I was out of town in Orlando this past weekend but still managed to catch more draft coverage than anticipated. I forgot that it takes up the better part of a whole weekend, the pure pageant and spectacle it has become. Combine the hype of the Superbowl, the anticipation of the Academy Awards, and the length of the Huntington Kennel Club Show and you have an idea of the product branding monster the NFL has created. A quarter of ESPN's annual payroll must go to their announcers' overtime and subsequent therapy.
For the 6th year in a row, the NFL Draft can also be called the SEC Showcase and National Signing Day Companion, as more players from the conference were drafted, barley edging out the Big 10. In fairness, I'm not sure if the guy compiling that stat knows there are twelve teams in that conference now. I'm sure they'll look it up. Fourteen commemorative DVD sets of the draft are already in the mail to start showing recruits.
Alabama was the crown jewel of the draft, with eight players drafted, which should free up some room under their salary cap a bit. With four players taken in the first round, they tie their own SEC record from last year, which tied LSU's in 2007, which tied Auburn's in the 2005 draft. All those in favor of renaming the year of the draft to that of the last season the college players played, a la the national championship trophy, say 'aye'.
Auburn's Brandon Mosley was the only player for us drafted, but others have already signed free agency contracts. Not the best of times for the Tigers, but at least we're still tied atop the all-time leaderboard for most #1 NFL draft picks with USC and Notre Dame with five each. I knew about four of those. Ken Rice?
Is it just me or are the hugs that NFL commish Roger Goodell receives from early draft picks starting to get uncomfortably long? Do you think his wife has said anything? Maybe there should be a timer or some bumper music that starts playing. Shave some signing bonus off. Bromance is fine, and Goodell is a convenient target, but I'd be hugging the guy who signs my first check.
Speaking of checks, how many of you secretly think about how many of these guys will be broke within a few years? With three quarters of NFL players bankrupt or in serious financial trouble within two years of separating from the league, it's the ugly underside of draft day. Like many lottery winners who have their lives destroyed, these guys are in the same boat. Enjoy the ride.
I guess the reason why most teams don't have an important player whose number is 1 is because the low chance of complaints when his teams hands his jersey out to some high round draft pick .That being said, I'm sure the Carolina Panthers' first pick didn't get Cam's jersey. Maybe the jersey should bear the number of the current year, like 12. Or really get creative. Put his draft round on there, or how many year contract they might be looking to sign him to. Never mind. We're back to #1 again.
And have a changing of the hats ceremony. Like high school football recruits play the 3-Hat Monty shell game when selecting their college team in front of a crowd, draftees in attendance and in front of a camera crew should wear the hat of their college team, only to exchange it for one of their new employer. It would tie in real nice when they're handed their #1 jersey.
Hats off to Trent Richardson for being the highest ranked running back in the draft at third. He's a hard-nosed runner who will probably go under-utilized on Cleveland's roster. That's a pity and it's such a shame that the NFL has seemingly all but abandoned the rushing game. Teams now spend all their high offensive picks on QBs and receivers. It's been eighteen years since a RB went #1 in the draft. Maybe it's just a ROI thing, with backs taking so much punishment and having half the shelf life of other players. That's the main thing I dislike about the pro game--little interest in rushing the ball. Running backs are like pawns now. They used not to be.
Here's to players like Heisman winner Robert Griffin III, the 2nd pick in the draft to the Redskins. While there was little doubt that conventional wisdom demanded that Andrew Luck was to go number one, I have always liked the guys who bucked tradition at QB, like the Doug Fluties and the Michael Vicks. I think Griffin could fall into that category. You can only pigeon hole a guy so much. Griffin has that X-factor flair, almost like Cam did. I think he'll be something special in the league. Obviously he could be a bust, but half the big name guys are. We'll know soon enough.