So the NFL Draft is now complete, and like any other sporting event on the calendar, everybody's got an opinion: Who were the winners? Who were the losers? How many gallons of hair gel did Mel Kiper go through this weekend? Why is Jon Gruden so damn happy all the time? Most importantly, is it just me, or does anyone think that Chris Mortensen secretly hates Adam Schefter? Just thinking out loud here.
While I'm not an expert and would never claim to be, I do watch an uncomfortable amount of college football (Anybody watch the San Jose State spring game this weekend? Anybody? Is this thing on?) which in my mind, makes me at least semi-qualified to discuss this past weekend.
And since everyone is giving their opinions anyway, why not share a few of mine, with some closing thoughts on the 2010 NFL Draft.
The NFL Draft on Thursday night: So the NFL Draft on Thursday night huh? I'll be honest, I didn't think it'd work. Not in late April, with the NBA and NHL playoffs underway, not to mention the baseball regular season.
Well, I was wrong.
The NFL once again proved that if baseball is America's past-time, football is it's present and future. Nobody knows how to market their stars, coaches, teams and itself quite like the NATIONAL...FOOTBALL...LEAGUE!!!
Everything on Thursday night was first class and gripping. From the goofy, makeshift red carpet leading into Radio City Music Hall (Honestly, incredible foresight by Roger Goodell. A red carpet, really? Think Bud Selig could ever in a million years think of anything that clever? Because I think the only time a red carpet comes to his mind, is when he see's the 70's era, bloody-mary red shag carpet every time he walks into his basement.) to the pre-draft introductions of the players in the green room, all to music that made a professional wrestling intro look cheesy by comparison. But again, it worked. NFL fans may not have known what Gerald McCoy or Eric Berry looked like on Thursday morning, but they do now.
And once the draft got underway, I was hooked. NBA Playoffs what? MLB who? The Cleveland Cavaliers are my favorite NBA team to watch, yet I only caught their Game 3 with the Bulls in passing on Thursday night. Same with the Red Sox and the Texas Rangers.
Maybe the smartest move by the NFL (And I'm not sure exactly when it happened), was to reduce the number of time between picks in Round 1 from 20 minutes to 10. I think it was last year, but I could be wrong.
That alone made the NFL Draft in primetime even more perfect. It allowed time for the pick to happen, for us to catch a few highlights, listen to Mel Kiper's spiel on the guy, go to a quick commercial break, and then we were back for the next pick. No wasted time, no flipping to other channels.
Just wall to wall football from 7:30 to 11 p.m.
Tim Tebow to the Broncos: Alright, so I already wrote almost 2000 words on Tebow to the Broncos on Friday, so I'll try to limit my thoughts here. If you didn't read the article, my opinion is basically that you can't base Tebow or his pro future on conventional wisdom, because he defies it. You have to measure him on heart, desire and will to win. And if you don't think that those kinds of intangibles matter when it comes to NFL quarterbacks, JaMarcus Russell would be the best player in the league right now. Sooo...
Now back to the Tebow chatter from over the weekend. Because once everyone had a chance to swallow and digest the Tebow pick from Thursday, by Friday, the latest angle on the Florida wonder-boy was that "All the pressure in the world is on him."
Tebow is going to an established team, with a hierarchy at quarterback. Kyle Orton is the starter, and Brady Quinn is the backup. Already right there, that puts him in a better position than Sam Bradford in St. Louis, or if Tebow had been selected by Buffalo, Jacksonville or a few other destinations that he was linked to. The Broncos also have already said that they've drafted Tebow solely as a quarterback (Eliminating that controversy) and it is assumed that they will put in a special package of plays just for him.
So I guess I'm confused. Where exactly is the pressure coming from again?
Now on the other hand, is there pressure on Broncos coach Josh McDaniels? Absolutely. In the past 18 months, he's sent a franchise quarterback (Jay Cutler), superstar wide receiver (Brandon Marshall) and other veterans packing because he thought they didn't fit. Now on a team that just missed the playoffs, McDaniels traded up to get a quarterback that might not be ready for 2-3 years. Ok, this guy has some pressure on him. I get it.
Truthfully I think there's more pressure on Denver's other first round pick, DeMaryius "Bay, Bay," Thomas, than there is Tebow. Especially considering that it will be Thomas who is expected- and needed- to contribute right away for the departed Marshall.
But Tebow? Unless he's put in charge of the pregame prayer, there's no pressure. He'll see the field, while at the same time being allowed to develop at his own pace. How many other first round picks can you say the same about?
Sam Bradford has pressure. DeMaryius Thomas has pressure. Tim Tebow, I just don't see it.
Jimmy Clausen to the Panthers: On Friday I went on Twitter and said what I believe to be the truth about Jimmy Clausen:
"I know what I see with my own two eyes, and the Carolina Panthers just committed highway robbery. Clausen was the best QB in this draft."
And I stand by what I said. Last week I shared my thoughts on why Clausen should be the first quarterback taken on a podcast I did with Allen Kenney of BlatantHomerism.com and I'll reiterate them here. (If you listened to that podcast, most of what I'm about to say is repetitive. I wouldn't blame you for just skipping this section). Remember, this is all opinion, but also I think a valid one, considering I watch enough college football to be declared clinically insane. Here goes:
For starters, Clausen is a kid who grew up in the limelight, has been a public figure since he was 16-years-old and played at one of the biggest fish bowls in college football at Notre Dame. Ok, I suppose you could say that about a lot of guys.
He also played through every conceivable adversity you can as a college quarterback: Playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in college football as a freshman; Having his best skill position players miss time with injury; Playing through injury himself for most of the 2009 season; Playing the second half of last year with uncoaching certainty. Basically, there isn't a guy who should be more mentally ready to handle having to play right away than Clausen. The kid literally has seen it all.
From an on the field standpoint, Clausen got better every year, by any measurement you can find, whether statistically or otherwise. In his final year at Notre Dame, he threw for 28 touchdowns and just four interceptions, and as someone who watched all his games, I can tell you that at least two of those picks were complete flukes.
Now after all that, I thought that both Allen (in our podcast) and some of my other readers on Facebook and Twitter all brought up a very basic, but valid point: "Hey Aaron, say what you want. But the guy barely won any games! He lost to freakin' Navy!"
Touché, good point. Here is my argument against that.
His offense put up 27 or more points in four of their six losses last year, and 30 or more in three of them. The bottom line is, if you score that many points on offense, at some point your defense needs to step up and make plays. Clausen led fourth quarter drives to beat Michigan State, Purdue (In which he got hurt, and came in cold off the bench for the last drive of the game) and Washington. His coach was nothing short of a bumbling idiot, and someone who seemed almost like he wanted to get fired the last two or three weeks of the season. As I texted my friend on Friday afternoon, "I wouldn't even trust Charlie Weis to make a dinner reservation for me, let alone trust him to run my football team."
Again, I know what I saw with my own two eyes. Clausen was the best quarterback in this draft. My predictions are as follows: He'll be a starter by Week 10 this coming season, a Pro Bowler within three years and considered one of the "elite," quarterbacks within five.
Disagree if you want (And I know most of you will), but I stand by what I said. More importantly, I'm thinking the Panthers and Clausen will end up with the last laugh.
Tyson Alualu to the Jaguars: Now I would never sit here and claim to know more than the experts, but I didn't hate the Alualu pick as much as everyone else. As a matter of fact, after digging through the archives on this site, I was surprised to remember that I wrote this about about Alualu in my Week 12 college football preview on November 20:
Alright, so don’t make fun of me, but while I sit on my couch for 12 hours every single Saturday watching endless amounts of football, I always keep a notebook. Dorky I know.
I usually don’t write down anything too important in there, just things I notice, funny quotes, goofy haircuts, you know stuff like that.
Anyway, the other day I was looking through my notebook from the season, and I noticed that on two separate occasions, I unknowingly praised Cal defensive tackle Tyson Alualu. After doing a little research on the kid, I realized that I’m not loosing my mind and that’s he’s actually pretty good: Mel Kiper has him as a second round pick in next spring’s draft.
And with Stanford having faced a smaller, quicker d-line against Oregon two weeks ago, and USC’s M.A.S.H. unit last weekend, I think they might not be ready for how physical Alualu and Cal’s defense is going to be. Plus, I’m feeling like there might be a little residual karma at Stanford, for trying to run things up on USC last weekend. You don’t dare cross Pete Carroll that way, you just don’t.
So what am I trying to say in all this? I’m thinking it’s going to be a big day for Tyson Alualu. Bet you've never heard that before.
Wow, kind of impressed I wrote that huh? I'm kind of impressed with myself to be perfectly honest. I just wish I'd spelled "losing" correctly.
But here's the thing. I don't care about what I think about the pick or what the Jags think about it. You just can't take Alualu there. You can't. Trade down if you want. Hope he falls to the second round. But you can't use the No. 10 pick on the guy.
Think about it. Not only is it not fair to your fans- who've looked forward to this draft for four months- but it's not fair to Alualu either. No matter what he does from here on out, he'll always have the stigma of that pick attached to him. Fans and his future teammates already have an opinion on the guy, and he hasn't even gotten to Jacksonville yet. I'm afraid that no matter what he does, he'll never be able to rectify that opinion one way or the other.
Now, I know that the Jags claim that Alualu was their guy from the beginning and had pegged him along, but I'm just not buying it.
What I really think happened, was that they liked C.J. Spiller, and had him all but signed, sealed and delivered at No. 10. They never in a million years thought Buffalo would take him, probably because the Bills already are set at running back, and also because they play in FREAKIN' BUFFALO!! It's completely illogical for them to draft a speed guy on the perimeter if he's going to be playing in three feet of snow every week. Doesn't it make more sense to focus on a power running game and defense? I thought so.
But once Spiller (Who would have been a perfect fit in the moderate climate of Jacksonville) went off the board to Buffalo, I really think the Jags freaked, almost like when you have a guy pegged in your fantasy draft, and he ends up getting drafted one pick ahead of you.
I can just see Jacksonville's war room right now: Spiller went to the Bills? Wait? Huh? Who's left?...Someone...Hurry up! The clock is ticking!!!
Kind of like when you were ready to draft Drew Brees in the first round of your fantasy draft, but ended up getting burned and taking Jason Campbell instead. Woops.
Alualu may turn out to be a great NFL player and he might not be. But one thing is for sure. He should have never been the No. 10 pick in this draft.
The Cincinnati Bengals Drafting Carlos Dunlap: Congratulations to the Cincinnati Bengals, by the making the 2010 NFL Draft their 8th in a row taking at least one guy with a major, red-flag character issue. With their pick of Carlos Dunlap, they've now eclipsed the previous record of seven drafts in any sport, set by the Portland "Jail Blazers" from 1997-2004. Again, congratulations.
For those of you who don't know Dunlap's story, let me give you a brief rundown: He was one of the highest rated players in his high school class, but someone known at Florida to not only take plays off, but entire games as well. He was also arrested for a DUI in December, which was bad enough, except for two very important things: One he was only 20 years old at the time (Which I guess if your dumb enough to drink and drive it doesn't really matter how old you are) and two, the arrest happened at 3 a.m., just days before the SEC Championship game. You know, the biggest game of Florida's season.
Hmm, so Dunlap was already lazy on the field, and making really, really dumb decisions off it, and now he's going to be getting more money (not to mention free time) than he's ever had before? I could see this ending badly.
But ultimately at the end of the day, this is the Bengals fault not Dunlap's. As an unbiased observer, it seems like they're drafting straight out of the 1980's, and putting stuff like character and common sense aside for height, weight and speed. They've been doing it for years and continue to get embarrassed by it.
I'm not saying Dunlap can't succeed, and I hope I'm wrong on him. At the same time, if he's seen wearing the orange and black of a prison jumpsuit instead of a Bengals uniform these next few years, I won't be surprised either.
The Third Round of Dreams: I don't know whether it's because I watch so much college football, because so many juniors declared for this draft, or just that I drank too much in college and my brain is starting to rot, but I can't remember a deeper draft than this one.
When I was looking over the draft results on Sunday night, I was especially surprised by the depth and quality of guys found in the third round. Here are some who stood out:
Amari Spivey, Lions, No. 66 overall: No real thoughts, other than that he's a Connecticut guy. And us CT guys have to stick together!
Chad Jones, Giants, No. 76 overall: A hard hitting safety that was also a relief pitcher on LSU's 2009 National Championship baseball team. Which addresses two concerns for the Giants: Depth in their secondary, and a power arm out of their bullpen.
Damian Williams, Titans, No. 77 overall: A year ago he played with Mark Sanchez, and was thought to be a first round pick. Then he decided to come back to school, got a little banged up, and had a true freshman throwing wobbly passes to him all season long. Hmm...
Brandon LaFell, Panthers, No. 78 overall: Todd McShay had him ranked as the top wide receiver in this draft all season long, yet he somehow slipped to the third round. Another hmm... (In case your wondering, yes it took every ounce in me not to crack a Les Miles joke here. And my ex-girlfriend says I'm not mature! Ha, shows ya what she knows!!)
Jordan Shipley, Bengals, No. 84 overall: As a general rule, I'm not usually high on 24-year-old, sixth year receivers with a history of knee problems. Just a company policy. I guess Shipley is the exception the to the rule.
Plus, as a Bengal, maybe he can take fellow rookie Carlos Dunlap (See point above) under his wing, and teach him how to have some good old-fashioned, sober fun! Maybe some guitar playing today. Hunting and fishing tomorrow. Scary stories around the camp fire on Friday night. Who's in?
Colt McCoy, Browns, No. 85 overall: I'm still not sure that McCoy will be anything other than a backup in the NATIONAL...FOOTBALL...LEAGUE. But still, the guy won more college games than anyone...Ever. You could do a lot worse with the 85th pick overall.
Eric Decker, Broncos, No. 87 overall: I watched several of Minnesota's games this year, and let me give you a quick recap of how their offense looked:
1st and 10: 4 yard completion to Eric Decker
2nd and 6: 10 yard loss on a sack, because Decker was triple covered
3rd and 16: 18 yard completion to a triple covered Decker
1st and 10: Interception thrown toward Decker in triple coverage
I'm not lying. Decker wasn't a big part of Minnesota's offense last year. He WAS their offense. People talk about Denver taking DeMaryius Thomas in the first round, but this may have ended up being their best pick of the draft.
Navarro Bowman, 49ers, No. 91 overall: Four words: Steal...of...the...draft!
Instinctual, sideline-to-sideline, big-hitting linebacker. Plus his cowboy collar makes him look 17 percent cooler and tougher than he would look otherwise. Plus, doesn't "Navarro Bowman," just sound like a football player?
Rennie Curran, Titans, No. 97 overall: Undersized, but plays with a heart twice as big. Sometimes it seemed like Curran was the only guy on Georgia's defense who actually cared last year.
The Team With the Most Interesting Draft Was: The Patriots. I'm not saying the best draft, just the most interesting.
On offense, they got Tom Brady a few more toys, with two tight ends who were first round talents but fell for for different reasons (Rob Gronkowski-injuries, Aaron Hernandez-attitude). I especially like the Hernandez pick (Again, Connecticut!!) as a bit of an undersized guy, who simply produced on the highest level of college football. Between him and Darius Butler (UConn!) I might actually root for the Patriots next year. Wait a second, what I am saying!?!?! Never mind.
On defense, the Pats grabbed Brandon Spikes in Round 2, which you can view as a steal (Potential Round 1 guy had he left in 2009) or bust (Because he runs the 40 in a time that makes Charles Barkley racing Dick Bavetta look fast by comparison).
But to me Spikes was still one of the most instinctual and dominating defenders in college football over the last few years. Sometimes teams worry about measurables so much (40 time, bench press, height, weight etc) that I really wonder if anybody actually watches football anymore.
Finally, I loved, loved, loved the Zac Robinson pick at the end of the draft.
Robinson was a winner throughout his career as quarterback at Oklahoma State, despite injuries to several of his key skill position guys, and the suspension of Dez Bryant. Not to mention that he played the 2008 Holiday Bowl with a separated shoulder, putting him somewhere at about a 9.82 out of 10 on the Badass Scale.
I'm not saying Robinson, should or will play any time soon. What I am saying is that I wouldn't be surprised if Tom Brady gets nicked up some time in the next couple years, and Robinson emerges from the bench- ala Matt Cassel- and leads them to a few "Where the hell did this guy come from," victories. You heard it here first.
Closing Thoughts: Here are some scattered, random thoughts that don't fit in anywhere else in regards to the 2010 draft.
I was really, really happy to see Stafon Johnson get signed as a free agent by the Titans. For those of you who don't know Johnson's story, he almost died last fall in a weight lifting accident, when he dropped a bench press bar on his throat. The fact that he's even still alive- let alone playing football- is a minor miracle. When you're done reading my stuff please read this article on Johnson's comeback. I just re-read it and it's totally worth your time. Promise.
The Buccaneers drafting Arrelious Benn from Illinois breaks my one cardinal rule in life: Never draft anyone who has ever been coached by Ron Zook. Period.
I wrote the following on Twitter Friday evening: "Remember the time that Toby Gerhart's girlfriend called him, "One Big Muscle," http://bit.ly/btZQPr Yeh, I've been trying to forget myself." And I still am.
This one caused a bit of a bit of an uproar when I mentioned it on Facebook and Twitter, but I stand by it. That's this: If you want to question Lane Kiffin as a person, and how he left Tennessee, by all means go ahead. But you cannot question him as a coach. A year ago Jonathan Crompton wasn't even the starter at Tennessee, and now he's a late NFL Draft pick. I don't care what anyone says, there is a ZERO percent chance that happens if Phil Fulmer is still in Knoxville. Again, Kiffin the person might have some work to do. But Kiffin the coach knows what he's doing.
Finally, I'm just happy that Alabama cornerback Javier Arenas got drafted by the Chiefs. He's maybe my favorite college player of the last few years, and is also everything that's great about college sports. He came to Alabama as an unknown high school senior, appeared as strictly a special teams guy early on, became a starting corner after a few years and then a superstar as a senior. Now he's an NFL Draft pick. I can't remember ever being happier for someone I've never met....