SI.com At The Draft (cont.)
Englewood, Colo., 6:56 p.m.
Coach Josh McDaniels said the Broncos got both players they targeted for picks outside the top 10. They selected Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno at No. 12 and defensive end/outside linebacker Robert Ayers at No. 18.
McDaniels said he selected Moreno first because there was a lot of buzz that teams selecting between 13 and 17 had a strong interest in him. Rather than risk losing out on him, the Broncos moved swiftly.
McDaniels said he believes Moreno can be a three-down back. One thing that really impressed him was Moreno's ability as a pass protector. Normally that's one of the toughest adjustments for featured backs.
The Moreno pick was surprising to many because the Broncos signed running backs J.J. Arrington, Correll Buckhalter and LaMont Jordan this offseason and also return, among others, Peyton Hillis and Ryan Torain. But McDaniels pointed out the team had seven running backs end up on injured reserve last year, and only three were available at last week's minicamp.
Ayers initially will line up at end, but McDaniels believes he can also play outside linebacker in the team's new 3-4 defense.
The Bucs traded up to 17 to take QB Josh Freeman, and some speculated that it stemmed from concerns that the Broncos had their eyes on Freeman at No. 18. But McDaniels said the team had targeted Ayers all along.
Foxboro, Mass., 6:50 p.m.
Percy Harvin, who was just grabbed by Minnesota with the 22nd pick, has been labeled a risky bet because of some off-the-field issues. There's a bigger issue, though, regardless of off-field concerns: Florida receivers have consistently been the riskiest picks in the draft. It's been a fairly consistent phenomenon, not to mention an infuriating one for the teams that take them.
Harvin is the 17th Florida wideout taken in the draft since 1991 (the first draft of former Florida coach Steve Spurrier's players). Here are the others:
Andre Caldwell (third round 2008)
All but Darrell Jackson have failed to live up to expectations. Many, like Anthony and Green, failed spectacularly. It's too many failures to be a coincidence.
Seattle, 6:44 p.m.
Twitter has really transformed the way the NFL draft is covered this year. Many of the writers here in Seattle, including yours truly, are not only writing about the draft, they are "tweeting" about the draft.
Even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has jumped on the 140-character-limit craze, joining Twitter this week. He tweeted, "wished Matthew a long productive career and said u look good in blue" after Matthew Stafford was selected with the No. 1 pick. He then tweeted, "Jason Smith wouldn't let me go. he was so happy and surprised to go" after Smith was taken second by the Rams.
And when Michael Crabtree got picked by the 49ers Goodell tweeted, "i told crabtree that at least he gets to keep his same college colors." It has added a whole new level of coverage to an event I figured couldn't possibly be covered any more.
Foxboro, Mass., 6:33 p.m.
The atmosphere around Foxboro today could not be more festive as fans anticipate New England's top pick.
Just before the draft kicked off at 4 o'clock, there was a rock band playing outside the new Patriots Hall of Fame, just under the iconic end zone lighthouse fans will recognize from television. There are fan tours going around the stadium, and the "End Zone Militia" -- the guys you see in colonial garb shooting their muskets after each New England touchdown -- is firing off smoky rounds for the guests down on the 10-yard-line about every 10 minutes.
And the bars and restaurants at the new Patriot Place outside the stadium are packed. I popped over to CBS Sports Scene, and it's mobbed with folks watching the draft and Yankees-Red Sox -- which is always a big-time event in Boston. One guy wore a t-shirt that said "Pedroia the Destroyer." Another guy sported a t-shirt that said "University of Belichick." One brave soul wore a Drew Bledsoe jersey -- a Buffalo Bledsoe jersey, at that.
Boston has a rep as a baseball town and CBS Sports Scene seems to reflect that: the restaurant's sound system was tuned to ESPN's draft coverage, but it was being shown on just one TV. Every other screen in the house, including a massive screen out in the parking lot, is tuned to Yankees-Sox.
Detroit, 6:28 p.m.
Somewhere (OK, somewhere on the NFL Network) Jon Gruden must be smiling. And they accused him of collecting quarterbacks too much when he was the Bucs head coach?
After signing Byron Leftwich this month and trading for the rights to select Josh Freeman on Saturday, Tampa Bay is back to its old ways. It's depth chart at the moment includes Leftwich, Freeman, Luke McCown, Brian Griese, and last year's fifth-round pick, Josh Johnson.
Who will be the three QBs standing come Week 1?: Leftwich, McCown and Freeman would be my guess, because how to do you properly develop two young passers like Freeman and Johnson at the same time?
Florham Park, N.J., 6:19 p.m.
Who's the big winner so far? Mark Sanchez. Mark Sanchez is the big winner. Sure, he only gets No. 5 money. But when you're talking about the difference between, say, $60 million and Matthew Stafford's $78 million, would you be willing to give up a few bucks to switch situations? The Lions were 0-16 and their offensive line was a mess last year. They haven't done much to rectify the latter this offseason. The Jets, on the other hand, were one game away from making the playoffs with a seriously retooled offensive line. Those five guys, including Pro Bowlers Alan Faneca, Nick Mangold and Damien Woody, could be a Top 3 unit in '09. So who would you rather be right now: Sanchez or Stafford?
Some more fallout from the Sanchez pick:
Of the three players the Jets sent to Cleveland -- Abram Elam, Brett Ratliff and Kenyon Coleman -- the most interesting has to be Coleman, who started 15 games at defensive end in '09. His departure leaves Rex Ryan's defense thin along the line. Remember, the Jets were thinking about taking a defensive end a few hours ago. Now they need two.
GM Mike Tannenbaum just sat down with us for a few minutes. He described his relationship with Cleveland coach Eric Mangini, with whom he began discussing this deal last night, to be pretty solid. The way he put it, you just can't afford to hold grudges if you hope to accomplish any trades like this in the NFL. But it wasn't just Mangini who forged the trade. Remember, Jets coach Rex Ryan's brother, Rob, is the Browns' defensive coordinator and he came into play as well.
Kansas City, 6:11 p.m.
There's the first shock. Utterly shocking. The Chargers take Larry English, the defensive end/outside linebacker from Northern Illinois. What it tells me is the Chargers want a pass-rush complement for Shawne Merriman, and they thought English was better than Robert Ayers, Clay Matthews and Connor Barwin. It's also interesting to note that Merriman is entering the lst year of his contract. So he's going to have to play well to get rich in San Diego.
Ann Arbor, Mich., 6:05 p.m.
If you're into instant analysis, here's a quick take: ESPN and the NFL Network have performed well so far and one person towers above the rest -- NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock. He's prepared, confident and offers complex information in manageable bites. He's poised on camera. And he clearly loves his job. "This is way earlier than he (Darrius Heyward-Bey) should have been picked," he said of Oakland's curious selection. "They have all the skill positions covered. I hope they block some people this year." On Andre Smith: "His best year was his freshman year. I think elite speed can beat him." Mayock doesn't cheat viewers because we know he's prepared endlessly for this event. It shows.
NFL Network newcomer Jon Gruden has also been very good: Funny and informed. Offering some insight into the strange selection by the Raiders, Gruden said, "I remember when James Jett went by me on the field and he (his former boss, Al Davis) asked me if I could feel that."
It's painful to write but NFL Net's Deion Sanders has been surprisingly effective as an interviewer. (I'll post later comparing he and Erin Andrews, and why I think this gig wasn't the right fit for Andrews.)
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