Snap Judgments (cont.)
Speaking of Goodell, I think he might have authored my quote of the day. Asked in a pre-draft interview on ESPN what his reaction would be if ex-Patriots video assistant Matt Walsh has no tape to show him of the Rams' 2002 Super Bowl walk-through when they meet in New York on May 13, Goodell quite tellingly said:
"I'll be disappointed, because it's been so widely reported that there is a tape. But on the other hand, I won't be disappointed for the game of football.''
Pretty good assessment of what a lot of people are going to be saying if there's no walk-through tape.
We're among those who hate the idea of grading a draft instantly, even before the players ever put on a uniform for their new team, but that doesn't mean we come out of Saturday's events without opinions.
How can you not consider Kansas City a big first-day winner? The Chiefs landed a potentially dominant defensive tackle at No. 5 in Glenn Dorsey -- who many thought would go either second or third -- and then used some of their bevy of picks to smartly trade up from 17 to 15 to secure the offensive tackle they were desperate for in Virginia's Albert.
The Chiefs then further made their day with their second-round pick, No. 35 overall, grabbing Virginia Tech cornerback Brandon Flowers. He wasn't the fastest or tallest corner available, but Flowers earned first-round grades from most teams in terms of his physical style of play and coverage skills.
Said one veteran NFL personnel man to me on Saturday: "The Chiefs, that was a stroke of genius to come out of the first round with both Dorsey and Albert. A stroke of genius. That's a great round.''
If there was a position that got over-picked, it was offensive tackle, where a whopping eight players went, led by No. 1 overall selection Jake Long of Michigan. Five of the first 17 picks were tackles, counting Albert, the Virginia guard, who was taken by Kansas City and is projected as a left tackle in the NFL.
Nobody I talked to had any quibbles about the first six tackles taken, but many eyebrows were raised around the league by Atlanta trading back into the round at No. 21 with Washington to select USC's Baker, who was seen as a second-round pick. Even more surprising was Houston taking Virginia Tech's Brown with the 26th pick that once belonged to both Jacksonville and Baltimore on Saturday.
"Both of those guys, Baker and Brown, they're not first-round picks,'' a league scout told me. "They were second-round tackles. I was shocked by how quickly all those offensive tackles came off the board. I think once Gosder Cherilus went (to Detroit at No. 17), I think some teams panicked and overpaid for a tackle.''
On the flip side, not having a receiver drafted in the first round for the first time since 1990 seemed about right for a crop of pass-catchers that never did inspire much excitement this draft season. Teams were just being smart not to overrate the likes of Michigan State's Devin Thomas, Indiana's James Hardy, Cal's DeSean Jackson, Oklahoma's Malcolm Kelly and Texas's Limas Sweed.
Raise your hand if you had Houston's Donnie Avery and Kansas State's Jordy Nelson being two of the top three receivers chosen? I didn't. Me and lots of others had the Bills reaching a bit for Thomas at No. 11, but Buffalo wound up not taking a receiver until they tabbed Hardy at No. 41. Jackson was my pick for the No. 20 Bucs, but he didn't go until almost 30 picks later, to No. 49 Philadelphia.
Kudos to Washington, however, for landing both Thomas (34th) and Kelly (51st) in the second round. The Redskins wanted some big receivers after going for small guys in recent years, and they got two of this draft's better prospects in that department.
Baltimore came away from the first-round with the quarterback I liked best among this year's class of passers, Delaware's Joe Flacco. And picking up Rutgers running back Ray Rice with the 55th pick, in the second round, was another strong move.
Though I bought some of the buzz surrounding Michigan quarterback Chad Henne and the Ravens in recent weeks, I knew that Baltimore has been high on Flacco since late last fall, when the Blue Hen quarterback started elevating himself into first-round consideration. Ravens scouts who saw Flacco play against nearby Towson State and Navy gushed about the kid's potential.
New Baltimore offensive coordinator Cam Cameron "loves'' Flacco, a league source said Saturday, and thinks he has a chance to be special in the NFL. With a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator and a new quarterback in Baltimore, the Ravens have the kind of fresh start that's going to generate some positive vibes the remainder of this offseason.
Start the bidding for Oakland running back LaMont Jordan. With Darren McFadden becoming a Raider, there's not enough room for everybody. Oakland could wind up having to part with both Jordan and Dominic Rhodes because I don't believe Michael Bush and Justin Fargas are going anywhere.
Picks I really liked in the first two rounds:
-- Buffalo going for Troy cornerback Leodis McKelvin at No. 11, the top-rated pass coverage man, rather than reaching for a receiver like Devin Thomas. The Bills can get a bit funky in the first round, but not this time.
-- Carolina taking Jonathan Stewart at No. 13. Some personnel men I talk to think the ex-Duck might be the most complete back in the draft.
-- Seattle selecting USC defensive end Lawrence Jackson at No. 28. He's a proven pass rusher who played at a big-time program, and he belonged in the first-round discussion all along.
-- Green Bay taking Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm at No. 56. Brohm couldn't ask for a much better shot to make his case that he's an NFL starter. Aaron Rodgers' next start will be his first.
-- Ditto for Miami taking Michigan's Chad Henne at No. 57. Same exact situation as Brohm applies.
Picks I really didn't like in the first two rounds:
-- Chicago choosing Vanderbilt offensive tackle Chris Williams at No. 14. Williams is no slouch, but Virginia's Albert and Pitt's Otah were still on the board, and the Bears passed on two pretty good prospects.
-- Tampa Bay taking Kansas cornerback Aqib Talib at No. 20 when South Florida's Mike Jenkins was still available.
-- St. Louis taking Houston receiver Donnie Avery with the No. 33 pick, over the likes of Michigan State's Devin Thomas and Indiana's James Hardy. I guess the Rams wanted someone undersized.
Just wondering, but could Pacman Jones being acquired by Dallas for a fourth-round pick be this year's version of the Randy Moss deal in New England? The Patriots gave up just a fourth-round pick for Moss last year at this time, and the rest was history. Everybody only wanted to talk about Moss's baggage at first, just like we will if Jones is re-instated to the league in time to play in 2008.
Jerry Jones said an interesting thing on Saturday about Pacman. He said he'd rather have someone playing for him who has been knocked down a few times in life, because they know what it's like to have to get up again, rather than someone who has never experienced difficulty.
All I can say to that, Jerry, is you've got your man. You've got your man.