The first round of the NFL Draft is in the books. It only took a little over 3.5 hours, but it is was well worth it. The always exciting event started with a bang with the introduction of a record number of invitees to the actual event (25), and this year’s Hall of Fame Class. Following the introduction of all the players, Goodell took the stage to some loud and pronounced boos. As if nobody saw this coming. People in New York are generally unforgiving to begin with. With the current state of the NFL, I was surprised that the boos did not last even longer. Either way, Goodell handled it well. He and the owners want football too. I think we will have it come September.
But back to last evening’s first round. Here are some of the main storylines that caught my eye.
Cam Worth the Risk?
-In one of the only picks that went as expected in Round 1, the Carolina Panthers opened up the draft with a bang in taking Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton. Newton was all smiles and looked extremely excited to be heading to Carolina. His father Cecil Newton, very well-known for some off field incidents, looked very smooth sporting a sharp pinstripe suit. I am not sure how big of a fan I am of this pick. Newton is a huge risk. He is a major unknown entity. He could be the next Jamarcus Russell. Or he could be the next Ben Roethlisberger/Michael Vick hybrid. I really do not know. But I do know Carolina drafted 2 QBs last year. I wonder what Jimmy Clausen was thinking watching last evening’s events transpire. The Panthers apparently believe in Cam Newton. I wish the former Auburn standout the best.
Locker is all Smiles
-In probably the most surprising pick of the entire first round, the Tennessee Titans took Jake Locker out of Washington University, with the 8th pick in the draft. Who had Locker as the number 2 QB off the board going into last night? Nobody. But I admit I am very happy for the kid. He was criticized by everybody and their mother for returning to school this past Fall. Many had projected him as the number 1 pick in last year’s draft. He decided to return to school and try to lead the Huskies to a Bowl Game (which he did). Unfortunately, things did not go entirely to plan. The Huskies had a very up and down year and Locker’s stock went way down. Or so we thought. Locker was still picked 8th overall. His stock apparently did not drop that much. For all the naysayers out there, Jake Locker is all smiles today.
Gabbert Does the Brady Quinn
-It seems like every year there is one marquee player who gets drafted way later than expected. Generally this player is a quarterback. The camera continues to pan to the guy after each pick as the anxiety mounts. This year, that player was Missouri QB, Blaine Gabbert. Many had Gabbert as one of the top 2 QBs in this year’s class. Many had Gabbert touted as a top 5 pick. Last night, it didn’t happen. Now Gabbert did not have to wait as long as the traditional marquee player whose stock drops waits on draft night. But he did have to watch his former College teammate, Aldon Smith, get picked up by a San Francisco team that many thought would select him. Then he had to watch a Tennessee team, that many thought would select him, take a fellow quarterback ahead of him (Jake Locker). I think the San Francisco pick had to sting Blaine the hardest though. He was the star of Missouri. Aldon Smith was a very talented player who had a great career at Mizzou, but this was Gabbert’s night to shine. He was the highly touted Tiger in this year’s draft class. Well at least for Blaine, he did not have to wait nearly as long as guys like Brady Quinn and Aaron Rodgers once did. Things could get a lot worse than 10.
Falcons Give up an Army for 1
-In the trade of the night, the Falcons gave up an army of picks to Cleveland in order to get Julio Jones. Initially, I thought this was a horrible deal for Atlanta. I mean who gives up 5 picks for an unproven commodity (no offense to Julio)? But then I realized, what if Julio lives up to the hype? The Falcons won 13 games last year. Put him next to arguably the best receiver in the League, Roddy White, and could this team be a Super Bowl contender? Atlanta sure hopes so. I will state though that Cleveland, a team that has many needs, got a great deal. I give the edge to the Browns on this trade, but will state that if Julio lives up to the hype, this could be the piece that gets the Falcons to that Super Bowl level.
Are You a Numbers Guy?
-Well we all know that Mel Kiper is the ultimate numbers guy. We all already knew this heading into last night, but Jon Gruden made sure to bring this point to center stage last night. I will state, I enjoyed watching ESPN NFL Experts Jon Gruden and Mel Kiper go at it all night. These two guys are two of the best in their craft. They just have entirely different approaches to how they conduct analyis. Kiper is solely about the numbers. Gruden is about the man and the intangibles. The former coach relies on his gut. I think ESPN did a wonderful job pitting these two opposites together last evening. In watching Gruden and Kiper, the fans get the best of both worlds. Qualitative versus Quantitative analyis. What could be better?
So there is my recap of NFL Draft Day 1. Days 2 and 3 is where the real magic happens though. Who will be this year’s 6th round version of Tom Brady? Or the 7th round steal that was Shannon Sharpe in in 1990? We will find out all that and more in time.
Enjoy the rest of the draft.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.