Sunday, May 11, 2014

The NFL Draft

Well, the soap opera that the NFL draft has developed into is over and the final picks are in. How well did my predictions go? About as well as usual. In other words, I'm in no position to quit my day job.

The big question on everyone's mind was where would Johnny Football end up? Would the Texans take him at #1 or would they take DE Jedeveon Clowney? For the last few days there had been growing rumors that the Cowboys were maneuvering to draft Manziel and would either trade up or wait and hope at #16. In response the Giants indicated they would consider Manziel if he was still on the board at #12.

Oh the intrigue of it all.

The Texans did in fact go with DE Jedeveon Clowney at #1. The Rams grabbed OL Greg Robinson at #2 and then things began to go haywire which, for the NFL draft, is pretty much expected by now.

The Jaguars surprised a lot of people by taking QB Blake Bortles at #3. Most "experts" thought they would take Johnny Manziel if Houston didn't.

Then Cleveland traded its 4th pick to Buffalo for pick #9 this year and a first round pick next year. Buffalo drafted WR Sammy Watkins. That brought up Oakland who also was thought to be interested in a QB but the Raiders passed on both Manziel and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and took LB Khalil Mack. Khalil takes the prize for coolest name in the draft. It's Arabic for friend.

Atlanta took OL Jake Matthews at #6 which brought up Tampa Bay which also had been rumored to be looking for a QB. But the Bucs took WR Mike Evens. Then Cleveland traded the #9 pick it got from Buffalo to Minnesota for the #8 pick.

This didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense other than perhaps exchanging a draft pick so they could draft Manziel while leaving the Vikings with Bridgewater. But the Browns drafted CB Justin Gilbert and the Vikings, another team linked to a QB pick, took LB Anthony Barr.

The next three teams were the Lions, Titans and Giants. The Lions and Giants were set at QB. No one was taking the Manziel threat from the Giants seriously. Would the Titans go for Manziel?

As it turned out the Lions took TE Eric Ebron, the Titans OL Taylor Lewan and, to the surprise of many people, the Giants drafted WR Odell Beckham Jr. Most thought the Giants would take T Zack Martin or DL Aaron Donald. But, then again, no one thought Beckham would still be around at #12.

That left only three teams between the Dallas Cowboys and Johnny Manziel, the Rams, Bears and Steelers. None of them were likely to draft a QB in the first round and none did.

So, El Momento de Verdad had arrived. The Cowboys were on the clock and Johnny Football was on the board. The seconds ticked away. The numbers turned red as the clock went under one minute. The internet held its collective breath waiting for Jerry Jones to pull the trigger.

It's still waiting. Calmer heads prevailed and the Cowboys drafted T Zack Martin. As Jones explained the next day, they're committed to Tony Romo and, while drafting a QB to groom as Romo's replacement is not a bad idea, Manziel, with his star studded celebrity reputation just didn't fit that mold. As soon as anything went wrong, the pressure to go to Manziel would be a disruptive force, so the Cowboys passed on Johnny Football.

Then there was some speculation that the Jets at #18, despite having drafted Gino Smith last year, might go for Manziel because nobody really knows what the Jets will do or, Chip Kelly might surprise everyone and take him at #22.

As it worked out the Jets drafted S Calvin Pryor and the Eagles traded pick #22 to the Browns. I was beginning to get a little dizzy watching Cleveland bounce all around the board.

Finally the Browns drafted Manziel at #22. Bridgewater ended up going to the Vikings with pick #32 which they got from the Seahawks in order to prevent the Texans from possibly grabbing Bridgewater on the 1st pick of the second round.

The Texans came that close to potentially getting both Clowney and one of the top three QB prospects. Of course as to whether they would actually have drafted Bridgewater we'll never know.

While Cleveland was experiencing Manziel-mania, the announcement came from the NFL that their star WR Josh Gordon had been suspended for the year for substance abuse.

So, how will Johnny Football do in Cleveland?

Cleveland has been a death trap for QBs, In the last five years a number of high draft picks, selected with high hopes, have fallen victim. Brady Quinn (pick #22 in 2007), Colt McCoy (pick #85 in 2010) and Brandon Weeden (pick #22 in 2012) all met their Waterloo in Cleveland.

Did you notice that Johnny is the 3rd QB chosen at #22 by the Browns?

Hopefully Manziel can work his magic in Cleveland and break the jinx. Magic in Cleveland? Who am I kidding?

Aaron Donald, predicted as a Giants 1st round pick in many mock drafts, went to the Rams at #13. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the runner up for best name in the draft, went to Green Bay with pick #21.

The first openly gay player in the draft, Michael Sam, also went to the Rams in round 7 at pick #249. Whether Sam can make the roster is another issue. He's what is known as a "tweener" in NFL slang. He may be too small for DE and too slow for LB. His NFL Combine workout was also apparently underwhelming. I'd put his chances at about 25%.

The title of Mr. Irrelevant, the last player taken in the NFL draft, went to S Lonnie Ballentine of Memphis.

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