NFL Draft 2016, All Three Days in the Books — 4 Winners, 4 Losers
Another NFL Draft is in the books, and now we enter the portion of the draft season when we assign totally haphazard grades to draft classes whose grades really don't matter for three more years.
As best I can tell, the modus operandi of draft graders falls into three categories —
1. NFL Draft "experts," who use their nebulous draft class grading system as a way to retro-justify their equally nebulous individual grades on players throughout the draft process.
2. NFL beat writers/team-specific blogger-types, who are generally optimistic and evaluate draft classes the same way college coaches evaluate recruiting classes — if they're really talented, they will say so, and if there's not a lot of talent, they'll lean on "well, we filled a lot of needs!" To wit, 31 of 32 ESPN bloggers rated their team's draft haul as a "thumbs up."
3. Philly fans and Jets fans, who boo pretty much everything.
So now, we wait and see. Because honestly, none of us knows how this all plays out. Nobody. But we can assess winners and losers, because we are in the opinion business, after all...
4. The AFC South
I guess this is me agreeing with the four ESPN bloggers who gave the Jags, Titans, Colts and Texans (what up, Tania Ganguli?) a "thumbs up" in their blog posts, but I do. I've been saying for a while (including last Friday) that Texans fans should be wary of the day that the Jags and Titans are no longer a guaranteed 4-0. That day may be coming sooner than we think! The Jags have made major upgrades on the defensive side of the ball in the draft and free agency, and the Titans appear to have a GM with some semblance of a plan (now they just need a real head coach). Add to this the Colts' actually drafting a few offensive linemen (including a center in the first round!), and the Texans getting a speed transplant, and it all appears to be one big upwardly pointing green arrow for the division! (Which means that at least two of the four starting QBs will suffer torn ACLs or lacerated spleens this season.)
3. This random test taker
We can laugh now at the whole Laremy Tunsil debacle (unless we are Hugh Freeze or a fan of Ole Miss football). The kid wound up landing on his feet in a great spot with Miami at number 13. Warm weather, no state income tax, good nightlife, probably some fantastic weed...good times, all the way around! So we can laugh at tweets like this one...
So the Minnesota Vikings, thinking outside the box, in the sixth round drafted a physical freak from Germany named Moritz Boehringer of Germany’s Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns. He is 6-4, 230 pounds, supposedly runs a 4.4 40-yard dash, catches anything thrown his way and conveniently is a huge Vikings fan! This means two things — a) if you had the Vikings drafting a second receiver faster than Laquon Treadwell AND that receiver being a big white dude from Germany, cash your ticket! and b) Germany had more players drafted than the University of Tennessee and the same number as the University of Texas.
Looks like Ezekiel Elliott has already had his first rookie moment and he hasn't even put on pads yet! This, courtesy of TerezOwens.com...
How 'bout them Cowboys!!
4. My tear ducts
The late, great Jim Valvano always said that we should laugh, think and cry at least once per day. With the advent of YouTube, it's made it increasingly easy to laugh and cry. (Thinking has become somewhat passé, unfortunately.) There are four types of videos that are a 1 billion percent lock to make me cry:
1. Kids being surprised by their military parents coming home from being deployed overseas
2. College walk-ons getting a full scholarship awarded in front of their team
3. Any ESPN feature narrated by Tom Rinaldi
4. Kids getting drafted, especially Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith, who suffered a horrific knee injury in his bowl game and would have been a top five pick in this draft if he were healthy. Fortunately, Jerry Jones loves to take risks...
I have watched that video of Smith roughly 100 times since Friday. It never gets old.
3. Connor Cook
I'm not a huge fan of Connor Cook's game. For all the bluster about him being a possible first-round pick the past couple of seasons, I just didn't see a special quarterback and I thought he had accuracy issues, especially his senior year. We know that rumors of leadership issues followed Cook around his senior year, mostly fueled by the fact that his teammates didn't vote him captain. I can only guess that some of that was either a) true or b) substantiated enough to affect his stock, as he wound up slipping to the fourth round.
One person who was unhappy with Cook's treatment during this process was, understandably, his father, who took to Twitter to destroy a USA Today columnist who printed an article with a bunch of anonymous, largely nebulous quotes about Cook and how he rubbed people the wrong way.
Again, not a fan of Cook's game, but if you supply quotes anonymously for a column like the one linked in Chris Cook's tweets and your analysis on a kid is along the lines of "I don't know, just something about him," then you're an asshole.
2. The New York Jets
As the New York Jets continue their staring contest with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick over money, they add one of the more head-scratching draft choices on Day 2, selecting Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg in the second round with the 51st overall pick. If you've followed Hackenberg, you know that he was really good as a freshman under Bill O'Brien and turned into a white hot mess the next two years under James Franklin. I mean like REALLY bad. Like "missing bubble screens on the regular" bad. Yet, amazingly, he seems to be the one quarterback in the history of football who is being given a mulligan for out and out sucking in college, because he "looks the part." Hackenberg is the QB version of the "hot chicks get all the breaks" lament. He is the hot chick with EVERYTHING else wrong with her — needy, doesn't like your friends, daddy issues, chronic halitosis. You watch video of him throwing a football with no one else around like at the combine or pro day, and he seems amazing (by the way, Instagram is the combine and pro day for hot chicks), but add any sort of adversity, like pressure in the pocket or weather, and he's done (by the way, pressure in the pocket and weather for hot chicks are other human beings). Have fun with that, Jets.
1. Cleveland Browns WR draftees
If you were ever wondering what an NFL Draft conducted by Daryl Morey would look like, look no further than the Cleveland Browns, who, at least as the new narrative goes, are the NFL's "new-wave analytics" team, after hiring Paul DePodesta (a former baseball executive who is best known for being portrayed by Jonah Hill in Moneyball) as their VP/general manager/personnel czar-type guy. The Browns used 14 draft picks, virtually ensuring at least a handful won't make the team, and FIVE of those were on wide receivers. They chose one less wide receiver than the Texans chose PLAYERS, searching for any market inefficiency they can find, I guess.
By the way, how do I know this is how Morey would run an NFL draft room? Well, one season, I was in a fantasy football league with Morey, and he used eight of his 14 slots on the roster on running backs. True story. It was fascinating. He didn't win the league that season, but he did finish higher in the standings than the Rockets did this year.
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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