An in-depth look at the 1st round of the NFL Draft
The NFL Draft is a tradition.
It’s an overblown, plodding event that at times can be boring to watch, but it’s a tradition. One that many in this country look forward to.
If you’re a fan of some teams, you get to watch them make smart decisions that will for sure pay off, or you might see them gamble with a pick, but you know that it will eventually work out. For the most part, Green Bay falls into that category.
Other teams have a tradition of being remarkably stupid on Draft Day. Remember that streak the Lions went through where they used their early first-round pick to pick a wide receiver year after year? Only one of them (Calvin Johnson) actually contributed at a high level. The Vikings also seem to have partaken in some pre-draft beverages some years. Their tradition is reaching for picks that they could pick up later if they truly wanted to. I still remember when they were in need of a quarterback and wasted a pick on Christian Ponder, a guy with the arm strength of a 12-year-old. There was also that one occasion where Minnesota forgot to hand in their selection in time back in 2003. Apparently, other teams didn’t learn from that as Baltimore did the same thing in 2011.
However, tradition is tradition and I decided I’m going to start one at the Journal. Each year, I plan on doing a running commentary on the Draft, so if you decide not to watch, you can read the highlights a couple days later. Sound fun? Well get ready because here we go.
A little after 8 p.m. EDT: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell strolls up to the podium on the big stage in Nashville. He’s greeted with boos, which is not surprising, but they aren’t as thunderous as back in Radio City Music Hall. It’s probably appropriate too since Goodell talks with the enthusiasm of a guy who thought he was going to a Garth Brooks concert and ended up getting dragged by his wife to La Boheme. Some of the boos might’ve come from women who were expecting a night of fun with their bachelorette parties, but had it soured because the draft filled up the main drag in the city. This event was planned a year in advance. Not knowing about it is your own fault. Goodell also hands out two season tickets that will go on for 100 years to a Giants fan. It’s going to be a rough couple of years for that guy.
Around 8:20: Arizona, with the strange motto “Be Red, See Red” on the big screen, chooses Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray. When the pick was made, Louis Riddick talked about the importance of a good marriage between a team and their quarterback. Considering that a lot of teams end up giving up on their quarterbacks in the first couple of seasons, the divorce rate is pretty high in the NFL. Also, Mel Kiper Jr. makes the analogy of curveballs in the draft and that Murray, who was a Major League Baseball draftee, doesn’t have to worry about hitting any. The joke falls flat and we move on to the next pick.
8:25 or so: The 49ers go with talented Ohio State defensive lineman Nick Bosa, who was known more recently for liking some highly controversial social media posts. He’s made an attempt at damage control by deleting a lot of his posts and he apologized for those tweets Saturday, but we’ll see how well the city of San Francisco and its fans warm up to him.
8:30 or so: The Jets pick Alabama defensive end Quinnen Williams, who was described as a 300-pound bar of soap due his slipperiness. In a tweet Friday, someone pointed out that in an interview with NFL Network, Williams sneezed and then blessed and thanked himself. I already like this man.
8:40: The Raiders continue to their trend of making you scratch your head in the Draft. Oakland decides to pick the least heralded of the impressive Clemson defensive line by going with Clelin Ferrell. He’s in a good mood though as players typically aren’t when they find out they’re going to Oakland. I still remember receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey looking like his dog died when the cameras caught him at his house. So the Raiders surprise everyone again, although the live shot from a Las Vegas bar makes it seem like nobody noticed in that city.
Meanwhile, my wife is watching the series finale of the TV show Gotham where a mysterious figure captures the Penguin and the Riddler. I wonder who that was.
Around 9 p.m.: I’ll skip Tampa Bay’s pick and go to the Giants. ESPN displays a newspaper headline calling the Giants as the Land of the Lost. New York lives up to that recent reputation and selects Duke quarterback Daniel Jones, a guy it could’ve gotten much later in the round. The Giants fans in attendance react in disbelief and I start to wonder if that fan who won those tickets is going to sell them on StubHub. Gotham just ended and my wife just exclaimed “Lame!” Yeah, the Giants faithful probably feel the same way about its favorite franchise.
9:20 or so: I’ll pass on Jacksonville and go straight to the Lions, who go with Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson. He has the potential to be a Rob Gronkowski-type player and that’s something the Lions need to help quarterback Matthew Stafford. Some Detroit fans don’t like the pick, but I think it was a good one.
The wife is now watching the comedy sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine, one of our favorites. She’s laughing, so it must be a pretty good episode and that flows well with the Lions’ choice.
9:55: The next three picks go by and they’re all good choices with Pittsburgh getting Michigan linebacker Devin Bush. Now it’s the Packers turn and they decided to go the Michigan route as well at the No. 12 spot, choosing defensive end Rashan Gary. He’s a tremendous athlete, but he didn’t quite live up to expectations with the Wolverines. It seems like a bit of a reach for Green Bay, but maybe they see something I don’t.
10: The draft has been going on for two hours now and everybody seems to be showing signs of fatigue. This is evident as a brief video of country singer Darius Rucker, saying the Dolphins pick is in plays with even lesser enthusiasm than Goodell showed earlier.
10:10: After Miami and Atlanta make their selections, the Redskins make the rare smart decision and choose Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins, the guy the Giants passed on in favor of Jones. When Washington owner Dan Snyder looks better than you, you know you made a questionable decision.
10:15 or so: The Giants are back again. After Carolina makes their pick, New York goes with the last well-known Clemson D-lineman in Dexter Lawrence, which is a smart decision. One of the ESPN commentators says something like “You heard of a dancing bear? Well this is a dancing grizzly bear.” So basically, it’s another bear. Great insight there from the expert.
Around 10:20: My interest is starting to fade at this point and I start to realize I haven’t eaten anything in like eight hours. I can’t make anything now though as the Vikings are up and they bolster their offensive line with center Garrett Bradbury out of North Carolina State. Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman said earlier in the week, his wife told him not to come home if he drafts another cornerback. I guess he gets to sleep in his own bed tonight, or at least the couch.
Close to 10:30: The hometown Titans are up and they make the controversial selection of Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons, who was caught on tape trying to separate his sister from another woman during a fight and then proceeded to throw a few punches as the woman was on the ground. I give credit to ESPN’s Trey Wingo for focusing on that disturbing incident before moving on to discussing how Simmons is as a player.
Around 10:40: Denver has made their choice and now the Packers are up again as they traded up to get Maryland safety Darnell Savage. He’s got some hype, but probably isn’t well-known, which is why the response wasn’t loud during the crowd reaction among Green Bay fans.
Well after 11: The next few picks are not too surprising or eventful, but then the Giants make another appearance and trade up to get Georgia CB Deandre Baker. Once again, New York goes after a guy they could get much later. Not a huge deal, but also not surprising with how they’ve looked tonight.
The Draft eventually comes to an end a little after 11:30 and everyone appears mentally drained, including me as this as been going on for almost four hours.
Goodell comes out and announces the end of the Draft and from what I can tell, he’s thrilled to be leaving for the night. I don’t quite feel the same way because as tiring as this was, it was sort of fun at the same time.
I hope you enjoyed reading my analysis and I look forward to continuing my new tradition next year.
Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is email@example.com.