The logic behind the mock draft

BY foxsports • April 11, 2012

Mock drafts are like new cars: They're obsolete the second they're driven off the lot.

Picking a first round starts logically, but one trade, one surprise blows the "mock" into a million pieces. Find someone who got 10 picks right and said person will have fallen out of bed the right way. For one day at least.

That being said, they also are fun in a conversation-starter kind of way. Equate them to Kramer's Coffee Table book about coffee tables, except the coffee table book was more useful because it turned into a coffee table.

This week I did a mock draft, and many ridiculed the selection that had the Browns taking Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd with the fourth pick.

It was a bit of a reach, yes, but only because few others had Floyd going that high. This reach was based on logic. Well, some logic.

First, let's posit that there are two ways to draft. The first is the Jimmy Johnson way, which decides when a player should be taken and has a team trade to the spot. If Johnson thought a guy was a second-round pick, he would trade down to get him rather than take him late in the first round.

In modern parlance, that's the "value" method.

The other way to draft states the team should take the guy it likes when it can get him. For lack of a better word, that's the "preference" method.

With the new CBA, though, the "value" method is a bit diminished because salaries are limited. Johnson's theory operated largely on not overpaying a guy. But the limits on rookie salaries seem to make the "preference" method more … well … preferable.

That being said, the preference of Floyd at four did not sit well with many draftniks, who screamed as if the very integrity of the event had been questioned. When in reality, it's just a mock draft.

Here, in no particular order, is the thinking:

1) Floyd is better than Justin Blackmon. He's bigger, stronger and just as fast.

2) An NFL coach last week called Floyd "big time." Asked to compare him to Blackmon, the coach said: "Well, they're both big. Blackmon isn't as big, but he plays big. Really, they're both freakishly strong. But I think Floyd might be a little better."

3) That is not just chatter from one guy. Gil Brandt said Floyd might be better than Blackmon too. And Pro Football Weekly' s Nolan Nawrocki, one of the better analysts, released his list of "1A draftees" – guys who should go early – and it included Trent Richardson, Justin Blackmon and … drum roll please …Michael Floyd.

4) Floyd has had drinking issues that included a DUI and suspension from the team. But so did Josh Hamilton of Major League Baseball. Hamilton hasn't been perfect since he quit drinking, but he's found a way to make it work, and he's won an MVP. Floyd is younger, but another source said Floyd's effort to give up drinking is honest and sincere. He wants to be good, and he cares. Yes, this is all blather until it actually happens, but the intent is there.

5) In 1999, the Browns were trying to decide between Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb and Ricky Williams. They chose Couch. New Orleans chose Williams. But Indianapolis chose Edgerrin James before the Saints could trade up and get Williams. How could they do that, folks bellowed? Because he's better, Colts GM Bill Polian said. In the long run, James was better.  Polian, a football guy, made a football decision. If Floyd really is better in this draft, why not take him at four?

6) Yes, the Browns might be able to trade down and get Floyd. But mock drafts are hard enough without trying to figure who will trade down and for what. Minnesota might trade out of the third pick, but guessing the team that moves up is next to impossible. Could be Tampa Bay (for Richardson) or Kansas City (for Ryan Tannehill) or Miami (for Tannehill), but who knows? Nobody expected the Browns to trade down into the 20s last year; things happen. Mock drafts are hard enough without adding in trades down.

7) The Browns could well take Richardson. In fact, it's appearing more and more likely that they will. There is no arguing that pick. He was on the radar way back in December. If the team decides running back is more important, it will take Richardson. And it's a sensible, logical choice. But if the Browns take a receiver – option 1A – then they'll the best one, and if Floyd is the best one then take him.

8) There are a few good backs who will be available in round two. Tom Heckert was involved in the decision to take LeSean McCoy in Philadelphia in round two of the '09 draft. He took a receiver first (Jeremy Maclin). Precedent could carry the day, especially because it seems there are more good backs in round two than there are good receivers. Either works for the Browns, but the receiver-good back combo might be more beneficial to a young quarterback.

This does eliminate the possibility of cornerback Morris Claiborne. When all is said and done, he might just be the best player on the board for the Browns. If they take him they'd have two young, talented corners. Which is always a very good thing to have on a team. But the need on offense is so great it seems unlikely they'd bypass a receiver or running back with the fourth pick.

Mock drafts are supposed to be fun. Assume a back can be found in round two, focus on receiver, eliminate the forecasting of trading down to maintain sanity, and that leaves the best receiver at spot No. 4: Michael Floyd.

Of course the Browns may trade down to get Floyd, or they may trade up to get Floyd after they take Richardson (how large a coup would THAT be). But Floyd is an elite player at a position of need.

Mock if you will.

But that's the thinking behind the mock.


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