Two weeks from today, the first round of the NFL draft will kickoff and boy, we couldn't be happier. Analysis, over-reactions, falling, rising, projections, it's an endless sea of unpredictable waves. Sea sick with anxious expectations that's clouded judgment and revised a very fluid focus of team needs and philosophy will finally come to an end. Why should the Bengals draft a quarterback in the first round when there's reasonable options in the second round? Why should the Bengals draft a wide receiver, defensive lineman or a defensive back? We've even pointed out that if the Bengals really like Julio Jones over A.J. Green, why not trade the fourth overall selection with another team that owns a top-eight pick, acquire additional picks and then select Jones?
But apparently we haven't thought of everything like NFL Network's Jason La Canfora. He argues that the Bengals shouldn't make their pick on time. Let the time pass, don't turn in your card and reap the benefits of being smarter than any other team in the history of the NFL.
I'm talking about making a conscious, strategic, organizational decision to skip a particular selection if the draft board goes a certain way, and then pop back up a few selections later, only to land if not the same original target, then certainly a similar player of need. It's a bit risky, sure -- though I think in most cases the gamble is not as great as it sounds. It would certainly be brassy and controversial, and take a certain chutzpah to execute, but it could end up making tremendous fiscal sense without really compromising the ability to land a quality prospect.
If the NFL Draft were based on previous rules, where rookies were signing $30-50 million signing bonuses, I wouldn't just argue that it's bold. I'd argue that it's actually sane. However, one hope from owners is the implementation for a rookie wage scale that's included in the next collective bargaining agreement -- as much as $300 million could be diverted away from rookies and almost $1.2 billion by 2016. Rookies can't sign contracts until the lockout is lifted through the courts or a new CBA is signed. The age of ridiculously overpaid rookies could be behind us now.
La Canfora continues:
Now, consider this crop of potential rookies. Besides what could be record depth at the defensive line/hybrid outside linebacker position, the scouts and GMs and talent evaluators I've spoken to think its lacking in sure-fire first-round talent. The various warts on all of the quarterbacks have been expounded on for months - yet we still could see four of them taken in the first round. There are serious questions about many projected top 10 players. As one GM put it to me, "You've got (linebacker Von) Miller, (defensive tackle Marcell) Dareus, two wide receivers (Julio Jones and A.J. Green), two corners (Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara), and then a lot of question marks."
Alright. Allow teams to make selections ahead of you before you know Julio Jones, who apparently is higher than A.J. Green on the Bengals draft board. Paying the player where he's drafted (aka slotting) and thus paying less because the Jones, or whomever, was selected later in the first round. Seems like a Mike Brown endorsed move, right? While it could make sense, it would be a public relations disaster and Brown has enough of those on his plate. Reactions would range from anger that the team didn't try to at least trade the pick, acquiring additional selections to being the incompetent team that didn't know it was on the clock. Think Minnesota Vikings.
La Canfora's overall argument hinges on whom the Bengals will pick. If the team is deadset on picking Cam Newton, A.J. Green or Blaine Gabbert, then they have to make the selection if any of those players are available. However, the team has options with Jones and a second-round quarterback being available.
What are your thoughts? Would it be smart for the Bengals to skip their fourth overall selection?