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Holiday Rant: To All The Mock Experts I've Loved Before
Published at 12/22/2017
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 Holiday Rant: To All The Mock Experts I've Loved Before



Anyone who is the most casual student of American football agrees the 2018 draft will be unique. While it might be unusual for the quality and depth of Defensive Tackles, Running Backs, Offensive Linemen, and Defensive Backs, these collectively or singularly do not make the draft unique. What makes the 2018 draft unique of course is the quality and depth of football's most valuable position and the number of Quarterback needy team. Therefore as always, supply and demand are married to risk and reward.

We all understand the fact that few draft aficionados and genuine (credentialed) experts do not generally mock trades, because it makes the recipe for their pie…float to the sky. NFL.com’s many experts rarely even discuss the draft before the end of the season largely because of the NFL’s commitment to the NCAA. In other words, the NFL does not want to promote or speculate on prospects before they declare. Thus, despite the ardent passion of the fans digesting and producing mocks (particularly fans of teams in the cellar or middling teams) more pie in the sky. We are all hungry for draft opinions every single year and we look for logic and accuracy from the experts.

   Unfortunately, in this unique year the experts are failing themselves and their fans. What if I told you that 65% - 75% of the expert’s mocks are wrong BEFORE they mock the Clevland Browns first pick? They are wrong because 65%-75% of these same experts speculate Cousins will leave Washington. Obviously where (or if) he goes is the key to the 2018 draft. Manning could upset the apple cart too, but to a much, much lesser extent, and most experts now feel that is unlikely (unlike 65-75% with Cousins). My contention is the experts are shooting themselves in the foot by not addressing Cousins in their mock drafts. Naturally those 25 -35% who speculate Cousins will stay in Washington drafts are fine and accurate. But, has anyone seen an expert’s mock draft that addresses Cousins, nope. Wherever Cousins goes will affect this draft, massively and how the Quarterbacks fall, so this is the key to the 2018 draft.

Of course the experts don’t like to speculate, but I am convinced he will go to Cleveland. To understand why we must look at the man and the situation; Mr. Cousins has and does not need the money. He also has control of where he goes (assuming he goes). This could be either as an Unrestricted Free Agent or through a sign and trade if he wanted to throw Washington a bone. Cousins is a loyal guy, but the Redskins have slit their own throats if he walks. Players take it personally when they are repeatedly disrespected, yet still he is not only loyal, he is one of the leagues “good guys”. Maybe he would throw the Redskins a bone if they worked a sign and trade. The problem is the bone costs his new team talent (assuming it is a draft pick). I think the ship has sailed on him giving anything but something nominal to the Redskins, and of course this is their own fault.

Why am I convinced it is the Browns? Conventional wisdom would insist he signs with a contender. There are a handful of QB needy teams that are contenders in the Vikings, Jacksonville and Denver (though Denver is looking less like one each game). The Browns are the worst team in the league, but they are building and set for a transformational draft. In other words Cleveland has more assets than it appears, they also have a reasonable OLine and are just a piece (or two) away from having a top OLine, and quality Tackles and Guards are available in this deep draft. Barkley first and they now have a thoroughbred Running Back, but I am getting ahead of myself…

Mr. Cousins is a Midwesterner with strong Christian morals and values. Cleveland is also the closest location to his home (about a six hour drive). There are no openings for QB’s in the Midwest except Minnesota and that is considerably farther away than Cleveland and his beloved Michigan. Family ultimately is the reason he will chose Cleveland, though there is also potential. Let’s assume the Browns land Cousins, take Barkley, have the number 5 pick, a whopping three picks in round 2, the top of rounds 3 and 4 (with an extra 4th) and all the rest of their picks in this very strong 2018 draft. If I’m Mr. Cousins, this is very attractive. There is also the satisfaction of leading a team from the cellar to a contender and maybe even more.  

The only way Cousins does not affect this draft (and the mocks’ of the experts) is if he stays or goes to the QB needy team who has the worst draft pick. I don’t live in Cleveland, I’m a Bears fan. Any expert who does not address Cousins in their mock is peddling uphill without a chain.       



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