The decision an NFL team makes when they are "on the clock" during the annual NFL Draft is the culmination of a very long, involved and expensive process of investigation, evaluation and decision making that officially begins the day after the Super Bowl.
On Tuesday, the curtain fell on the first big event in this year's investigation and evaluation process, the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine.
During the Combine, 300 of the best university prospects in the country came together to be examined, measured, interviewed and tested to produce an even greater volume of information for teams to consider.
And now, we move on to the next big events, college Pro Days, to gather even more performance-related data on these prospects.
Meanwhile, teams have already developed their "big boards", a prioritized list of prospective draftees, and are busy tweaking the board each time new information is introduced. This will continue right up to the time they go on the clock for each pick.
The St. Louis Rams have two of the top 15 picks in the first round; Nos. 2 and 13. A consensus seems to be developing that the Houston Texans will not trade the first pick of the draft but will use it to draft a "franchise" quarterback. Their current "signal caller", Matt Schaub, is "on the wrong side of 30 years old", is coming off of a sub-par year, has developed a reputation of not being able to get a very talented Texans team to the "big one" and will command a $14 million salary in 2014 with $10 million of that being "dead money.
If Schaub is cut in accordance with the CBA deadlines, that $10 million cap hit can be spread over two years creating a much better cap situation for the Texans.
The Rams, on the other hand, do not need a quarterback but there are several teams (the Browns, Jaguars, Vikings, Titans and Raiders) that desperately need a "franchise" QB. This provides an ideal opportunity for the Rams to get some additional picks, especially for the 2015 Draft. If the Rams trade the No. 2 pick, the most likely contenders are Cleveland, Minnasota and Oakland.
The Browns and Raiders are probably in the most favorable positions. The Browns have 10 picks (not counting any compensatory picks they might be awarded) going into this draft, over $50 million in cap space and only 7 unrestricted free agents to consider re-signing. On the other hand, the Raiders have $66.5 million in cap space but have 17 unrestricted free agents and several other (restricted and exclusive rights) free agents. Clearly, the Browns, because of the number and position of their picks, is in the best position to work a deal with the Rams.
I believe the Rams will trade the No. 2 pick to the Cleveland Browns for their No. 4 plus additional 2014 and 2015 picks. With the second selection, the Browns will take Blake Bortles, the 6'5", 235-pound quarterback from Central Florida University.