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Draft King Analysis

November 16, 2011
Lou Pickney,

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Before I begin, there's not much else I can add to the Penn State story that hasn't been written or said, but I suggest you check out a great parody song of the situation titled "Joe Covered Up Sodomy" by Manson, a former co-worker of mine from my days working for Bubba the Love Sponge in Tampa. Manson is far and away the best parody song writer I've ever encountered and he is vastly under-appreciated in the radio biz.

My latest 2012 NFL Mock Draft updated clearly caught the attention of plenty of people, at least based on the feedback I've received via email and social media. Perhaps I got a nice SEO bump in the update, or maybe volume is just picking up as more and more fans look ahead to the 2012 NFL Draft.

The notion that Andrew Luck won't win the Heisman Trophy because Stanford lost to Oregon is, in my estimation, laughable. Two of Luck's top four receivers were out, Oregon has a strong defense, and it's not like the Cardinal has a strong running game to keep the opposition from keying against the pass. There are plenty of great players out there, from Trent Richardson to Brandon Weeden to even Luke Kuechly (who is averaging a ridiculous numbers of tackles per game on an otherwise forgettable Boston College team), but I feel strongly that Luck deserves the Heisman.

I don't get a Heisman ballot, but I have at least one friend who does. Not that I will be able (or even inclined) to sway his vote, but in my opinion Luck sealed the Heisman when he lead Stanford back from a 10 point second-half deficit at USC last month. And, no, I'm not biased against Brandon Weeden because he's older than Aaron Rodgers, and I don't think voters would be, either. Chris Weinke was 28 when he won the Heisman in 2000.

But, trophies aside, Luck remains the top NFL prospect, though at this point NFL team employees aren't allowed to even mention him by name because Luck is a redshirt junior and thus could potentially return to Stanford for 2012. So when members of the Indianapolis Colts management talk in code and don't say his name, know that there's a reason why. As I referenced in the comments below my current projection of Luck going to Indianapolis at #1 overall in 2012, the NFL likes its de facto free minor league system of NCAA football and does what it can to pacify the powers-that-be there.

Luck at #1 has been a lock for a long time. What happens from there is where things get really interesting, at least in my estimation. The NFL has made a series of rule changes to make the game safer for its players. In particular, wide receivers are being protected better than ever before, and the competitive balance between rushing and passing has swung toward the passing game because of all the potential penalties that a defense can be assessed with on a given play.

The NFL is a copycat league, and don't think that the Bengals striking gold with Andy Dalton at quarterback and A.J. Green at wide receiver hasn't caught plenty of attention from owners, general managers, and even fans. It used to be that you couldn't really judge a wide receiver until his third season. But now? With the capacity to throw over the middle being easier thanks to rule changes made in the name of safety, suddenly the learning curve isn't so steep for either receivers or QBs.

There are definitive winners and losers with the rule change, and the potential decrease in importance for middle and inside linebackers is particularly noteworthy with three great MLB/ILB players all potentially being first-round picks for 2012.


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