Greetings, sports fans. The greatest non-athletic event in sports kicked off yesterday, and it was quite an eventful day. I sat down with a couple of brews and a generous helping of wings courtesy of the new Parsippany Cluck-U to watch it all unfold.
From the perspective of a fan of the New York Giants and the NFL in general, here is what I saw:
1) Detroit Lions — Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia
Meh. I’ve seen this guy a couple of times on TV. Granted Georgia was a disappointment this year. And he did look like an NFL quality QB. But #1 overall? $48 million guaranteed?? Personally I think he’s halfway between Alex Smith and Carson Palmer, but we’ll see.
2) St. Louis Rams — Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
6’6″ 305 lbs! Very pedestrian name though.
3) Kansas City Chiefs — Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
Considered a reach, but I like that the Chiefs are using their annual Top 5 pick to assemble an all-LSU front four.
4) Seattle Seahawks — Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
Did you know that “seahawk” is actually another word for osprey?
5) New York Jets* — Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
At this point I was rooting for the Browns to select Crabtree, which would have signaled a Braylon Edwards deal (hopefully to the Giants) was imminent. Of course, that wasn’t in the cards, but I like what the Jets did here. I think Sanchez can be a reliable, Joe Flacco type of guy for a team with a lot of other pieces in place.
6) Cincinnati Bengals — Andre Smith, OL, Alabama
The first “character issues” guy off the board. Honestly, I think all this finger-waiving by the NFL and the media is getting a little out of hand. It used to be that “off the field problems” meant running over kids who beat you in touch football, or pointing a gun at some kids in a McDonald’s parking lot. Now, we’re raising red flags when some guy leaves the NFL combine early? Kudos to the Bengals for not buying the negative hype.
7) Oakland Raiders — Darius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
The Raiders are like the guy who takes Cole Hamels in the first round of your fantasy baseball draft. It’s not that I have a problem with Cole Hamels, it’s that you could’ve gotten him in the 2nd round at least. In the Raiders case, why didn’t they trade down?
8) Jacksonville Jaguars — Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
Wow, this guy makes Jason Smith look like Gary Coleman, coming in at 6’6″ 315 lbs.
9) Green Bay Packers — B.J. Raji, DT, Boston College
One of the more impressive highlight reels I saw. Also fills a big need for the Packers, I like the pick.
10) San Francisco 49ers — Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
Good fit for the 49ers, and fell into their lap at 10. He’s not as good as Calvin Johnson, the last marquee rookie wideout in the draft. But he’s certainly better than Arnaz Battle.
11) Buffalo Bills — Aaron Maybin, DE, Penn St
Doesn’t excite me.
12) Denver Broncos — Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
This guy has a lot of O’s in his name.
13) Washington Redskins — Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
This one could be a steal. The Redskins have really loaded up on defense this offseason, it should be really interesting to see how that group performs in 2009.
14) New Orleans Saints — Malcolm Jenkins, DB, Ohio St
I don’t think he will solve the Saints defensive woes, but he doesn’t need to with the teams high-powered offensive attack led by Drew Brees.
15) Houston Texans — Brian Cushing, LB, USC
At first I thought his name was “Crushing” which would be an unbelievably awesome name for a defensive player (outside of CB and FS perhaps). But “Cushing” is much less intimidating. What’s he gonna do, attack me with pillows? Lame.
16) San Diego Chargers — Larry English, DE, Northern Illinois
With Tomlinson and Gates wearing down, I would’ve gone for offense here. Maclin would’ve made sense.
17) Tampa Bay Buccaneers* — Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas St
*from N.Y. Jets through Cleveland
Ahoy matey! This 6’6″ scurvy dog be a very excitin’ prospect for ye. Lots o’ upside.
18) Denver Broncos — Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee
The Broncos finally address their laughably bad defense. This guy is apparently good, but he will not prevent the Broncos from going 3-13 next year. Josh McDaniel will clearly be fired.
19) Philadelphia Eagles* — Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
*from Tampa Bay through Cleveland
Probably not a good sign that the Eagles traded up for the guy I was hoping the Giants would trade up for. With Brian Westbrook, Deshaun Jackson, and Maclin, they have 3 guys on offense who are exceptional in space, and should give defensive coaches nightmares. The main question is whether McNabb and Westbrook can stay healthy and productive.
20) Detroit Lions* — Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma St
*from Dallas in the worst trade of all time
The Lions certainly have a lot of defensive issues, but I like the strategy of trying to build one side at a time. They’ll suck again next year, so they should have a top pick to use for a stud defender.
21) Cleveland Browns* — Alex Mack, C, California
Who can blame Cleveland for trading down three times for…
In addition to a 6’4″ 316 frame, Alex Mack’s strengths include telekinesis, electrokinesis, and the ability to morph into a liquid puddle. One area of concern for scouts is how Mack responds to bullying from co-star Jessica Alba.
22) Minnesota Vikings — Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
Considering the most recent Florida wideouts taken in rounds 1 & 2 have been Ike Hilliard, Reidel Anthony, Jacquez Green, Travis Taylor, Jabar Gaffney, Taylor Jacobs, Reche Caldwell, and Chad Jackson, I can’t exactly give a ringing endorsement of this pick.
23) Baltimore Ravens* — Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
*from New England
Great value here, getting a potential stud LT late in the first round.
24) Atlanta Falcons — Paria Jerry, DT, Mississippi
I love typing out the word “Mississippi”. It’s like doing a little dance with your fingers. This guy probably sucks.
25) Miami Dolphins — Vontae Davis, DB, Illinois
Solid late 1st rounder, and what the Dolphins needed. I do know it took the Giants about 6 or 7 tries to draft a quality CB, so this guy could be hit-or-miss as well.
26) Green Bay Packers* — Clay Matthew, DE, USC
*from New England
I like how the Packers have addressed their defense in the 1st round. Considering they went 6-10 but actually scored more points then they gave up last year, the Pack may rebound very quickly.
27) Indianapolis Colts — Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut
The first of four UConn Huskies taken in the first two rounds! Nice player, although I would’ve gone with a defender myself.
28) Buffalo Bills* — Eric Wood, C, Louisville
*from Philadelphia through Carolina
Kinda looks like the fat kid from The Sandlot…”Hey, want a smore?” “How can I have some more of nothing?” “You’re killin’ me, Smalls.”
29) New York Giants — Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
As far as Giants fans are concerned, this guy better be good. With established receivers Braylon Edwards and Anquan Boldin on the trade block, GM Jerry Reese refused to include this 1st round pick in any potential deal. They also had an opportunity to trade up for Jeremy Maclin, but chose to stand pat while the Eagles “swooped in” by making a trade of their own.
Luckily, I think the Giants got the right guy. Nicks has good size, sticky hands, and is a beast after the catch.
I could even see him having the best NFL career out of the six WRs chosen in the 1st round. However, he might need some time to develop. And I doubt teams will double-cover him right away, meaning defenses can still keep an extra defender up for the run. The pressure will be on Eli, Nicks, Smith, Hixon, and Manningham to execute in the passing game in order to keep defenses honest.
30) Tennessee Titans — Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
The Giants could have opted for this hometown hero instead of Nicks; at 6’4″ he does provide more of the size element they were missing without Plax. But Britt does not have the same playmaking abilities as Nicks, and will probably not be an elite receiver in the NFL. He is probably a better fit for the Titans, who do not throw the ball as often as the Giants.
31) Arizona Cardinals — Chris “Beanie” Wells, RB, Ohio St
This OSU product is not to be confused with Evan Wells, a member of my pledge class who would have been picked #1 overall, but sustained a devastating knee injury running house laps. Beanie Wells is nevertheless a steal for the Cardinals at #31. Although he is not the ideal fit for Arizona’s spread offense, I think his overall talent and the added dimension he gives them is enough to justify this pick.
32) Pittsburgh Steelers — Evander “Ziggy” Hood, DT, Missouri
The Steelers primary need was offensive line, but they are also aging on defense and Ziggy gives the Super Bowl champs a long-term plan up front. Also, both his nickname and his real first name rule, and that’s more or less enough for me.
Right now, as I sit here typing, we’re in the middle of Round 5. Here are some random thoughts on Round 2 from yesterday, and the action so far today:
-So far, hear is what the Giants have done:
45) Clint Sintim, LB, Virginia: We do need depth at the LB spot, and Sintim could mesh well with recently acquired Michael Boley. While Boley is terrific in pass coverage and pursuit, Sintim is a good run stuffer and can rush the passer. Personally I would have gone with Conner Barwin, whom the Texans selected with the next pick and seems as though he could probably play OLB.
60) Will Beatty, OT, UConn: An excellent pick. The Giants O-Line is one of the best in the league, but if there is any weakness, it’s LT David Diehl. He is an above-average offensive tackle, but has been exposed on occasion and could begin to wear down. But now he might have some competition as the Giants got a steal with this pick. Because of this draft’s depth at left tackle, Beatty slid past his true value, which was around late 1st/early 2nd according to most scouts.
85) Ramses Barden, WR, Cal Poly: At 6’6″ 227 lbs, this guy is built like a refrigerator, yet he clocks in at 4.5 in the 40. He is not an explosive player, but could be a reliable target for Eli once the Meadowlands winds start swirling.
100) Travis Beckum, TE, Wisconsin: Another good upside pick for Jerry Reese. He does not block well, but the Giants already have a sturdy blocking TE in Kevin Boss. Beckum’s strength is in the passing game, and the Giants will be thrilled if he can become a receiving threat.
129) Andre Brown, RB, NC State: This pick makes sense with the loss of Derrick Ward. More of a power back who will probably end up with a Reuben Droughens type role (hopefully better though).
-ESPN needs to promote Erin Andrews right away. Possessing a rare combination of Irish good looks and an unparalleled intellect and enthusiasm for journalism, Erin Andrews is the premiere sideline reporter in all of television. I find it criminal that Suzy Kolber and Michele Tafoya are allowed to roam the sidelines for Monday Night Football, while the clearly superior Andrews is deprived of an opportunity to shine on the national stage.
-You have to like what New England did in Round 2. Trading out of the 1st round left them with 4 picks, which they used on: Patrick Chung (DB-Oregon), Ron Brace (DT-Boston College), Darius Butler (CB-UConn), and Sebastian Vollmer (OT-Houston). All of these guys have the potential to start and contribute. Also note that Vollmer is a 6’7″ 315 lbs German guy who barely spoke English upon arriving at Houston, which rules.
-The Eagles made their 2nd scary offensive pick taking LeShaun McCoy (RB-Pittsburgh) in Round 2. McCoy is a scat back but gives the Eagles yet another guy who is difficult for defenses to wrap up, especially when he gets the ball in space. With Westbrook becoming more of a health risk as he gets older, this is a very smart pick by Philly. However, they still lack a power running back that can pick up short yardage and move the chains.
-To the delight of both Giants and Eagles fans, the Dallas Cowboys officially suck. Already with the losses of Terrell Owens, Julius Jones, and Chris Canty, the Cowboys compounded their woes by trading their only pick in the first day of the draft. This 9-7 squad from a season ago is moving in the opposite direction as the rest of the division.