Tag Archives: draft

Joe Launchbury in provisional Lions squad for Australia tour

From Sainsbury's to Sydney: Former shelf-stacker Launchbury in provisional Lions squad for Australia tour

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UPDATED:

23:10 GMT, 13 December 2012

Joe Launchbury is on course to complete a remarkable transition from part-time player and super-market shelf-stacker to the pinnacle of British and Irish rugby after being included in a provisional Lions squad.

The 21-year-old Wasps lock, who was playing for Worthing and working at Sainsbury’s just two years ago, is among a host of England players whose demolition of the All Blacks has forced them into prime contention for next summer’s tour of Australia.

On the eve of Wednesday’s unveiling of the coaching staff for the 2013 crusade, Warren Gatland met his assistants, Andy Farrell, Rob Howley and Graham Rowntree, to draw up a first-draft squad for the tour, overlooking players who are injured.

Rising star: 21-year-old Launchbury was in fine form during England's win over New Zealand at Twickenham

Rising star: 21-year-old Launchbury was in fine form during England's win over New Zealand at Twickenham

Rowntree revealed that the group spent at least an hour discussing back-row permutations alone. But a theme which emerged was that the English contingent, which had previously been predicted to be very small, had been enhanced considerably by the upset win against New Zealand at Twickenham 13 days ago. ‘You have glaring performances in teams who have gone well at the end of the autumn series,’ said Rowntree. ‘That All Blacks game threw up a few names – some guys with only a couple of caps.'

One such rookie is Launchbury, who has four caps, two of them as a starter. Another Test novice now potentially in contention based on his autumn exploits is Leicester hooker Tom Youngs, while other more established English candidates such as Tom Wood, Manu Tuilagi, Alex Goode, Geoff Parling and Owen Farrell enhanced their Lions cases.

Late last month, Gatland had appeared to dismiss England captain Chris Robshaw as a bona fide international openside flanker, saying he intended to take specialist No 7s to Australia.

Yet, in light of the shock success against the world champions, the Kiwi had a more positive message for the Harlequins skipper. ‘What England did against the All Blacks was bring an intensity, an aggression, almost a violent attitude to the breakdown we hadn’t seen from them in earlier games,’ he said. ‘Chris Robshaw was definitely a part of that.’

With Farrell and Rowntree having been drafted for Lions coaching duties, Stuart Lancaster will have to find temporary replacements for England’s summer tour of Argentina.

Candidate: Hooker Tom Youngs has also forced himself into contention for a place in the Lions squad

Candidate: Hooker Tom Youngs has also forced himself into contention for a place in the Lions squad

The simple solution would be to name in-house deputies such as Simon Hardy and Jon Callard. However, strong candidates exist within the Aviva Premiership, among them the young Saracens pair, Paul Gustard and Alex Sanderson.

Despite Saracens’ experience with Farrell, when an agreement to release him to England temporarily led to his permanent move to the RFU, the club are open to another Union approach.

‘England could do a lot worse than look at Paul and Alex,’ said the club’s chief executive Edward Griffiths. ‘They are extremely talented young coaches.

Off to Oz: England coach Stuart Lancaster will have to replace Graham Rowntree (above)

Off to Oz: England coach Stuart Lancaster will have to replace Graham Rowntree (above) and Andy Farrell for the summer tour of Argentina as the pair are on Lions duty

‘If the opportunity arises, we wouldn’t stand in their way. We didn’t stand in the way of Andy Farrell, either. We don’t regard the RFU as competition, but an issue might arise if other clubs object to the idea of a coach or coaches from the Premiership being seconded to the England team.

Historically, there has been a concern among clubs that if someone is coaching England, they might gain an insight into players from other clubs which would give them an unfair advantage.

‘That issue arose when Andy was seconded for the Six Nations last season. As a club we wouldn’t have a problem with coaches from any other clubs being involved with England, but Premiership Rugby would have to make a decision about it and we would abide by that.’

Gordon Taylor has backed the FA"s 92-point action plan to get rid of racism

'We must improve the opportunities for all ethnic minority employees' says PFA chief Taylor

By
Neil Ashton

PUBLISHED:

23:58 GMT, 13 December 2012

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UPDATED:

00:08 GMT, 14 December 2012

Gordon Taylor has backed the FA’s initial draft of a 92-point action plan and demanded greater transparency in the recruitment process of coaches and managers.

Taylor gave his thoughts after it emerged that the plan, which will be introduced early in the new year and was revealed in first-draft form by Sportsmail yesterday, will demand quota systems for entry-level officials and coaches.

Support: PFA Chief Executive Gordon Taylor (pictured) said: 'I'm in favour of more black and ethnic minorities, who have the right qualifications, being put on the radar'

Support: PFA Chief Executive Gordon Taylor (pictured) said: 'I'm in favour of more black and ethnic minorities, who have the right qualifications, being put on the radar'

The PFA chief executive said: ‘I’m in favour of more black and ethnic minorities, who have the right qualifications, being put on the radar.

‘Whether that is by some form of Rooney Rule or something similar needs to be discussed, but I would like to see greater transparency.

'We must improve the opportunities for all ethnic minority employees and demonstrate that discrimination at any level of the game is unacceptable,’ Taylor added.

‘At the PFA, I can assure you that the spread of ethnic-minority employees is much higher than 10 per cent.

‘This is a very big issue and it does need to be addressed.

‘When I look at coaches such as Chris Hughton, Keith Curle and Chris Powell, a former PFA chairman, that is not representative of the football community.’

Despite his demand for greater ethnic representation in the game, Taylor also claimed that English football is at the forefront of tackling the issue.

‘No other country has a conglomerate of players from different nationalities like England does.

‘Now we have to improve the opportunities for coaches at various levels of the game and make the interview process more transparent.

‘We have made great strides over the last few years and although we are heading in the right direction, the hard work must continue.’

KEY ASPECTS OF THE 92-POINT PLAN:
Proportion of ethnic minority coaches does not fall below 10 per cent.By 2015-16 10 per cent of referees to be from ethnic minorities.Setting up of a confidential hotline to report any form of bullying or discrimination.Use of video technology to catch racist fans.The Football League introducing mandatory minimum standard club codes of conduct.Social media guidelines for players and club staff to follow throughout professional football.Crowd management measures to guide professional and semi- professional clubs.Mandatory
lessons for all to educate and change attitudes and ensure they are
informed of the procedures to follow when incidents occur.Closer working relationships with police over hate crime in football incidents.Football
authorities to discipline clubs who repeatedly fail to sanction
employers who breach code of conduct, or deal adequately with fans in
relation to discriminatory language or behaviour.A review of the recruitment process for managers and coaches at the top level.New programmes to help black and Asian coaches gain qualifications to challenge for top professional roles.Talent programmes specifically for Asian men and boys and the promotion of Asian male and female role models.Improve the reporting and analysis of in-stadium offences.

Mark Clattenburg race-row latest: Referee unlikely to be charged with FA to finally make announcement tomorrow

Clattenburg race-row D-day: Referee unlikely to be charged with FA to finally make announcement tomorrow
Delay due to lawyers pouring over draft documentFA spend significant sum on legal adviceChelsea stand by 'monkey' allegationsClub's reputation to be left in tatters

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UPDATED:

12:45 GMT, 14 November 2012

The Football Association will tomorrow make their announcement on the action they will take over Mark Clattenburg race-row allegations — Sportsmail understands they are unlikely to charge the referee.

FA officials have spent a significant sum on legal advice and taken their time in order to come to the right decision.

The announcement will come 18 days after Clattenburg was accused of calling Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel a ‘monkey’.

Referee Mark Clattenburg (centre) in an exchange with John Obi Mikel (right) as Juan Mata looks on during the home league match against Manchester United

Eye of the storm: Referee Mark Clattenburg (centre) in an exchange with John Obi Mikel (right) as Juan Mata looks on during the home league match against Manchester United. The official has been accused of racially abusing Mikel

The police yesterday shelved their race abuse investigation into referee Mark Clattenburg after receiving no complaint from Chelsea.

The Metropolitan Police have confirmed they are no longer investigating a complaint, made by the Society of Black Lawyers, regarding Clattenburg’s conduct.

The FA inquiry finished on Friday and they have since been receiving legal opinion on a draft document.

It has been delayed due to the vast amount of paperwork involved.

Chelsea submitted 1,250 pages of evidence delivered by bike courier to the FA’s three-man compliance unit when John Terry was accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand — a charge he was later found guilty of by the FA.

Poster boys: United fans poke fun at the famous Chelsea banner, which reads 'JT, captain, leader, legend', during the Capital One Cup tie

Poster boys: United fans poke fun at the famous Chelsea banner, which reads 'JT, captain, leader, legend', during the Capital One Cup tie

They have a full-time QC amongst their employees and it is believed the club will have been equally as thorough with this case.

If, as expected, Clattenburg, 37, is cleared by the FA it will leave Chelsea's reputation in tatters after their captain John Terry was banned for four matches and
fined 220,000 after being found guilty of racially abusing QPR's Anton
Ferdinand by a Football Association independent regulatory commission.

Hours after reporting Clattenburg to the FA, a spectator in the Chelsea end was pictured directing a 'monkey' gesture at Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck during a Capital One Cup tie.

Gavin Kirkham, 28, is on police bail pending a further investigation following his arrest on suspicion of a racially aggravated Section 4A Public Order Act offence.

Chelsea have banned him from Stamford Bridge until the police investigation is concluded and he faces a life-ban if found guilty.

Whistleblower: Chelsea have stood by their allegation that Clattenburg (right) used inappropriate language in an exchange with Mikel

Whistleblower: Chelsea have stood by their allegation that Clattenburg (right) used inappropriate language in an exchange with Mikel

Mr Kirkham is due back in police custody on November 29 where he will either be charged and will go to court, re-bailed pending further investigation or released without charge.

Clattenburg has not officiated in a match since the incident. But some refereeing experts have suggested he will be handed a last-minute match in the lower leagues this weekend in an under-the-radar bid to assimilate the Durham official back into officiating.

Chelsea chairman: Bruce Buck

Chelsea chairman: Bruce Buck

The incident occurred in Chelsea’s 3-2 Barclays Premier League loss to Manchester United on October 28. Chelsea came from two goals behind to level at 2-2 before having Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres sent off.

Afterwards Chelsea accused Clattenburg of the racial slur on Mikel – who angrily stormed into his dressing room and confronted him after the match – and of calling Juan Mata a ‘Spanish t***’.

The club later dropped the accusation against Mata but pressed ahead and reported the comment about Mikel to the FA.

Yesterday, in an interview with the Evening Standard, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck stood by the club's allegation levelled at Clattenburg.

'We
were guided by obligations that are imposed by the Football Association
and also as an employer. FA rule E14 basically says a participant shall
immediately report to the association any incident or matter which may
be considered to be a misconduct.

'Misconduct
is a defined term under the FA regulations and includes such racial
behaviour. We also had to consider the Equality Act 2010, which imposes
an obligation on an employer to take certain actions if an employee is
subject to discrimination by third parties.

'Suppose
we had tried to sweep this under the rug and said to the various
players, “Look, it's not a big deal and the press are going to be all
over us, maybe you want to reconsider”. If that had leaked out, we
would've really been crucified.'

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England stars must follow new FA code of conduct or face ban from national side

England stars must follow new FA code of conduct or face ban from national side

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UPDATED:

21:59 GMT, 9 October 2012

England are poised to introduce a code of conduct which could see players banned from representing their country if they step out of line.

FA chairman David Bernstein explained the plan after accepting a personal apology from Ashley Cole, who called the FA a 'bunch of t****' on Twitter last week.

Manager Roy Hodgson can pick Cole for Friday’s game against San Marino but the standards which England’s players are expected to meet will soon be set in writing.

Good heir day: Prince William (left) shares a joke with Ashley Cole (centre) at St George's Park on Tuesday

Good heir day: Prince William (left) shares a joke with Ashley Cole (centre) at St George's Park on Tuesday

Hodgson’s squad were shown a six-page draft of the code during a Power Point presentation on Monday evening. It is expected to be formalised and in place before England meet for next month’s friendly in Sweden.

‘It should really have been brought in years ago,’ said Bernstein. ‘I’m beginning to think it’s the most important thing I’ve got to deal with as chairman of the FA. It’s so self-evident. The England players are representing their country, they’re role models with high profiles, their behaviour is incredibly important in respect of everything else we’re trying to do.

‘Should England players have responsibility Of course. I feel very strongly about that.

‘We’ve been working on this for some time. A draft code was approved by the FA Board and the senior team have now heard in detail what it contains.’

Eye on the ball: Cola and Wayne Rooney at England training at the new National Football Centre in Burton

Eye on the ball: Cola and Wayne Rooney at England training at the new National Football Centre in Burton

Plans have been unfolding since February, following the example set by England’s cricket team, who banned Kevin Pietersen in a recent high-profile case.

The code will cover England players — whether on international duty or not — and includes social networking activity like Twitter and transgressions like Cole’s as well as offences of discrimination, including racism, like the one facing John Terry.

The FA refused to comment on Terry’s case because he has until next Thursday to decide whether to appeal his four-match ban for using racist language at Anton Ferdinand.

‘I’m not prepared to make hypothetical judgements,’ said Bernstein. ‘It doesn’t contain a list of offences and a tariff of penalties because in the real world you don’t know what’s around the corner. There has to be flexibility.

No ban: But Cole is unlikely to be made honorary England captain if he wins a 100th cap

No ban: But Cole is unlikely to be made honorary England captain if he wins a 100th cap

‘But it gives the players a very clear guide as to what is permissible and that there will be consequences if they don’t abide with it. Going forward, it should be crystal clear.’

The code of conduct will exist independently of FA discipline and under the auspices of the Club England board.

Adrian Bevington, managing director of Club England, said: ‘We are not going to ban players for life but it will be much clearer to players, if they offend, what the list of offences potentially are.

‘If someone transgresses in a way that brings the integrity of the team, themselves or the organisation into question, we have the ability to warn them or, if we deem it appropriate, to suspend them from England.’

In hot water: Some of the England squad relax in a jacuzzi on Tuesday but all are to face a new set of FA rules

In hot water: Some of the England squad relax in a jacuzzi on Tuesday but all are to face a new set of FA rules

Bernstein also explained how Cole had apologised for his offensive tweet. He said: ‘Ashley came to see me. He was very contrite and emphasised that what he’d done was in the heat of the moment. He knew it was a mistake. He expressed a degree of remorse. I looked him in the eyes and felt that he meant it.

‘Our view was that it was unfortunate and something we viewed very seriously but that it wasn’t a capital offence. As a principle, the idea of not allowing him to play for England would have been disproportionate. I think the public will be happy to see the manager have the decision.’

Hodgson expressed his ‘relief’ that the matter was settled, although Cole may be among those rested against San Marino with Tuesday’s game in Poland in mind.

It clears the 31-year-old to complete his century of caps but he is unlikely to captain England on that occasion.

Grand vision: A flag flies at the FA's 100m development, St George's Park at Burton in Staffordshire

Grand vision: A flag flies at the FA's 100m development, St George's Park at Burton in Staffordshire

‘We’ve expressed a view on what we need with regard to a captain and I doubt it,’ said Bernstein. ‘We’ve had issues and we’ve stated publicly many times that we have a very high level of behaviour required from an English captain.’

England were at St George’s Park on Tuesday for the official opening of the new 100million national football centre.

Hodgson said: ‘I’m hoping the amount of effort and work we’ll put in here will produce the players and coaches to lead us to World Cup victory.’

Steven Gerrard added: ‘Now we’ve got the best stadium in the world and the best facilities. We’re taking away all the excuses.’

NFL Draft 2012: Andrew Luck to be first pick for Indianapolis Colts

Former Londoner Luck to lead NFL Draft as teams get set to make first picks

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UPDATED:

09:39 GMT, 26 April 2012

The Indianapolis Colts will make Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck the first pick in the Draft as the 32 National Football League teams begin to gamble with their futures on Thursday night.

The Colts, who marked the end of an era last month when releasing future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, have already stated that they will take Luck as Manning’s replacement.

Pick me: NFL draft prospects Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III will be up for grabs

Pick me: NFL draft prospects Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III will be up for grabs

SPORTSMAIL'S MOCK DRAFT

There are always plenty of surprises and while we know the first two players in the Draft will be, part of the fun is guessing who your team will choose.

Here's what could happen with the first round…

1. Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck QB
The Colts have already married their future to Andrew Luck, quarterback (Stanford). It is a no-brainer, as far as they are concerned.

2. Washington Redskins (from St Louis)
Robert Griffin III QB
Plenty of needs offensively for a team that won just five of their 16 games last season. They have given up a lot to land Robert Griffin III, quarterback (Baylor).

3. Minnesota Vikings
Matt Kalil OT
They have made little secret that they would like to trade out of this spot and acquire more picks, but if they don’t find a suitor, offensive tackle Kalil (USC) looks the obvious pick. They also have needs at cornerback, so Morris Claiborne (LSU) may enter calculations.

4. Cleveland Browns
Trent Richardson RB
Richardson (Alabama) is a dominant work-horse running back and many consider him as the best at this position to enter the Draft since Adrian Peterson. If they don’t take him, he could be a faller on the boards.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Morris Claiborne CB
The Bucs could well trade up to No 3 to take the best cornerback in the Draft. Claiborne (LSU) would be a ready replacement for the aging Ronde Barber.

6. St Louis Rams (from Washington)
Justin Blackmon WR
Rams are in clover with a wealth of picks from the Redskins to drop from the No 2 spot and their future is set. They can afford to take Blackmon (Oklahoma State), who reminds many of Anquan Boldin. While not blessed with fearsome speed, he is not afraid to go across the middle to make difficult catches.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Quinton Coples DE
The Jaguars rarely do what many expect them to do and while a bit of a reach, they do have a need for a premier pass-rusher like Coples (North Carolina). He’s very good when he’s in the mood.

8. Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill QB
Miami have had 13 starting quarterbacks since No 13 Dan Marino retired. He was the last passer taken in round one by the Dolphins. Tannehill (Texas A&M) does not really warrant a top 10 pick, but while he made only 19 starts for the Aggies, he was coached there by new Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman.

9. Carolina Panthers
Fletcher Cox DT
Possible trade here with the Panthers looking to drop down and get back a third-round pick they traded last summer with Chicago for TE Greg Olsen. The New York Jets are rumoured to be interested in trading up – for either Trent Richardson or defensive end Melvin Ingram (South Carolina) – but if Coples is still here, the Panthers will either take him or perhaps Cox (Mississippi State), who would provide the interior line push they have lacked.

10. Buffalo Bills
Riley Rieff OT
The Bills have needs at receiver and at tight end, and many pundits have Michael Floyd (Notre Dame) as the pick. They could trade down for Corby Fleener (Stanford), but if Rieff (Iowa) is still on the board (Jacksonville or Miami are also interested), he is athletic and versatile enough to play left tackle, right tackle or guard, and should not fall out of the top 10.

11. Kansas City Chiefs
Michael Brockers DT
This is a potential trade spot and Brockers (LSU) could still be the man for the Chiefs even if they trade down. A 6ft 5in behemoth, he is still very raw, but scouts have fallen in love with his athletic ability and he has tremendous upside.

12. Seattle Seahawks
Luke Kuechley MLB
A tackling machine in the mould of Keith Brooking, Keuchley (Boston College) would solidify the position for years to come. A very safe pick and a certain day-one starter.

13. Arizona Cardinals
Courtney Upshaw OLB
The need for a pass-rushing outside linebacker may overcome their desire for an offensive tackle, so Upshaw (Alabama), who has a happy knack for being at the right place at the right time, may get the nod over Cordy Glenn (Georgia), who would seem the obvious choice otherwise.

14. Dallas Cowboys
Dontari Poe DT
The NFL Combine saw Poe’s (Memphis) stock rise, but while he is a huge man, with plenty of power and explosion to disrupt opposing attacks, he still looks very raw. A space-eater, he has a tremendous amount of upside and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones likes gambling on potential.

15. Philadelphia Eagles
Mark Barron S
The Eagles have not done well drafting this position with their last two second round picks, so they could try again with the top safety of the board, Barron (Alabama), who has a good blend of speed and size.

16. New York Jets
Melvin Ingram DE
Versatile Ingram (South Carolina) can play almost any position in any scheme and he’s a natural athlete who will be an immediate starter.

17. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland)
Michael Floyd WR
There is a lot of value in the middle of the first round and Cincy’s needs are at cornerback, defensive tackle and defensive end, but they also need a receiver, and if Floyd (Notre Dame) is still there – which would be a small surprise – he would be a perfect compliment to A.J. Green. If not, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama) would be an obvious candidate.

18. San Diego Chargers
Dave DeCastro OG
The Chargers have a major need at this position after All-Pro Kris Dielman’s retirement and while there is value to be found later on, DeCastro (Stanford) would be a tremendous addition to any offensive line. One of the good things in the Draft.

19. Chicago Bears
Dre Kirkpatrick CB
There’s a chance that Morris Claiborne could be the only cornerback taken by the time the Bears are on the clock, and while offensive tackle could be the route they go, Kirkpatrick (Alabama) could help a good defence become great again.

20. Tennessee Titans
Cordy Glenn OL
The Titans don’t have too many holes to fill and while cornerback and defensive end are possibilities, they could take the best player on their Draft board. Glenn (Georgia) may fall down this far if Arizona, who always seem to have a pressing need at this position, don’t pass on him. Glenn is a big, mauling blocker who has rare strength and size. He can play guard or left tackle.

21. Cincinnati Bengals
Janoris Jenkins CB
The need for a receiver and a cornerback could be addressed with their two first round picks and Jenkins (North Alabama) is an elite player who was booted out of Florida for two drug-related arrests in three months. Character concerns have never been an issue for the Bengals, though. Worth the risk.

22. Cleveland Browns (from Atlanta)
Kevin Zeitler G
The Browns need a wide receiver and a right guard. While it would be no surprise to see them trade with the Miami Dolphins, who could take QB Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State) here, rather than reaching for Tannehill, Cleveland may sit pretty, with Zeitler (Wisconsin) the physical run-blocker they need.

23. Detroit Lions
Stephon Gilmore CB
A ball hawk in the secondary, many have Gilmore (South Carolina) going higher and certainly he is on a par with Jenkins and Kirkpatrick, possessing legitimate speed. Lions also need an offensive tackle.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Dont’a Hightower ILB
An obvious fit to replace released veteran James Farrior, Hightower (Alabama) could be among several Crimson Tide players taken in the first round.

25. Denver Broncos
Whitney Mercilus DE
A curve ball from the Broncos, who need a defensive tackle desperately. However, they could plump for a running back or the best player on their board – and that may be Mercilus (Illinois), who is a great edge-rusher.

26. Houston Texans
Nick Perry DE
There are a few holes along the offensive line after releasing Eric Winston and Mike Brisiel, but they need depth at defensive end and Perry (USC) was impressive at the Combine. He is a strong, physical force.

27. New England Patriots (from New Orleans) – Chandler Jones DE
Always hard to know what Bill Belichick will do. There are needs at safety, guard and cornerback, but a pass rush has been missing for a while and Jones (Syracuse) is very hard to block. Marshall’s DE Vinny Curry is also a possibility. Montana cornerback Trumaine Johnson could be a sleeper.

28. Green Bay Packers
Harrison Smith S
With Charles Woodson nearing the end of his career and Nick Collins returning after a career-threatening neck injury, some depth at the safety position is needed and Smith (Notre Dame) was a four-year starter in college, who made plenty of plays in blitz packages.

29. Baltimore Ravens
Peter Konz C
Part of a huge line at Wisconsin, Konz didn’t help his stock when failing to impress at the Combine. That won’t worry the Ravens, who see him as the successor to Matt Birk. Inside linebacker is also a need.

30. San Francisco 49ers
Coby Fleener TE
Coached by Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, Fleener caught 10 touchdowns from Andrew Luck last season and he’s a big target that would pair well with Vernon Davis. But if Kevin Zeitler is still on the board, expect the Niners to nab the 314lb blocker instead.

31. New England Patriots
Kendal Wright WR
While Belichick could trade this pick, Wright deserves a look. A good route runner, he has a lot of yards after the catch and was Robert Griffin’s top target at Baylor. Interesting prospect.

32. New York Giants
Lavonte David OLB
Posted 133 tackles last season at Nebraska and led the Cornhuskers in nearly every defensive category. Giants also need premium blockers and Jonathan Martin (Stanford) or Mike Adams (Ohio State) could also be interesting with the final pick of round one.

Luck – who spent part of his early life
growing up in London – is considered by many to be the next great
passer, possessing not only rare athletic ability, a strong arm and
accuracy, plus excellent leadership qualities and a strong work ethic.

The son of former Houston quarterback
Oliver Luck, the Colts hope he will be the cornerstone of the team for
the next decade at least.

Each
team will attempt to lay the foundations for future success over the
next three days when they select the elite college players over seven
rounds at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

In theory, what drives the NFL is good old-fashioned socialism. Unlike British soccer, where the economic model is every man for himself – with mismanagement causing some teams to frequently teeter on the verge of bankruptcy – the 32 NFL teams take from the rich to feed the poor, literally sharing their vast wealth equally among each other and capping expenditure.

Built on an economic model of fairness, with TV their biggest source of revenue, the income is split equally 32 ways, ensuring that no team will fall too far behind another.

It could not be further away from the capitalist Premier League model, where only four clubs can effectively win the title and those teams without billionaire owners may as well not bother lacing their boots.

Unlike the Premier League, which has to compete with the Italian Serie A (where 41 out of 64 championships have been won by only three teams) and Spain’s La Liga (where 69 of 80 titles have been won by four clubs), the NFL has no direct competition. It is a monopoly.

And it can be argued that this form of NFL ‘socialism’ simply allows owners of the 32 franchises to keep more of the money that just happens to be shared. The monopoly and salary cap ensures that the players’ salaries are kept artificially low.

What cannot be denied is the NFL is a behemoth of a business, and their product is the entertainment value of their games. Competitiveness is a key factor in that entertainment value.

And for NFL fans, the unique selection process of its players is pure entertainment. The Draft is like Christmas, with bright, shiny new toys being unveiled at 10-minute intervals.

In the spirit of fairness – or, as some would say, punishing success – the worst team from last season (in this case Indianapolis) get to pick first, and subsequently the 31 other teams pick a player in reverse order relative their record in the previous year, with the first round completed when the Super Bowl winners (New York Giants) make their selection.

With each allocated position in the Draft order, the team can either select a player or trade their position to another team for other positions, a player, or players, or any combination thereof.

If Luck is the ultimate prize, then Robert Griffin III is not a bad consolation.
Washington Redskins gave up their first and second round picks this year, as well their first round pick in both the 2013 and 2014 Drafts to swap with St Louis to move up to the No 2 spot in order to take Baylor’s Heisman Trophy-winning passer (who is known simply as ‘RG3’).

He is not a prototypical pocket passer like Luck. Like last year’s top pick, Cameron Newton, he is far more agile with his legs – a quarterback/running back hybrid and, as such, questions about his durability will be raised. Some would argue that the Redskins have paid a very high price to get Griffin up the altar.

There could be as many as four quarterbacks taken in the first round, with Ryan Tannehill a possible top-10 pick and Brandon Weeden a late first-round or early second-round selection.

In the last eight years, 65 per cent (15 of 23) of quarterbacks drafted in the first round have become starters. During the same time, only 8.5 per cent (seven of 82) of quarterbacks drafted outside the first round have become starters.

In the past decade, 102 quarterbacks have been drafted in rounds two through seven. Just two (David Garrard in Jacksonville and T. J. Yates in Houston) have won a single playoff game.

Meanwhile, 10 of 29 quarterbacks drafted in the first round in the last decade have won at least one playoff game. Selecting a quarterback in the first round equates to a 34 per cent chance of making the playoffs at some point in the future, but as a premium position, it also requires a large financial outlay.

Such is the popularity of the NFL, the Draft is shown live on prime-time TV in the States. Bookmakers price up markets such as the number of quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, and offensive and defensive players who will be taken in the first round.

They also offer odds on where individual players will end up.

One to watch: Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck should join the Colts

One to watch: Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck should join the Colts