SI.com At The Draft Blog
A dozen writers in 10 cities bring you behind the scenes of the NFL's annual pickfest
Kansas City, 10:25 p.m.
Here's how I sum up day one: Lots of chalk, with an odd tinge. But aren't all drafts slightly odd? Don't all drafts have Mel Kiper's 73rd-rated safety going in the second round (Michael Mitchell, pick 47, to the oddball Raiders), or more UConn players (4) than Florida, Michigan, Oklahoma and Penn State players COMBINED (3) on day one? No veteran trades; Anquan Boldin and Braylon Edwards and Brian Waters and Larry Johnson and Julius Peppers stay put. Dallas goes on vaca. Not to be corny, but isn't that why we dig the draft? For storylines like these?
I like the Jets getting Mark Sanchez, the Bucs getting the object of their long-term affection, Josh Freeman, and I absolutely love the Lions getting Brandon Pettigrew at 20 to pair with a quarterback they're handing the reins to. More Monday in Monday Morning QB, but those are a few quick thoughts. Enjoy day two tomorrow. Good night from Kansas City.
Detroit, 10:17 p.m.
It's a lot to ask a kid who turned 21 less than three months ago to have a real grasp on the desultory history of the Detroit Lions over the past five decades, but Matthew Stafford seems to not only get the gist of it, he actually seems motivated to be the one who changes it.
Eisenhower was in the White House the last time the Lions won anything that really mattered, and for months now, Stafford has been asked how he could ever expect to reverse such a depressing legacy of defeat and failure? The questions have come because of the too-cute story that Stafford went to the same high school in Dallas that Bobby Layne attended, and Layne was on the last Detroit team to win an NFL title, in 1957.
But now that he's a Lion, and the Curse of Bobby Layne is his problem (Layne was unceremoniously traded to the Steelers in 1958), Stafford seems eager to get started on maybe the biggest challenge to ever face an NFL quarterback. What could be tougher than taking over an 0-16 team that last won it all 52 years ago?
"I know they haven't won a championship for 50 years,'' Stafford said Saturday. "Obviously since I've been watching they've been struggling some. But it's all about getting out there, competing, and doing what it takes to win and that's what I plan on doing.''
Sounds simple enough, but Lord knows it won't be. This is Detroit, kid. There's nowhere to go but up.
"It's crazy,'' said Stafford, when asked about his link to Layne. "But I feel like you couldn't write it any better than that. It's a wild story and it's fun to be living it, that's for sure.''
Spoken like a new Lions quarterback. The kind that has yet to lose a game.
Englewood, Colo., 10:12 p.m.
Say this much for the Jets: They'll keep trying until they get it right.
One year after trading for future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre, who retired after only one season in New York, the Jets traded up 12 spots Saturday on the first day of the draft and selected USC signal-caller Mark Sanchez fifth overall. Sanchez is expected to compete immediately for the starting job and provided a double splash because he came relatively cheaply: first- and second-round picks this year and three journeymen players.
The buzz of his selection was nearly overshadowed two picks later when the Raiders made made Darrius Heyward-Bey the first wide receiver off the board. At best Heyward-Bey was considered a mid first-rounder. His selection became even more intriguing when the cross-bay 49ers grabbed Michael Crabtree, the consensus top receiver, with the 10th pick.
Overall, the first two rounds reflected the widely-held opinion that there wasn't much separation among the players. Cleveland traded back three times in the first round before finally making a selection, and Dallas failed to make a single pick after dealing its only choice (second round) to Dallas.
The early winners would have to be the Eagles and Packers. Philadelphia traded up to 19 to get Jeremy Maclin, the consensus second-rated wideout, and added productive UConn running back LeSean McCoy in the second round. Green Bay, which is switching to a 3-4 defense, landed highly-rated Boston College nose tackle B.J. Raji with the ninth pick, then traded back into the first round and selected USC linebacker Clay Matthews.
The early losers: Oakland, which after taking Heyward-Bey, traded down in the second round and selected safety Michael Mitchell, who is not believed to have participated in a postseason all-star game and was not invited to the combine; Cleveland, which dealt back three times to take a center; Minnesota, which took wideout Percy Harvin despite his failed drug test at the Combine, and added lumbering offensive lineman Phil Loadholt.
Raised eye-brow: Denver, which traded its No. 1 pick next year (which at this point could be pretty high) to take cornerback Alphonso Smith in the second round.
Ann Arbor, Mich., 10:07 p.m.
I'm not a big fan of writing about Erin Andrews because it's an easy play to get cheap web hits. I think she's handled her Internet stardom with grace and as a sideline reporter, she offers an appealing personality and a robust work ethic. People I trust at ESPN say she's a decent person and wants to get better as a reporter. All good.
While I understand why ESPN wanted her on the draft -- she's arguably one of the few sports broadcasters whose mere presence might actually bring in additional 20-something male viewers -- I would have opted for a more seasoned questioner for the Draft. Why? Her questions too often never rose above surface stuff.
What are you thinking right now? (to Michael Oher).
Contrast that with -- and I can't believe I'm writing this -- Deion Sanders of the NFL Network. Sanders asked Stafford the following:
Have you spoken to Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco about the pressure?
Specifics, specifics, specifics. Sanders had a very good day in his role.
To be fair, the post-pick interview gig is not easy. You have a finite amount of time and you are dealing with emotional people at a moment that might be the apex of their life. Plus, you are working on a stage in front of a huge and rabid crowd. ESPN has plenty of people in its arsenal -- Doris Burke, Bob Ley, Chris McKendry, Chris Mortensen, Kelly Naqi, Jeremy Schaap, Mark Schwarz, Ed Werder and Trey Wingo, just to name a few -- who are gifted interviewers. I would have found a different role for Andrews on the broadcast -- she'll be hanging out Sunday with Texas wideout Quan Cosby and comedian Bill Cosby for a Day 2 draft feature which has great promise -- and assigned one of those above for the post-pick gig. I'll no doubt hear from the Andrews supporters. Have at me, people.
Foxboro, Mass., 9:57 p.m.
The Patriots are done with an unusual first day of the draft that ends in unusual fashion: by drafting a German-born offensive lineman who ...
attended a high school called Quirinus Gymnasium
apparently didn't speak English until he got to the University of Houston in 2004
was projected by most as a second-day pick and
will be a 25-year-old rookie come September
Other than that, Sebastian Vollmer is your typical 6-foot-8, 315-pound native of Kaarst in North Rhine-Westphalia. If all goes well, he'll be Kaarst's first and only member of the Neue England Fussball Mannschaft.
He'll be happy to know that Boston's Harpoon Brewery makes a damn tasty Altbier -- the indigenous beer style of Duesseldorf, Germany, a few miles from Vollmer's hometown.
NFL Truth & Rumors