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Draft King Analysis

January 20, 2011
Lou Pickney,

Reader feedback is always welcomed here. Send your thoughts to Draft King at

March 4, 2011 is looming for NFL owners and players -- the day when the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires. There is no sign of any resolution coming, and all sides seem to be digging in for a long battle. There will be a draft in April, and after that awaits an abyss of the unknown.

Commissioner Roger Goddell seems hellbent on expanding the NFL regular season to 18 games, a priority he mentions in seemingly every media interview he gives. Large market owners and small market owners have different priorities, though they collectively agreed to exercise a clause in their last agreement with the NFLPA to end the current CBA early (3/4/2011). The NFLPA wants the players to earn as much as can be negotiated.

Perhaps there is some encouragement in the fact that Commissioner Goddell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith met today in New York City, though that was merely "an effort to advance the bargaining" according to union spokesman George Atalla. But there's a long way to go between attempting to advance bargaining and locking a deal in place, though this is a nice start.

The latest Draft King 2011 NFL Mock Draft is online, and I've already received feedback about it.

From: Jon Sarver
Date: Wed, Jan 19, 2011 at 1:34 PM
Subject: Browns Pick

Couple of things about your latest pick for Cleveland.

1. Cleveland is switching to a 4-3 defense so Robert Quinn would play DE in that scheme.

2. Cleveland needs PLAYMAKERS, not rusty players who have sat out a whole year from football. Cleveland cannot afford to draft Robert Quinn and hope he still has his playmaking abilities.

3. Cinc, will more then likely be looking for DL help more then WR help due to their young WR's Caldwell and Simpson playing well at the end of the year.

4. Therefore A.J. Green should be your Cleveland Pick, not Robert Quinn

5. I do agree that Cleveland wont consider a CB at that spot.

6. If A.J. Green isnt there, Julio Jones or Blackmon from Oklahoma St would be another couple of options (If Blackmon declared)

Lou: I was under the impression that the Browns were keeping a 3-4 defense even without Rex Ryan, but this e-mail corrected my incorrect belief. After reading that I felt like Omar on The Wire hearing Brother Mouzone say "You've got some wrong information." I doubled back, did some due diligence, and found that it does appear from all indications that Holmgren is bringing the 4-3 to Cleveland.

This is yet another reminder that, as closely as I try to watch all 32 NFL teams, fans who follow their favorite team closely tend to know them better than me. And, to no surprise, those fans who find me to be in error about their favorite team often let me know. I appreciate that; the more correct my information is, the better I can be at analysis.

As I noted in my write-up at the top of the current 2011 mock, WR Justin Blackmon decided to return to Oklahoma State for his senior season. I anticipated that he would be the third receiver to go in the 2011 Draft, but he made the decision to return to Stillwater for 2011. While I think there was a good chance he would have been a first-round pick, he wasn't a lock for that, and returning to school for his senior season could help boost him even further for 2012. At the very least, he'll have a realistic shot at being in the running to be the top wide receiver drafted in 2012, something he had no shot at in this upcoming draft.

Peyton Hillis
Peyton Hillis had a breakout 2010 season with the Browns. (Icon SMI)
My personal inclination would be to draft Julio Jones at #6 overall if A.J. Green was off the board, but I'm not Mike Holmgren; the decision is his. I'm far more bullish on Jones than most draft prognosticators are. Cleveland is looking good on offense with Colt McCoy at QB, Peyton Hillis at RB, and Joe Thomas anchoring the left tackle spot, and the team would benefit greatly by adding a blue chip WR like Jones. However, I just don't see the Browns doing that with the #6 pick if Green is gone by that spot.

As for Cincinnati, I agree that the Bengals need defensive line help. But, if the top three picks are all defensive linemen, there would seem to be better value at a number of other positions. As for Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson, both players are entering their fourth NFL season and also the final year of their respective contracts. And while the Bengals are going with a youth movement on offense, it will take more than Caldwell and Simpson to get the job done. Particularly with their contract situation in mind, it seems to me that the Bengals would be wise to draft Green if their top one or two defensive line prospects are gone by the time they draft.

To be sure, North Carolina DE Robert Quinn is a wild card. In a 4-3 defense he would play defensive end, and at 6'5" 260 he has the size to go with his speed and natural ability. Quinn not playing a down of organized football in 2010 is a concern, though he will go through a battery of tests and drills and interviews to show where his present skill level is and how he matches up with other elite defensive prospects.

For 4-3 teams, it seems at this point that Quinn is being heralded just below Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers among defensive end prospects, and Cleveland is going to need an elite defensive end to make the transition to a 4-3 defense a smooth one. But there are some (such as Scott Wright of who have Quinn *ahead* of Bowers at this point, which is another reason why I feel comfortable in projecting Quinn so high despite him missing the 2010 season.


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