When Les Snead made his huge trade down with the Washington Redskins in 2012, it sent the NFL Draft world nuts. St. Louis gave up the #2 pick overall so the Shanahan-led Redskins could grab Robert Griffin III. They gave the #6 overall pick, a second round choice, plus first round picks in 2013 and 2014... The haul from the picks thus far for the Rams has been pretty good, and this May it should seal the deal on which team came out of the trade smelling like a rose. Thanks in large part to a complete collapse by the Redskins in 2013, the Rams now have the #2 overall draft choice once again, plus the #13 pick in the first round. St. Louis fans are frothing at the mouth for another draft day deal of the century, but it won't come easy - if at all - and it's all Andrew Luck's fault...
When Luck declared for the 2012 draft, he presented all 32 NFL teams with a seldom seen talent package. He became a "guaranteed" #1 pick almost overnight. What made the St. Louis Rams #2 overall position so tasty was Robert Griffin III, who was seen by many to be just shy - if not even - with Luck's NFL potential by many team scouts. Two teams emerged as the strongest suitors for Griffin - Cleveland and Washington - but they weren't the only ones. The other teams in need of a franchise quarterback lurked in the shadows, driving the price up for the #2 pick.
In 2014, the situation may seem to be the same for the Rams as in 2012, but it isn't. While the number of teams desperately searching for a quarterback has actually increased - at least 7 teams by my count if you include the New York Giants - the talent pool just isn't up to Luck/Griffin standards. In fact, if the current pool of top quarterbacks were magically transported back in time to the 2012 NFL Draft, I'm not sure they'd displace or change the first two taken. Have a look:
Mythical 2012 Quarterback Class:
Robert Griffin III
Do you see any names on this list who'd displace Luck or Griffin III from the top spots? Yeah, me either... So it seems to me anyone wanting a quarterback is going to have to over-sell their notions of just how much potential this class truly has? There is a variable, with defensive end Jadeveon Clowney presenting what's been called a "once in a decade" skill set by some. But would teams throw three first round draft picks up for grabs to take him, like Washington did for Griffin III? I don't think so, and neither do you.
Market forces are wildly unpredictable things when it comes to applying them to NFL players. I think the word "notional" has a place here, in that what one team sees isn't guaranteed to be universally seen by all. When it comes right down to it, I ask myself if guys like Bortles, Bridgewater, Manziel or Clowney are worth much in the way of committing additional draft assets? I come away slowly shaking my head every time I try to think which team could so covet one of these players they'd cough up future first round draft picks. Cleveland has two first round picks in 2014 - #4 and #26 - and they desperately need a quarterback. Yet, is there such a huge talent separation between Bortles, Manziel and Bridgewater to drive them to move up? The whole "Math thing" boggles me at times, but I'm pretty sure one of the aforementioned will be there at pick #4? Wait a second... One... Carry the three, add... Yup! One of the three quarterbacks mentioned should be there, I'm sure of it! What about Jacksonville? They recently shipped off Blaine Gabbert for a late round pick - and a box of Ghirardelli's chocolate bars - to San Francisco, so they could... Naw! The Math works out the same at the #3 pick as it does at #4. Maybe I should divide them by Pi? Mmmm! PIE! What was I saying? Right, Jacksonville isn't as hungry as I am, so they can stay put unless Clowney is their guy.
The key to the draft will be what Houston does at #1. If they take a quarterback - which I doubt they'll do - there are teams who could decide to make a run at Clowney. These teams will take it on faith the Rams won't select him, given their already impressive set of defensive ends - Chris Long and Robert Quinn. Les Snead can threaten to take the South Carolina star, but it will be smoke and mirrors. St. Louis has a boatload of needs, none of which is at defensive end.
The bottom line here, is there doesn't seem to be a possibility for a repeat of Snead-esk magic in the coming NFL Draft. He will get offers for the #2 pick, but I don't think it will be close to the haul he made in 2012, unless...?
The 2014 NFL Draft should be fun to watch, because I firmly believe there's a dark horse team who'll make a spectacular, crazy - bordering on idiotic - run at a top player they really want. For them, if they can just get this one player, the stars will align, birds will sing, and tickets to Disneyland will be free to one and all. OK, the birds singing is a stretch...
So which NFL team could be the one to try and shock the sports world? Is there a team you think could be
stupid enough er, uh... I mean passionate enough about a certain player to trade away a boatload of draft picks? Give me your reasons and scenarios in the comment thread. If you'd like to see a few ideas for pick combinations for a trade, drop into First-Pick.com and run through a couple Rams drafts. Some of the teams and what they offer for the #2 overall pick are pretty interesting.