Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2012 NFL Draft Watch: Pre-Week 16

Well, it seems Miami Dolphins interim head coach Todd Bowles is more concerning with winning games and building his own résumé than he is making me happy with a higher draft pick in 2012 that he won't be around for anyway. (Such selfishness...)

As I've been doing over the past month,  I am again looking at the Dolphins' current projected draft spot in 2012. This is particularly important as it is widely believed the Dolphins will be looking for a franchise quarterback early in the draft, despite Matt Moore's solid showing in 2011.

With the win over the Bills in Week 15 and the rest of the league's games going like they did, the Dolphins fell from seventh to ninth in the 2012 NFL Draft order. Specifically, the Browns jumped ahead of Miami from eighth to fifth from their loss to the Cardinals, while the Buccaneers jump from ninth to sixth after falling to the Cowboys.

Entering Week 16, here is the currently top 12 draft order:
  1. Indianapolis (1-13)
  2. Minnesota (2-12)
  3. St. Louis (2-12)
  4. Jacksonville (4-10)
  5. Cleveland (4-10)
  6. Tampa Bay (4-10)
  7. Washington (5-9)
  8. Carolina (5-9)
  9. Miami (5-9)
  10. Buffalo (5-9)
  11. Philadelphia (6-8)
  12. Kansas City (6-8) 
 The Colts' win over Tennessee in Week 15 at least puts them in danger of losing the No. 1 pick, as both Minnesota (at Washington) and St. Louis (vs. Steelers) are likely to lose this week. Indianapolis hosts the Texans coming off a bad loss to the Panthers. Both the Vikings and Rams aren't in the market for a No. 1 quarterback, however, so they'll either go elsewhere or trade out for someone that wants one.

Beyond the top three, Jacksonville's Blaine Gabbert looked terrible once again and the Browns know Colt McCoy isn't a franchise quarterback, so they have to be considered possibilities to take a signal-caller. Tampa Bay is committed to Josh Freeman, but Washington right behind them at No. 7 is squarely in the market for a quarterback as well.

Carolina at No. 8 is set with Cam Newton and the Eagles at No. 11 won't move on so quickly from Michael Vick. Kansas City, however, could look to trade up as well and Buffalo's contract with Ryan Fitzpatrick has an easy out, so they can't be ruled out either.

If I had to mock the top of the draft right now without any trades, this is how I'd do it:
  1. Indianapolis (1-13) — QB Andrew Luck, Stanford
  2. Minnesota (2-12) — OT Matt Kalil, USC
  3. St. Louis (2-12) — CB Morris Claiborne, LSU
  4. Jacksonville (4-10) — WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
  5. Cleveland (4-10) — QB Matt Barkley, USC
  6. Tampa Bay (4-10) — CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
  7. Washington (5-9) — QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor
  8. Carolina (5-9) — WR Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina
  9. Miami (5-9) — QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma
  10. Buffalo (5-9) — LB Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
  11. Philadelphia (6-8) — LB Zach Brown, North Carolina
  12. Kansas City (6-8) — OT Riley Reiff, Iowa
As you can see, the Dolphins at No. 9 may very well miss out on a top-three quarterback. If Landry Jones, who is coming off a down junior season at OU, doesn't declare because he think he can improve his stock and be a higher pick in 2013, the Dolphins may be stuck with Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill as the only real quarterback option available.

At this point, the Dolphins' only real option would be to trade up ahead of Cleveland (No. 5) and Washington (No. 7) to ensure they can land either Barkley or Griffin. Minnesota (No. 2) and/or St. Louis (No. 3) could potentially move down and hold picks where the Dolphins will have to be to get their man.

In terms of a trade, moving up from ninth to second or third is likely going to require first-round picks this year and next, as well as another high-to-mid-round pick in 2012. It's a steep price, but the Dolphins will have to do it if they want a franchise quarterback prospect they covet.


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