Let's not make a deal
Teams unlikely to trade up to top of this year's draft
Posted: Tuesday April 24, 2007 12:49PM; Updated: Tuesday April 24, 2007 1:49PM
Three quick points, four days out from the NFL Draft:
1. I've gotten lots of questions on the talk-show circuit, from hosts and even a caller, about the contention in Monday Morning Quarterback last week that there are only 18 first-round-quality picks in this year's draft.
Colts GM Bill Polian told me, "I wondered, 'Did I talk to you?' I didn't, but that's exactly how many players we have graded as first-rounders.''
Not that this will make much of an impact in the draft. Maybe a team in the 20s would try to trade up to 12 or 14 out of desperation for, say, a projected first-year starting defensive end like Adam Carriker. But in general, no guy who gets picked 27th is going to say: I'll take second-round money because I know I'm not really first-round quality.
2. Repeat after me: Early draft trades are a longshot Saturday. Early draft trades are a longshot Saturday. Let's review. There have been no trade-downs in the top 10 picks of the last two drafts. The draft-trade chart, invented in 1989 by Dallas Cowboys executive Mike McCoy and used as a barometer by teams, is vastly overrated and almost irrelevant high in the draft. The difference last year between the second and fourth picks in the first round, after four years, was $3.4 million a year. And so if you're going to trade up high in the draft, you'd better think you're getting the player to take you to the promised land. Because if you err, you not only are costing your team millions more, but you're also trading a first-day selection or two ... the kind of picks that can turn into starters.
3. I don't buy Daunte Culpepper, with his wounded knee, going anywhere before the draft. He's 30, he's three years removed from his last good year; he's still trying to recover from an 18-month-old injury; he's two months away from practicing; and -- most importantly -- he's due $5.5 million, $6 million, $6 million, $7 million, $8 million, $9 million and $10 million in the last seven years of a contract he signed 13 months ago.
It's obvious that Dolphins GM Randy Mueller is trolling the waters, trying to find a taker for Culpepper, but it's just as obvious that, right now, the QB's untradeable. Now, the contract can be adjusted, but tell me something: Would Culpepper re-do an eight-year contract, to his detriment, one year into it? I think not. And especially not now, not in the week before the draft, not when a team literally has no idea what it's getting. You think Al Davis, who's going to have an impossible time signing the first pick, is going to commit to paying a major injury risk $5.5 million this year? I don't think so. And put that in bold.
Corrections/clarifications from Monday's column: Alex Marvez, our fearless Pro Football Writers of America president, corrects my Trent Green trade proposal; the Dolphins don't have a fifth-round pick. And I wrote about how the fourth pick in last year's draft, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, would make significantly more than the fifth pick, A.J. Hawk, after four years. No problem there, but the agent for Hawk, Mike McCartney, e-mails to say that after five years, the salary and guarantees paid to Ferguson would be only $1.5 million more than Hawk. Well, I want to report I've taken my competency pills this morning, so on we go with today's column of your e-mails.
THE SAINTS ARE IN A TOUGH SPOT. From Jake of Omaha: "I love your column. One of the high points of Mondays for me. I started reading it while you were covering Sgt. McGuire in Iraq. As a Marine Corps Iraq vet, I truly appreciated your coverage and what has become (unfortunately) a unique perspective. My question is about the Saints. As a long-suffering Saints fan, I am hoping you could give your thoughts on who they should draft in the first round. Personally, I am hoping for a cornerback, if one of the top four are available. But if not, maybe a defensive end?''
The Saints, picking 27th, will have someone they like a lot fall to them. And I'd agree with you -- they should take an impact front-seven player or a corner. The big question for them could be whether they're willing to take a risk on a player like UNLV cornerback Eric Wright, who had legal problems that forced him to leave USC. He might be a good risk for them.
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