Posted: Monday April 25, 2005 9:40AM; Updated: Monday April 25, 2005 4:59PM
Ten Things I Think I Think
Mike Williams became the the third straight wide receiver the Lions have selected in the first round.
1. I think I have a great deal of respect for Matt Millen and Steve Mariucci, but taking wideout Mike Williams in the first round was a crazy pick for the Lions. You simply don't take a wide receiver first overall three straight years. I don't care if Charles Rogers is an injury risk coming off two broken collarbone injuries. Mike Williams is not a good pick for the long-term future of this franchise. A team that allowed 22 points per game and a 61.3 percent average completion percentage by opponents last year could, and should, have used the pick for the best front-seven player on the board. This is a team that has used the second, seventh and 10th picks, respectively on wideouts in each of the last three years, bypassing, among others, Terrell Suggs in 2003, Dunta Robinson in 2004 and the best two outside rushers in the draft this year, Demarcus Ware and Shawne Merriman. And for the record, there have been six drafts this century. Detroit has used its first-round pick in every one on an offensive player -- Stockar McDougle, Jeff Backus, Joey Harrington, Rogers, Roy Williams and Mike Williams.
2. I think the line of the ESPN draft broadcast I liked the most (and there were many, like the verbal sickle Merril Hoge took to Aaron Rodgers last Thursday) had to be Mel Kiper's on Sunday morning. The first pick of the fourth round -- safety Sean Considine, chosen by the Eagles -- had just come off the board. And Suzy Kolber went to Kiper for a reaction. I like Mel. I really do. But sometimes he just has to filter himself a little better. In his comments on Considine, Kiper said: "I thought he easily could have been a third-round pick.'' Brilliant! If he'd been picked one pick sooner, he would have been a third-round pick!
3. I think, when history judges this draft, one of the best five players in it will be Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell, who went to Washington at No. 24. That isn't to say Washington did a smart thing, paying a ransom for the pick -- particularly when it already has another quarterback there who's good enough to win with and considering Joe Gibbs will be at some racetrack by the time Campbell is an experienced starter. I'm just commenting on the quality of the player. He's good.
4. I think I have this advice for Cedric Benson: Get a hold of yourself, man. You were the fourth pick in the NFL Draft, buddy. Enjoy it. Strange moments, in the wake of Benson going to the Bears. Benson cried. You probably saw that. And he railed at the media and the NFL establishment for comparing him so endlessly to Ricky Williams, like we all were some sort of racial profilers. Let's see. Williams is 5-10 and 228. Benson is 5-10 1/2 and 222. Williams runs with powerful leg drive and has enough escapability to be dangerous. Ditto Benson. Williams admits that he has smoked marijuana. Benson was cited but never convicted on a college marijuana charge. Williams went to Texas. Benson went to Texas. Williams was a Major League Baseball draftee and played minor-league ball. Benson was a Major League Baseball draftee and played minor-league ball. Gee. I wonder why we're all comparing Benson to Williams? How strange.
5. I think you won't see me join the instant-grade brigade, because it's difficult to judge teams' drafts after 24 hours. You can't really judge them after 24 months, so how can you do it instantaneously? But I'll tell you a few things I saw that I liked:
a. Arizona's pick of J.J. Arrington 44th overall. That guy has a better current upside than Travis Henry, and he should win the starting job this year.
b. I have no idea who Logan Mankins is, but I have a feeling the Patriots do. I don't know how you criticize their drafting right now. Sounds like the next Joe Andruzzi for now at least.
c. I still think Aaron Rodgers is better than Alex Smith, but I do understand why the 49ers did what they did. They think Smith's going to a better leader, public presence and worker bee than Rodgers would have been.
d. Minnesota got a lot better.
e. I like Mike Nugent in the second round for the Jets. I said it in January and I'll say it again now: There is absolutely no way the Jets can bring Doug Brien back to the Meadowlands this fall. The crowd would devour him and not let him forget those Pittsburgh misses.
f. No. 21 was too high for Matt Jones. But, you know, there's an old saying in the draft world. You like a guy, you better take him. Or something like that.
g. Frank Gore at 65? A steal, Niners.
h. Darren Sproles to return punts and kicks and to have a role in San Diego's third-down offense, in the fourth? A steal, Bolts.
i. The Cowboys entered this draft wanting to get bigger and deeper in the front seven. By taking two linebackers and two defensive ends in the first four rounds, I'd say if their scouting department has done its job and the Cowboys are a lot better today than they were Friday. They got 254- and 239-pound outside 'backers (Demarcus Ware and Kevin Burnett), and 279- and 307-pound DEs (Chris Canty and Marcus Spears).
j. And by the way, Marion Barber to Dallas in the fourth round? I thought he was a second-rounder.
k. Thanks for picking the best name in recent NFL history, Chiefs. Craphonso Thorpe,wide receiver from Florida State. One piece of advice when you go to the Black Hole, Craphonso. Wear earplugs.
6. I think Travis Henry has got to be a pretty unhappy camper right now. And the Bills are stunned that they never got an offer over the weekend for the terribly unhappy running back. "We're still optimistic about a potential trade,'' Bills GM Tom Donahoe said. "We tried hard, but it didn't work. We were very aggressive trying to make it happen. Someone said we've been greedy in trying to trade Travis. If not being offered anything is being greedy, then we're being greedy.'' Buffalo needed to get rid of a headache before camp and wasn't able to do it. Yet.
7. I think I would like to publicly compliment Mike Nolan, the 49ers coach and draft czar, for bucking the trend of men in charge of drafts who either lie to throw you off the scent or who give the people who cover this league (see below) such a stonewalling. Nolan doesn't give anything away, but at least he treats the media (well, at least me and a couple of peers of mine) with respect and courtesy that is rare in the business these days -- especially around this time of year. I don't often credit guys for being decent people, because that's what you're supposed to be in this world. But I have to give Nolan a nod because his cooperation over the entire draft process has been exceedingly decent while not compromising the job he has to do for his team.
8. I think, I will remember this as the draft that became absolutely useless to prepare for as a collective news media. I know that sounds odd, but let me give you an example of how fruitless it was to fact-find in the days leading up to the event: I was reminded of this when I saw the answer from Green Bay GM Ted Thompson about the deepest positions in this draft. Said Thompson: "I think without getting too specific, I'm not trying to avoid your question, there's several positions that we think are going to be pretty solid later on in the draft, and we think it'll be a pretty good couple days.'' Tell us more, Mr. Science.
9. I think these are the teams that gained an early 2006 draft advantage: Denver has Washington's first- and fourth-rounders next year, New England has an extra pick each in the third, fourth and fifth rounds, and Philadelphia has two extra fours. You know what that means, don't you? The rich get richer.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Poor Nomar Garciaparra. He's a dour soul, but no one deserves the kind of bad injury luck he's had the last three years.
b. Spanglish is underrated. Saw it on the airplane the other day. Maybe I'm partial to my new best friend Adam Sandler (did I mention that The Longest Yard, with cameos by seven ridiculously handsome sportswriters, is coming to a cineplex near you next month?), but he and Tea Leoni are really good in Spanglish.
c. What is it between the Red Sox and Devil Rays? Where's the love? They fight like the Raiders and Broncos used to.
d. Coffeenerdness: I have gone to the other side. Off hazelnut, I mean. It's a grande vanilla latte for me now. I can't say what happened, really. I just know that hazelnut is now a foreign flavor.
e. My least favorite thing in the world is turbulence in the pitch-blackness of a redeye from the West Coast. Do anything else to me, but don't make me puke by rocking my airplane at 3 a.m.
f. I highly recommend PETCO Park -- except for the ridiculous way you've got to navigate the area behind home plate. I guess a simple concourse there would have been too easy. But the wide aisles and fan-friendliness in the outfield make a ballgame there a pleasure. Even when PhilNevin's not hitting.
g. Apparently, Brian Roberts took a Joe Morgan pill.