2016 NFL Draft — 4 Winners, 4 Losers
We say it all the time, especially in radio, where Twitter and Instagram are such a huge part of what we do in 2016, but honestly, "What was life like before social media?" I mean, I remember it being simpler, easier to focus, but also not nearly as entertaining.
It's fair to wonder just how exciting (or not) the first night of the 2016 NFL Draft would have been last night if not for Twitter and Instagram. More specifically, it was Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil's roller coaster of an evening that started with an old video of him smoking weed through a face-mask-style bong being uploaded to his Twitter account (allegedly hacked) and ended with him incriminating Ole Miss in a rules violation that is sure to trigger even more intense investigation into the Rebels program. More on this in a minute.
Before we get to winners and losers on the night, a thought or two on the Texans' first-round pick of Will Fuller, wide receiver from Notre Dame, for whom they needed to trade a sixth-round pick in 2017 to the Redskins in order to move up one spot to pick. Objectively, the selection of Fuller makes perfect sense as it gives the Texans a true burner to put opposite DeAndre Hopkins. Fuller ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at the combine. If there's a downside to his skill set, it's that he had 21 drops the last two years. He will need to improve technically to max out his playing time.
Subjectively, as someone who's watched every snap of Notre Dame football during Fuller's college career, I can say that since the end of the Holtz era in 1996, over the past 20 years, in which Notre Dame has discovered the forward pass, there are three Irish wide receivers about whom I felt that every time the ball was sent their way downfield, a big play was happening — Jeff Samardzija, Golden Tate and Fuller. Fuller has a huge knack for clutch plays as he hauled in winning touchdowns late in the Virginia and Temple games this past season. Solid pick.
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It will be fun to see what direction the Texans go in the second round, since there are a ton of solid players still on the board. We shall see. Now for winners and losers...
I've been saying for some time on my radio show that the biggest cloud looming over the Texans is not even in their building. It's the fact that, someday soon, the Jaguars or Titans (or both) will no longer be a laughingstock and chalking up a 4-0 record against them will not be a given. The Jags appear to be on the faster track, and having Florida State DB Jalen Ramsey fall to them last night at #5 adds to an offseason in which they signed DE Malik Jackson and get DE Donte Fowler back from injury. If QB Blake Bortles takes a step forward this year, they could be the surprise 9-7 team in the AFC.
3. Urban Meyer
Ohio State had five players drafted in the first round, which I'm guessing has already been sent in some sort of publication or electronic form to every Buckeye recruit, if I know Urban Meyer. Three of them were drafted in the top 10 — DE Joey Bosa (San Diego), RB Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas) and CB Eli Apple (Giants). So the real winners here? The players themselves, for sure, but also Meyer and his sales pitch to high schoolers ("Come here and be part of the next massive NFL draft class!"), and Ohio State's fundraising department...
2. Leigh Steinberg
If you haven't gotten caught up on Leigh Sternberg's story, you owe it to yourself to go Google some of the recent articles about his comeback. The erstwhile representation for dozens of marquee quarterbacks in the 1980s and 1990s, Steinberg had bottomed out a few years ago, literally drunk every day and passed out on his mother's couch. However, after going to rehab, he began his long road back by writing a book, and then was able to sign Memphis QB Paxton Lynch as his first client back in his return to being an agent. Thursday night, Lynch was drafted in the first round by the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. Good for Lynch, just as good for Steinberg.
1. Synthetic weed
If there's a high-end prospect (not named Jaylon Smith) whose window of selection was wider than Ole Miss DE Robert Nkemdiche's, then I need to know who it is. Nkemdiche, the eccentric playmaker who is probably best known for falling out of a fourth-story window back in December while possibly high on synthetic weed, went to the Cardinals with the 29th pick. It makes sense as the Cardinals seem to be a very "synthetic-weed-friendly" environment what with their trade for Chandler Jones and their successful selection of Tyrann Mathieu. So yay, synthetic weed!
4. Hugh Freeze
It was quite a night for Freeze, who very nobly went on ESPN and stumped for Laremy Tunsil while his draft stock was in free fall because of these tweets that were posted to his account, allegedly by a hacker, possibly his stepfather, who is reportedly suing Tunsil...
Uh Laremy Tunsil just tweeted then deleted this pic.twitter.com/N1h6JzkC9a— The REAL OG (@oscargambler) April 28, 2016
So the guy who was supposed to go first overall a few weeks ago spiraled down to Miami at number 13, which is not the worst thing in the world (South Beach, no state income tax). However, after he was picked, his Instagram account was also hacked, and these conversations with assistant coaches in which Tunsil was seeking money were revealed...
And then he was asked about taking money from coaches at Ole Miss and admitted that he did just that!
Tunsil's Draft Presser via WBBM. "Was their an exchange between you and your coach for $$?" "I'd have to say, yeah." pic.twitter.com/TqYeOSjOfO— Robby Donoho (@RobbyDonoho) April 29, 2016
All in all, an incredible night, and one that probably has Hugh Freeze wondering why the hell he stood up for Laremy Tunsil. ("I tell everyone how great you are, and THIS is the thanks I get???")
3. Chris Berman's intern
The Ohio State Buckeyes had three players selected in the top ten, which, if you had no sense of history and Chris Berman was your only source of information, you'd think was a "first time ever" occurrence...
Do not rely on Chris Berman for your draft facts pic.twitter.com/gyUBwTUIoy— Deadspin (@Deadspin) April 29, 2016
But you, like Berman, would be wrong. At least Berman got to get first dibs on making a stupid "Eli as in Big Apple" joke about the Giants' new cornerback. Yay.
2. Corey Coleman
Coleman was the first wide receiver taken in the draft, at #15, by the Browns, after they had moved down from #2 last week to #8, and then from #8 to #15 last night. When Coleman was selected, he looked as if he'd just been chosen for the Hunger Games, which is about par for the course for an offensive player drafted by the Browns. By the way, the last time the Browns selected a wide receiver from Baylor, he wound up being Johnny Manziel's sidekick and ride home after his one-car accident. Speaking of which...
1. Johnny Manziel
Hard to believe that just two years ago, Johnny Manziel was strutting out from the green room, making the money sign, shortly after texting the Browns' coaches, "Let's wreck this league together." Last night, Manziel was watching the draft at some bar in Columbus getting ready to go see his second Bieber show of the week...
Oh, how the mighty have fallen...
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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