Posted: Saturday April 23, 2005 12:42PM; Updated: Friday September 16, 2005 6:40PM
For most recent commentary, refresh page often. To read more from McEntegart, check out The 10 Spot Monday-Friday on SI.com.
Welcome to our NFL Draft blog. According to ESPN's Wall Street-themed intro calling the players "commodities," it's all about the Benjamins, baby. We'll be with you throughout the first round, which should last until about Wednesday at this rate.
Torry Holt, up at ESPN's main desk with Chris Berman, Chris Mortenson and Mel Kiper Jr., is the first person booed by the crowd. New York and Philly fans don't appear to like the Rams. But will he be able to be critical of players if that's called for, or talk about team's weaknesses and needs? Then again, everyone's positive on draft day.
12:04: First trip to a draft room, with the 49ers at No. 1. It seems the NFL is shying away from calling such meetings "war rooms" in these complicated times. In 1943, in fact, the league changed the name of the draft to the "preferred negotiations list" in deference to the military draft.
12:07:Mel Kiper Jr. gives his top 10 best overall. I actually enjoy Kiper at the draft, but his "best overall" list is a bit of a cop-out. It saves him from putting a mock draft out there that could be wrong. This way, he stays out of the mock draft game entirely, and it takes years to judge whether his rankings of who's the best are more "accurate" than the actual draft order. By then, of course, nobody remembers what his list was anyway.
12:10: A bead of sweat just streamed down the left side of Berman's face, like Albert Brooks in Broadcast News. It's going to be a long day.
12:13:Paul Tagliabue steps to the podium to put the Niners on the clock. Wait a second, what have we been doing the last 13 minutes?
12:15:Suzy Kolber interviewing Alex Smith, who is saying all the right things. That doesn't include, "I want to kiss you." Players may say they're happy being drafted wherever they end up, but you know he wants to go first.
12:25: Smith's agent, Tom Condon, is being interviewed. He isn't that far away from a mullet.
12:26: Smith is the man. Everybody's mock draft is right so far.
12:28: Kiper again calls Smith the "smartest player ever to go from college to pro." How did he possibly determine that? My money is on former Bengals punter/wide receiver Pat McInally.
12:37: The Dolphins have about three minutes left on the clock. If new Dolphins coach Nick Saban had his way, he wouldn't have to announce his pick at all. He could just unveil him on opening day. Saban makes the CIA look media-friendly.
12:41: Saban goes with Ronnie Brown, RB, Auburn. Obviously, Saban knows Brown well from playing against him while at LSU. It will be interesting to see who ends up being a better pro, Brown or Cadillac Williams. At Auburn, Cadillac was always considered the bigger star. Brown, though, is much thicker and has more of an NFL body. Will this be like Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek from Ohio State, where Lucas was the megastar in college but Hondo ended up being a more recognized pro? One thing we won't hear: Johnny Most screaming, "Ronnie Brown stole the ball!" And that's a shame.
12:54: Just before the Browns are set to pick, Mort tells us, "We should be ready for surprises." But if something is truly a surprise, how can we be ready for it? Hmmm. The Browns go with Braylon Edwards, which most everybody was ready for. So far, the draft has been pure chalk. Edwards is now posing for a picture with his family, which appears to be as large as most high schools. Good thing he's a high pick.
1:08: And the Bears take ... Cedric Benson, running back, Texas. SI.com's Don Banks is four-for-four so far for those keeping score. This is one spot higher than fellow Longhorn Ricky Williams went. Benson is getting emotional, wiping away a tear. Funny, that's one of the feelings that Williams now engenders in the NFL.
1:15: Wow, amazing interview with Benson, who really had his fill of the NFL draft process. He called it "a slap in the face." It seems that Benson, a Longhorn tailback who formerly sported dreads, was quickly lumped together with Ricky Williams in the minds of many NFL types. These days, that's like being grouped with Charles Manson. In fact, Benson might have come closest to demonstrating breakaway speed by furiously running away from Williams's name over the past few weeks. I read the other day that Benson said that he's only hung out with the wandering Williams once, which isn't that surprising since they didn't overlap at Texas. (Williams was drafted in '99.)
1:23:Cadillac Williams is being mobbed by his family in his living room in Gadsden, Ala., while speaking on his cell phone. Either he just saved a lot of money on his car insurance, or the Bucs just told him he's their man. Well, it turns out to be the latter. I wrote the Auburn story for SI's college football issue a few years back and was surprised to see how relatively slight the Cadillac was. He's gained about 10 pounds since then and is up to 217 pounds, but it will be interesting to see if he can take the pounding of an every-down back. That's three running backs in the top five.
1:30: One subplot that ESPN likely won't discuss today is why the draft was moved this year to the Jacob Javits Center from Madison Square Garden. The Jets and Cablevision, which owns the Garden, have been locked in a fierce battle over the Jets' plan to build a West Side Stadium. Cablevision, fearing that the Garden might lose events to a new domed stadium, has fought the plan at every turn. That doesn't sit well with the NFL, which would obviously like the Jets to be playing in a shiny new Manhattan home rather than be a second-class citizen in Giants Stadium. That's why Tagliabue grabbed the draft out of the Garden.
1:32: Cadillac reveals that he and Auburn teammate Ronnie Brown had bet a dinner on who would be drafted first, which obviously Brown has won. Still, the Cadillac insists: "He might have won the war, but the battle is not over." It's a good thing Cadillac is a running back and not a wordsmith.
1:36: The Titans go with cornerback Adam "Pac Man" Jones of West Virginia, so score one for Dr. Z. The conventional wisdom had Tennessee taking cornerback Antrel Rolle of Miami, but Z had a "super confidential, deep throat Titans source" that has come through. Wonder if they met in a New Jersey parking garage.
1:41: Here are the most frightening words in Minnesota: "The Vikings are on the clock."
1:50: The Vikings went with wide receiver Troy Williamson, whom Torry Holt was lobbying for. Mike Williams, Mel's No. 1 overall player, continues to fall. In the words of Bill Tobin, Who the hell is Mel Kiper? Meanwhile, Sean Salisbury and Merril Hoge are sparring over Williams, with Salisbury a fan and Hoge not so much. Salisbury loves the intramural scuffling, though it's getting a bit tiring to see him constantly attacking John Clayton. If their bickering was ever funny, that time has long since passed. Then again, with 15 minutes between picks, these folks have to talk about something.
2:00: The Cardinals go with Rolle, who goes with a sharp gray pinstriped number. Gray seems to be the new navy blue, as it has been the most popular color so far among the top picks. Wow, we've been here two hours and we're only a quarter of the way through the first round? Berman is already reaching with his nicknames, dubbing Pac Man Jones "Shake" and Auburn cornerback Carlos Rogers "Rattle," for a tortured "Shake, Rattle and Rolle" line. How long has he been working on that one? Still, Berman hasn't yet resorted to mangling a '70s song lyric. Can that be far off?
2:08:Andrea Kremer just asked the Redskins' Jon Jansen how the team might deal with potentially picking Rolle, considering the Skins already have two seemingly disgruntled University of Miami products in Sean Taylor and Santana Moss. Jansen didn't directly answer that question, which makes sense because Rolle has already been picked. Somebody apparently just pointed that out to Kremer. The Redskins in fact go with Rogers at 2:13, and Berman is sticking with his new "Rattle" handle in the face of all logic.
2:18: The Lions shock everybody by taking less than five minutes to make their pick. Almost as surprising is that Detroit picks Mel's man, Mike Williams, taking a receiver first for the third year in a row (Charles Rogers and Roy Williams being the others). Maybe Mort is right, we have to be ready for these surprises, like the Lions drafting as if this is an offense-only fantasy league.
2:30: The Cowboys went with DE/OLB Demarcus Ware of Troy (please, don't call them Troy State). Here's a nugget: Ware was a 165-pound receiver coming out of high school. Now he's at 251 pounds. That must be some good grub they're dishing out at Troy. Dr. Z and Don Banks both had this one slotted correctly. The Chargers are up next with the pick they got from the Giants as part of the Eli Manning trade from last year. Boy, Eli better be good. Still, the fact that neither New York team has a first-round pick has made this draft crowd less boisterous than years past. We'll have to wait for Raiders and Eagles fans to make some real noise.
2:41: Berman claims that his New York cab driver this morning was wearing a powder blue Chargers hat and told him San Diego would take pass rusher Shawne Merriman of Maryland, which is exactly what happens. Cute story, but we're betting it's purely Albom-esque. I've ridden in hundreds of New York cabs and have met only a few who could even identify the Chargers, let alone correctly pick their draft selection while wearing a San Diego hat. Now, if this was the National Cricket League draft, Berman's story might be plausible. At least it's mildly diverting, which is about all we can ask at this point.