Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Insights from the 2008 NFL Draft (1st Round)

(Originally written by Walter Williams and I on 4/26/08 for The Bottom Line)

MK: Walt and I took the opportunity to watch the 1st Round of the NFL Draft this year, and we decided to share some of our thoughts, opinions, and observations. Here they are:

During ESPN’s corny introduction to get the draft started at 3pm, plenty of Jets fans could obviously be seen in the crowd, since the draft is held in New York. One fan even had on an old Keyshawn Johnson Jets jersey. I’m glad to know that guy has a sense of humor.

WW: Keyshawn also has a solid sense of humor. I mean, you have to not take yourself too seriously if you wear a suit that makes you look like a wannabe oompa loompa.

You know what, calling that intro lame doesn't quite do it justice. They were going for some futuristic look and it wound up looking like something you would see on the Sci-Fi Channel.

3:02 – MK: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell welcomes everyone and the draft has officially begun. The Miami Dolphins select Michigan LT Jake Long, which isn’t suspenseful at all considering the Dolphins already signed him to a contract days before the draft. After the choice, ESPN immediately goes to commercial – no surprises there.

WW: I initially wasn't sure how I felt about this pick, but after thinking about it I believe that it’s a good move because the Dolphins are in need of a lot more than just one player and starting with retooling the offensive line appears to be a good move.

3:11 – MK: Chris Long, son of Raiders’ great Howie Long, looks extremely nervous in an interview with ESPN’s Suzy Kolber. I hope he doesn’t act that goofy on the field.

WW: I would have been much more excited about his prospects in the NFL if after his Mom's phone went off, he jumped across the table and tackled her. That's a lot more intimidating than whining about keeping the phone on vibrate.

3:12 – MK: After the interview, the Rams take Long, a DE from Virginia. Nothing stunning about that.

3:14 – With Atlanta on the clock, the main ESPN NFL Draft panel, Mel Kiper Jr., Chris Mortensen, Keyshawn Johnson, Steve Young, and Chris Berman, discuss the whole Michael Vick situation. I’m not sure if the Vick situation has been covered enough. Steve Young thinks the Falcons should take a quarterback – shocking.

3:18 – The Falcons do take a quarterback – Matt Ryan from Boston College. Kiper says that the Falcons can now turn the page and stop worrying about Vick, but that doesn’t really mean Ryan is the best pick here. They skipped over Glenn Dorsey, which could have been a mistake.

WW: That might be more than just a big mistake. The Falcons are in for a long rebuilding process and getting a guy who threw 19 picks in the ACC last year might set the franchise back even more. On the plus side, it appeared that Ryan was working on perfecting his southern drawl.

3:26 – MK: Apparently Mortensen thinks Darren McFadden is a “big Reggie Bush.” At this point, is that really a good thing?

WW: If you can subtract the constant east-west running, keep Kim Kardashian, and add McFadden's own great speed and receiving ability, then yes.

3:27 – MK: The Oakland Raiders take McFadden, a RB from Arkansas. The Jets’ fans aren’t happy.

WW: I don't know why they are so upset. The Raiders saved the Jets and their fans the inevitable embarrassment of passing on McFadden for some guy you've never heard of.

3:32 – MK: Self-proclaimed “God’s Linebacker,” Ray Lewis, just made an appearance in an Under Armour commercial. I just thought that was worth noting.

WW: I also thought it was worth noting that someone probably needs to drug test that guy screaming in all of their commercials. It's hard to imagine anyone being that naturally pumped up about some compression shirts.

3:35 – MK: The Kansas City Chiefs select DT Glenn Dorsey out of LSU. Having Dorsey drop to number five surely makes Herm Edwards very happy.

WW: I can guarantee that this move really makes the guy who is going to succeed Herm Edwards after he gets fired ecstatic.

3:44 – MK: The Jets pick DE/LB Vernon Gholston out of Ohio State, and Jets’ fans are thrilled for once. Gholston will probably play outside linebacker in New York’s 3-4 scheme.

WW: And since he got drafted by the Jets he will probably be a colossal bust.

3:51 – MK: In the first trade of the draft, the Saints move up to seventh slot after dealing first and third round choices to New England. The Saints, as expected, take DT Sedrick Ellis out of USC. This pick certainly fills a giant need for the Saints.

WW: Yes it does. The Saints’ defensive line had so many holes it resembled Swiss cheese. If I were the Saints, I would just have him play with his helmet off. I wouldn't want to run at a guy who looked like that.

3:54 – MK: After the Saints’ choice, the Jaguars trade with Baltimore to move up to the eighth choice. The Ravens get a first rounder, two third rounders, and a fourth round selection.

WW: I like this trade from the Ravens' perspective. They weren't able to get the guy they really wanted in Matt Ryan, so it makes sense to move back and get the second highest rated passer on their board.

4:01 – MK: With the new pick, the Jaguars take Florida DE Derrick Harvey. Kiper likes Harvey but still thinks the pick is too high. I agree with Kiper; he’s persuasive. Maybe it’s the hair.

4:03 – USC LB Keith Rivers is on the phone, and someone hands him a Bengals hat to put on. So much for trying to hide anything.

4:07 – The Bengals take Rivers. No one could see that coming.

4:11 – Another Under Armour commercial is on; they’re really starting to get annoying. I guess just wearing Under Armour gives anyone the right to wear spikes everywhere, yell at everyone, and storm the street with an angry mob. Good to know.

WW: The bad thing is that kids buy that stuff and think it will magically make them better athletes. Well, the University of Maryland football team wears Under Armour, and they finished 6-7 with a loss in the Emerald Nuts Bowl.

4:13 – MK: The Patriots take Tennessee LB Jerod Mayo. Junior Seau may be on his way out in New England. Chris Berman makes a “holding the Mayo” joke, which is surprisingly his first lame comment of the day.

4:18 – The Buffalo Bills take CB Leodis McKelvin out of Troy. Kiper thought Devin Thomas would have been a better fit, and Keyshawn Johnson disagrees. The other panelists are trying to gang up on Kiper, but he’s holding his ground like a champ. Good for you, Mel.

WW: It really wasn't a fair argument, though. Mel Kiper and his hair have been doing NFL draft analysis since the early 80's, or before Chris Berman had to resort to a horrible comb over hairstyle.

4:23 – MK: With the twelfth selection, the Denver Broncos pick OT Ryan Clady out of Boise State to help protect Jay Cutler. But who’s going to protect Mike Shanahan?

WW: I wouldn't worry about Mike Shanahan. When the world ends, the only things left will be cockroaches, orange drink, Al Davis, unsold Danny Wuerffel jerseys, and Mike Shanahan.

4:28 – MK: The Carolina Panthers take Jonathan Stewart, a RB out of Oregon. This selection seems very smart, and Stewart may form a solid backfield with DeAngelo Williams.

4:36 – The Chicago Bears take Vanderbilt OT Chris Williams. Many Bears fans wanted a running back, especially with the performance of Cedric Benson last season. The draft panel immediately changes the topic to Brian Urlacher; I guess this pick wasn’t important enough to talk about.

WW: Nope, not really.

4:42 – MK: The Chiefs trade up with Detroit and take G/T Branden Albert from Virginia. By taking Dorsey and Albert so far, the Chiefs seem to be on the way to improving in a hurry.

WW: If by improve in a hurry you mean in three years, I agree.

4:53 – MK: The Arizona Cardinals select Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a CB out of Tennessee State. Detroit’s pick is in right after, but for some reason we’re at a commercial break. Thanks, ESPN!

WW: It is hard to hate on ESPN for the commercials since the cost of Mel Kiper's hair alone accounts for about 40 percent of the ad revenue.

4:57 – MK: Detroit picks OT Gosder Cherilus out of Boston College, and Baltimore trades up to the 18th slot. Apparently they want to draft a quarterback.

5:01 – While on camera, QB Joe Flacco’s mom yells, “Baltimore!” I wonder if he’ll be a Raven.

WW: You gotta cut his mom some slack here. She's happy for her son to get drafted and probably even happier to realize that she is probably getting a new car and house. That enthusiasm was probably tempered, however, when she realized that her son was going to the same Baltimore whose claim to fame is “The Wire.”

5:03 – MK: In stunning fashion, the Ravens select Flacco, who played at Delaware. Move over Kyle Boller and Troy Smith.

WW: This might prove to be a decent pick, but the Ravens better not expect to start Flacco immediately unless they plan on drafting another quarterback next year. The competition in the NFL is just a tad higher than in the CAA.

5:08 – MK: Kirk Herbstreit discusses the number of bad-to-average quarterbacks in the NFL. I can’t argue that.

WW: Actually, I'm surprised no one called out Herbstreit since his own NFL career never happened.

5:09 – MK: The Panthers trade up to number 19 (from the Eagles) and take OT Jeff Otah out of Pittsburgh, but they give up a second round choice, a fourth round choice, and a 2009 first round pick in the process. I’m not sure if that’s really worth moving up to take Otah.

WW: Probably not, because they could have gotten a good player who has already proven himself instead of getting some unproven rookie. Plus you've gotta assume that Carolina's 1st pick next year is going to be pretty high.

5:20 – MK: Tampa Bay, with the 20th choice, selects CB Aqib Talib out of Kansas. It seems to be a solid choice even though Talib looks like he’s 30.

WW: It doesn't matter to me how old he really is. If baseball has taught us anything, it’s that lying about your age doesn't have a whole lot to do with production, or lack thereof. Look at Julio Franco; he said he was 47, but it was obvious to me he was pushing 60.

5:29 – MK: The Redskins trade the 21st selection to the Falcons, who then take Sam Baker, an OT from USC. The Falcons might as well have someone to help protect the new face of the franchise, Matt Ryan.

WW: This is where ESPN started to annoy me. They never actually mentioned the terms of the deal. For all I knew the Redskins traded the pick for a Chesapeake late night hot dog.

5:38 – MK: Two running backs are taken in a row: Felix Jones out of Arkansas goes to Dallas; Rashard Mendenhall out of Illinois goes to Pittsburgh. Both picks make a lot of sense for each team. Mendenhall apparently “runs with attitude,” which is good to know.

WW: That is great to know. You don't want to draft a guy who runs with “manners,” “caution,” or “conscience”; this is the NFL.

5:50 – MK: The Tennessee Titans make a reach and take RB Chris Johnson out of East Carolina. The panel thinks that the Titans need a wide receiver for Vince Young.

WW: Who knows, the Titans might be getting ready to revert to a veer option offense. In that case you really don't need wideouts. There are only four plays in the playbook, but they work like Novocaine.

5:58 – MK: The Cowboys move up to the 25th spot and select CB Mike Jenkins out of South Florida. This choice seems to fill a huge need – helping S Roy Williams cover someone in the secondary.

WW: Actually, I think the point of this pick was to make sure Roy Williams never has to actually cover anyone in the secondary. Now he can just go around looking to hit people.

6:05 – MK: The next few picks seem to go without any problems: the Texans take OT Duane Brown, the Chargers take CB Antoine Cason, the Seahawks take DE Lawrence Jackson, the 49ers take DT Kentwan Balmer, the Jets take TE Dustin Keller (which mildly irritates some Jets’ fans), and the Giants draft S Kenny Phillips.

WW: And that will conclude our coverage of the first round of the NFL's annual selection meeting. We really hope you enjoyed this brief look at the first round, but if you didn't, it won't affect me too much. This paper is free, we work for free, and it’s not like there's anything else in this rag that’s a whole helluva lot better.

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