With a possible NFL Draft boycott on the horizon it's become clear to me that those of us in the business of reading a lot of 2011 NFL Mock Draft coverage need to keep the lockout situation in mind when we find especially arcane ways for the St. Louis Rams to draft Julio Jones with the 14th pick of the first round. With that in mind, I offer a 2011 NFL Mock Draft with a labor-oriented social conscience—or maybe just one in which the Rams pick up Julio Jones by means of confusion, hoodwinkery, and most of the plot from Rags Martin-Jones and The Pr-nce of W-les.
Step one: With the first overall pick, at the actual 2011 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers select Cam Newton. Selecting Cam Newton with the first overall pick makes no sense, although it's become increasingly popular in mock drafts of late. It's useful for one thing: Creating a diversion. Nobody combines negative and positive PR in quite so explosive a way as Cam Newton, who's found a way to harness publicity antimatter so as to spectacularly ruin Jimmy Clausen's night on April 28.
When he holds up the Carolina Panthers 1 jersey with Roger Goodell, the Rams' trap has finally been sprung. Reporters will run from the NFLPA's alternate draft location to get exclusive non-interviews with Cam Newton, or to Notre Dame to try to convince Jimmy Clausen that he doesn't need to jump off the Golden Dome, and the Rams send a very official-looking limousine to pick up Julio Jones at the airport.
Step two: Sam Bradford offers to lead the NFLPA draft party planning committee. I can't imagine he'll have a lot of party planning committee competition, but he needs to be prepared to turn the charm up to 11 if he must, because it's absolutely crucial that the Rams have a man on the inside. Because to draft Julio Jones at 14, they're going to need to hold a completely real 2011 NFL Mock Draft.
With the doors locked at the other exhibition hall, Bradford and the Rams will need to funnel in a crowd of sympathetic Rams fans; muster up a convincing ESPN studio set; and find 13 extras who look a little like Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Nick Fairley, and the other players likely to be drafted ahead of Jones. It would help if they could also find a guy who looks a lot like Jimmy Clausen to sit around the green room and look depressed. (They might ask the real Jimmy Clausen; he shouldn't be alone that night.)
Step three: Julio Jones is chauffeured in a very dark limousine to the NFLPA Draft Party. He sits for 13 picks in a very convincing green room, trying to talk Jimmy Clausen down, and when the 14th pick in the NFL Draft comes around someone who looks very much like Roger Goodell hands him a Rams jersey. Mission accomplished!
Meanwhile, back at the 2011 NFL Draft: Everyone is very confused. Roger Goodell has tried to hand out Julio Jones's novelty jersey three times already, and the Rams just didn't bother sending a delegate.
Step four: The power goes out at the NFLPA Draft, and Julio Jones is kidnapped by terrorists. I kind of ran aground here, after an hour of brainstorming. We've still got a month; if anybody knows how to get Julio Jones and the terrorists (one of them is Jimmy Clausen, speaking with a very convincing Russian accent) from the NFLPA Draft to the NFL Draft without anyone being the wiser I'd love to hear them. Until then, this 2011 NFL Mock Draft stops a little short of the end of the first round.