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A LAST-MINUTE LOOK AT STORYLINES TO WATCH IN DRAFT'S FIRST ROUND

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  • A LAST-MINUTE LOOK AT STORYLINES TO WATCH IN DRAFT'S FIRST ROUND

    A LAST-MINUTE LOOK AT STORYLINES TO WATCH IN DRAFT'S FIRST ROUND

    "The two-month NFL Draft season, which seems to get longer and more ridiculous
    every year, mercifully peaks tonight in midtown Manhattan, when commissioner
    Roger Goodell will step to the podium at Radio City Music Hall shortly after 8
    Eastern to announce Andrew Luck as the first pick in the 77th league draft.<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">


    "I'm really ready for this to happen," Ryan Tannehill said over breakfast in
    Manhattan this morning. "I'm ready for the media hoopla to be over, all the
    debate, all the arguing you see on TV. We're football players. This whole
    experience has been fun, but I can't wait to get this over and play the
    game."</p>


    There will be drama; we just don't know what it is yet. But it figures to
    center around these draft positions, teams or players:</p>


    The Vikings, at 3. Minnesota has more holes to fill than a potholed
    St. Paul street after a brutal winter. GM Rick Spielman has been trying to drum
    up interest in the pick so he can get multiple choices in the first two rounds,
    but most teams below him have the same feeling he does: This draft is 75 picks
    deep with potential year-one rookie starters, and I'm hearing no strong evidence
    that any team is inclined to climb this high to blow it all on one player. </p>


    The one exception here, at No. 4 with Cleveland, could be Alabama running
    back Trent Richardson. But I look for Minnesota to stay put, ignore the
    bleatings of people like me who say the Vikes should take a corner here, and
    draft USC tackle Matt Kalil. Then the Vikes could pick a big corner like
    Montana's Trumaine Johnson with the 35th overall pick, to match up with the
    Calvin Johnsons and Jordy Nelsons of the NFC North.</p>


    Trent Richardson. He might be the best back to come out since Adrian
    Peterson, which is why you hear teams like the Jets frothing all over him.
    Barring a great offer, look for Cleveland to stay put and take Richardson or
    Oklahoma State wideout Justin Blackmon. I love Mike Mayock's Wednesday-night
    scenario for the pick-heavy Browns (league-high 13 choices in all): Blackmon at
    No. 4, Boise State running back Doug Martin at 22. As tempting as it would be
    for the Browns to trade out of the pick and gather more nuggets, they'll either
    go Richardson or Blackmon here ... which could leave the Bucs with a
    Richardson-or-Morris Claiborne dilemma at No. 5.</p>


    The Rams, at 6. All drafts have shelves, and many NFL people think
    this is the end of the top shelf. It's six players deep. St. Louis would be
    happy if a team would come up and deal for the last of the six top guys
    (Blackmon or Claiborne, most likely), if it would net them one more one pick in
    the second round. The Rams have the 33rd and 39th overall picks right now. If
    they stay, look for them to go Blackmon. If he's gone, it'll be a tussle between
    Fletcher Cox and Claiborne.</p>


    The desperate-to-deal Jags, at 7. "We'll definitely have more trades
    this year than last year because of the fixed costs of rookies now,'' one GM
    said this week. Well, that wouldn't be hard. Last year, there were four
    first-round trades made, the ninth consecutive year the league saw fewer than 10
    trades in the first round. In the 10 years between 1993 and 2002, the NFL
    averaged 11.7 trades per first round. </p>


    There's no question teams will be more comfortable moving around because of
    price certainty, and because trading up doesn't mean you're necessarily taking
    on millions more in a risky, unproved player. Normally, I'd say this would help
    Jacksonville -- and it could, if a desperate team like Dallas decides Alabama
    safety Mark Barron is worth its second-round pick (45th overall) to move up
    eight spots in the first round to acquire him.</p>


    Ryan Tannehill. It's likely Tannehill goes to Miami at No. 8,
    obviously. If he doesn't, I don't see how he gets past the 11th pick. Not that
    Kansas City will take Tannehill; I don't believe the Chiefs will. But GM Scott
    Pioli will have interest in dealing down from 11 (he moved from 21 to 26 last
    year for a third-round pick), and if Tannehill or Barron is here, I guarantee
    he'll get a taker for the pick.</p>


    Players who could move. The player trade market wasn't helped by the
    Eagles taking a seventh-round pick for a quality cover corner, Asante Samuel, on
    Wednesday. (It was a money deal. Philadelphia owed Samuel $21.3 million over the
    next two years, and figuring he'd be cut if he didn't get sane about his
    contract, the 31-year-old Samuel accepted a three-year, $18.5 million deal with
    Atlanta.) That's not good for the Colts, who'd love to get a good pick for
    32-year-old Dwight Freeney. So consider the player trade market officially
    depressed.</p>


    The Colts and the 3-4. Consider GM Ryan Grigson's first draft a
    success, obviously, because of drafting Andrew Luck. But for weeks the Colts
    have mentally moved on to other priorities. Their roster is terribly suited to
    play coach Chuck Pagano's 3-4 defense. In an ideal world, they'd be able to
    trade back from No. 34 (their second-round pick) to get two picks in the top 80,
    because they need quantity to play the 3-4. They need a nose tackle, a versatile
    inside linebacker who can stop the run, and a big defensive end. That's not too
    much to ask, is it?</p>


    Janoris Jenkins. I spoke with one team Wednesday interested in taking
    Jenkins, the troubled cornerback, in the top half of the second round. "But I
    don't think he gets out of the first round,'' the club official said. Could
    Jenkins slip into the bottom of the first round? I don't see it, but so many
    teams in the lower third of the first round -- Pittsburgh, Detroit, Denver,
    Houston -- have a cornerback need. </p>


    He's going to have major financial problems, having to care for four children
    by three different mothers already, and the team that drafts him has to make
    sure he can put his past marijuana problems in the rear-view mirror. I can't see
    anyone taking him in the first, but I'm told a few teams have gotten comfortable
    with Jenkins in the last couple of weeks. Look for New England, Carolina, St.
    Louis, Buffalo and Dallas to be tempted.</p>


    Those are a few of the storylines that will develop tonight. More are sure to
    come, which is why ESPN and NFL Network will have game-like ratings for the
    draft.</p>


    Teams will have 10 minutes per pick in round one. On Friday (7 p.m. ET),
    teams get seven minutes per pick in round two and five minutes per choice in
    round three. The final four rounds kick off Saturday at noon, with five minutes
    per pick again."</p></div>
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1
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