There is a huge advantage to turning in columns late – you occasionally get the opportunity to react on events that most others have no chance to write about. Take today, for instance. The Daily is running a huge NFL Draft special, and I am uniquely positioned to offer my thoughts on the festivities, basically as they occur! Lucky me.
Without further ado, six immediate reactions on the first round of a decidedly interesting draft:
- Goff goes No. 1. This move doesn’t come as a huge shock to anyone, as the now-Los Angeles Rams paid a king’s ransom for the No. 1 pick and intimated to insider sources that Jared Goff, from that school across the Bay, would be the pick. I wrote at length about this last week, but suffice it to say that Goff will have huge expectations on his shoulders from the moment he signs his contract. I happen to really like Goff, despite his unfortunate choice of college, and think that he has all the tools needed to succeed in the NFL, small hands be damned. But I also know that he is probably the least pro-ready quarterback, from a college scheme and college environment perspective, to go No. 1 in recent memory. He will be joining a not-untalented team in the Rams, but he is also joining a division that features the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks.
- Wentz to Philadelphia. Well, this is awkward. After a few days setting smokescreens and pretending that Sam Bradford was their quarterback for this season, despite trading up with the Browns for the normally coveted No. 2 spot, Philadelphia ended their dance and took Wentz. We can only speculate on whether Wentz was truly the player they had their heart set on, and I still think that moving up for the No. 2 pick in a draft where the No. 1 pick is very uncertain is foolish, to say the least. But if Wentz is as good as the hype indicates, then it’ll all be worth it.
- The Cowboys do it again. The track record of running backs drafted in the first round is grisly, to say the least (Trent Richardson, anyone?). And the Cowboys, which have been SO good at building from the trenches in recent drafts, really didn’t need the help at running back, considering they finished fifth in yards per rush last year with the pupu platter of Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden. The value of the running back in today’s NFL is gradually diminishing, and finding diamonds in the rough (or at least competent backs) in later rounds is not difficult at a position like running back – just ask the New England Patriots, who have been doing it for years. And yet, the Cowboys stayed put and drafted Ezekiel Elliot out of Ohio State. Zeke was a beast in college, and might be a beast in the NFL too. But taking a running back with the fourth pick, especially with a suspect secondary and depth needed across a very thin defense, seems like a Jerry Jones luxury pick. With the window closing on Tony Romo’s career and title viability, this is not the move I would have made to stock up for a playoff run.
- The run on linemen. It says a lot about NFL draft pundits that Laremy Tunsil, projected to go No. 1 overall if the Tennessee Titans stayed put at that pick, ended up dropping to No. 13. Ronnie Stanley out of Notre Dame and Jack Conklin out of Michigan State both beat him off the board, and he was soon followed by Taylor Decker from Ohio State. Ryan Kelly, a center from Alabama, was also taken before the 20th pick. Lineman are rarely seen as glamorous selections, and many teams go for the sexy picks and skill positions in the first round, taking pass rushers or receivers or defensive backs or quarterbacks. Maybe teams are getting smarter, or maybe the draft board for linemen is thinner than most years – in any case, the run on linemen gives me more faith in the collective intellectual quotient of NFL GMs.
- A word on the Patriots. You didn’t possibly believe I’d let this go, did you? The NFL managed to pull off the upset, winning its appeal against Tom Brady and effectively reinstating his suspension for the DeflateGate scandal – it appears he will miss the first four games of the upcoming NFL season. This is an unbelievable travesty, one that angers me further when the commissioner says things along the lines of “this punishment is nonnegotiable, owing to the integrity of the game.” Roger – you only docked Greg Hardy four games, and he was KNOWN to have broken FEDERAL LAWS. You’re docking Tom Brady the same number of games based on the “more probable than not” standard of proof? Come on, man. More upsettingly, there will only be 31 picks in this year’s NFL draft, since the Patriots were also apparently culpable in the DeflateGate scandal. This might hurt them more, as Brady isn’t getting any younger and draft picks are the usual way the Pats restock their roster. As a result, I’m protesting Goodell’s treatment of the Patriots by refusing to write any more words for this column. #freebrady
Rub Brady’s suspension in Vignesh Venkataraman’s face juuuuuust a bit more at firstname.lastname@example.org.