07 March 2012

The effect Peyton Manning's decision will have on the 2012 NFL Draft

Peyton Manning is the biggest free agent in a long time to hit the market, probably in my lifetime (contrary to popular opinion, I was not born during the Ford administration but rather the late days of the H.W. administration). And wherever he signs this offseason, it will have a major impact on the 2012 NFL Draft. Here's why.

So the big story right now out of the NFL Draft, or at least in my opinion, is who is going to trade up for Robert Griffin III. The clear favorites are the Washington Redskins, who own the 6th pick, and the Cleveland Browns, who own the 4th and 22nd picks (and for some reason the 22nd is one they do not want to give up which makes no sense at all) with the Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks being darkhorses. All of those teams, excluding Cleveland, are in the mix for Manning.

If Manning signs with the Cardinals or the Seahawks, nothing really changes (although both are considered targets for Ryan Tannehill, whose draft stock has been pushed into the first round because of the need for QB's, Seattle being more likely). If Manning signs with the Dolphins, then either Washington or Cleveland will obviously still be trading up for Griffin and the other will be favorites to sign Matt Flynn.

The Browns are hoping that Manning goes to the Redskins, or at least I would guess. In that scenario, Washington would be highly unlikely to trade up for Griffin, leaving Cleveland alone in that race where they can stand pat and pray that Griffin falls to them (don't like this strategy because someone else could come ot of nowhere and screw Cleveland by trading up) or more likely they would trade up to two. If Manning goes somewhere else besides Washington and if the Browns are unable to trade up for Griffin, they would likely go after Matt Flynn or potentially take Tannehill at four (it sounds crazy but quarterbacks will always get overdrafted). Flip Washington and Cleveland and potentially Washington could select Tannehill at six if they can't sign Flynn. If Miami can't sign Flynn (and I'd consider them the favorite if they don't get Manning), they would probably take Tannehill at nine (Tannehill's college coach was Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman).

Sounds confusing but Manning will have a major effect on the draft by where he signs.

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