Cruising through the mailbag on a dreary Sunday, killing time between my son's Little League game and the latest episode of "Game of Thrones," which we tend to hope are two very different spectator events.
John from Dallas was intrigued by the idea that the Redskins might patch it together at quarterback and wait until next year in the hopes of drafting Andrew Luck as their long-term answer. This led John to ask, "If the lockout continues and there is no 2011 NFL Season, how would the draft order be determined for the Spring 2012 NFL Draft?"
Dan Graziano: Pat Yasinskas hit this one Friday in a post regarding commissioner Roger Goodell's conference call with Panthers season ticket holders. Basically, the answer is that the NFL hasn't thought about it yet. "We haven't given any consideration to a season-long work stoppage," Goodell said. This could mean the owners have a drop-dead date by which they plan to cave in, or that they're 100 percent convinced their lockout strategy will break the players' union. Because if the owners imposed a lockout with no defined end date and without considering the possibility that it might last all season, then they'd be fools. And as foolish as they might be acting right now, I don't think they're fools.
John Binando from Bergenfield, N.J. (represent!) asks what I think about the Cowboys' chances for next season. "Are they contenders like I thought a year ago or was last year a real view of what Jerry has assembled?"
Dan Graziano: As someone who picked the Cowboys to win last season's Super Bowl, I might be the wrong guy to consult on this. But I do think there's enough talent there that if they have addressed and continue to address their deficiencies on the lines, they could rebound quickly. I don't think it's any accident the way they responded to Jason Garrett as head coach. And if he ever gets the chance to coach them again, I think he'll pick up where they left off. So yeah, with the disclaimers that we still have no idea (a) what any team looks like until free agency happens or (b) how much if any of the season will be played, I'd say I think the Cowboys rebound into contention in 2011.
milroyigglesfan from Anchorage, Alaska asks if I believe "as many do, that the Eagles got a miracle save by the rejuvenation of Vick, that the team was well situated for winning in 2010, or a little of both?"
Dan Graziano: I definitely think it was the Vick thing, milroy. When I went to Eagles training camp last year, it felt like I was watching a rebuilding project. Lots of young players, not a lot of stars, and lots of questions on the offensive line and the defense in general. But that was before anybody knew what Vick would do, or that he would play at all. I think he was spectacular enough to disguise the Eagles' deficiencies, most of which were on defense, and that the Eagles seem wisely to have focused this offseason on improving the defensive personnel. I don't think they'd have contended in 2010 without Vick's resurgence.
Matthew Gene from Summit, NJ (aw yeah) asks: "What current NFL player does Prince Amukamara remind you of? Seeing as he has limited experience as a cornerback, how high is his ceiling?"
Dan Graziano: Tough one, and I'm not alone here. I asked our man Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. and he couldn't come up with one either. A couple of places compared him to Malcolm Jenkins before the draft, but I think that's mainly because of a thought that he might end up at safety. But given his size, speed, intellect, ability to contribute on special teams ... Amukamara's ceiling is a lot higher than that of a typical 19th overall pick. The Giants got a star here, I think.
Zain Saleh of Lincoln, Neb. asks: "Do you think instead of throwing a lot of money towards Nnamdi Asomugha, we sign a Jonathan Joseph type of corner?"
Dan Graziano: Zain, buddy, I got no idea who "we" are. You didn't tell me which team you root for. I imagine Joseph could become an option for any team that either fails to get Nnamdi or decides not to pursue him because of the money. But remember, if they play under 2010 rules, Joseph's RFA not UFA and probably stays in Cincy.
Arnold from Pittsburgh wonders about the talk of trading Kevin Kolb to Arizona: "What are the chances that the Eagles could trade him for Patrick Peterson or Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie?
Dan Graziano: I think he'll be traded for picks, not players, if he's dealt. (Can Arizona even trade Peterson? I don't think so. They just drafted him, right?)
Mike Burkey from Nashville, understandably nervous about the idea of John Beck at quarterback, asks what I think the chances are that Mike Shanahan would give Donovan McNabb a second chance in Washington.
Dan Graziano: About the same as the chances he'll give me a tryout at nose tackle.
Bill Ray from Philly has a lockout-related question: "If players can get together and work out on their own, why can't the coaches join them? The coaches are not the owners, so what stops the coaches from meeting up with the players during off hours and working with them?"
Dan Graziano: The owners (i.e., the coaches' bosses) are what's stopping them. The owners imposed the lockout and the rules that go along with it. One of those rules is that players and coaches can't have any contact during the lockout. Theoretically, the owners could change the rule and allow players to work out with their coaches. But methinks that would defeat the purpose of the lockout which, as we've discussed, is an effort to break the players down and make them cave in.
On a personal note, much of the mailbag during the first week was filled with very kind and complimentary stuff welcoming me to the blog. Just wanted to tell you all how happy I am to be here, how much fun I'm having so far and how much I'm looking forward to more and more interaction with you all. Thanks for the kind wishes. I'll look back on them fondly as the future unfolds and your opinion of me ... uh ... flickers?