Snap Judgments (cont.)
Detroit did nothing in the draft to blunt the momentum that its strong work in free agency generated. The Lions got both defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and running back Jahvid Best in the first round, trading back up into Minnesota's No. 30 slot, to land another couple blue-chippers in the opening round for the second year in a row (Matthew Stafford and Brandon Pettigrew in 2009).
Third-round cornerback Amari Spievey of Iowa and fourth-round offensive tackle Jason Fox of Miami are both solid mid-round picks who will help the Lions, and when you factor in the free-agent/trade haul that brought Kyle Vanden Bosch, Nate Burleson, Corey Williams and Rob Sims to town earlier this offseason, I'm more convinced than ever that head coach Jim Schwartz is building something very good in Detroit.
One more team that impressed me with the top of their draft this weekend was Kansas City. Safety Eric Berry in the first round and Mississippi running back/return man Dexter McCluster in the second made for a very strong start. Then the Chiefs picked up Javier Arenas later in the second round, and while the Alabama cornerback is on the shorter side, he also has return-man skills. Lastly, Kansas City picked up one of the better guards in the draft, taking Illinois's Jon Asamoah near the top of the third round.
Living in Madison, Wis., these days, I got to three University of Wisconsin home games last fall, and the one player who consistently jumped out at me for the Badgers was senior defensive end O'Brien Schofield, who seemed to be playing in the opposing backfield for most of the afternoon.
Schofield went to the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday in the fourth round, 130th overall. That's a steal, but everyone knows why. Schofield, who will be an outside linebacker in the NFL, blew out his knee on the first day of workouts at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, when he got tied up with Massachusetts offensive tackle Vladmir Ducasse (who went to the Jets in the second round).
Schofield was thought to be a potential first-round pick before the late knee injury, and he might even need a redshirt season of sorts this year as a rookie before he's ready to fully contribute in Arizona. But once he's healthy, the Cardinals have themselves an impact player. Count on it. Or my name's not Mel Kiper.
Things I did not understand one bit this weekend:
-- As badly as the Buffalo Bills seemed to need an offensive tackle (see 2009, offensive line play), they didn't draft one until the fifth round, taking Ed Wang from Virginia Tech 140th overall. He was the 12th offensive tackle taken in this year's draft. What were Chan Gailey and Buddy Nix waiting for? Didn't they see last season's game film?
-- I know the Jaguars were last in the NFL in sacks last year with 14, but are they ever going to have enough defensive linemen for their taste? They signed end Aaron Kampman in free agency, and then proceeded to draft Cal tackle Tyson Alualu in the first round, Louisiana Tech defensive tackle D'Anthony Smith in the third, Central Arkansas end Larry Hart in the fifth round (although they intend to play him at outside linebacker), and Murray State end Austen Lane later in the fifth round. And don't forget, carryovers Derrick Harvey and Reggie Hayward remain on the roster. I think they've hit their quota.
-- Why would NFL teams question Florida State safety Myron Rolle's commitment to the game for choosing to miss his final season of college football in order to be a Rhodes Scholar in Oxford, England? Thousands upon thousands get the experience of playing college football, as Rolle did. Only a select handful are invited to study in Oxford, so who can blame Rolle for wanting to be able to say he did both? Rolle was finally picked by Tennessee, in the last selection of the sixth round. Question Rolle's cover skills or athleticism, but not the Rhodes decision. That was a no-brainer. Pun intended.
It won't make Taylor Mays feel any better, but Seattle's Pete Carroll finally took a USC player in the sixth round, selecting Anthony McCoy (McCoy was clearly the name to have in the 2010 NFL Draft).
McCoy has plenty of NFL-level talent, but he kind of failed the league's stupidity test when he tested positive for marijuana at the scouting combine, an event that everyone knows includes a drug test. McCoy is seen as an underachiever, but maybe Carroll thinks the pro lifestyle will just fit him better. Then again, he did go to USC, so some would assume he turned pro years ago. (Paging Joe McKnight.)
You knew there were going to be some veterans moved today, because the demise of the salary cap and the resulting lack of cap acceleration has already made this the most trade-happy offseason in recent memory. Indeed, there was a flurry of players changing uniforms on Saturday.
It started with running back White and defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson going from Tennessee to Seattle, and then in lightning fashion, names like Oakland's Morrison, the Jets' Washington, Arizona's Bryant McFadden, and Washington's Campbell were all moved.
In addition, the Jets did the expected and reportedly released veteran guard Alan Faneca, after he refused to accept a cut to his scheduled $7.5 million salary to stay on the roster. When the Jets drafted Ducasse in the second round Friday night, many saw it as a move to replace Faneca, whose play declined in 2009, even if he did get one of those popularity-contest Pro Bowl invitations.
Some have wondered whether Faneca might be headed back to Pittsburgh, from whence he came. That move is all the rage this year. The Steelers seem to be putting the old gang back together again, re-acquiring receiver Antwaan Randle-El, linebacker Larry Foote, quarterback Byron Leftwich, and cornerback McFadden in recent weeks.
There's no truth to the rumor, however, that Bill Cowher is trying to get his old job back in the 'Burgh.
Like Jimmy Clausen a night before him, University of Cincinnati quarterback Tony Pike landed in Carolina, as a sixth-round compensatory pick of the Panthers. Which means that before Clausen can beat out starter Matt Moore in Charlotte, he must first beat out Pike.
Don't just assume. Green Bay took both Louisville's Brian Brohm (second round) and LSU's Matt Flynn (seventh round) in 2008, and we know how that one turned out.
I saw Roger Goodell standing near the foyer of Radio City Music Hall this afternoon, signing autographs and posing for pictures with as many fans as approached him -- and there were dozens.
Good for the commish. Say what you will about him on topics like player discipline, but he gets it on most fronts. He's fan-friendly in a way that his predecessor, Paul Tagliabue, never was. Tagliabue was always the smartest guy in the room, and didn't exactly have the touch when it came to mixing with the commoners.
Four years into his gig, Goodell continues to grow into his job. And that's a good thing for the NFL and its fans.
The NFL, never failing to make a big event into something bigger, had some nice innovations this year, not the least of which was having ex-NFL stars, celebrities and even one longtime veteran NFL writer (way to go, Vinny DiTrani) announcing some of the picks. For a good bit of the morning, former U.S. gold-medal winning Olympic sprinter Carl Lewis sat at the Eagles' draft table and read off Philly's selections. I didn't know it, but Lewis is a huge Iggles fan from South Jersey.
I was just glad they didn't let him sing the national anthem.
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