Let me make something clear at the outset. You cannot evaluate or “assign grades” to a team’s draft for at least the first two years – - and maybe three. I do not believe in giving out draft grades to teams the day after the draft and so I will not do that. I do have a few observations and comments about the draft and since that was the thing that dominated sports radio and TV last weekend, let me get those remarks out now.
This was the Year of the Offensive Lineman. Not only did Jake Long go first in the draft, but also seven other offensive linemen went in Round 1 compared to only five running backs, two quarterbacks one tight end and zero wide receivers. If that ever happened before, I surely do not recall it.
Rumors floated around that the New Orleans Saints were offering to trade Jamaal Brown who made the Pro Bowl not so long ago. With all the teams rushing to get offensive linemen, it is somewhat surprising that a team did not pick up on that offer.
The Arizona Cardinals’ pass defense last year was pretty bad; it was 29th in the league statistically. Yesterday, the Cards seemed to recognize that need and spent picks on cornerbacks and defensive ends/pass rushers. If the players pan out, that should improve the team.
The Carolina Panthers need a running game because they do not have a stud quarterback or a dominant passing game. They took Jeff Otha (OT, Pitt) and Jonathon Stewart (RB, Oregon) in the first round of the draft; that cannot hurt their running attack.
The Chicago Bears need a quarterback; they have for about the last 60 years. They also needed help on the offensive line and at running back and at wide receiver this year and – as usual – the Bears seemed to focus on those other needs and not quarterback. Eventually, even if only by accident, the Bears need to find a quarterback who is well above average every weekend. Maybe next year?
Denver’s defense was miserable last year; it was a major contributor to a losing season for the Broncos. Before the draft, they did acquire DT, Dwayne Robertson, from the Jets; but before anyone falls all over themselves in declaring the defensive line problems solved, please recall Denver’s history with “used defensive linemen”. Do the names Courtney Brown, Darryl Gardner and Gerard Warren ring any bells? [By the way, is Wahoo McDaniel still alive? Can he still play a little?] Anyway, the Broncos emphasized offense in their draft and that seems strange to me.
The Indianapolis Colts either plan to move some of their draftees to new positions or they have some inside information on new rule changes coming to the NFL. The Colts drafted three centers over the weekend. They already have one on the roster. The way football is currently played, you do not need more than one on the field on any given snap.
The NY Giants needed to fill the hole in their defense created by Gibril Wilson’s departure for a fat contract in Oakland. With the last pick in the first round, the Giants found the best safety in the draft – - by my evaluation. My mother always used to say it was better to be lucky than smart. The Giants were lucky AND smart; that’s got to be still better.
The Washington Redskins need help at WR and they took two WRs within their first three selections. The problem there is that the two incumbent WRs are in the midst of long-term contracts of the “$30M variety”. The guys getting the big bucks are the ones not getting the job done sufficiently to create the need to draft new players there. Just to clarify, this is not a good situation…
Dallas had the 22nd pick in the draft and took RB, Felix Jones, from Arkansas. Immediately after that, the Pittsburgh Steelers took RB, Rashard Mendenhall from Illinois. Everyone thought Mendenhall was the better pick but Jerry Jones explained the Dallas selection this way. He said that Felix Jones would be a better back-up running back to Marion Barber because Mendenhall had the potential to be an every-down back and they were looking for a back-up. You don’t think that the fact that Jerry Jones played football at Arkansas had anything to do with this selection, do you? Me neither?
The Broncos took a very large defensive tackle from Va Tech in the fourth round. According to data in the scout reports, Carlton Powell majored in “nutrition and exercise” at Va Tech. There was no mention as to whether or not he minored in “sleeping”.
The Eagles departed from their usual “no bad apples policy” taking Jack Ikegwuonu (CB, Wisconsin) in the fourth round. He faces a trial on felony charges for grand theft. In addition, Ikegwuonu – how long before he gets the nickname “Ike” which is so much easier to type? – is rehabbing from an ACL injury. So, he will not be physically able to play in 2008 but in 2009, he might not be able to play because he might be in jail or the NFL might suspend him. Strange pick…
The Bengals are no strangers to players who are “bad apples”. You might think that the Bengals might be on a course to focus sharply on “high character” draftees but if you think that, you might be wrong. The Bengals took a defensive tackle in the fifth round who is facing a trial next month on counts of DWI, driving without a license and hit-and-run. I have no information on the details of the case so I make no judgment about his innocence or guilt, but this is the fifth round of the draft where player rankings tend to collapse one upon the other. If you are the Bengals, is this a critically important player?
The Raiders traded CB, Fabian Washington, to the Ravens over the weekend. Three years ago, Washington was a mid-first round pick in the draft; this weekend, the Raiders got a 4th round pick for him. If Fabian Washington were an Yugo, he could not have depreciated any faster.
Enough with the NFL draft. If there were a Brainiac of the Month Award, this month’s winner would have to be Josh Howard of the Dallas Mavericks. Last week on Michael Irvin’s ESPN Radio show, Howard said that he enjoyed smoking marijuana in the off-season and that lots of NBA players smoked marijuana.
Forget for a moment that he admitted to breaking the law on the radio and forget for a moment that he players in a league so image conscious that it imposed a dress code on its players and forget for a moment that he threw his fellow-players under the bus with his broad and unspecific statement about their smoking habits. In addition to all of that, his comments caused people to focus on how he has been doing in the current playoff series between the Mavs and the Hornets. The answer is not so good; Howard is 15-58 from the floor in four games. One more like that and the Mavs season will be over and Josh Howard can sit back and light up and …
Finally, here is an item from Dwight Perry’s Sideline Chatter column in the Seattle Times:
“Brian’s Song (1971) and Rudy (1993) finished 1-2 in eHarmony.com’s “20 Movies That Make Men Cry,” and four other sports offerings landed in the top 17. But the news wasn’t all good.
Miami Dolphins 1-15 Season Highlights (2007), the odds-on favorite, was unexpectedly disqualified from tear-jerker consideration when judges ruled it was more of a comedy.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…