Any league draft can have it's glitches that upset a GM's plan of attack and desired draft board. Simple things like your prime target being taken 1 pick before just as the time allocation is about to expire, all the way to completely missing your draft spot by a full round (or more) and essentially wasting your valuable 1st round pick. This year was no exception as we saw 3 missed picks in the first round and what I've decided to do is look at the "what if" scenario where those picks were made on time with the full number of players still available on the board to pick from. Now this took some time and various communications to achieve the full picture just for round one as there is a cascade effect after each changed pick, because the next GM in the line needs to make a change and so forth. In the end there would have been 8 players picked at different times all based 2 picks not being made in the top 14. This still doesn't take into account how the other GM's would have picked in this new environment as other players would have been available in the pool that they would have taken (anyone reading this feel free to comment on how this would have affected your choices). The Jaguars also missed their pick at 1.27 (along with 1.14) but at this stage their choice of DT Robert Nkemdiche hasn't been altered or affected by other changes.
Following the ripples from these changes I was able to piece together a new look first round that may have happened if the picks were made on time:
- originally QB Teddy Bridgewater was selected here when the Colts turned up late and made the best of their predicament. Bridgewater wasn't a bad pick considering the circumstances of timing and he was a needed position for the team (although the debate of free agency availability is still there), but they had other ideas. Enter DE Joey Bosa as their primary target with pick #8 and a cornerstone to revamp their defensive formation back to a 4-3. Bosa has a great combination of speed, strength and size that could still see him work in a 3-4 if it was a lengthy transition.
- with the first onwards effect we have the Texans required to make a different pick. They were happy to land Bosa at #11 to replace the departed Cornelius Washington but are now forced to rethink. Instead they take the superior coverage physical prowess of CB Chikae Reader. The Texans aren't lacking in skills at corner but the height and speed combination of Reader would've been too much to resist, especially when combined with the 6'3" Micah price for a future combination that would be tough to beat. They would've had time to develop his skills behind Malone and Hall and in 3 years he'd be a starting beast.
- the Texans take their man so plan B is enacted and OLB Scooby Wright III becomes the pick at #13. The salivating combo of Bender and Reader doesn't come to pass but the Patriots are able to further enhance the capabilities of their front 7 with a gifted linebacker in Wright. Likely to play on the right side he has the right combination of athleticism and physical presence to plug the last remaining hole in an otherwise extraordinarily talented group of players. Once fully progressed physically he'll be a handful for opposing blockers in a situation where there are already too many handfuls to handle.
- the pick of Wright by the Patriots starts a trend of taking the next best outside linebacker on a team's board, with the Bears shifting to OLB Leonard Floyd as the next on the list. Floyd has more height (3 inches) and a slightly better speed/acceleration combination, but he's much weaker as an offset with 16 lbs less on his frame. There are many angles to argue the pros and cons of each of these players but over the course of the league both types have proven themselves as effective, it all depends on the defensive scheme and playbook.
- the next step down the ladder of outside linebackers is the Seahawks and OLB Myles Jack at #20. Jack is closer in skills and physical stature as Wright as opposed to Floyd who they originally picked, with Floyd's extra height being one of the influencing factors at the time when choosing between these 2 anyway. I'd think of this as a sideways move that the picking of Floyd earlier actually makes easier on the Seahawks here as no to-ing and fro-ing between the two types of linebackers.
- the Cowboys are one of the few teams who don't deviate from their draft board, deciding that they'd stick with the next man they selected in WR Pharoh Cooper (drafted at 2.10 by Dallas). They don't move down to the next player at the same position here like most other teams, nor does there next player involve another team making a different pick for the first time. In the long run this only accelerates their draft plan and a later pick can be substituted for a different player. There are two trains of thought when you consider this: either Cooper is first round value obtained in the second round, or by promoting him to this pick you're stretching and picking a player too early.
- whilst the previous picks have all been a result of the Colts missing 1.08, there is also a concurrent stream of changed picks resulting from the Jaguars missing this pick at 1.14. Instead of CB Don Slade the Jaguars would've liked to add HB Latavius Murray at #14 to actually give them something of a run game. Ever since the debacle of trading out Bull Griggs they have struggled to establish a solid rushing presence to ease the burden on Tyler Bray. Murray would give them that chance and could potentially offset the loss of Jeff Fuller at wide out too so as the Jaguars at least had some offensive potential outside Bray to Funchess. It could also be argued that they had ample talent to pick at corner here too with CB Fuller or CB Betancourt both available to replace the departed Kirkpatrick (another big hole needing filling).
- the Dolphins would've lost out on the late round pickup of HB Murray thanks to the Jaguars, but they get the ability to complete the circle by selecting QB Teddy Bridgewater instead and providing some solid depth for Russell Wilson. Whilst this would not address their downgrade at running back it would provide insurance and even a successor plan at quarterback in the case that Wilson fails to perform over the next few years. Would be interesting to know if someone else might've scooped up Bridgewater through the teen-early twenty picks, but there doesn't appear to be any likely candidates willing to sacrifice their current selection to make this move.