The NFL has announced the list of players that will be in New York City at the big round table on draft day. When the first round kicks off and commissioner Roger Godell takes his first steps towards the podium, Joe Thomas, tackle, University of Wisconsin, will not be there. Granted, Philip Rivers wasn't there in 2004 when he was chosen 4th overall by the New York Giants (later traded to the Chargers in the Eli Manning deal), but that's not the point.
Never mind the fact that he opted out of going so that he could fish with his Dad (draft day tradition). All of that is incidental.
For whatever reason, the stars have aligned and Thomas is destined to be a Cardinal.
Still reading? Okay, here are the real reasons it will happen. (Even though it's still true that Thomas will not be at the round table next Saturday).
The Raiders won't take him. There are too many athletes available ahead of Thomas that have more upside, greater star potential, and Oakland simply has too many needs in too many other areas to go for a tackle at this spot.
Next up, the Lions. They signed Jeff Backus (their left tackle) to a big six year deal last off-season. This off-season, they traded for former Denver tackle George Foster. Now, any team that would draft a wide receiver in the first round three consecutive years could certainly draft a tackle when they've added to the position at great expense the previous two season. I just don't think it'll happen.
Cleveland and Tampa are the two teams that could blow this whole thing up.
I am personally convinced that Cleveland will take Adrian Peterson, so I'm not as concerned with them as I am with Tampa. It all depends on how the first two picks shake out.
Oakland could very well take Ja Marcus Russell. The Lions could very well take Gaines Adams. If that happens, the Browns will take Peterson. At that point, Calvin Johnson is still available and the Bucs will pounce on him. Thomas is free for the taking.
If the Raiders take Johnson, the Lions most likely take Russell (best quarterback available and I can't imagine they want to face another season of Kitna and McCown). The Browns take Peterson. Tampa then has a decision between the Brady Quinn (Gruden can't seem to get enough quarterbacks and I'm not convinced he's sold on trying to begin the Chris Simms era again) and Thomas.
The issue is that both Cleveland and Tampa could use a franchise left tackle like Thomas. Given the recent pressure that they've been under, they could pull the trigger on the safe pick.
In the first two picks, a lot of different things could happen. Russell is no lock, but if he gets picked 1st overall, it certainly helps the cause of the Cardinals. If not, things could get very interesting in a hurry.
However, given the fact that Russell is, at this point, the consensus #1 overall, Thomas should be waiting there at five.