Hey, Bill Simmons basically became the first really popular sports blogger partly due to his legendary NBA Draft diaries. Since we have that whole first name thing in common, I figure I could try my hand at an NFL one and see what happens...
You are looking live...at a lot of empty space. I'm in the process of moving out of my one-bedroom apartment, and a lot of stuff has already been put into a storage unit. I suppose tonight's draft represents one of my last opportunities to kind of veg out with some football (hey, when you're an addict, the draft counts as a fix) before I get married.
And I've always loved the draft. As a college football fan, it's great fun to watch some of the college players you've loved watching over the years move on. And growing up a New Orleans Saints fan, it was a source of hope every offseason (before those hopes got dashed in the regular season). This year, the Super Bowl Champion Saints (never gonna get tired of saying that...EVAH) are picking 32nd. Which means I can have a good three hours of fun making fun of the 31 other chumps.
And fun I will have.
5:37 p.m. (Central Standard Time): T-minus 23 minutes and counting until the St. Louis Rams do something really stupid and pass on Ndamukong Suh, because they've been convinced somehow that even though Suh is a one-man wrecking crew (and the best-named guy for his position ever - "House of Spears?" hell yeah!), Sam Bradford is the pick because they need a quarterback.
Why would you ever take a quarterback No. 1 overall if you weren't 100-percent sure the guy could start from day 1 and run the show? This isn't to say that I don't think Bradford can play - he most certainly can. But at Oklahoma he played on a team with, for the most part, dramatically better talent then almost every opponent and in an offense that rarely called for him to go beyond his first or second read. When I look at Bradford I see Aaron Rodgers. Now certainly you can do worse than Rodgers, but think about it. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers and sat on the bench for three whole seasons. Rodgers rocked once he got in, but he walked into a huddle with a strong veteran offensive line and running game, with a loaded receiving corps. Bradford will get thrown to the wolves in St. Louis with only one appreciable offensive weapon in Steven Jackson. Given his shoulder issues and slight frame, I'd be willing to bet he doesn't make it through 16 games this season.
Bradford will almost certainly be set up to fail. Oh, and it'll only cost the Rams about $50 million or so in guaranteed money. I tend to think you're going to spend that type of money, you'd better be 150-percent sure you're making the right call.
5:58 p.m. : First beer of the night. Given that I plan taking a sip every time somebody on ESPN's broadcast (damn my lack of NFL Network) calls Tim Tebow a "winner," refers to Bryan Bulaga as "bringing his lunch pail," or calls Rolando McClain a "coach on the field," I figured it'd be a good idea to get started.
6:03 p.m.: Jimmy Clausen getting interviewed by Erin Andrews. I'm kind of surprised she didn't call him "Tim" by accident. Anybody else think this whole Dancing with the Stars thing is just a rebound to get over Tebow leaving college football?
6:11: PRAISE BREESUS! Can I get an amen?!
It's hard seeing Jim Brown walk with a cane. I can't imagine what it's like for older folks who grew up thinking of Brown as one of the baddest men on the planet.
6:17: You know the fans were chanting "SUUUUUUH!" at the House of Spears. Nobody's got the guts to boo that guy.
6:20: Drew Brees. Saints quarterback. Tempting the Madden cover curse. Excuse me while I gargle a mason jar of acid (copyright, Bill Simmons, ESPN).
6:22: Great point by Jon Gruden, made by a video of Bradford missing a blitz that ended up injuring his shoulder. Spread offense quarterbacks are going to have to re-learn a lot of how they read defenses and go through progressions.
The ESPN set guys get it. Bradford's going to get murdered in St. Louis. Everybody acknowledges that Suh is the better player, the better pick. So why isn't he getting taken No. 1 again?
6:37: With the first pick...yada yada...Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma. Vaya con Dios kid.
6:42: The upside, is that the Lions get to make the no-doubter pick of this draft. And if there's a team that can use one of those, it's the Lions.
6:44: No. 2 pick...of course it's The House of Spears. When I look at players, one of the things I try to judge is what I call a "bust factor." Translation - in the worst case scenario, what's this guy going to amount to? If everything goes wrong (aside from health obviously), Suh becomes a solid pro d-tackle you want around. He does EVERYTHING you could want. Take up two-gaps, rush the passer, you name it. I bet he could even fill in on some assembly lines in the Ford plant. I'll be surprised if he's not the best DT in the league in two years.
6:50: Gerald McCoy looks to be next. ESPN flashing a graphic about Tampa Bay's declining run defense. McCoy's a heckuva 3-tech defensive tackle, but I'm not sure he's going to cure what ails a run defense.
6:52: No. 3 pick...McCoy. The Buccaneers see McCoy as the next Warren Sapp. Hopefully he'll be a little less obnoxious.
6:53: McCoy gives Roger Goodell a massive bearhug that'll probably earn him a 4-game suspension. Do that to a quarterback in the NFL and you get banned for life, Gerald.
6:55: Redskins on the clock. Donovan McNabb hasn't played a full 16 games in three years. But Washington isn't drafting a left tackle with Dan Snyder conscious.
6:58: No. 4 pick...Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma. Three Sooners in the top four picks. Not bad for an 8-5 team, right? If this were happening to LSU, there'd be a bloody white hat outside Les Miles' house and no sign of a body anywhere. Seriously though, Williams is an intriguing pick who seems to be on the upside of his career. I like that he made a smooth transition from right to left tackle. Mike Shanahan builds his teams around the offensive line, so it's good to see he's in control in D.C. I just hope Snyder forgives him for duct-taping him inside that closet one day.
7:05: Eric Berry shot on the phone and overheard clearly talking to the Kansas City Chiefs. If that's the pick, it's the second-most sensible move after Suh. On the low-end, Berry is solid starter. On the high end, he's Ed Reed. It was really hard to believe he might have fallen farther than this. Berry is nearly as sure a thing as Suh.
7:07: No. 5 pick...Berry. Kansas City just snagged a Pro Bowl safety.
7:15: No. 6 pick...Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State. Five out of six picks from the Big 12, now that's something you don't see every draft. Okung's a physical specimen, but spread offense tackles have had some transitional issues in the NFL. Look at Jason Smith last year. Still, Seattle's offensive line was terrible last season, so this is a sensible pick.
7:17: Cleveland on the clock. Can the Browns make it 2-for-2 on drafting douche-y, overrated Notre Dame quarterbacks?
7:20: ESPN's Michael Smith (New Orleans native) says the Browns are thinking about Joe Haden of Florida or Kyle Wilson of Boise State. That's going to get called a reach...but...when your defense is as bad as the Browns. A good cornerback helps a lot more than a bad quarterback.
7:23: No. 7 pick...Haden. The only real knock on Haden is his 40 time, which I wouldn't totally dismiss, but when you look at the overall body of work, Haden's a player. He's not going to be a Darrelle Revis shut down man-to-man guy, but he'll be a smart, physical corner who won't get beat very often and will make tackles for you. Now if Cleveland could just find a pass rush.
7:26: Oakland Raiders are on the clock. Does Al Davis fall in love with workout warrior Bruce Campbell from Maryland? Will Campbell remember to chant "Clatto Verata Nicto" when he meets Davis the first time? Let's find out...
Bring out your dead!
7:28: No. 8 pick...Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama. Wow. A shock, but McClain's also on the list of safe bets in this group. Mel Kiper's saying this is too early, but McClain, again, has a really low bust factor. The guy will probably be a 10-year starter. Did JaMarcus Russell eat Davis or something?
7:30: Nobody calls McClain a "coach on the field." I'll have a sip anyway.
7:31: No. 9 pick...C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson. Wow, Buffalo raced up to make that pick. And I suppose that's appropriate for a guy like Spiller, who can destroy a defense in one run. But I'm not sure how much he can help a team as dismal as the Bills. At least he can drown his sorrows in wing sauce there.
7:37: No. 10 pick...Tyson Alualu, DT, California. WOW. Now that is a reach. I was hoping the Saints might think about him in the second round. Nice player, but Jacksonville could have really traded down and still got him.
7:40: The San Francisco 49ers deal up to the Denver Broncos' 11th pick. Could be the spot for Jimmy Clausen?
7:43: No. 11 pick...Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers. A second-straight surprise. Not so much that Davis goes this early, but he wasn't on the list of guys you thought teams would be trading up for. I'm a little iffy on Davis as a player, but the Niners have a definite need on the offensive line.
7:44: The Chargers just jumped up. Could be gunning for Ryan Matthews here. I have to say, I expected the trades to make this draft really really interesting, which is perfect for prime time.
7:46: Clearly somebody just tipped the pick to Chris Berman's earpiece. Freaking hate it when he does that.
7:49: No. 12 pick...Matthews. I gotta say, if there's a 20-carry-a-game back this high in the draft, its Matthews. Pair him with Darren Sproles and that's a solid twosome. Anybody who owns Phillip Rivers in a fantasy keeper league weeps, though.
7:52: ANOTHER trade. Denver moves back to 24 with Philadelphia. Adam Schefter tells us it's for Earl Thomas, the safety from Texas.
7:56: How about those BOOOS for Goodell? No. 13 pick is Brandon Graham, DE, Michigan. Eagles throw a swerve to the media, but it's a smart pick. A good pass rush can cover for a suspect secondary much easier than vice-versa. Graham, is shorter than the average DE, but he's got the athleticism to play in a two-point stance and move around to some different spots.
7:59: Eagles kept their second-rounder in the trade. Smart move, as there's definitely going to be some darn good players available in the top 10 on Friday.
8:04: No. 14 pick, second for the Seahawks...Earl Thomas. He feels like a safe pick for Seattle. He excelled moving to safety last year, and what he lacks in size he seems to make up for in coverage ability. Low bust factor.
8:13: No. 15 pick...Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida. Bit of a shocking pick for the New York Giants, who don't tend to go for the workout warrior. Pierre-Paul is an ex-junior college player who exploded over the second half of the 2009 season, and hit a couple of home runs in his workouts. But the production and the combine hype doesn't match, and that should always be a red flag.
8:20: No. 16 pick...Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech. Tennessee fills a pass rush need with the tall, athletic Morgan. But will he be able to hold up in the run game as a 4-3 end?
8:24: No. 17 pick...Mike Iupati, OL, Idaho. San Francisco loading up on the o-line. I'm not going to pretend to know a lot about Iupati, but doesn't that sound like the name of a guy who lasts a long time in the NFL? He can play guard or tackle.
8:28: No. 18 pick...Maurkice Pouncey, OL, Florida. Love this pick. Pouncey's on the all-safe-bet team with Berry, Suh and McClain, and Pittsburgh needs to keep Ben Roethlisberger protected (though a locked bathroom door would be cheaper...HIOOOOH!..sorry, internet rules demanded that joke), and get back to the power running game that the franchise has been known for.
8:31: No. 19 pick...Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri. Dangit. Weatherspoon was on the list of players I was hoping would fall to the Saints. He was scary consistent as a three-year starter at Missou, and Atlanta needs help on run defense.
8:36: No. 20 pick...Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama. Houston reaches for a need with Jackson, who is a smart player but, I think, lacks the speed to run with big-time receivers. A year ago, I would have laughed at this pick. Nick Saban's complex zone coverages made Jackson look a lot better than he is.
8:40: No. 21 pick...Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma. If he's recovered from last year's injury, Cincinnati just picked up a big, speedy tight-end that can stretch the seam and will help keep safeties away from Cedric Benson. Gives Carson Palmer another target besides OchoCinco. Of course "if he's recovered from injury" is rarely an encouraging prefix to an evaluation.
8:43: Four Sooners in the first round. Five losses. What's up with that, Big Game Bob?
8:45: New England trades down with Denver, so the Broncos can take Demaryius Thomas of Georgia tech at No. 22. Thomas is really hard to get a read on. The guy's an undeniable athlete, with the idea size and speed for the position. But he basically ran two routes in Tech's option offense: the go route and the tunnel screen. And, he rarely saw anything but single coverage. If Denver can teach him his position, there's a lot of potential, but there's also a high bust factor. I can see why Denver might pass on Dez Bryant, given what they just went through with Brandon Marshall, but there's still Golden Tate on the board.
8:51: No. 23 pick...Bryan Bulaga. Green Bay makes a smart pick, and a need pick. Their offensive line was terrible last year. Bulaga's got the right mind-set for the NFL (read: mean as heck) and some great technique coming from Kirk Ferentz at Iowa. I'd have some concerns about his ability to handle quality pass-rushers, but you can always move him to the right side. Low bust factor due to his versatility.
8:54: Ha. Kiper just basically repeated everything I just said about Bulaga.
8:59: And we see Dez Bryant celebrating as it's announced that Dallas just traded up to the 24th spot. Gosh, I wonder what will happen?
9:00: No. 24 pick...Is of course, Bryant. Typical Jerry Jones pick - a swing for the fences. Bryant has the feeling of a guy who's either going to become a superstar or a complete bust, without much middle ground. Lots of rumors about work ethic/discipline issues, but nobody questions the talent.
9:02: Gruden calls Dallas the perfect place for Bryant. Because Jones has helped reform so many other troubled athletes? It is true that with Miles Austin, he doesn't have to be the go-to-guy as a rookie.
9:05: Baltimore is on the clock, but ESPN's showing us Tim Tebow celebrating in a Denver cap.
9:08: Denver moves into the 25th spot, and of course, the pick is the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner. Well, this is a bit of a shocking spot, but he's getting the opportunity to be the man in a city that will appreciate him. I'm not going to bog myself down in the mire of whether or not Tebow can play in the pros, but I'll say this because it's the bottom line...a slow release is death in the NFL. If Tebow can't speed up his release, the Shawne Merriman's and Dwight Freeney's and Jared Allen's of the league will do what a lot of SEC defensive linemen failed at doing the last 3 seasons.
9:10: Steve Young is wondering what this says about Jimmy Clausen. It says that the boy needs a couple hours with the shake weight to work on those deep throws.
Some people might think I'm posting this video because it's mildly dirty. Those people are right.
9:13: One thing Tebow will have going for him, is that Josh McDaniels uses a lot of shotgun.
9:15: When I think about Denver's two picks, it seems to me like Thomas and Tebow are either going to become superstars, or total washouts, and there won't be much middle ground.
9:17: No. 26 pick...Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee. A prototype nose tackle for a 3-4, Williams fell a bit farther than projected. But he fits a need for Arizona, which needs to remake their front-seven without Karlos Dansby or Bert Berry. Williams kind of exploded in his final season after a so-so career, which could be seen as a bit of a red flag.
9:25: No. 27 pick...Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers. Late riser in the last few weeks, but a lot of scouts love McCourty. Given what the Patriots have tried to get by with at corner in recent years, it's hard to blame them.
9:26: Swing and a miss for Young on calling the pick. But that probably saved him from a 34th concussion at the hands of Berman.
9:30: No. 28 pick...Jared Odrick, DL, Penn State. Surprise for Miami, but it kind of fits the Bill Parcells M.O. He likes big guys and he likes effort guys, and Odrick fits that mold. He'll never be a 10-sack guy, but he's the kind of pesky defensive end you want in a 3-4 that'll keep the real pass-rushers free of blockers.
9:32: The Jets are up next. This has to be Sergio Kindle. No way Rex Ryan passes on a guy named Sergio.
9:37: No. 29 pick...Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State. Talk about playing to your strengths - Revis, Antonio Cromartie and now Wilson? Say hello to eight or nine-man blitzes for two games a year Tom Brady.
9:39: I think the thought of Ryan's pressure packages is giving Young post-traumatic stress disorder.
9:43: Steve Young and Jon Gruden are lobbying for the Vikings to take Clausen as Brett Favre's successor. Tom Jackson and Berman's reactions scream "how dare you suggest Favre can be replaced!"
9:45: And the Lions jumped in. Intrigue, intrigue, intrigue.
9:47: No. 30 pick...Jahvid Best, RB, Cal. Smart complimentary pick for the Lions, who already have a solid starter in Kevin Smith. And there's enough of a chance that St. Louis would have taken him that trading up makes sense.
9:52: No. 31 pick...Jerry Hughes, DE, TCU. Very similar player to Dwight Freeney, and replaces Raheem Brock, who left in free agency.
9:55: That leaves Sergio Kindle, Taylor Mays or Daryl Washington among the names that got circulated as potential picks for the Saints. But I have a feeling Breesus will surprise us all up on that podium. Not a huge fan of Mays as a safety, but I think the team that moves him to linebacker will get a potential pro-bowler.
9:58: So if you order two of KFC's double-down chicken sandwich, do they give you the heart punch, Stan Hansen-style, or just shoot you in the chest with a harpoon?
10:02: PRAISE BREESUS!!! And the SUPER BOWL CHAMPION NEW ORLEANS SAINTS SELECT...Patrick Robinson, CB, Florida State. Annnnd...that was underwhelming. I have to admit, not an impressive pick. I haven't watched a ton of Robinson as a player, but he was underwhelming in the games I caught last season. And the defensive front seven was just a much larger hole for the Saints last year, particularly versus the run. But there's always the best player available theory, and I guess you can never have too many good corners.
10:12: Well, that's a rap for me. My first attempt at doing this for the NFL draft, and I hope everybody enjoys it. Here's hoping the Saints pull off the rumored trade for Rocky McIntosh, because linebacker and run defense is still a major hole. I have to say, the ESPN crew didn't bug me as much as usual, but I'm going to pin that on the shorter times between pick. Less bloviation. Always a good decision.