Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think these are my quick-hit thoughts of draft weekend:
a. Someone in Washington is going to have to convince Jason Campbell he's the Redskins' quarterback of the future.
b. Hey, ESPN: Who is Eugene Monroe, and who is Jason Smith?
c. Really, really good story by ESPN's Rachel Nichols on Michael Oher and the altruistic goodness of his adopted family.
d. Noted on our draft blog: UConn had more players picked on day one (four) than Florida, Oklahoma, Michigan and Penn State (three) combined.
e. I'm pretty confident there's nothing to the story of the new contract for Matt Cassel, unless the two most plugged-in people to the story (other than Cassel) lied independently within five minutes of each other Saturday afternoon.
f. The Mid-American Conference has first-, second- and third-team all-conference teams. Ohio University safety Michael Mitchell did not make any of the three last fall. The Raiders used the 15th pick of the second round on Mitchell.
g. I asked three GMs Saturday and Sunday where they had Mitchell on their boards. One said he had a seventh-round grade. Two said he had a free-agent grade.
h. Mitchell is the highest-drafted player of this decade not to have been invited to the combine.
i. You get the point. The pick of Mitchell, and where he was picked, was greeted with as much incredulity as any pick I remember. The only team clearly in competition for him was Chicago.
j. Hoping you didn't buy in Jersey, Kellen Clemens. Hope you're renting.
k. Really like the Brian Orakpo pick for Washington. He fell into the team's lap.
l. You watch: Abram Elam will make a Pro Bowl someday in Cleveland.
m. I don't think it's simply training by the agents. I think the top five picks in this draft -- Stafford, Smith, Jackson, Curry and Sanchez -- will be poster guys for what is good about the NFL. I get the feeling you don't have to force them to do or say the right thing.
n. "Prime U is not what we do. It's who we are.'' Who writes this crap for Deion Sanders? And if he thinks it up himself, what in God's name does it mean? What a pile of crap.
o. And another thing, NFL Network: If you show the Eli Manning commercial playing with the kids one more time, I'm throwing a brick through my TV. I mean, 220 times in one weekend is plenty.
p. I don't like Brian Hartline to the Dolphins in the fourth round. I love it.
q. I like Seattle's forward-thinking and all. But Mike Teel? I mean, does Seattle have a scout on the East Coast? And did he actually watch a Rutgers game the past couple of years?
r. Maybe they're just looking for Charlie Frye II.
2. I think Ken Whisenhunt is in mourning this morning. The Cards really, really wanted Donald Brown for the kind of person he is and the kind of player he will be, and Bill Polian beat them to Brown. Peyton Manning, Donald Brown. That's an Eagle Scout convention right there.
3. I think -- no, I know -- that it's no lock Braylon Edwards opens the season with Cleveland. The Browns want to see how he takes to the new regime, how hard he works in the offseason and how he fits into Brian Daboll's offense. No coincidence that the Browns took two receivers in the second round. If Edwards doesn't get on board, I doubt the Browns will make him a rich man when his contract is up after next year.
4. I think the Patriots' draft was ... well, uninspired. Keep in mind, we all said the same thing about Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, Matt Light and Logan Mankins. But it was almost like the Patriots lost a guy (Percy Harvin? Brandon Pettigrew? Larry English?) they liked right above their first-round pick, then just started dumping, and by the time they picked, they were down to the Patrick Chungs of the world at 34.
That pick was odd. They've got a pair of 25-year-old safeties, James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather, they like very much. Is it possible they picked Chung to be mostly a special-teams demon for a year or two?
Except for well-regarded cornerback Darius Butler, the Patriots four second-rounders were greeted with shoulder shrugs around the league. I really like Brandon Tate, warts and all, because he's probably the best returner in the draft, and if he screws up one time with his poor personal track record, the Patriots can just cut him. But the upside on him -- as it might have been with Harvin -- is big when you've got such a big cushion because of all the extra draft picks. I think what I liked most about New England's draft is that the Patriots, for the second year in a row in 2010, are scheduled to have four picks in the first two rounds.
5. I think in the interest of fairness in advertising, here's how I fared in my Sports Illustrated mock draft (wasn't that a beautiful design and layout and gatefold presentation in the magazine?), finalized last Sunday:
a. I had nine direct hits out of 32 picks (assuming you count Josh Freeman to the Bucs; I had Freeman to Tampa as the 19th pick, and the Bucs moved to 17 to take him), and 27 of the 32 first-rounders somewhere in the round.
b. My misses: Larry English at 16, Eric Wood at 28, Kenny Britt at 30, Beanie Wells at 31, Evander Hood at 32. Guys I forecasted in Round 1 who went in Round 2: Connor Barwin 17, LeSean McCoy 21, Rey Maualuga 26, Eben Britton 28 (I believed in you, man! Don't be mad at me!), Alphonso Smith 29, Max Unger 30.
c. Pick I was most proud of: Tyson Jackson, at 3 to Kansas City. I'm sure I'm missing some mock out there, but I didn't see anyone other than me putting Jackson three before Thursday. I was on pins-and-needles around pick 11 and 12, hoping for Malcolm Jenkins and Brian Cushing to go 14-15, because I knew how much the Saints and Texans wanted Jenkins and Cushing, respectively, and luckily they stayed on the board.
d. Pick that ought to get me fired: Connor Barwin 17 to the Jets. I tried to hit a home run because I know Rex Ryan loved him ... but no one loved this projection that much.
e. Pick that worked out ... sort of: LeSean McCoy to the Eagles. I had the Pitt running back going to Philly at 21 because I knew they loved his hands, and a back with hands was a must for the Iggles entering the draft. He did go to Andy Reid -- 32 picks later, in Round 2.
f. Now I know how Paul Zimmerman felt over the years. "It's torture,'' he'd tell me, year after year, trying to get the mock as close to on the mark as he could. I saw how he worked it, starting at the league meetings in March and tirelessly calling every team, finding someone on each team who would give him one or two nuggets to point him in a direction.
But here's how tough it is: Zim had five direct hits last year, and I know for a fact he worked it almost daily for a month. It's just so hard to get right, because as Zim used to say: "One team making one pick you never figured screws up the whole thing.'' This year, who had the Jets getting Sanchez at five, or the Chargers pegging English at 16, or the Ravens moving away from Rey Maualuga and trading up to 23, unexpectedly, to get Oher?
g. Zim, please come back. You can have the mock back next year. I just borrowed it for a year. It's your franchise.
6. I think it was a pleasure to share quarters Saturday at the Chiefs' draft with old friend Bob Gretz (bobgretz.com is one of the underrated football-knowledge and football-opinion sites on the 'net, and Gretz is one of the most thoughtful writer/broadcasters I know). We were sitting there watching the nine first-round picks being introduced before the draft, and as the camera panned the crowd packing three levels of the Radio City Music Hall, Gretz said what I wished I'd said: "Look at that! Look at it! The NFL is amazing -- there's not even a game going on, and the place is packed, and millions like us are watching like it's some huge event.''
Year after year, I say the same thing (actually, I stole this from a smart man in the league): The draft is the fourth-biggest pro sport in America, just behind the NFL, baseball and the NBA. It's bigger than the NHL.
7. I think the Dolphins could be stealing a big exec from the Red Sox any day now -- Sox chief operating officer Mike Dee -- to be their CEO. Bill Parcells, the not-so-closeted Red Sox-a-holic, and Dee will get along just fine if the subject around the water cooler is Papelbon instead of Chad Pennington. I inquired about Dee to the Dolphins over the weekend. I thought the "no comment'' was telling. I hear if he goes, Dee will have nothing to do with the football side, but everything to do with ratcheting up the interest in the Dolphins on the business side.
8. I think the Vikings easily took the biggest risks on draft weekend, picking all-purpose threat Percy Harvin at 22 and tackle Phil Loadholt at 54. Foxsports.com reported Harvin tested positive for marijuana use at the scouting combine, which would mean he enters the NFL with one strike against him on the NFL's substance-abuse policy. Loadholt had off-field issues too, getting arrested for suspicion of DUI/disorderly conduct.
Minnesota VP Rick Spielman said of Harvin, "When we evaluated him just on football between the lines, he was definitely a top 10 pick.''
Well, of course he was. Everyone could see that. Where you get in trouble is taking risks on guys when the risk-reward ratio is high Now, if you're New England, and you've already got a great team without the holes of Minnesota, and you'd be able to stomach a big mistake there, I can understand taking the chance. I'm surprised the Vikings took it at 22.
9. I think I'm scratching my head at the fall from grace of two players: cornerback Ellis Hobbs in New England and linebacker Leroy Hill in Seattle. Hobbs went to Philadelphia for two fifth-round picks; Hill had the franchise tag removed from him Sunday by Seattle GM Tim Ruskell, making him a free-agent.
Hobbs is a gutsy, feisty little corner, a confident kid who gave the Patriots some good games covering top receivers. But the Patriots are a totally bottom-line group, and with keepers Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite making the team last year, and Darius Butler coming in Saturday, that's three cornerbacks picked in the first, second and fourth rounds of the past two drafts. Bill Belichick figures youth will be served, but I like that acquisition for Philly.
Now in Seattle, the loss of Hill will free up $8.3 million in cap room unless he takes a lesser contract. I hear Hill is likely to move on, particularly with Aaron Curry sure to dwarf his salary.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. I am so ticked off I missed Zack Grienke on Friday night. What a great story -- he threw a three-hitter to beat Detroit (and the kid from West Orange, Rick Porcello) to go to 4-0. The story of the month in baseball, with nothing even close for second place: Grienke. In 29 innings, he's struck out 36 and given up zero earned runs.
b. And the Royals drew 36,363 to the refurbished Kauffman Stadium. Good for them.
c. Was that you, Zack, in the Classic Cup on the Plaza for breakfast Saturday morning? If so, a lot of us left you alone on purpose.
d. By the way, thanks to two Tweeters for steering me to the Classic Cup. Great pulse-of-the-Plaza breakfast spot.
e. Mariano Rivera's career blown saves against Boston: 12. Mariano Rivera's career blown saves against the other 28 teams in baseball: 47.
f. Wow. Did you see the straight steal of home by Jacoby Ellsbury Sunday night? I can't remember the last one of those I saw. I kept thinking, Jackie Robinson!
g. Coffeenerdness: Underrated coffee, always, comes from the French press. Had it Saturday, and even though it always comes out a little muddy at the bottom of the cup, it's like Espresso Junior.
h. Good to spend the weekend around you, Ken Fost. You are Vasco de Gama, a true explorer.
i. And great to have you home, Jack Bowers. You've got a little surprise, and I mean little, coming from your beloved St. Louis Cardinals in the mail.
j. I do believe it might be time to throttle the season down for a while. Talk about a never-ending campaign. Have a good week.
NFL Truth & Rumors