texans are well positioned to start the Bill O era with fresh new talent. The No. 1 pick seems to be a dilemma Jadeveon Clowney is risky in a position change to 3 4 outside linebacker, and none of the quarterbacks appear fit for the No. 1 pick but they still sit in the driver seat with the ability to take whichever player they want, or trade down. The Texans have 11 picks total (one extra in the fourth and seventh and two extra in the sixth) and get the added bonus of picking first in each round (33d, 65th, etc). Houston will also pick Mr. Irrelevant at No. 256.
St. Louis Rams: Year 3 under Jeff Fisher is going to be important after two mediocre seasons, and the Rams are loaded with picks again this year thanks to their blockbuster trade with the Redskins last season. The Rams have a league high 12 draft picks, and two premium picks in the first round the Redskins No. 2 overall pick, plus their own at No. 13. They have the 44th and 75th overall picks, plus six picks in the final two rounds.
San Francisco 49ers: It just isn fair the 49ers, already armed with one of the more talented rosters in the league, also have a full deck of high end picks. The Niners, picking 30th in the first round after reaching the NFC Championship game for the third straight year, have 11 draft picks total, including an extra second rounder for Alex Smith, two extra third rounders (compensatory and from Tennessee), and picks 242, 243, and 245 in the seventh round.
Cleveland Browns: The Browns need a quarterback, and their trade of Trent Richardson to Indianapolis for a first round pick should help them find one. Cleveland has the fourth and 26th picks in the first round and No. 35 in the second round, giving it all kinds of options for drafting one of about six quarterbacks. The Browns also have 10 picks overall, including an extra fourth rounder from Indy and a third rounder from Pittsburgh.
New York Jets: One team that could be active is the Jets, who might be wheeling and dealing with a league high tying 12 picks, most of them in the middle and late rounds. The Jets have only two picks in the top 50 18 and 49 but have three fourth round picks and four sixth rounders, including picks 209, 210, and 213. The Jets have significant needs at wide receiver, tight end, and cornerback.
Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars finally made strides at the end of 2013 under new head coach Gus Bradley, and have a chance to add some good pieces for his second season. They can be players for Clowney with the No. 3 pick, go all in on Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel, take an electric wide receiver in Sammy Watkins, or trade down and acquire even more top picks. The Jags have 11 picks overall including No. 39 in the second round and two 4s, three 5s, and two 6s.
Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions: The Cowboys, picking No. 16 overall, have 11 total picks in the draft, including five in the seventh round. The Lions at No. 10 have three fourth rounders to give them six picks in the first 136.
Indianapolis Colts: The decision to trade a first rounder for Richardson seems like a flop, and now GM Ryan Grigson doesn have much to work with during the draft. The Colts have just five picks total, don pick until No. 59 in the second round, and their other picks are 90, 166, 203, and 232.
Washington Redskins: Still paying for the RG3 trade, the Redskins lost the No. 2 overall pick for this year as they start over with new coach Jay Gruden. They have seven total picks, although having the 34th and 66th picks in the second and Authentic Lamin Barrow Jersey third rounds isn bad.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs do have solid picks in the first three rounds: Nos. 7, 38, and 69 but thanks to trades by the previous regime (one for Darrelle Revis), the Bucs have just six picks total (none in the fourth) as they begin anew with Lovie Smith and GM Jason Licht.
Oakland Raiders: Picking No. 5 overall, GM Reggie McKenzie should definitely look to trade down and acquire more picks to infuse young talent to a team that has neglected the draft over the years. The Raiders have picks 36 and 67, but just seven picks total and none in the fifth and sixth rounds.
Tennessee Titans: Another team that Lamin Barrow Youth Jersey needs an infusion of talent under new coach Ken Whisenhunt, but not many picks to do so. The Titans only have six picks (no third rounder), and after No. 11 and 42, they don pick again until 112.
Buffalo, Miami, San Diego, and Denver are the only teams that have only their seven slotted draft picks.
There has been a lot of talk about the death of the running back position none went in the first round last year for the first time ever, and the same could happen this year. That couldn be further from the truth, however.
Running the ball is still vital in the NFL (just ask the Seahawks and 49ers), and according to numbers compiled by Pro Football Reference, NFL teams still ran the ball 43.3 percent of the time last year (27.1 attempts per team per game, compared to 35.4 passing attempts).
Instead, we should say that we are seeing the death of the individual running back as a big investment player. Given that running backs are highly susceptible to injury and easily replaceable, NFL teams use their first round picks on more dependable players, and are able to still find solid running backs in the later rounds (like Washington with sixth rounder Alfred Morris).
And, outside of a few rare running backs such as Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy, teams opt against spending big money on veterans with a lot of miles and instead draft younger, cheaper backs. And the committee approach is en vogue the Patriots were the ninth best rushing team in 2013, but their top back (Stevan Ridley) only had 37.9 percent of Cody Latimer Jersey the team carries.
But once on the roster, the running back becomes a valuable commodity.
The Redskins got 2,888 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns in two seasons out of Morris, at cap numbers of $420k and $510k. The Patriots got Shane Vereen (56th overall pick in 2011) for just $3.46 million over four years, with his highest cap number a very manageable $1.1 million this year. Ridley (73d pick the same year) costs just $2.95 million over four years (and a top cap number of $939,750). Considering how often they touch the ball, that great bang for the team buck.
Sticking with the NFL Draft theme, let clear up two more misconceptions about the draft that agents may want to tell their players.
For one, under the new CBA it better to be a second round pick than a late first round pick. As we have seen this offseason, most teams are electing to utilize the new fifth year option on their first round picks that became a part of the new CBA in 2011, unless the player is a total bust (21 teams triggered the option this offseason out of 32 picks). Someone like the Patriots Nate Solder will receive a nice salary in his 2015 option (about $7.4 million) but as an unrestricted free agent he would likely earn more in salary, more guaranteed money, and more long term security.
There is no fifth year option for second round picks, however. They can renegotiate their contracts after three years and become UFAs after year four. And the difference Authentic Cody Latimer Jersey in overall money isn much. In recent years the difference between picks No. 32 and 33 has been about $1.3 million over four years ($1 million in signing bonus). The difference between Nos. 31 and 34 has been about $1.4 million over four years, and between Nos. 30 and 35 about $1.7 million. That a small price to pay for early free agency.
The other important point is that it usually better to be a priority undrafted free agent than a seventh round pick. Yes, it hurts the ego not to get drafted. But your options are better.
Seventh round picks get signing bonuses of about $45,000 $70,000, don get to choose where they go, aren guaranteed a roster spot, and get locked into four year contracts. Undrafted free agents, meanwhile, can often get $10,000 $15,000 or more after the draft if several teams vie for their services. They also get to choose their landing spot and can pick the best roster that gives them a chance of making the team. And they only have to sign a three year contract instead of four.
Keywords: Some NFL teams will be better