Trades surrounding the second pick

Jameis Winston There has been a lot of buzz surrounding the Tennessee Titans number two overall selection in tomorrow’s draft. Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston will be available at that point and there are several teams in need of a franchise quarterback. Neither is a guaranteed solution, but both offer the potential for a bright future. Among teams reportedly in the mix to trade for the Titans’ pick are San Diego, New York Jets, Philadelphia and Cleveland. The Titans themselves could even draft one of the two signal callers. Time to look at who should be serious about making the swap and who should back off.Marcus_Mariota

For Tennessee, trading out is probably the best option. They are more than a quarterback away from being a playoff team. The problem is that they should not trade with San Diego. Landing Philip Rivers would put them in a win now situation. Tennessee has holes all over the place and Rivers would put them in a weird flux position. If Philadelphia or Cleveland (who reported has made an offer) decides to make an offer with a bunch of draft picks in return, that would be the best option. The Eagles could even send Sam Bradford to Tennessee, which would give them a veteran who still has a lot of time left if he is healthy.

From San Diego’s standpoint, adding Mariota or Winston at number two would be a great addition, especially if Rivers is truly set on leaving. It would be a much cheaper option for the Chargers and give them a chance to rebuild around him as well. The only thing that does seem a little bit off is that the Chargers would have to give up their own number one and Rivers to move up. I think San Diego could back off of the deal if only because they are undervaluing Rivers and believe they might find a better offer elsewhere.

Speaking of teams who could make a better offer, Cleveland is in need of a franchise quarterback. Johnny Manziel could still develop into something, which makes me think that bringing in either Mariota or Winston would not be a smart idea. Josh McCown is there already but if the Chargers would be willing to make a swap for both of Cleveland’s first round picks, a third rounder and maybe McCown, Cleveland should take it. The Chargers then have a chance to draft someone like Hundley, or Grayson later in the draft and use those now three first round selections to solidify both the offensive and defensive lines. I don’t think this will necessarily happen but it could be an interesting possibility.

Mariota would obviously be the grand prize for Chip Kelly. The question is what is too much to give up. If the Eagles can trade Bradford and a pair of first round picks (one in next year’s draft), I think Tennessee might be willing to listen. That is a lot for Philadelphia to give up though. It would give Kelly the quarterback he desperately desires but Philly has needs elsewhere. Without a wide receiver, a starting safety or a starting guard, the Eagles really need all of the help they can get. I think Philly would be wise to hold off on making a blockbuster deal quite yet. If Mariota begins to slide, then all bets are off.

The question that the Jets have to ask themselves is do they already have their quarterback of the future in house. If that answer is yes, (which it probably isn’t) then there is no reason to move up. However, if they really believe Mariota or Winston could be a once in a generation player, maybe make the move. They still would need to likely give up a lot just to jump four spots in the draft order. Realistically though, the Jets should just wait it out. There is always a possibility that one of the quarterbacks, probably Mariota, slides all the way to six. If that is the case, then I think the Jets would and should pull the trigger.

There is always so many unforeseen trades in the NFL draft and we could see a different team entirely swoop in and steal one of these players. That is the beauty of the NFL draft. You never have any what is going to happen until it has already happened.

Are you kidding me Mayock?

Seriously? After all this time now he makes a change. Based on what? For those who are unaware, NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock made a major switch today in his big board rankings. He moved former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota ahead of his Florida State counterpart Jameis Winston. This may seem like no big deal on the surface because both players are still being evaluated but there seems to be no reason for the change. Mayock cited that the new rankings are being released with pro days being wrapped up but that doesn’t provide any answers either. Winston had a stellar pro day workout with only 11 incompletions on over 100 throws. Mariota on the other hand, threw only 7 incompletions but on only 65 throws. The numbers aren’t even what was concerning. The wide consensus following the workouts was that he had nailed it and Mariota was “underwhelming.”

With all of that said, I have no idea why Mariota would get the bump up to the number one positional spot for quarterbacks according to Mayock. He might just be one guy but he is a bit of a draft guru as NFL Network’s answer to Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay. What he says usually holds some weight. Now this makes me wonder if Mayock knows something the rest of us don’t. Has he been talking to teams who feel that Winston hasn’t won them over? Whatever the case may be, it raises some concerns, even if they are minor, about Winston.

Another report appeared today, which should also shake some confidence in the Winston camp. Tampa Bay hosted Mariota for a private workout earlier and Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dick Koetter called the workout “outstanding.” They raved about his footwork, athleticism and speed. The workout also came from the Bucs, not from Mariota. All of these signs definitely point to a boost in Mariota’s draft stock. After being considered the lock as the top pick for so long, Winston’s move down comes as almost a shock for fans.

However, I think this might be part of the learning experience from last year. Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had a very tough pro day last year and that led to him dropping all the way from the first projected overall pick down to being actually selected thirty-second overall. Bridgewater went on to be arguably the best rookie quarterback in the NFL last season. That mistake on many team’s part probably underlines why teams have not made as big a deal this year about Mariota’s lackluster pro day. It doesn’t mean a ton but these trends should be noted at the very least when it comes to projected who might be selected where.

To be honest, my assessment of the two is that Winston is more pro ready with a lower ceiling, while Mariota is a little rawer with a much higher ceiling. In the short term, Winston will be a much better pick. He will make a big difference for a team next season but he won’t improve a ton over his time in the league. He will likely become a steady, above average starter if he can work out some of his accuracy issues and ball security. Meanwhile, Mariota has the potential to be a game changer once he fully develops. He will take at least one season to get comfortable in a true pro system but he has enough talent that he could become an elite quarterback if he gets the right coaching and stays healthy. His concerns will be more just grasping the offense gameplan.

If I had to pick though, I think I would go with Mariota. He projects better in the long term and he definitely has shown more maturity off the field. He has demonstrated his ability to buy into a system and he definitely a player that I would feel comfortable leading my team for the next 15 years.

Rivers leaving SoCal?

The rumors continue to swirl about various NFL franchises making the move to Los Angeles. It likely will not be for a couple of years now that a team actually makes the transition. However, the teams most frequently involved in talks of a move to Southern California are the Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams and oddly the San Diego Chargers. The last one is a real head-scratcher. The Chargers had an average attendance last season of 65,530 per game last season on average. The maximum capacity of their stadium is only 70,561. The fan base is available for the Chargers in San Diego but that doesn’t seem to be enough. It might be soon enough though if the team is serious about keeping its best player.

Since 2006, Philip Rivers has been the starting quarterback in San Diego. As the starter, he has led the Chargers to five postseason appearances and really been the focal point since LaDainian Tomlinson left for New York. He has been named to the Pro Bowl on five separate occasions. Rivers is one of the best quarterbacks in the league right now and while he might not be the best in the business. He is a well above average starter. However, with all the rumors circulating that the team might be moving, Rivers has made it clear that he does not want to resign with the Chargers. His contract is set to expire after this season so that makes this a very time sensitive issue.

The potential solution rumored to swirling around the winds of NFL news is to trade Rivers away to a quarterback needy team to cash in on a top draft pick. The Chargers hold the 17th pick in this year’s draft but with many teams in the top five wanting a bonafide franchise signal caller, there is a market for Rivers. The issue is that whatever compensation San Diego might get will likely not be enough to really offset the loss of Rivers. If the team traded away the five-time Pro Bowler, they would likely be looking to land Marcus Mariota from Oregon as his replacement.

However, as it has been well-documented, Mariota likely will not be a Day 1 starter. He will need a year to work out the final kinks in his game before taking over as the starter. The Chargers would more or less be pushing back any chances of competing in the playoffs for about two years, at least, with Mariota at the helm. The reality is that this team needs to run the risk of Rivers leaving. There is no guarantee that the organization moves out to LA and even if they did you can hope that maybe Rivers will change his mind.

Sure it would be nice to get a security policy in case Rivers does leave but the smarter way for San Diego to do that would be to draft a quarterback in the second or third round that has the potential to replace Rivers in 2016 if he does leave. With Brent Hundley, Byrce Petty and Garrett Grayson all expect to go in one of those following two rounds, the Chargers could find a talented, quarterback with a lot of potential. It would be an ideal situation where you let him learn from the veteran Rivers for a season before letting him take the reins the following year.

My final evaluation, keep the sure thing rather than gamble your future on something that may or may not happen. Rivers is on the cusp of very good and elite. He is not someone you can simply replace. Only netting the second, or potentially later, pick in the draft should not be enough to tip the Chargers’ hand. Selecting Hundley or one of those other players in a later round is a much safer plan and it allows you to cover your bases, as the Chargers clearly want to. Word I am hearing is that the San Diego organization is looking to just ride this year out and wait to see what happens with both relocation and Rivers’ contract. My opinion: keep number 17 in Charger powder blue. He gives them the best chance to win, and after narrowly missing the playoffs last year, the Chargers could be poised to make a postseason run. Under a rookie quarterback, none of that is possible.

Tampa Bay making moves

Yesterday afternoon, news broke in Florida that the Buccaneers had cut veteran quarterback Josh McCown after only one season. McCown had an up and down year with only 11 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. He also suffered from an arm injury and lost his starting job to the much younger Mike Glennon. This seems like a pretty routine move for a team to make, cutting a veteran quarterback who struggled this past year. However, the Bucs also hold the number one overall pick so this might project as to what the Bucs are planning to do with that pick.

It might be a bit of stretch to say, but this seems like a vote of confidence in Glennon. Logically speaking, a team who was planning to draft a rookie quarterback would probably want to keep around the knowledgeable veteran who can act as a teacher for a year before the rookie takes over the following season. That would have been the perfect role for McCown tutoring either Florida State’s Jameis Winston or Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. McCown’s contract would have expired at the end of next season leaving it for one of those two signal callers to take the reins. Glennon would represent the intriguing trade piece that the Bucs might be able to convert into a mid-round draft pick in either of the next two years.

Instead, it seems like Tampa is preparing to buy into the North Carolina State product Glennon. He has shown some promise in his first two seasons. He played 13 games his rookie year and completed almost 60 percent of his passes. He also tallied 19 touchdowns to only 9 interceptions. This year Glennon’s numbers dropped slightly but that can likely be attributed to a much worse supporting cast and sporadic playing time that never allowed him to find a rhythm. He still through 10 touchdowns in only 6 games and limited himself to as many interceptions as he played games. His total quarterback rating even jumped up to 55.9. That’s not anything special but that is a solid number for a young quarterback.

If the Bucs truly are buying into Glennon then there are a couple of things we could see happen in the weeks leading up to draft day. There are several teams looking to make a move up to select either Winston or Mariota. The most likely suitor could be St. Louis who is toying with the idea of releasing oft-injured Sam Bradford as he will account for $17 million for 2015 if he is on the roster. Cutting him would save St. Louis almost 13 million. If the Rams were willing to give up a veteran, starting lineman and their pick at number 10, I think we could see these two teams swap picks.

However, if the Bucs aren’t really sold on Glennon and are looking to bring in a veteran then I think they have two options here. The Eagles have made it known that they would love to land Mariota, whom Eagles coach Chip Kelly recruited to Oregon when he was running the program. Philadelphia might be able to send Nick Foles, who the team has been rumored to have been shopping, and a late round pick in exchange for the number one pick. The other team that could be in the mix is Kansas City. This team has a lot of problems on the offensive side of the ball but in a year where the free agent class of wide receivers is looking stronger than ever, the Chiefs may be able to turn their attention elsewhere. Alex Smith is a good, veteran quarterback but he has been more of a game manager throughout his career. If the Bucs want to build a team based on running the ball and efficient quarterback play, Smith could be their guy.

We also cannot rule out the Buccaneers simply looking at a position other than quarterback at number one. Nebraska’s Randy Gregory is a great linebacker who has made his name putting pressure on the quarterback. He could be a plug and play helping Tampa’s defense get after division rivals Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Drew Brees. Leonard Williams out of USC might also be a fit. He played mostly inside in college but has the skills to play anywhere along the defensive line. Either way he would be a huge asset to Tampa’s unit. Lovie Smith made Chicago a Super Bowl caliber team with a great defense and Rex Grossman at quarterback. Don’t be surprised if he follows the defense first formula again.