The 31st overall pick in the NFL draft seldom generates a lot of conversation. Its so far down in the first round that its almost a second-round pick.
But the 31st overall pick has become a hot subject for speculation this year.
Its causing a stir because the forward-thinking New England Patriots hold the pick and there are new collective bargaining rules in place that create some interesting potential scenarios.
It could happen.
Heres the deal: Under the old CBA, the price for signing another teams restricted free agent was a pair of draft picks, a first and a third. It was a steep price too steep for any team to pay.
But under the new CBA, signed last summer, the price is just a single draft pick now a first-rounder for anyone who is really good, like Wallace or Webb, both of whom are restricted free agents. (The new team also has to strike a deal that the former team refuses to match, since the former team maintains the right of first refusal.)
Enter the Patriots, who have not one but two picks near the bottom of the first round this year the 27th and 31st overall. They need a receiver, and they also need a cornerback. Wallace and Webb are two of the best young guys at their positions. Stealing one of them would not only help the Patriots but also damage one of their primary rivals for AFC supremacy.
Would it make sense for the Pats to hand over the 31st pick to the Steelers in exchanging for signing Wallace to a big deal? Or hand it to the Ravens in exchange for signing Webb?
Sounds like a pretty interesting idea to me, especially since the Patriots would still have a pick in the first round, the 27th overall. The Patriots would certainly love to insert Webb, who is just 25, into a pass defense that struggled badly in 2011.
Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome seemed to think teams covet draft picks too much to hand them over in such a fashion, but the only way for the Ravens to make sure they keep Webb away from the Patriots -- or anyone else -- is to lock him up to a longterm deal. Newsome has expressed interest in getting that done, but the clock is ticking. Free agency begins next week.
Meanwhile, speculation on what the Patriots might do with the 31st pick could continue right up until the draft begins on April 26.