TEN THINGS I THINK I THINK
1. I think Boise State tackle Ryan Clady and USC linebacker Keith Rivers might rise all the way into the top 10. I think Virginia defensive end Chris Long and Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan might fall. "Might'' is an important word there. I don't know who is taking Long. And Ryan ... it's been a while since I heard so many diverging views on a top pick.
2. I think it's been a long time since a player opened his mouth and cost himself so much money in the draft. That's what is going to happen to Oklahoma wideout Malcolm Kelly if he doesn't find some way to temper his remarks about running a bad time because his university handed him a different track to run his 40-yard dash on than the one he wanted to run on.
I've never met Kelly, so I don't want to say, "What an idiot.'' But I am tempted. Here's the biggest point I'd make: Surfaces in the NFL vary from practice facility to practice facility. Obviously, it's important that a wideout run on a fast track. But wherever a prospect runs, the scouts are going to take into account if the surface is slower than the surface the other receivers used. Kelly comes off as a whiner, and if I were Buffalo coach Dick Jauron or Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis -- whose teams are eyeing receivers in the first round and have shown significant interest in Kelly -- I'd steer clear.
3. I think Billy Devaney just might have been stating the obvious when I asked him about the Sunday night dinner he set up with the Rams' Final Four (Jake Long, Chris Long, Vernon Gholston, Glenn Dorsey) in St. Louis. "There's a good chance our pick [No. 2 overall] will be one of those four guys,'' said Devaney. "We're just playing the odds.''
4. I think you wouldn't be surprised if I told you Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff led a small contingent to Baton Rouge for a heart-to-heart with Dorsey Saturday afternoon, would you? I think it's Dorsey or Matt Ryan for the Falcons at three.
5. I think this is what you need to know about the power struggle at the NFL Players Association: Gene Upshaw will be the executive director through the negotiations for a new contract, after the owners opt out of the current deal. Then a new boss will emerge -- my guess is in two years. I don't think there's enough momentum for a hostile takeover of the NFLPA right now, and I also don't think there's a logical successor among the players who want Upshaw out.
6. I think Miami won't trade Jason Taylor unless the Dolphins get a pick between, say, 20 and 35 in this year's draft. That means he won't get traded, because he'll be 34 on opening day and might give a team just one or two more years. But I'll tell you this: Taylor, at 34, is not a typical on-the-downside guy. If I were San Diego GM A.J. Smith, with the 27th pick, and I had a core of young talent ready to win now, and I had Taylor's word that he'd give me at least two more years before retiring, I'd be very tempted to make the deal. Imagine trying to block Shawne Merriman and Jason Taylor on passing downs for the next two years. It's a call Smith should make to Miami.
7. I think Dallas is smart to be amending its offer to Tennessee for Pacman Jones, and that deal looks like it'll get done this week. I still say the best idea for Roger Goodell is to let the trade go through and allow Jones to use the Dallas training facilities for the next three months. If Pacman keeps on the straight and narrow, he should be reinstated just prior to training camp. If not, it wouldn't be a black eye for the league because the league wouldn't have officially allowed him back yet.
8. I think you handled the whole NFL Network mess with class, Bryant Gumbel.
9. I think if Parcells wants to make a deal with a good player at the top of the draft who will come for the contract Miami can live with, it's Chris Long.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Was it just me, or was that first post-strike episode of The Office a creep show? Hard to explain, but the Jan and Michael stuff at home was over-the-line weird to me. Maybe I just expected too much from the return of this great show. But that one went too far over the bizarre line.
b. All you nice people in Wisconsin should get used to the Eric Gagne roller coaster. You'll ride it all year.
c. All you idiots at Fenway who booed David Ortiz (it was scattered, certainly nothing near a majority) the other night should have your human-being licenses revoked. Ortiz is 3-for-43 in one-fourteenth of the season. For everything he's done the past four years, he's a guy you shouldn't boo, even if he finishes the year 3-for-543.
d. Riotous job done by Joba Chamberlain introducing the Yankees' starting lineup on Fox Saturday baseball. Quippy job. When he came to the eighth spot in the order and catcher Jose Molina, he said, "Batting eighth, of the 27 Molinas in baseball, name that Molina, ours is Jose.''
e. I IronPigged the other night. Watched a game at the fabulous new Triple A ballyard in Allentown, Pa., the Triple-A home of the Phils. Lots of great concessions and wide concourse with comfy standing-room ledges. But the Lehigh Valley IronPigs are one woeful bunch. They are 0-11. Maybe the Phils can loan Ryan Howard for just one win.
f. Is it actually possible that the Tigers might stink?
g. Sure hope D-Backs third baseman Mark Reynolds is the genuine item, seeing that I just traded a third of my rotisserie team for him. What say you, Will Carroll?
h. Devilland thanks you for stopping the madness and the embarrassment, John Madden. [Not the TV John Madden, of course. The hockey Madden. The productive pest.]
i. One year closer to death, and I haven't been to The Masters yet. I really would like to check that off my to-do list of life.
j. Tiger Woods had a bit of an Ortiz-ish weekend, from the glimpses I saw.
k. Two really good newspaper stories from Sunday's pile. Greg Bishop in the New York Times had a terrific story about semi-Renaissance man Charley Casserly mixing TV careers (CBS, NFL Network) with a teaching gig at George Mason University. And Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune gave me an idea for the Tuesday column with a terrific portrait of Vikings guard Anthony Herrera, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, becoming a U.S. citizen in March -- with Brad Childress in the audience in St. Paul as his witness.
l. Why is Jon Miller promoting Mariah Carey's new CD on the Sunday night baseball game?
m. Can we nominate Brian Griffin for an Emmy?
n. Thanks for the hospitality, Colgate. I spoke to two groups last Wednesday in Hamilton, N.Y., and the intelligence of a bunch of football players (quite impressive) and a group of seniors (even more so) encouraged me about our country's future.
o. Every community in America should have a coffee shop like The Barge in Hamilton. People drinking great coffee. Conversing. Thinking. Reading. Lots of people reading. No TVs. I'm serious: It's almost worth the trip even if you have no intention of doing anything else in central New York.