You’ve met the cast of characters before, as these are the same people whom I spent last year’s NFL Draft with, my former co-workers Calvin, John and Duper. Last year we convened in Seattle and since Calvin lives in Danville, VA and Duper lives in Whitefish, MT, well, my house was our next best option. They are all flying in this afternoon and should be at my house by 7 or so. Unfortunately for me, I have a city league playoff game tonight at 8 so I’ll have to put my drinking on hold for a couple of hours until later on this evening. After that though, I don’t expect to go more than a handful of conscious hours without a hearty buzz for the weekend’s entirety. If you can’t tell, I’m really looking forward to this weekend. The last time I saw any of these guys was a year ago, and they’re also some of the more enthusiastic drinkers I know so, you know, it should be, umm, interesting.
Anyway, since we’re using the NFL Draft as our "reason" for the weekend’s festivities I figured I’d leave off here with a few notes about the greatest non-sporting event in sports.
- The best pickup of the weekend could very well have nothing to do with the selection of a formerly (cough) amateur football player. Rather, it would be the acquisition of Michael Turner by a team in need of a #1 tailback. Like, say, the Tennessee Titans for example. Turner’s a stud tailback who has barely seen the light of day in San Diego due to playing behind the best back in football, LaDanian Tomlinson. San Diego needs to get something for him in return, lest they lose him to free agency in the summer of ’08. So, it makes sense for San Diego to look to deal Turner for a draft pick or two this weekend. He’s essentially a first round talent that can be acquired for a mid-round pick. And one more thing about Turner, his agent’s name is Bus Cook. I don’t even care that it sounds completely and totally made up, that name is awesome. So awesome that I want to hire Bus as my agent. Agent for what you say? Fuck you and your damned details.
- Has anybody ever figured out exactly who Mel Kiper, Sr. was/is? Was he a scout? Or was he, like, the pomade king of the east coast or something, ala Eriq La Salle’s dad in Coming to America? Anybody? Alright then, we’re going with Pomade King of the East Coast. I hear him and Abe Froman were close.
- Another player whom my opinion on is well documented is Reggie Nelson, affectionately known as RFN amongst Gator fans. So, you can imagine my dismay at the scouting reports which list him as the 3rd or even 4th best safety available in the draft. Give. Me. A. Break. Other than being a little light (200 lbs) there’s not much else you could ask for in a safety. While I don’t doubt I’m biased, he’s the most complete and versatile safety in this draft, and that includes Laron Landry. Listen, I watched Landry play for four years and he’s a heck of a safety, a future Pro Bowler even. However, he doesn’t possess nearly the coverage skill that Nelson does and, despite his size, doesn’t deliver the devastating hits that Nelson has shown such a proclivity for. So much of playing safety is about timing and Nelson has an innate ability to time his breaks and hits for just the right moment. When you take into account that Nelson would’ve been moved to corner at UF (and had been shutting people down early in the fall) this year had Ryan Smith not transferred in from Utah, his versatility becomes even more impressive. Mark it down right now, Reggie Nelson will be the best safety or corner taken in this draft.
Since I’ve written about a few players whom I consider underrated/overrated, I’m gonna finish up this post with a list of players whom I think are one or the other coming into this weekend’s draft.
Lawrence Timmons: He only started for one year at FSU and put up decent numbers. He’s been praised for his freakish athletic ability but measured a full 2 inches shorter than his listed height at the combine and ran his 40 two tenths of a second slower than had been previously reported. At this point, he seems a little too unproven and little too inflated to warrant the being the 2nd or 3rd LB off the board.
Greg Olsen: Workout wonder. He never put up big numbers at Miami, nor dominated a game like predecessors Kellen Winslow, Jr. and Jeremy Shockey. Playing in Miami’s anemic offense over the past two years certainly didn’t help, but I can’t say I’m sold that he’s worthy of a first round selection. I know tight ends are game changers now but some years there aren’t gonna be any tight ends who are worthy of selection in the first round. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Levi Brown: Fat, bad knees and not a dominating blocker in either phase. I’d take him in the first round but not in the top 15. For the record, I felt the same way about Kenyatta Walker.
Chris Houston: He’s fast as hell and has good size. He also never played any zone in college and had a tendency to make mental mistakes at inopportune times over the course of his career. Maybe its me but that’s not something I’d want out of my #1 corner. Again, I’d look at him late in the 1st or early in the second, but not as the first or second corner off the board.
Tedd Ginn, Jr.: Fast as hell. Ummm? He’s great in the return game. You’ll have to excuse me here, other than having blazing speed, I can’t think of one attribute that will make Tedd Ginn, Jr. a great NFL receiver. He doesn’t run great routes, is reticent to go over the middle and he has limited experience. I’ll come right out and say it, Anthony Gonzalez will have a longer and more productive pro career than Ginn. Seriously.
Patrick Willis: How can somebody who’s going to be the first LB taken be underrated? 163 tackles helps. If this kid played at LSU or Auburn he’d be going in the Top 5. It just so happens he’s been stuck in Oxford on horrible football team for the past 4 years. There was some question about his athleticism, until he went to the combine and tore it up in every way. He’s everything you could ever want out of a LB. Perennial Pro Bowler.
Steve Smith: Another #2 receiver who I think ends up better than his collegiate teammate. Smith was unbelievably consistent over the course of his career at USC. Though Dwayne Jarrett had more impressive numbers, it was Smith who moved the chains for USC. Smith is more polished, faster and has better hands than Jarrett. Smith should immediately move in as a team's #3 receiver as a rookie and will play in the NFL for a decade.
No, no, not that Steve Smith! You know, for a helper monkey, you're not helping at all!!!
Sidney Rice: The most dominant offensive player in the SEC over the past two years, and that’s with a bad offensive line and erratic (at best) QB play. I'll say it again, the most dominant offensive player in the country's best conference over the past two years. I’m usually skeptical of “big” receivers but I’ve seen enough of Rice to know that he plays faster than he times and possesses unbelievable ball skills. His background in basketball makes a terror on jump balls in the redzone too. He’s going to slip b/c he played in Spurrier’s system and didn’t run a great 40 but he’ll end up being better than most of the recivers selected in the 1st round.
Buster Davis: He’s pretty much the exact opposite of former teammate Timmons. He was amazingly productive at FSU, leading the team in tackles each of the past two years and seems to possess an innate ability to fight through traffic and find the ball. He’ll slip to the 5th rd. (or lower) because his measurables aren’t NFL worthy in any way (5’9”, 245) but he’s going to make somebody’s team and end up starting by his second season (if not sooner). The guy was born to play LB, plain and simple. He was said to be too small to play at FSU and he dominated his competition during two years as a starter. I don’t expect his tenure in the NFL to be any different.
Sleeper: Usama Young (CB/Kent State): Great size (6’1”, 200) and speed (4.4) as well as a productive career at Kent State. He’s a guy who could come in as a third corner and play this year and should move into the starting lineup within a year or two of being drafted. A lot of people will question the level of competition he played against in the MAC. However, while the receivers weren’t as athletic or polished as those in some of the BCS conferences, he was exposed to a number of highly sophisticated passing games during his time in the MAC. The size and the speed could have me hoodwinked here, but he seems like a bargain in the third round.
Alright, that’s it. I’ll be off tomorrow and (more than likely) drunk before you even have your first drink tomorrow afternoon, which should help me transition nicely into the all day bender that Saturday promises to bring. Enjoy the Draft and Go Magic! I mean seriously, just win one fucking game. Is that too much to ask?