The draft is coming, and I know what's coming, as well.
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Well, I don't know EXACTLY what's coming -- and after the fourth overall pick (Trent Richardsonbetter be headed to Cleveland), it's anyone's guess how the 2012 NFL Draft is going to go. But there are some things I can tell you for certain are going to occur, and many of them are things that should be avoided. Every year, teams wind up falling into the same traps when the lights get bright in Radio City Music Hall. It's similar to how the young girl somehow runs back toward the slasher in a horror movie when she can go anywhere else and easily survive.
So, here are five things that will happen in the draft:
1) A team will reach for a quarterback it shouldn't reach for
This is also known as The Ryan Tannehill Effect. Hey, if Tannehill was that great a prospect, he would have been talked about before a month ago, when Washington traded up to No. 2. Because we always want to talk quarterbacks, suddenly there was no one to talk about because we knew Andrew Luck was headed to Indianapolis and the Redskins were married to Robert Griffin III. So who do we pontificate on now? We started seeing glowing reviews of Tannehill, who most evaluators will tell you shouldn't play this season because he's too raw. If he was a top-10 pick, he would have played like one during his career and he would have been highly coveted right away, and not because he's the best of the rest of a weak group. Top-10 picks should play right away and have impact. And you can't talk yourself into a quarterback, because that never works.
2) A team will draft a second-round quarterback it thinks can be a star
Let's call this The Brandon Weeden Effect. Teams can sit back and say, "Look how smart I am! I got an impact guy in Round 1, and then got my Quarterback Of The Future in Round 2!"Andy Dalton aside, this is a horrendous strategy. I always follow this philosophy when teams say they think they got a steal in a quarterback: If he was that great, he would have been drafted sooner. The 2000s are littered with the empty, second-round husks of Kellen Clemens, Kevin Kolb, Chad Henne, John Beck, Tarvaris Jackson and more. Want to know when to take a quarterback in the second round? Every 10 years. And even then, only take one. Brett Favre was a second-rounder in 1991. Drew Brees in 2001. Dalton in 2011. So in 2021, by all means, grab Tom Brady's son.
3) A team will trade down, thinking more picks are better
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It's easy to look at the Patriots and say, "That's how we should do it." But here's the thing: Just copying New England doesn't mean you're going to have the same success. I can do a pretty mean Brad Childress impression, but am I going to be as successful as the real thing? OK, bad example. But you get my point. The Patriots and Giants draft better than anyone else in the NFL and have for the past decade. (In fact, I think one year the Patriots traded every pick they had and got five in return and drafted an entire roster as a result. That is special.) But for the rest of teams, it's a mixed bag. You have good drafts and bad drafts just as often. Don't think you're always getting value by moving down in the first round because you're getting an extra third-round pick. The best players are taken early in the draft for a reason: They're the best players. You can miss on picks just as easily in the first round as you can any other. So with that being said, why wouldn't you keep that pick at No. 8 and get a player who might turn out to be a franchise player instead of trading it, then getting someone else 10 picks later who's not as good, and a third-round flier you hope comes through?
4) Teams will congratulate themselves on drafting a player whose stock has risen rapidly in the past month
Beware the player who starts shooting up boards just prior to the draft. There's no easier way to wind up with a bust on your roster than this. I refer you back to item No. 1 on this list. Don't talk yourself into taking someone just because everyone else has started to love him four months after he's played his last game. Seriously, what happens in the four months of inactivity that forces someone's stock to go up so high? You're going to value his combine more than the past 3-4 years? I don't care if he interviewed well when you spoke to him -- the proof is on the tape. The eye in the sky doesn't lie. Which is actually something Joe Namath said years ago before he started making his living ripping the Jets.
5) Teams will play it safe in the later rounds
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This is where I become somewhat of a riverboat gambler. Once you get outside Round 3, teams draft for depth at positions they're thin at. In reality, they're simply hoping one of these guys will stick. I say throw that idea out the window. Go for a player who's talented as all get-out but downgraded because of off-field issues. Or someone who flashed in college but was hurt a lot. Or even a player who was great as a junior but had a very disappointing senior season. Those are the real potential gems, because if these picks pan out, you wind up with a cornerstone for a decade. Sure, you might be able to get a solid but unspectacular backup outside linebacker in the fifth round who makes your team, and you can pat yourself on the back on a job well done. But you can get guys like that anywhere. Wouldn't you rather have Tom Brady or Arian Foster?