The 2012 NFL Draft is still a couple of months away, but rumors are already running rampant regarding 2011 Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III from Baylor University. While it is close to a foregone conclusion that the Indianapolis Colts will select Stanford Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, it is Griffin that is expected to garner the most attention leading up to the draft toward the end of April.
Griffin III is a dual threat quarterback, as he can get it done through the air as well as on the ground. Think a smaller version of Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers, who was last year’s top overall draft pick. After watching him shatter so many rookie records last season, that has teams salivating over the possibility of drafting the reigning Heisman winner this year. He could be that special type of player.
The question is, which team will offer the most to move up in the draft order to put themselves in a position to select Griffin III?
The Colts will take Luck at No. 1, and the St. Louis Rams currently possess the No. 2 pick in the draft. New head coach Jeff Fisher has already stated his intention to keep Sam Bradford as the team’s franchise quarterback, and has gone on record as saying that the No. 2 overall pick can certainly be had for the right price. While many teams will be seeking a franchise quarterback this offseason, whether through the draft or via free agency, that means that those teams will have to come up with quite an attractive package if they intend to move up in the order and draft Griffin III.
The four teams who seem the most likely candidates to submit offers to the Rams, as well as the teams who have the most to offer in terms of high enough draft picks to make it worth it for St. Louis, appear to be the Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks. As of now, the Browns have the No. 4 overall pick, the Redskins are at No. 6, the Dolphins will be at No. 8 or No. 9, depending on a future coin toss with the Carolina Panthers, and the Seahawks sit at No. 12 in the first round.
All four teams are in the market for a quarterback upgrade before they begin the 2012 NFL season. The Browns are not sold on Colt McCoy, the Redskins have been unsettled with Rex Grossman and John Beck, the Dolphins had some success with Matt Moore following an injury to Chad Henne, and the Seahawks have struggled after signing Tarvaris Jackson.
But which one will offer the most for Griffin III? It may depend on which team gets shut out in free agency beginning in early March. Teams can negotiate contracts with free agents over a month prior to the 2012 NFL Draft, meaning that one or more of those four teams could sign a free agent as their future franchise quarterback and go another route in the draft.
With Peyton Manning expected to hit the open market following four neck surgeries and an impending release from the Colts, all four teams could look into signing him. But with his situation unsettled, Manning may have to wait until camps open before he signs with a team, clouding the future of the team and what they will do in the draft.
Other quarterbacks expected to receive attention through free agency include Matt Flynn and Jason Campbell.
But what will it take to land Griffin III and take the No. 2 pick from the Rams? That remains to be seen. While Cleveland would love to hold pat at No. 4 and hope that Griffin III Falls to them, they simply cannot take that risk, even though the Minnesota Vikings at No. 3 are unlikely to draft Griffin III with their pick. Then again, you can never rule anything out when it comes to the draft.
But possessing the No. 4 overall pick, as well as the No. 22 pick from the Atlanta Falcons following last year’s draft day deal for Julio Jones, it is the Browns who appear to be the front-runner to be able to offer the best package to the Rams to move up and select Griffin III. Judging by the Draft Pick Value Chart, the Browns would have to trade picks withe the rams with No. 4 and No. 2, as well as give St. Louis their No. 22 pick and a lower round pick in this year’s draft.
The Redskins could swap picks at No. 6, as well as send their No. 39 overall pick plus a third or fourth round pick this year or a second of third round pick in the future.
The Dolphins would have to swap picks at either No. 8 or No. 9 as well as giving up their No. 43 overall pick this year plus a future first rounder, which is a steep price.
Finally, the Seahawks would have to swap at No. 12 and give up future first round picks or significant players, where they are out of the top 10 in the draft order. It would be very hard to make that happen in Seattle, where they have quite a few holes to fill if they expect to contend in the near future.
With all of that being said, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said that he believes the Browns should absolutely trade up to draft Griffin III in April.
“You probably have opportunity to move up and get him if you want him,” said Mayock. “To me, that’s a pretty exciting proposition. [Griffin] might be the most exciting offensive player in this draft.” In talking about the aforementioned deal the Browns would have to offer to the Rams, Mayock said that “If I were the Rams, I would be ecstatic with that deal. If you’re moving down two slots and picking up the 22nd pick, I’d be happy with that. I would be very happy with that deal. I want to go get RG3. I’m going to examine free agency also, but in the draft, I’m looking to move up to No. 2 as opposed to No. 3. … I’d rather not give up No. 22 also, but I think that’s shortsighted when you talk about securing your future at the most important position in all of sports.”
Where this has become a pass happy league that revolves around a top quarterback, all four of the teams linked to Griffin III may have to overpay if they plan to reach the playoffs in 2012 and beyond.