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Draft King Analysis
September 19, 2013
Lou Pickney,

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

First things first -- I promised Konnan that I would spread the word about the outstanding MLW podcast that he does with Court Bauer, who ran the great but short-lived promotion Major League Wrestling and later worked for WWE. It's mostly pro wrestling talk but it's highly entertaining. Take a trip to Iran and give it a listen. I could listen to Konnan tell stories all day. Boom.

Also, I put my evaluation skills on the line and took part in the NFL opening week million dollar competition on Draft Kings. For the record, I'm not part of that company -- I had Draft King going for many years before they came along with the plural name. I post mock drafts and opinion columns here and they offer some fun fantasy sports games there. But some sharp guys run Draft Kings and there's a reason they've been able to raise the venture capital needed to reach the level they are at today. I'm happy for them, and the residual runoff with people who hear their radio spots or see their TV ads who end up here is fine by me. After all, I was here first.

With the game, fortune was on my side with the Cowboys defense coming alive, and I finished in the money (think World Series of Poker), which of course was great. But as anyone who has ever dealt with a site involving sports and money (legal or otherwise) knows, all too often getting paid is the toughest part, sometimes even more than making the right choices.

But, I'm very happy to say that, with Draft Kings, receiving payment wasn't an issue at all. I requested a check and it was mailed out the next day. On top of that, in my experience they have been quick to respond to any issues that come up. And, more than anything, if you know your stuff you can make some cash there -- and actually receive payment promptly.

Thanks to my bizarre schedule as a television morning newscast producer, I often sleep at some weird times. Flip a.m. and p.m., tilt it slightly, and you've got my schedule. At least sometimes.

That was the case yesterday, where I woke up at 7:30 p.m. ET and did a double take reading a text from my brother, Matt, saying that Browns RB Trent Richardson had been traded from Cleveland to Indianapolis in exchange for the Colts' 2014 first round pick. At first I wondered if I was still asleep, so I pulled the "look away and look back" trick to see if the words change like they usually do in dreams. But it was real and the words stayed the same.

It makes sense on both ends to at least some degree. The decision to draft Richardson came from the previous administration in Cleveland. The NFL has become a league where running backs are less important than ever, where we just had the first draft ever where a running back wasn't taken in the first round (including the era when there were 9-10 total first round selections), and most importantly where a franchise quarterback is an absolute must for any team wanting to be a viable contender.

In the post 2011 CBA era, trading former top five draft picks on their initial NFL deals isn't the impossible line of thought that it once was since the level of guaranteed money is so much lower now than it used to be. Yes, the Browns will face an acceleration of the remaining three years of Richardson's signing bonus, which by my calculations is in the ballpark of $10 million. But it opens things up a bit for 2014.

Cleveland needs a franchise QB, and clearly the powers that be don't feel that Brandon Weeden fits the bill. Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater seems like a mighty tempting target, and it's possible that the Browns may be in position to draft him or trade up to get him, but there are several viable candidates who could make for a deep draft class if they all come out: Clemson's Tajh Boyd (who is a lock to be in the mix since he's a senior), Oregon's Marcus Mariota, UCLA's Brett Hundley, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, etc. Logic would dictate that the Browns would very likely target one of those guys with what could very well end up being a top ten pick.

Having two first rounders gives the new staff a chance to either trade if there is *one guy* they want, be it Bridgewater or whomever, or perhaps more realistically to add two top-level guys (if not more by trading down) who fit the mold of what the present administration wants. Browns fans might not be happy right now, but Michael Lombardi is no rube, and he clearly has a long-term plan in place.

As for Indianapolis, a team with a franchise QB and a strong need at RB, dealing for Richardson makes a great deal of sense. The Colts have a chance to make a bona fide run in the playoffs, but teams will have a much tougher time game-planning against Andrew Luck by having to be honest against Richardson and the run. There is likely no running back on Richardson's level who will be in the 2014 NFL Draft. With Vick Ballard out for the year, Ahmad Bradshaw a question mark and a tough schedule ahead, it makes sense from a need standpoint.

The big question mark is: with the modern NFL being so pass-oriented, is any running back not named Adrian Peterson worthy of a first round pick? Time will tell. The fact that Richardson was the #3 overall pick is immaterial, particularly in the post 2011 CBA era. It's all about present value and what it's worth to another team for a given player. You're not buying draft projections or past results -- you're paying for future output.

At this point it's still overreaction mode season. Learn from the early results but don't jump to too many conclusions based strictly on wins and losses. 14 regular-season games remain for all involved.


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Unless otherwise noted, the views expressed here are those of Lou Pickney alone and do not necessarily reflect those of any media company.