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Draft King Analysis
April 26, 2012
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com

Reader feedback is always welcomed here on Draft King. Sound off with your thoughts on Twitter (@LouPickney) or via email at LouPickney@gmail.com.


As I begin this column, which will be my final one prior to the start the 2012 NFL Draft, I am sitting in a mostly vacant area at gate C10 at BNA, the airport code for Nashville International Airport. I had presumed that there would be free WiFi here, but no dice, which is unfortunate since that limits what I can do with my girlfriend's laptop computer, which she was nice enough to let me borrow for the trip. Luckily my Droid 4 has internet capabilities, so I'm not out of the loop.

I'm sporting my custom powder blue #55 Titans jersey with PICKNEY on the nameplate that Pinnacle Bank gave me as a perk for signing up with them for free Titans checking. This prompted positive comments from people both working at the American Airlines check-in counter and handling security for TSA. One of the women in security asked me who I thought the Titans would take at #20, and I told her either a defensive lineman or a cornerback. We'll see soon enough if I was right.

My flight was delayed for about a half-hour. Why? Because the plane coming here from NYC that will be taking me up for the draft was delayed in leaving because a dog got loose on the runway. Seriously. I suppose if I was going to face a delay, it might as well be because of an amusing reason.

Rumors and speculation are flying at a rapid pace on Twitter this morning, which isn't terribly surprising considering that the draft is less than 12 hours from beginning. Swerve, smokescreens, bluffs, sneaky negotiating tactics: yep, it's draft day in the NFL.

What's more, news leaked out this morning that ESPN is about to enter an LMA (Local Marketing Agreement) with Emmis Communications to begin simulcating ESPN Radio 1050 (WEPN) on 98.7 WRKS, the current home of WRKS, better known as 98.7 Kiss FM. Initial word suggested that the flip would have been completed by the time I make it to LaGuardia Airport in New York City, though an update from RadioInsight.com revealed that the change won't happen until this weekend. The timing would have been tremendous for a flip today with the start of the draft and two NHL Game 7s involving NHL teams in the region (Rangers and Devils) happening tonight, but that isn't how it's going to play out.

I linked to it on Twitter late last night, but I finally watched the outstanding Sports Science piece that ESPN did on Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon several months ago. My brother Matt had been urging me to check it out, and I'm glad that I finally took his advice and watched it. Those Sports Science pieces are strong, but this one in particular is great at demonstrating both the range that Blackmon has and his ability to catch poorly-thrown passes, including throws made behind him.

To put it in perspective, I haven't seen a college receiver show that kind of ability to pull in throws made behind him on a regular basis since Calvin Johnson at Georgia Tech. Of course, unfortunately CJ had to deal with sub-par QB play and had to demonstrate his ability to catch throws made behind him on a regular basis while with the Yellow Jackets in real-game situations. That happened far less frequently for Blackmon at Oklahoma State with the accurate Brandon Weeden serving as his QB.

At the moment, my 2013 NFL Mock Draft simply has a photo of USC quarterback Matt Barkley holding a large sword. I have a preliminary 2013 NFL Draft order in place based on the reverse Vegas odds for teams winning the Super Bowl, which is considerably preferable to my old way of guesstimating the order and invariably receiving angry emails from fans who felt like I had slighted their favorite team's position. The point of a super-early mock is to simply provide a look at what *might* happen, not what will.

But soon enough I'll replace the giant Matt Barkley photo with an actual prelim 2013 mock draft. Again, the idea with it is to provide a rough outline of what might happen, but there is a long time to go between now and April 2013. The 2012 NFL Draft hasn't even begun yet, so don't get too attached to ideas of a player being attached to any given team.

With an hour to go until flight time, I have popped my generic Dramamine. Air sickness is a bitch. It's the "less drowsy" version of it, though I hope to sleep during the flight. But I don't want to be groggy at the draft, and it's a delicate balance.

It will be Stanford QB Andrew Luck going to Indianapolis at #1 overall and then Baylor QB Robert Griffin III going to Washington at #2. Then the real drama begins: will Minnesota really pass up on USC OT Matt Kalil by either drafting another player or trading out from the #3 slot? If a trade happens, who is going to make the move and what player will they target? What happens if it goes Luck/RG3/Kalil, then Mike Mayock ends up being right about the Browns drafting Justin Blackmon and then the Bucs select LSU CB Morris Claiborne? Does St. Louis let Alabama RB Trent Richardson slide pass them? If so, how far will Richardson fall?

As you can tell, I have plenty of questions. But within hours the answers will start rolling in, and the real-time drama of the 2012 NFL Draft will play out in front of a national television audience on ESPN and the NFL Network, not to mention in front of what is expected to be a packed house at Radio City Music Hall.

If you see a 6'2" white dude with a shaved head, a goatee, and the aforementioned custom 55 "PICKNEY" Titans powder blue jersey... it's a pretty safe bet that it's me. If you spot me, feel free to stop me and say hello... or berate me for projections I made that you don't like. Don't worry, I can take the heat.

There's no city on the planet quite like New York City, and I'm downright giddy to get back up there. My last time in New York was in January 2006 while I was working for the Bubba the Love Sponge radio show. It was great being there as part of the historic 1/9/06 debut of the legendary Howard Stern that morning on Sirius as well as Bubba's Sirius debut that afternoon, a return from a near two-year long hiatus from radio that is far too long of a story to get into right now.

Bottom line: it will be great to be up in NYC, to have a tour of NFL headquarters this afternoon, and then take in what I expect will be a raucous scene at Radio City Music Hall tonight.

The laptop I'm typing this on says it's down to 22% power remaining, so this is probably a good spot for me to wrap this column up and then shut down the computer. Next stop: the Big Apple.


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