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5 bold predictions for the 2019 NFL Draft

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Optionality, but in a bad way

NFL: Oakland Raiders Press Conference Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We are hours away from the start of the 2019 NFL Draft. Franchises will be altered, and many prognostications will not come true. So let’s make a few that probably won’t, but would impressive if they did.

The Cardinals will not trade back and not take Kyler Murray

On the surface this may not seem that bold, but I’m calling it bold because it’s the worst option available to them. Taking Murray would be bold in a sense, because taking a QB in the 1st round in back to back drafts has only happened twice since the merger, and even those were unique situations.

The Colts took QBs in the 1st round back to back in 1982 and 1983, but that was because Art Schlichter, taken 4th overall in 1982, was suspended for the 1983 season for gambling as he was well on his way to being an all time bust. In 1983 they took John Elway 1st overall, knowing the whole time that Elway refused to play for them.

In 1989 the Cowboys took Troy Aikman 1st overall, then also drafted Steve Walsh, who was Jimmy Johnson’s QB in college, with a 1st round pick in the supplemental draft, which turned out to cost them the #1 overall pick in 1990.

But it wouldn’t be unexpected if the Cardinals drafted Murray, because since Kliff Kingsbury, who said that if he had the first pick in the draft he would take Murray was hired, it’s been widely speculated. And while there is still time for Josh Rosen to show he’s not a bust, the Cardinals have far more information about him than anyone else. There are success stories for QBs who were as bad as Rosen was in his rookie year, but there are many more who weren’t because they stink. If the Cardinals, for all their faults, know that Rosen is a bust, then it’s justifiable to draft Murray.

But if they don’t decide to draft Murray, the best option would be to trade back with a team that wants to. The Cardinals were both bad and old last year, more players 30 or over (6) than players 25 or younger (5) started at least 8 games for them last year. One non-QB isn’t turning this team around.

Which makes the worst option sitting still and taking a non-QB. It’s what the Giants did last year and they’re no better off in the long run for it.

The Giants trade up for a QB

Speaking of the Giants, they might take a QB. They might not. They should, and, assuming for a moment that the Cardinals are not drafting Kyler Murray, with no team ahead of them in such bad shape at QB, they should be the most appealing team to trade back with. The Giants would have to compete with any other team looking to trade up, but asking a team to move from a top 5 pick to the 6th pick is an easier sell than say, the Broncos at 10 or Dolphins at 13, and the Giants have 12 picks at their disposal, including a pair of 1st rounders.

Dave Gettleman’s response to why he traded up this year when he was sitting at #2 last year will be cringeworthy, but it’ll also be entertaining.

The clock runs out for someone, and it’s the Raiders fault

The Raiders draft room is apparently just going to be Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock. Well, it’ll be more than that, but they sent home a good portion of their staff, which is entirely defensible but also notable because their GM has never run a draft and the head coach can veto him. They’ve got the ingredients for confusion, which is what it takes for a team to not turn in their pick on time. In 2003 the Vikings were talking to three teams about a trade. When they thought settled on one, with the Ravens, and they informed the league with seconds to spare, but the Ravens hadn’t talked to anyone. No trade was consummated, and in the confusion the Jaguars, the next team on the clock, quickly made their pick and took the guy the Ravens were trying to trade for. In 2016 the Ravens were on the other end, believing they had a trade agreed to when they did not, and they got skipped over.

If that’s going to happen again this year, it seems a good bet that the Raiders are going to be involved. They have three 1st round picks, which gives them quite a few chances to either have their own time run out or cause someone else’s time to run out while finalizing a trade.

Kyler Murray is Aaron Rodgers

Not Aaron Rodgers the player. Aaron Rodgers the draft pick. The 2005 draft infamously saw Rodgers spend nearly the entire 1st round waiting in the green room as team after team passed over him. It apparently and unsurprisingly stuck with Rodgers and he allegedly harbored a grudge against Mike McCarthy, who was the 49ers offensive coordinator that season and played a large role in the team taking Alex Smith over Rodgers.

Find a mock draft and there’s a pretty good chance it has Murray going first overall. But it’s not even clear the Cardinals are going to take him, and between the Cardinals and the back half of the draft are a bunch of teams that shouldn’t but could realistically pass on a QB. The past 4 drafts have seen at least two QBs go in the top 10 picks, and the last 3 have had at least two teams trade up in or into the top 10 to get a QB. Eventually that cycle has to end, and it could end with no QBs taken high.

The Eagles do not draft a defensive lineman in the 1st

Keeping it local, the Eagles are widely expected to take a defensive lineman on Thursday. It’s both a long term need, particularly at end but a tackle will do as well, and the draft is stocked with them. But no draft ever goes as planned. The Eagles have two routes to go to fulfill this prediction: they can trade out of the 1st round, but they did that last year and already armed with two second round picks, it would be a lame cop out. The bolder choice would be to sit tight (or even bolder, trade up) and grab a wide receiver, safety or offensive lineman. Or they could make us all look stupid and take a cornerback.

And just for fun….

In a repeat of last year’s draft, Jason Witten retires in the middle of it.