But anyways, the real draft is tonight. What would take place during the draft if money didn't matter though? What would that imaginary draft look like? Already today, we had a 'monumental' sports story that sided with the 'this is better for our sport' argument, rather than the 'this would make us a s-*t ton of money' argument. The NCAA decided to re-up with CBS for the basketball March Madness tournament, and only expand to 68 teams, rather than the proposed 96. So let's say the NFL takes a page from the college ranks. Let us pretend money won't drive every pick in tonight's first round. Let us pretend there is no error with the rookie salary scale. Let us pretend positional ranking systems don't matter. Let us pretend no decisions will be made to save a coach's job for one more year rather than improve the team for the next decade. What would this imaginary draft look like?
Right out of the gate, Ndamukong Suh will go number 1. Why? Because he is the best player. In the real world, no defensive tackle is worth $50 million guaranteed. A franchise cannot take a chance on that position number 1 overall. Quarterback is the Rams' pick by default almost. In our imaginary world, the Rams can actually take the best player and just draft a quarterback next year when the QB crop is a little more promising.
Gerald McCoy will be the second pick, to the Detroit Lions. No-brainer, no discussion.
As we move forward in the draft, not every pick changes. Some teams, in real life, actually will choose a player that will help their team the most, rather than factoring in everything else that comes with the territory. Allow me to focus on the major changes that would occur in our fake world.
Eric Berry would be taken third. Yes, he is that good. The only reason he probably won't be taken in the top five tonight is because he plays safety. Safety is not worth a top five pick in positional value rankings done by the people 'in the know.' It would be too expensive for someone who plays that position. I can't explain why, so don't ask me.
Our poster boy Sam Bradford would be taken in the top ten, barely. At the end of the NCAA season, did anyone ever mention Bradford as a potential number 1 pick? No, and the reason was because he wasn't outstanding. This is a very poor quarterback group coming out, and I am not quite sure where all the groundswell of support came from for these guys, including Bradford. He'd be taken ninth, by Buffalo during the imaginary draft. He is not a bad prospect, but not even close to a sure thing. Mark Sanchez would have went ahead of him if they were both in this year's draft.
Other movers would include Maurkice Pouncey. He plays center. Is he better than many of the left tackles that are projected ahead of him? Perhaps. Will he be taken ahead of any of them in the real draft? Not a chance. He plays center. Teams cannot spend a top 10-15 pick on a center. Not enough bang for the hypothetical buck.
Further on in our fake draft, Tim Tebow will be taken ... in the third round, mostly because he isn't very talented. Also, now we are able to factor in the fact that he is not very talented, rather than making a draft pick with the purpose of selling tickets. (I'm looking at you Jacksonville!)
Another player whose draft position suffers would be C.J. Spiller. Everyone loves taking running backs. The problem is Spiller is not great. He just has zero competition. Any team who has even a remote need at running back needs to draft him early or miss out. Steve Slaton, taken two years ago by the Texans, is a good Spiller comparison. Slaton had a very good year one and a very poor year two, but I would not call him a bust. He was a solid pick. The problem for Spiller is that Slaton was taken in the third round, not the first, and Slaton was better than Spiller in college. This does not bode well for C.J.
One more mover in our imaginary draft is Rolando McClain. Instead of being taken 11th as projected, he would drop to 15th overall. To the New York Giants. Not because of anything I've covered up to this point, but because that would be freaking sweet. It's my draft, I can imagine whatever I want!
And with the last pick in the seventh round of the 2010 imaginary NFL draft, whatever team has that compensatory pick will take ... aw who cares? He's called Mr. Irrelevant for a reason.