The St. Louis Rams have the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft [here are our Mock Drafts 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0], and they’ve got options. Even though they don’t currently have a GM or a coach, it’s fun to speculate about what might happen. With four months to the draft, a few options are emerging:
1) Draft USC OL Matt Kalil. He’s supposed to be a franchise-worthy OL. QB Sam Bradford can’t stay healthy, so Kalil would be protecting their $50 million investment.
2) Draft Oklahoma St. WR Justin Blackmon. He’s a Terrell Owens clone (6-1, 215), and looked like a man among boys in college putting up astronomical numbers. He instantly gives Bradford viable No. 1 option.
3) Trade the pick. (Right now, this seems to be the most popular option.)
Who might be interested? We’ll start with teams in need of a QB: Cleveland (4), Washington (6) and Seattle (11/12) jump out. Barring a career-ending injury in the next three months, it’s difficult to find other teams who might seriously consider leaping up to grab Griffin.
Contenders you might be thinking about:
Tampa: Josh Freeman’s still got that big rookie contract. He had a rough year, but he looked good the previous two.
Jacksonville: Blaine Gabbert played poorly as a rookie, but financially, there’s no way they’re giving up on him yet.
Miami: Do you believe in Chad Henne? Or will the new coach/GM want to make a splash and invigorate the franchise?
Kansas City: Will the new coach want to rid himself of Matt Cassel and Kyle Orton?
There aren’t going to be any attractive free agent options at QB this offseason (does Jason Campbell count?). Someone will inevitably say Matt Flynn of Green Bay should get big bucks, but he’s only performed well in two games (and the Packers could franchise tag him, anyway). So it’s the draft or nothing.
Let’s examine the three teams in dire need of a QB who aren’t financially invested one:
Cleveland: Colt McCoy got knocked around and eventually out this year. He had a better rookie year. But with no Peyton Hillis and no receiving talent (again) in 2011, he took a step back. How much are you willing to give up to grab Griffin? Or would you rather grab an offensive weapon (Alabama RB Trent Richardson?) first, then a WR later (with the pick from Atlanta) and then take a QB (Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill?) in the 2nd round?
Washington: Can Mike Shanahan go into another season with Rex Grossman and John Beck as his QB options? Impetuous owner Daniel Snyder loves to make splashy moves that end up blowing up in his face (Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth in recent years come to mind). The Redskins could end up playing a game of chicken with the Rams. We dare you to take Griffin (they won’t). We know Minnesota and Tampa won’t, not the way they’ve got money tied up at the position. Then, Griffin falls into their lap. Note: Shanahan loves John Beck. Has for years.
Seattle: Just like the Redskins, the Seahawks send a gloomy message to the fanbase by going into 2012 with the mediocre tandem of Charlie Whitehurst and Tarvaris Jackson at QB. When Matt Barkley stayed in school, it hurt. If Landry Jones stays in school, it’ll hurt. Maybe Tyler Wilson of Arkansas comes out and kills at the combine? Because of the division Seattle plays in, the Seahawks could just be a QB away from contending with the 49ers.
Two other things to consider:
* The 49ers factor. San Francisco is the best NFL story this season, and they did it with Alex Smith at QB. They re-tooled the defense and are 13-3. If the Browns/Redskins/Seahawks just beefed up the defense, couldn’t McCoy/Grossman/Jackson get their teams to the playoffs? Smith is not considerably better than any of them.
* The Peyton Manning factor. Let’s see what happens with his injury and if the Colts cut him loose. Peyton Manning would sell tickets in Washington and Miami, and possibly even get them to the playoffs. Wouldn’t you rather pay Peyton Manning for 1-2 years rather than mortgage a bunch of draft picks to take a chance on a guy who tore up the Big 12? If Manning isn’t healthy and flames out, he only sets the franchise back a year or two. Drafting a QB in the top 5 is easily a 4-year investment.