Game Time: Best-Case NFL Draft Scenario For HBO's Hard Knocks Fans
In the end, I guess someone had to go. If you're the front office of a proud franchise like the Steelers, you can only have so many impromptu press conferences, district attorney explanations, and women screaming foul before a message needs to get sent. You're not going to move the star quarterback, even if he did show up at today's "See, I Told You I Didn't Do It" press availibility sporting a greased-back mullet and a three-day-old beard (the only thing missing from the "Yeah, I Probably Did Rape Her, So What?" ensemble was some "fuck you" sunglasses). It's a quarterback's league, you've built your entire offense around him, acquiesced to his whims for the coaching staff, and -- oh yeah -- his backup is Charlie Batch.
It's always easier to move the wide receiver who allegedly throws glass containers at women in bars, especially when you consider that his backup Mike Wallace made huge strides as a rookie, receivers are easier to replace, and -- oh yeah -- he's facing a four-game suspension for substance abuse. So you get on the phone and you move swiftly, sending the wide receiver to a fellow AFC contender (the term "fellow" presumes that the Steelers are still a contender) for a song. You tell Big Ben he better get his shit together or he's next and you move forward.
The Santonio Holmes trade is kind of what you choose to make it. Addition by subtraction? An attempt to show Ben Roethlisberger that the team has no problem with a little self-mutilation if it means ridding themselves of an ugly wart? Dumping a stock for something before you were going to tear it up and throw it away anyway? Yes, yes, and yes. Those are all conscious reasons that the Steelers dumped Holmes for a fifth-round pick in next week's NFL draft.
Reasons are reasons, in the end I'm more enthralled with the post-trade fallout, and while draft experts break down what this means to both teams' draft boards, while fantasy players salivate over the middle of the field now opening up for Jets tight end Dustin Keller, I think the thing that has me most excited is that Holmes-to-the-Jets is just one more step toward the construction of the most watchable Hard Knocks season in the history of the series.
Admittedly, when the Texans were in the mix as a possibility for HBO's fantastic weekly training-camp spotlight, I was pretty excited mainly because they are our hometown team, and there was an outside chance that my co-worker Raheel Ramzanali would finally have his buffoonery noticed on a bigger stage than our station's YouTube account....
...dare to dream.
The fact of the matter is, other than the intrigue of a Houston team on the show and the possibility of wide receiver David Anderson becoming the breakout television star of the summer, putting the Jets on Hard Knocks instead of the Texans (or any other team, for that matter) was a no-brainer. There's not a single team in the league that can match up with the Jets' fire power:
-- Head Coach Rex Ryan, fresh off lap-band surgery this off-season
-- Quarterback Mark Sanchez, fresh off banging a Brazilian supermodel this off-season
-- Wide receiver Braylon Edwards, a malcontent pretty much his whole career
-- Cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who needed a $500,000 advance on his salary just to stay current on child support for his seven kids with six women in five states (true story)
-- Future Hall of Famer LaDanian Tomlinson joining this circus
-- A defense whose alpha dogs are some of the best at their position (Revis, Scott, Jenkins)
And now add Holmes to that mix. I swear it's almost like the Jets are building this team more to pop a Hard Knocks rating each week than to win a Super Bowl (although both are a decent possibility), and to be VERY clear, I am not complaining one bit.
If indeed their focus is giving us a watchable documentary series on their training camp, then the rookies the Jets bring in via the draft will have a significant say in whether or not they pull this off. That said, putting aside actual draft needs -- you know, the silly kind that involve making your football team better -- and looking at this draft as strictly an effort in making for a more entertaining Hard Knocks, here's how I'd like to see the Jets' draft play out next weekend (Note: The Jets are without a third and fifth round pick, having given those up for Edwards and Holmes):
ROUND 1 (29th overall) -- NT Terrance Cody, Alabama
ANALYSIS: There's nothing better than a fat guy getting into another fat guy about their lack of discipline. That's why I always chuckled at Charlie Weis and Mark Mangino talking about physical toughness and discipline when they both needed a golf cart just to get around the practice field. It would be hilarious to see the new "slender" Rex Ryan get into Cody for being out of shape. Along those lines, it would be fascinating to see if a shirtless Cody and his humongous breasts would be enough to make HBO have to attach a "Nudity" warning to the show. (Two of these three guys have lost over 40 pounds since this picture was taken!)
ROUND 2 (61st overall) -- QB Tim Tebow, Florida
ANALYSIS: Yeah, it makes no sense football-wise because Sanchez is the quarterback of the future, but how great would Tebow's over-the-top babyface persona play in this mix? From Tebow trying to talk Holmes into joining a bible-study group to Tebow going clubbing with Sanchez and ordering a glass of milk (which shows up in a martini glass, of course), this needs to happen. This would also allow us all to obsess over Tebow's glacial windup and release each week, because we're not doing nearly enough of that already.
ROUND 4 (124th overall) -- RB LaGarrette Blount
ANALYSIS: We're going to need a good fistfight or sucker punch at some point. Blount is to the sucker punch what Sam Bradford is to looking off the safety...
ROUND 6 (198th overall) -- WR Riley Cooper
ANALYSIS: Every good reality show has to have a love storyline, and while this may not have the same oomph as Colt McCoy/Jordan Shipley would, we would finally get the inside look at the "roommate" dynamic between Tebow and Cooper. Like Bosom Buddies meets Brokeback Mountain meets Hard Knocks. Major potential.
ROUND 7 (236th overall) -- OL Holley Mangold, Ursuline College
ANALYSIS: Yes, this is the sister of Jets center Nick Mangold; if you haven't seen her story yet, well here you go.....
Remember, you can never have too much offensive line help...also, the possibility (at least biologically) that Antonio Cromartie could actually knock up a teammate is the storyline knockout punch.
As NFL draft analysts, Todd McShay and Mel Kiper would give this draft class an unequivocal F- grade. As a Hard Knocks viewer, I would give it a grade somewhere between A+++ and A++++.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the Sean & John Show, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.