NFL Draft 2014: Mike Freeman's Post-Draft Notebook

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NFL Draft 2014: Mike Freeman's Post-Draft Notebook
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If you are Jimmy Garoppolo, just drafted by the New England Patriots, this quote Friday from Bill Belichick should both thrill you and scare the hell out of you:

We know what Ryan (Mallett's) contract situation is. We know what Tom (Brady)’s age and contract situation is. I don’t think you want to have one quarterback on your team. I don’t think that’s responsible to the entire team or the organization.

The biggest story of the draft might not have been Johnny Manziel falling, or the Rams getting even scarier on the defensive line, or Houston smartly not trading the top pick and taking Jadeveon Clowney. The story of the draft might be how the Patriots perhaps drafted Tom Brady's replacement in Garoppolo.

I love this pick for the Patriots. Typical smart, forward-thinking Belichick move.   

I hate it for Garoppolo.

Following a legendary quarterback is brutal. Even when it works—Steve Young replacing Joe Montana in San Francisco—the transition is ugly and rough.

This is what Montana told me in 1991 when it was clear Young was replacing him:

Steve is on a big push for himself. And anytime you have a competition, there is always that certain amount of animosity towards each other. I can say we have only a working relationship. That's all it is. After that, he's on my team, but as far as I'm concerned, he's part of the opposition. He wants what I have, and I have to approach it that way. There is no other way to deal with it.

Young gave author Steven Travers the other side of the story:

In 1991 Joe wasn’t very helpful. But there was a transition time. People weren’t sure what they were supposed to say, how they were supposed to react. Joe’s very competitive, and I don’t know any other way to be. We do very well considering we’re very competitive. People think there are fistfights in the back room. That’s not the case at all.

Brett Favre treated Aaron Rodgers like dog poop, and though Young and Rodgers eventually made the transition, it was because of superior talent. Maybe Garoppolo is Rodgers or Young. Maybe I'm the next captain of the Enterprise.

"I'm following the guy that has 250 straight starts and has all the records and the Pro Bowls and everything," Rodgers said (via ESPN) in 2008. "I know I'm going to have a short leash. A lot of people love Brett … and that's fine. The one thing you've got to learn as a quarterback is you've got to have thick skin, because everyone's going to be a critic—even more when you're following a guy like Brett Favre."

Jay Fiedler, who followed Dan Marino in Miami, told ESPN:

I think there was a good population of the fans that were going to be clamoring for the Dan Marino days, no matter what I did. I wasn't going to be throwing for 400 yards a game and 40 touchdowns a season. There were a lot of people who appreciated me at the time, but there was always that certain group on the talk radio, in certain papers, certain fans at games that would boo pretty loudly. I'm sure they're still wearing 13 jerseys in Miami. That's not going to change.

Cliff Stoudt followed Terry Bradshaw in Pittsburgh. It was a brutal experience. He left the Steelers and signed with the USFL. That team came back to play at Three Rivers Stadium. Stoudt received death threats from Steelers fans. At the game, Stoudt was hit with beer cans and beer bottles.

No, Garoppolo won't face death threats (we hope), but if he replaces Brady, he will always be compared to him. Always. And no matter how much people will say now, with Brady still healthy and playing his butt off, that they'd never compare Brady and Garoppolo, it would be the first time such a comparison didn't happen.

The comparison between legend and understudy always happens. 

Mallett is under contract through 2014, and Brady through 2017. But Brady turns 37 in August. I don't think he'll see the end of his deal, and I think Garoppolo is the chosen replacement. If the Patriots thought Mallett was the guy, they would not have used such a high pick on Garoppolo.

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

What Garoppolo has to hope for is to be Andrew Luck. Luck and Peyton Manning are intertwined, but Luck has gotten a grace period in legend-comparing because he's been so outstanding so early. But that won't last.

Brady has three Super Bowl rings and nine Pro Bowls. The most impressive part of being Brady has been his consistent greatness. His 18 playoff wins are the most in NFL history.

Good luck following that.

 

Michael Sam to the Rams

He should have gone earlier in the draft, but the fact he was picked in the bottom of the seventh round is still historic. It's a great day for the NFL.

On Twitter, the Sam debate was furious and passionate, and it will stay that way. There are many different football opinions about Sam, and the issue is immensely complicated. But I believe Sam ended up in one of the perfect places for him. Jeff Fisher is an open-minded coach who won't care about Sam's sexuality. Fisher is also creative and will use Sam properly.

Before the draft, one scout told me there were three perfect teams for Sam: the Seahawks, the Patriots and the Rams. I didn't buy the Rams at the time, but it makes sense. Sam knows the area (he played at Missouri) and it's a comfortable place for him.

Sam should have gone much earlier, and that is something that can and will be debated. But for now … history. And a good day.

 

There is no confidentiality

That's another lesson this draft class must absorb. It's a lesson Donald Sterling learned, and one picks now must never forget.

It was leaked that some draft picks failed drug tests at the combine. An alleged scouting report from the Patriots about Manziel was leaked. It was damning. It basically portrayed him as a cocky punk. Which I think is true, but still. Then Cleveland wide receiver Josh Gordon's alleged failed drug test became public.

The past few weeks were basically a hodgepodge of leaks. The player's union has vowed to try and find out the source of the combine leaks, but good luck with that.

 

Rumor that I constantly heard during the draft

The Vikings are looking for ways to part with superstar runner Adrian Peterson sooner rather than later. Peterson is 29 and when backs hit 30, their production usually drops off precipitously. Backs age in dog years, and despite Peterson's adamantium bone structure, he isn't impervious to aging. The contract situation is also brutal. Peterson will receive a base salary of $11.75 million in 2014, then $12.75 million in 2015. In 2017, it will climb to $15.75 million.

Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

That is simply an impossible salary structure to pay a player in today's game, where the running back position has been greatly devalued. 

"My person opinion," said one AFC general manager, "is this (coming) season will be Peterson's last with the Vikings. Despite the cap hit, they'll make some sort of move to get him off the roster."

 

The player a team will most regret picking

Ka'Deem Carey. Carey, out of Arizona, was picked in the fourth round by the Chicago Bears. Go back to December of 2012. He was charged with misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct stemming from a domestic violence incident involving his then-pregnant girlfriend. The charges were later dropped. Later he was kicked out of a basketball game following a dispute with a security guard. He played the "do you know who I am?" card.

I know some teams that considered drafting Carey felt he would never change his stripes.

 

Actually, there's a co-winner

This guy drafted by the Falcons. Yeesh.

 

The biggest reach

Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas in the fourth round to Arizona. It was almost comical watching ESPN commentator and ex-Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Polian try and politely say: What in the hell were the Cardinals thinking? "There's nothing I could see on the tape that led me to believe he could be a very good QB in this league," Polian said.

 

My favorite moment

This from former Oakland Raiders executive Amy Trask:

It was brilliant and typical of the smart Trask. 

 

The best player from this draft will be*

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. He will continue the transformation of the safety position, a position that will slowly become the second most important position on the field after the quarterback.

(*No one can actually see into the future unless they own a T.A.R.D.I.S.)

 

The worst pick from this draft will be*

Carlos Hyde. You can pick almost any running back to fit this spot because running backs are going the way of the T-Rex. Hyde, taken by the 49ers, will have the difficult job of being a back in one of the most physical conferences we've ever seen.

(*No one can actually see into the future unless they own a T.A.R.D.I.S.)

 

Best draft stat

This from ESPN, on Day 2 selection Aaron Murray:

Incredible.

 

Fascinating note

From draft guru Gil Brandt:

 

Best quote

This from New York Jets draft pick Jalen Saunders (via the New York Post): "I would describe my playing style like a gorilla. I’m a savage on that field ... I would say between a gorilla and a terrier. A pet dog or a terrier."

Now there's a pretty big difference between a gorilla and, say, a Shih Tzu. But I digress.

 

Best quote Part II

Stanford rocket science major Cameron Fleming, drafted by the Patriots to play offensive tackle, was asked during his draft-day conference call about what he'd talk about with another rocket scientist: "We’d probably just nerd out a little bit. Talk about whatever new planes—I’m a big plane guy. The astronautics I like a lot, but I’m more interested in planes and jet planes and things like. If he’s into that, we can just talk all day."

 

The future

And, finally, it looks all but certain the draft will move further back into May, and it's also possible it will alternate cities, as first reported by the New York Post. There are numerous possibilities, and as one league executive put it: "We're not ruling out anything at this point, even the moon."

A draft on the moon. It will happen one day.

 

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.

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