There are plenty of cogent arguments that the NFL places too much emphasis on the coin toss, especially in overtime situations, but there are other times where a coin toss can mean everything. At 7AM Saturday morning in a Westin hotel near to Lucas Oil stadium the draft hopes of the Carolina Panthers will rest with either heads, or tails.
A small contingency of NFL officials, as well as representatives of the Panthers and Dolphins will be present as the 8th and 9th overall picks are determined. On the surface it doesn't really seem like there would be a huge difference, after all, the goals and needs of Carolina and Miami are very different, however there are reasons why the coin toss could mean a lot to the Panthers and shape this year's draft.
I'll look at one key reason why the coin toss is so important...
After the jump
It all comes down to Ryan Tannehill
Depending on who you listen to it's Tannehill, not Andrew Luck or RGIII who could be the most talented QB in the NFL draft. In many ways this draft class resembles 2004 where Luck is filling the Eli Manning role, Griffin is Philip Rivers and the aforementioned Tannehill is Ben Roethlisberger. He's a big, strong armed QB who might not have all the tangibles out of the gate, but he has all the tools to be an elite QB at the next level in time.
It seems like a forgone conclusion that Luck and Griffin will be gone by pick #5, which leaves a host of teams in need of a QB who will either be clamoring for Tannehill, or waiting until 2013. This list includes Kansas City, Miami and Seattle, all of whom could be looking to upgrade their position to win now.
If Miami wins the coin toss it seems very likely they'll take Tannehill and team him with new OC Mike Sherman, who coached him at Texas A&M. However, if the Panthers win those other teams looking for a QB they could very well want to leapfrog the Dolphins and ensure they get the QB they need.
Why trade down?
This is a funny kind of draft because the talent really falls off from around the 12th pick down. You start to see the lines between 1st and 2nd round blur with a lot of talent that grades in the mid-high 80s. It would behoove the Panthers to move down and pick up 2-3 of these prospects, rather than take a single guy who grades only slightly higher. Michael Brockers could be an excellent player, but he also represents a significant risk. Unless someone like Morris Claiborne falls it would probably make sense to land more players.
Whether you think there is a slightly better player at #8 than #9, or you think the Panthers can trade down- remember to check on Saturday morning if the Panthers win the toss; it could make a big difference at the end.