The 2011 NFL Draft kicks off at 8 p.m. tonight from Radio City Music Hall (be sure to check out our live blog of it!) and as with everything NFL-related at this point, uncertainty surrounds it. While we’re still hearing Auburn quarterback Cam Newton is a lock to be the No. 1 overall pick, almost nothing after that is certain. Almost anything could happen.
It has been an odd build-up to this draft even before you consider the NFL’s uncertain labor situation. Experts either love this class or hate it, see tons of elite talent or only solid players. Unlike most years there is no clear-cut top one or two players. After Andrew Luck’s decision to return to Stanford, the 2011 Draft was left without a marquee quarterback. Additionally, evaluations of the quarterbacks are all over the place. There could be two quarterbacks taken in the first round, or five to six.
There is strength on the defensive line in this class, but not on the offensive line. Again, there are “solid” offensive tackles out there but no one who is blowing everyone away.
The consensus best player in the draft is a cornerback (LSU’s Patrick Peterson), and his main competition for that title is a linebacker (Texas A&M’s Von Miller). Simply put, the “sexy” positions don’t have a representative at the top of most draft boards.
Then there’s the labor situation. This is the first time in memory that the draft will come before free agency. Every team has roster uncertainty, how will they approach it?
Right now, teams can only trade picks, not players. Therefore we really don’t know what to expect when it comes to the typically active trade market at the draft. Will teams hold on to their picks and try to fill out rosters that could have several unforeseen holes when free agency comes around? Or will they make frantic moves to stock up picks in later rounds?
What about the rookie wage scale? How much will rookies be owed when the owners and players finally hammer out a new Collective Bargaining Agreement? Whatever it is, we’re sure it will be less than the insane contracts of the past.
ESPN’s coverage of tonight’s opening round will be up against Steve Carell’s star-studded last appearance on The Office and the NBA Playoffs. I’m betting The Worldwide Leader is banking on all of the uncertainty to draw in viewers.