Expecting to see a trade in the top five? Don't hold your breath. The 2014 NFL draft kicks off today—praise be to Goodell—and while Houston wants nothing more than to move out of the top spot, the Texans likely will stay put and take . . .
Still dubious about a big trade at the top of the draft. Trades will happen; they always do. But at the top of the draft? Too much to give away for risky players who aren’t quarterbacks.
So here are 10 Draft Things I Think I Think, hours before we finally kick off this sucker:
1. I think if Houston wants to trade the No. 1 pick—and there is mounting evidence the Texans really do want to deal—the chances are very slim … unless the Texans don’t try to do a ransom deal. Let’s say you’re Oakland, and you’re dying for Jadeveon Clowney. Houston will want at least Oakland’s 2014 and 2015 first-round picks. Going down from one to six (Atlanta) or Minnesota (eight) would require at the very least this year’s second-round pick to make the deal happen. Why, if you’re sitting there knowing you can get a prime player at a position of need, do you deal for a player who might be number one on your board but is not a mortal lock? Houston’s problem is there are a lot of very good players there to choose—but not the kind of faultless franchise player there was a couple of years ago when Andrew Luck went first overall.
2. I think, when the dust settles, Houston, with some regret, will probably take Clowney. Regret because the Texans wish they could move down and take Khalil Mack and get a pick or two as a broker’s fee.
3. I think you can take it to the bank that Khalil Mack will not get past the Oakland Raiders.
4. I think, if somehow Clowney doesn’t go number one, you should not eliminate him from the Rams at No. 2. I don’t just think that; I know it. Not saying the Rams will pick Clowney if he doesn’t go No. 1. But the Rams love him, aren’t concerned about his lousy production in 2013 at South Carolina, and, though I know they would prefer a standout tackle, Clowney versus Greg Robinson would be a serious discussion in the draft room. And has been.
I will be very surprised if the Niners don’t make a big move by the middle of the first round.
5. I think I cannot find a spot for Johnny Manziel in the top half of the draft if Tampa Bay passes on him. Not sure if that says more about the wimpiness of the teams in the top third of the draft or more about NFL decision-makers coming to their senses with so much on the line by picking the lightning rod that is Manziel. And I do not think his landing spot is Dallas, with all due respect to Mike Mayock.
6. I think one of the big spots in this draft is No. 19. The Dolphins don’t have a tackle at 19 they love, and at No. 20 sits Derek Carr-smitten Arizona. Teams behind Arizona know they have to move up to at least No. 19 if they want a shot at Carr. I am sure new Miami GM Dennis Hickey is getting some calls about the pick, and if I were him, I’d sell.
7. I think there’s a team with a very good veteran quarterback in his 30s that loves Blake Bortles. Just loves him. And if Bortles somehow falls into the twenties, this team is going to try to trade for a pick to get him.
8. I think I will be very surprised if the Niners, with six picks in the top 100, don’t make a big move, a Falcons/Julio Jones-type move, by the middle of the first round tonight.
9. I think, speaking of Atlanta, my gut feeling after talking to two agents with top-10 picks Wednesday night is the Falcons will not sell the farm for anyone at the top of the draft, and will go left tackle at No. 6.
10. I think this could well be the first draft in awhile with no trades in the top five. There’s just too much disagreement on the value of the picks—and no quarterback that stokes the fire of GMs with itchy trigger fingers for solving the quarterback problem.