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National Football League
Draft King Analysis

March 13, 2011
Lou Pickney,

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Before I begin this article, I'd be remiss to not send out my deepest condolences to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. My sister spent some time in Japan in 2006, and while the people she knows over there are all fine (she stayed west of Tokyo, well away from the areas that were ravaged), there are many, many people there whose lives have been severely affected in a negative way. And, while it might be a convenient writing tool to refer to the end of the NFL's collective bargaining agreement as "Armageddon" or something similarly sinister, clearly the NFL's work stoppage pales in comparison to a human tragedy like the world has witnessed in Japan.

There had been some expectation this past Friday that the NFL and the NFLPA would agree to another time extension in an attempt to hammer out a new CBA. But talks abruptly stalled out, leading to the NFLPA moving to decertify as a union. This move was done to allow individual players to sue the NFL to prevent a lockout, and you can expect all kinds of legal wrangling to go on between now and whenever a new deal is reached.

It's important to keep a few things in mind that the NFL wants, in part: no more federal judicial oversight of the CBA; no more Judge David Doty if the oversight must stay; an 18-game regular season with a 2-game pre-season; a larger cut of the money; a rookie wage scale.

I'd think the players would agree to removal of federal oversight before going along with an 18-game season. With what is being learned about the dangers of multiple concussions and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), adding two games to the regular season might not be in the NFL's best interest right now. This issue is not going away, not with the late Chris Henry (who died at age 26) being diagnosed posthumously as having CTE and, more recently, Dave Duerson committing suicide and intentionally not shooting himself in the head so his brain could be studied to see if he had CTE.

The rookie pay scale is the easiest issue for the players and owners to agree on, though Texas A&M DE/OLB Von Miller wisely included himself in the Tom Brady et al suit against the NFL perhaps, in part, to protect rookie wages to some degree. I still believe that the Sam Bradford $50 million guaranteed that the Rams gave him will stand as the high water mark for guaranteed rookie money for a very, very long time.

The federal oversight of the CBA issue will be interesting to see play out. It's no secret that the NFL has been less than thrilled with Judge Doty's rulings. Doty is either 81 or 82; his exact birthdate isn't available online from what I've seen, but he's already in semi-retirement and likely won't be able to rule very much longer on NFL cases. But it goes beyond Doty, as the NFL wants federal oversight out of their dealings with the players. How that is settled remains to be seen.

Keep in mind that, while the owners might be able to outlast the players as far as their war chest goes (even without the TV money they thought they'd have), there is a good chance of owners being deposed. There are some who believe that collusion may have taken place in the last off-season, with there not being any big-money signings despite the lack of a salary cap. A team like the Redskins, in theory, could have plucked the five or six best free agents in 2010 off the market with ridiculous deals, one-year $30 million guaranteed or whatever, but that didn't happen.

That doesn't mean that there was collusion, but *if* there was collusion and an owner is asked about it under oath, it's a lose/lose. Tell the truth and you've admitted that collusion took place (if it did). Lie and say there wasn't and risk evidence coming out later that there was and you are looking at facing federal charges for perjury. And, even if collusion didn't take place, I couldn't imagine Daniel Snyder wanting to answer questions in a deposition about possible tampering in the 2009 signing of free agent DT Albert Haynesworth.

How this all will impact the draft remains to be seen, but if a new CBA isn't in place by the time the draft takes place, teams may very well be forced into drafting for need much more than going for the best player available. I've crafted my mock draft on here as if a new CBA won't be agreed upon by late April, and I will continue to do so until when/if a new deal is in place.

Next time on here: less CBA talk and more discussion of players and team needs. There are questions about Da'Quan Bowers' right knee, which underwent arthroscopic surgery two months ago. He's slated to work out for NFL teams on April 1, though if he misses that deadline it could cause him to fall from a possible top five (or even #1 overall) pick to sliding out of the top ten. Also I'll address concerns some have about my mock, including the idea of Dallas drafting Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt at #9 overall next month.


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