With the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft just about 30 hours away, the time has come to try and predict which city will get the honor of watching WSU's Reid Forrest earn his multimillion dollar paychecks on Sundays next year.
Three clear front-runners have emerged for Forrest's services, all of which have an extreme need at punter: the Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins. Here's a look at how Forrest might fit into each team's plans.
Carolina Panthers (No. 1 overall): Taking a punter first overall would be unprecedented in the history of the NFL, but as we've already established, Forrest is an unprecedented talent. The Panthers were the fifth-worst team in the league in punting last year by DVOA, which would be bad enough on its own. But when you consider the Panthers were also the worst offensive team in the league, their need for a dynamic performer such as Forrest is magnified. All signs point to Cam Newton here, but that ignores the elephant in the room: Can Newton punt? Unlikely.
Odds the Panthers draft Forrest: 10-1. What direction the Panthers will go is a bit of a mystery, given their new, defensive-minded head coach, Ron Rivera.
Denver Broncos (No. 2 overall): After a decade of stability under Mike Shanahan, the Broncos again are a franchise in transition. Out is Josh McDaniels, in is John Fox who, coincidentally, was fired by the Panthers. Where McDaniels was somewhat of an offensive mad scientist who would likely see the value of Forrest's versatility, Fox is a conservative defensive coach. However, that just might play into Forrest's favor; nothing like a spectacular punter to make a conservative coach feel good.
Odds the Broncos draft Forrest: 8-1. That roster might not be big enough for both Tim Tebow and Reid Forrest.
Washington Redskins (No. 10 overall): Without a doubt, this is the most intriguing destination for Forrest. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has tried everything in his tenure as owner to field a winner. Everything, that is, but draft a spectacular punter with one of his myriad high draft picks. It's a strategy just crazy enough that crazy Snyder might actually pull the trigger.
Odds the Redskins draft Forrest: 3-1. From Washington State to Washington, D.C. A natural fit for a man who will someday turn his punting prowess into a presidential bid.
This is a tough one to nail down because, as we said, this isn't exactly a common situation. Forrest is a once-in-a-lifetime player, which we think will demand a once-in-a-lifetime move on the NFL's part. In a move that will bring to mind the NBA rigging the lottery to send Patrick Ewing to the New York Knicks, Roger Goodell will stop the NFL Draft before it begins to make an announcement:
"As one sworn to protect the shield of the NFL, I recognize what a special opportunity this league has in front of it. Reid Forrest isn't just a punter; he's a cornerstone player.That's why I'm invoking my power as the commissioner of the NFL and hereby declare that Reid Forrest has been removed from this draft and allocated to the future Los Angeles franchise, which will begin play in the 2012 season.
"Reid Forrest and his golden leg is just the player to lead the league back into the country's second-largest market. Is it fair? No. But neither is Forrest's talent, which is exactly why we've chosen to stack the deck in favor of the Los Angeles ... Forrests? Reids? Ah, heck, who cares. We'll figure that out later."
Stick with CougCenter for all the latest Reid Forrest draft news as we head toward the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, which starts at 5 p.m. (PDT) on Thursday, April 28. SB Nation has everything you need to prepare: NFL mock drafts, draft projections, scouting reports, the full NFL draft schedule and more. Check it out at SB Nation's NFL Draft page and our NFL Draft blog, Mocking the Draft.