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Barkley’s absence shakes up top of draft

Washington v USC Getty Images

Thursday’s one-two punch of USC quarterback Matt Barkley staying put at USC and the Colts possibly not staying put at the top of the draft board has renewed the focus on the top 10 picks in the draft.

As Adam Schefter of ESPN reported during a Saturday version of Sunday NFL Countdown (which technically makes it Saturday NFL Countdown), a team that expects to pick between No. 4 and No. 10 is disappointed by Barkley’s absence from the draft pool, because that team had hoped to pull off a Julio Jones-style trade down in exchange for giving up the ability to pick Barkley.

Schefter also points out, as others have (e.g., Friday’s NBC SportsTalk) that the value of those top picks has increased without Barkley, since there will be fewer quarterbacks available.

And so as the Colts, Rams, and Vikings congregate at the bottom with the Colts able to “clinch” the top pick via a loss next week or one win down the stretch from the Vikings and Rams each, here are a few things to keep in mind.

First, the Jaguars will be very tempted to lay down for the Colts on January 1.  If losing one game to the Colts means not having to deal with Andrew Luck for the next 15 years, it’s a small price to pay.  Though the Jaguars players would never lose on purpose and the league office would frown (at a minimum) on any edicts from ownership aimed at delivering a loss (e.g., “let’s punt on first down”), it would be a prudent long-term business decision to give up one game in order to ensure that the successor to Peyton Manning will land in another division and in the other conference.

Second, how much will the top pick yield in trade?  Much of it depends on the spot from which the team that makes the move originally will be drafting.  It’s one thing for the Colts/Rams/Vikings to slide to No. 5.  It’s quite another to free-fall to No. 25.  The specific extent of the move down will drive the ultimate compensation for the trade.

Third, to maximize trade value, the team that secures the first pick should try to get the word out that it will pick Luck.  While an auction could emerge for dibs on Luck, the best leverage comes from selling everyone on the idea that the team with the first overall selection will say, “Screw it, we’re taking the guy.”  The Colts already have convinced everyone that they’ll take Luck, which means that they’ll get even more if they trade him.  The Rams, despite the presence of Sam Bradford, could do the same thing, if a new coach and G.M. is hired, and if they decide they don’t want Sam Bradford.

For the Vikings, it will be somewhat tempting to take Luck and to trade Christian Ponder.  But it will be even more tempting for the Vikings to try to pull off a reverse-Herschel, 23 years after being fleeced by the Cowboys for the tailback who supposedly was the missing piece of the puzzle.  Still, the Vikings would put even more pressure on themselves to develop Ponder, given the possibility that Luck will become the next great NFL quarterback — and that Ponder won’t.

Fourth, at a time when some are speculating that up to six first-round picks could be dangled for a shot at Andrew Luck, it’s important to remember the enhanced value of first-round picks, given the new rookie wage scale.  In past years, a high first-round pick became a financial ball and chain.  Now, teams have the ability to lock up a blue-chip player for five years with a contract far smaller than what a top free agent at the position would command.  As a result, first-round picks means more than they ever did.  (Except, of course, in Oakland.)

Fifth, and finally (finally), whoever pays a king’s ransom for the NFL’s presumed crown prince needs to be sure that Andrew Luck actually wants to play for a team that has mortgaged much of its future in order to get him.  While empty cupboards quickly can be filled via free agency, the young nucleus of Luck’s new team could consist of Luck and only Luck for several years, if too many draft picks are given up to get him.

And so this situation entails plenty of contingencies and moving parts.  As of next Sunday, we’ll know the initial pecking order.  Beyond that, things could get complicated and unpredictable.

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21 Responses to “Barkley’s absence shakes up top of draft”
  1. gmen1987 says: Dec 24, 2011 11:49 AM

    If either the Colts or Vikings get the pick. They are taking Luck. It’s not being traded.

    If the Rams get the pick, it is being traded. They are stuck with Sam Bradford and that contract.

  2. jbcommonsense says: Dec 24, 2011 12:00 PM

    I am hoping the Rams inherit the Luck pick and will then trade Bradford to the Redskins for a 3rd round pick.

  3. bettis3636 says: Dec 24, 2011 12:00 PM

    And Andrew Luck hasnt even taken ONE NFL snap… unreal…

  4. sterilizecromartie says: Dec 24, 2011 12:00 PM

    I love it. Things will get very interesting if Indy doesn’t get that first pick. Minnesota can take Luck and trade Ponder. BUT, STL will have a much harder time trading Bradford because of his steep contract. Ponder and especially Bradford are still young, promising QBs, but if Luck is as good as many say he is (the next Elway or Manning), the GM of both teams will have hard time sleeping at night if they pass on him.

    I have a feeling STL will get the pick and it will turn into a bidding war for the rights to that pick. The Browns have the most ammo to trade up for that pick with all the picks they picked up from Atlanta. But Shanahan and the Skins know they can’t go into another year with Rexy as QB. Also, Indy could still be in the running. If they offer their #2 overall pick and a 2nd round pick to STL just to move down one spot, STL should consider it. STL would still easily get Matt Kalil or a stud WR, which I presume they would be targeting.

    It’s gonna be fun.

  5. jaggedmark says: Dec 24, 2011 12:02 PM

    First, the Jaguars will be very tempted to lay down for the Colts on January 1. If losing one game to the Colts means not having to deal with Andrew Luck for the next 15 years, it’s a small price to pay.
    ——————————–
    Really? You think the Jaguars coaches and players are concerned AT ALL about draft status, and dealing with Luck the next 15 years???

    It sounds silly every time you suggest coaches and players care at all about their team’s draft status.

    Of course, I’ve written similar to this before, and it always gets tossed out instead of posted, (for some reason).

  6. billsfan1 says: Dec 24, 2011 12:03 PM

    the rams should trade it because they still have no idea how to build it. they have a qb who isnt bad and has tons of potential. Sure Luck seems to have some greater upside but if they wont rebuild their line, get decent wr, and a nice compliment to jackson at rb, (among a myriad of other things) then drafting luck will be no different.
    even the vikings shouldnt draft Luck. They just took Ponder and he seems like he may be decent as well.
    I am not advocating these guys are better than Luck, but you spent first round picks on them and still have many holes to fill around them.

    Colts, Dolphins, Bills, Oakland …. i know there are others, but these are the teams that would make sense to draft Luck- although Buffalo and Miami have no shot at drafting him..

  7. realitypolice says: Dec 24, 2011 12:06 PM

    There are so many preposterous things in this article I hardly know where to start:

    -The ongoing insistence that any team would ever take active steps to lose a game. As I have said before, too many people would have to know about it, and there is no way in this day and age that it doesn’t leak.

    -I don’t know who’s “floating” this, but no one, no one, is trading SIX number one draft picks.

    -The Rams are NOT going to give up on Sam Bradford. They paid him way too much money up front, and he proved last year he could play in this league.

    Lastly, since this seems to be the kind of article most regular PFT posters would have something to say about, I say this:

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Looking forward to another of arguing with all of you!

  8. detroitrollin22 says: Dec 24, 2011 12:06 PM

    Hmmm Idk about all of this nonsense. If the Rams or Vikings get the first overall pick and cant get a deal done to trade it they would most likely take Matt Kalil. Both teams have a glaring need for a Franchise LT and Kalil is by far the second best player in this draft behind Luck.

  9. rrodr103 says: Dec 24, 2011 12:15 PM

    The Rams are the most likely to have the pick because the Colts are on a roll and will likely defeat Jax. The vets on that team don’t want Luck looming on the sidelines. And the Vikings probably the same. Besides they play Wash and Chicago, bot winnable games. While StL. plays Pitt and SF.

  10. cowhawkfan says: Dec 24, 2011 12:15 PM

    I’m not sold on Luck. I don’t think he’s going to be more than a mediocre QB, a Romo type, but not as good as Romo. He doesn’t have the tools Romo has, but he’s likely to have a better mental make-up and leadership skills.

  11. tiproast says: Dec 24, 2011 12:16 PM

    It’s 100% certain the successor to Peyton Manning is going to play for the Colts, no matter what the Jaguars do in Week 17.

  12. rexachss says: Dec 24, 2011 12:19 PM

    Man if only i could only convince RG3 & Andrew Luck to declare for their senior seasons …that would make for great drama across the NFL for the rest of the season….

  13. trojan33sc says: Dec 24, 2011 12:19 PM

    If Luck ends up in your lap, if not take RGIII ! He’s not exactly “Sloppy Seconds”, LOL !

  14. rrodr103 says: Dec 24, 2011 12:20 PM

    Question: Which team is likely to be willing to trade up? I’ve read the message boards for Wash and Clev fans and neither appear to be willing to mortgage the future for Luck or RG3. Mia fans are more than willing. Just asking. Thoughts?

  15. vikingprideforever says: Dec 24, 2011 12:53 PM

    i would hope the vikes would trade down if they land the top pick. so many holes to fill and i’ve been hearing crazy trade possibilities of up to as many as 4 1st rd picks. luck will likely have a major impact on 2 franchises for the next 10 years

  16. ramofsteel says: Dec 24, 2011 12:55 PM

    Bradford isn’t going anywhere. Not only b/c his contract, he showed that he has the talent to make it in this league. He needs help.

    Besides, that’s what Detroit did w/ Stafford after his 2 straight IR seasons. They parted ways w/ oh wait…n/m.

  17. sterilizecromartie says: Dec 24, 2011 1:00 PM

    @ rrodr103

    You must not be talking to very smart fans. Washington and Cleveland should do whatever they can to get Luck. And if that fails, they should do whatever they can to get RG3. Just look at the teams in the playoffs every year. You need a franchise QB to win in this league. Colt McCoy and Rex Grossman are not franchise QBs. If they enter another year with them you might as well pencil in 8-8 as a best-case scenario.

    I also think a team like Jax should consider going after one of them. Gabbert blows. Time to move on. The Bills, too. RG3 would be perfect for what Chan Gailey wants for his offense. Sit behind Fitz for a year and then take over. Seattle also, but they are a long-shot since they may be picking much higher in the draft.

  18. seatownballers says: Dec 24, 2011 1:26 PM

    Wont be surprised if colts win out. I think rams lose the rest. Just saying. Watch a team like miami trade it all for andrew luck. Jags will take RGIII. Looking this way

  19. rrodr103 says: Dec 24, 2011 2:23 PM

    seatownballers

    Agreed. To me Luck=Manning and RG3=Vick (without baggage). Both are worth trading up for.

  20. rrodr103 says: Dec 24, 2011 2:29 PM

    To: sterilizecromartie

    I agree with you. To me Luck=Manning and RG3=Vick (without baggage). Both are worth trading up for.

  21. xxwhodatxx says: Dec 24, 2011 4:03 PM

    All the speculators were saying all the same things about Bradford and how did that turn out.

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