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Fact or Fiction: Forecasting top of draft order


The crew is presented with four statements about the draft and must decide whether they are Fact or Fiction.

There will be a trade in the top seven picks of the draft.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Without a quarterback in this class being truly elite, a team will not try to move into the top seven picks of the draft to get one. Could a team move up for an offensive tackle, pass rusher, cornerback, or even a wide receiver? Sure. But the haul to drop is likely to be smaller without the premium fee often placed on the potential to move up for a quarterback.

Dan Salomone: Fact – There's no rule against trading up for a position other than quarterback. The value of wide receivers is as high as ever, and this is another class loaded with them. On top of that, GM Joe Schoen said he has received preliminary calls on both the fifth and seventh overall picks.

Lance Medow: Fiction – Normally, a team would move up in the top seven to grab a quarterback and, unlike last year (when the Niners traded spots with the Dolphins to select Trey Lance with No. 3), I don't think this year's group of signal callers warrants that type of a jump. The Panthers, Seahawks and Falcons, who may have interest in a quarterback, could stay put in their current spots and have a player fall to them as the Patriots did when they landed Mac Jones at No. 15. Why give up extra assets if you don't need to be aggressive. Could a team make a move to select a non-quarterback? Of course, but in the top seven, that's less likely.

A quarterback will be taken before the Giants pick at No. 7.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Hot take time. A quarterback will not be taken before the Pittsburgh Steelers make their selection at No. 20. They could move up for a quarterback, but it's unlikely. We will see a lot of movement from teams at the top of the second round looking to move back into the first round to take a quarterback between Nos. 24-32 - that's where this group of quarterbacks should be taken and teams would get the bonus of the fifth-year option.

Dan Salomone: Fact – It's hard to be convinced a quarterback or two won't go higher than people think right now. The position is too important to pass up, and like Joe Schoen said, teams have played it close to the vest regarding the quarterback market. "Right now, I mean, you call around and you ask. Nobody has showed their hands on the quarterbacks. They really haven't," he said. "We know what teams have been where. We know, again, where these kids have gone on visits, private workouts. We track a lot of that stuff. Really haven't heard a lot on what teams are high on which quarterbacks. Hasn't been a lot of that."

Lance Medow: Fiction – The only team you could make an argument for in selecting a signal caller up high is Carolina at No. 6. They already have Sam Darnold, who they acquired last off-season, and could very well trade for Baker Mayfield, which makes a lot of sense. If you're Panthers head coach Matt Rhule, entering Year 3 off two losing seasons, would you rather have a veteran quarterback with a bit of polish or roll the dice with an unproven commodity. Take take the former.

More edge defenders than offensive tackles will be taken before the Giants pick at No. 5.

John Schmeelk: Fact – No more than one offensive tackle will be selected before the Giants pick. At this point, it would be shocking if Aidan Hutchinson and Travon Walker aren't both off the board. It's possible but unlikely the Jaguars select an offensive tackle, and it's possible the Texans and the Jets pick one, but both have their potential starting tackle duo on the roster right now. There's a better chance no offensive tackles are taken than two before the Giants are up.

Dan Salomone: Fact – The consensus is edge defender is the strongest group in this year's class, particularly the top-tier players including Aidan Hutchinson, Travon Walker, Kayvon Thibodeaux, and Jermaine Johnson II. There's a good chance at least two go before No. 5.

Lance Medow: Fact – There's a good chance Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux of Oregon are selected within the top four picks with the Jaguars, Lions and Jets as strong candidates for those two. And don't rule out Georgia's Travon Walker, who seems to be on the rise, finding a home high in the draft. It would be a very practical move for the Texans to address their offensive line with the third overall selection. There's not as much urgency for the Lions and Jets to do the same, given their recent picks and free-agent moves – and ditto for the Jaguars, who placed the franchise tag on left tackle Cam Robinson for the second straight year.

The key to being a contender is hitting on mid-round picks.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – The key for any team to becoming a contender is having a Top-12 NFL quarterback. A team can win for short periods (one season) without one but it is almost impossible to sustain over time due to the nature of the sport. Once that quarterback is in place, it becomes necessary to find good, low-cost players in the mid-rounds of the draft as it is the only way to put together an upper-echelon roster. One reason the Rams have been able to sustain their level play is their ability to hit on picks in the third round and later.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – Don't put the cart before the horse. Teams need to hit on their top picks first and foremost. By and large, that's where you get the game-changers. Once you become a playoff-caliber team, then it's the role players and hidden gems that put you over the top.

Lance Medow: Fiction – Don't overlook the importance of hitting on mid-round picks or downgrade their value but if we're talking about the "key" to being a contender, you need to have a stable, reliable option at quarterback. It's no coincidence the two participants in last season's Super Bowl showcased Joe Burrow (Bengals) and Matthew Stafford (Rams). The year before, it was Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) and Tom Brady (Bucs). Are there exceptions to every rule? Sure, but if you don't have a solution under center, you better boast a historical defense or one that is extremely opportunistic. Mid-round picks are crucial from a salary cap perspective, as well as providing depth on the roster; but only so many of them can cover up inefficiency at the most important position.


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