It has been a long month and a half for football fans. Since the lockout, the only football news we have been subjected to has been news from courtrooms across the country, as well as representatives from both sides jockeying for the upper hand in negotiation.
But even with the stalemate in negotiations, we football fans have been looking forward to one thing: the NFL Draft. On Thursday, we get our first taste of the 2011-2012 season. And while mediation between the NFL and NFLPA not looking like they are going anywhere, this might be our only taste of football for a while.
Now, I do not know what is going to happen when picks start pouring. If I did, I would have submitted my picks to ESPN, and be a very rich man. Instead of giving you my picks, like everyone on the face-of-the-earth is doing, I figure I give you my five trends to look for during the three-day draft.
1. QB-Battle: This is a quarterback-heavy draft class. From Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert, down to Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick, there eight to ten quarterbacks that could be quality starters in the NFL.
Besides the debate between who the top quarterback is, either Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton, quarterbacks have been jockeying to get drafted before everyone else. Eight of the ten teams drafting first are in need of a quarterback, and many top-tiered teams need quality backups, or quarterbacks to train for the future. You will see a lot of teams drafting a lot of quarterbacks being drafted in the first round.
2. Who will be #1?: According to all the mock drafts out there, there have been at least ten different players that have been projected as the number one pick. Will one of those players actually be picked first? Will there be a sleeper? Those are the questions the Carolina Panthers will answer at around 8:10 p.m.
3. Trading down: Along with the quarterback position, it is a deep-draft as a whole. There are many quality players that can perform well at the professional level. With that being said, I predict a lot of teams will try and trade down to pick up more draft positions in the first few rounds.
4. Defensive-Heavy: What wins championships? Defense. Look at the Steelers, Saints, and Packers. All have a solid, and deep, defense. All teams will be looking to strengthen their defense, replacing key players, and adding depth in case a player falls from injury, which in inevitable in the league.
5. Filling holes: Another casualty of the lockout is that there is no free-agency. In February, teams look to bolster their roster by adding free agents, which could make an impact right away. Without this free agency period before the draft, teams will be looking to fill holes that would usually be filled by free agents. Since we don’t know when a new CBA will be signed, owners don’t know when free agency will start. The NFL Draft is a good start.
Hope this wets your appetite. I will be in front of my television Thursday, with my Broncos gear on, eagerly watching the draft. This could be a very long offseason. Might as well appreciate the little bit of football while I can.
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