The new three day format for the NFL draft was a smashing success for the league and fans, if not for the NBA and NHL.
Over 45 million people watched across three days, and there was plenty of intrigue around quarterbacks Tim Tebow, Jimmy Clausen, and Colt McCoy, plus the usual trading action, along with hits and misses.
Here are some observations:
The Patriots are the best team in the league at stockpiling future first- and second-rounders. Already holding Oakland’s first-rounder in 2011 via the Richard Seymour trade last summer, the Pats added another second-round pick from Carolina.
They already had three seconds in this draft. They used one of them to get the third-rounder that they then turned into a 2011 second. And they still picked three players in the second round.
They ended up with 12 players in this draft, including tight ends in the second and fourth rounds to add depth to a position they cleaned out earlier this offseason.
The Eagles love to trade, too. They made several deals before the draft, acquiring DE Darryl Tapp and LB Ernie Sims and trading away QB Donovan McNabb, CB Sheldon Brown, and LB Chris Gocong. Then on draft weekend they made five more deals that netted 13 players, plus two picks in 2011 – San Diego’s fifth and a third- or fourth-rounder from Washington for McNabb.
The Ravens took advantage of Josh McDaniels’ infatuation with Tim Tebow, getting three picks from Denver for their spot at No. 25.
They used the first one to snag OLB Sergio Kindle, who had slid out of the first round. They used their own second to select mammoth NT Terrence Cody and then used both of the Denver picks in the third and fourth rounds for tight ends who might end up replacing Todd Heap.
And don’t forget: They already had used their own third and fourth to acquire WR Anquan Boldin. It was another excellent draft by Ozzie Newsome and company.
The Broncos’ Tebow pick ruined what started out as a great draft by the Broncos, who acquired two third-rounders and a fourth in two trades down in the first round. They gave one of them back to move up a couple of spots to draft WR Demaryius Thomas. Then they gave up their second, third and fourth to move back into the first round to get Tebow.
McDaniels, Denver’s boy wonder coach, said Tebow will play quarterback and compete for the starting job. In the next breath, he said, “But I’ll say this: He has a long way to go to get there.”
If he ever does. This was one of the worst picks in recent draft history, considering the Broncos gave up picks in the second, third, and fourth rounds for a project who almost surely won’t amount to anything more than Jason White or Eric Crouch.
The Jaguars didn’t get Tebow, but Jacksonville fans will get to see him come back home as a pro.
Tickets for the Jaguars’ home opener against the Broncos are selling briskly. Never mind that Tebow will not even be playing, the chance to see the former Florida star standing on the sideline apparently is enough to attract fans who otherwise couldn’t give a rip about the local pro team.
The fact that there are tickets to buy says all you need to know about the viability of the Jaguars in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars came into the NFL in 1995, the same year Los Angeles lost both of its pro teams. Fifteen years later, L.A. is about ready to host a team again, and the Jaguars are the absolute best candidate to be moved.
Another good candidate to be moved is JaMarcus Russell, who has now officially replaced Ryan Leaf as the biggest quarterback draft bust in NFL history.
With Jason Campbell expected to take over as the starter in Oakland, the Raiders can’t possibly be thinking of paying Russell the $9.45 million he is due this year.
Russell, who might go down as the laziest and fattest slob to ever play QB in the NFL, also will walk away as one of the richest. In three years, he has been paid $31 million.
We’d call that highway robbery, but no one held a gun to the Raiders and told them to draft a one-year college starter first overall in 2007 and pay him a ransom.
Did Al Davis die or something? After spending most of last decade as the second-dumbest drafting team behind Detroit, the Raiders made some good moves for once.
First-rounder LB Rolando McClain and second-round DT Lamarr Houston were solid picks, and the Raiders still got the guy everyone thought they would, OT Bruce Campbell, but they got him in the fourth round instead of the first. And they traded for Campbell. All that said, Tom Cable is still the coach and Davis is still the owner, so don’t get too excited, Raiders fans.
Meanwhile, in Buffalo, they might have a new GM and coach, but it’s the same old story. It was a very unimaginative draft, and they didn’t really help themselves too much in the short term.
They chose not to draft a quarterback and did almost nothing to fix their O-line, choosing instead to draft human highlight reel C.J. Spiller at No. 9 and add four linemen for their new 3-4 defense.
Owner Ralph Wilson said of Spiller, “We’ve been dull for 10 years. We’ve got to create some excitement.” OK, but will that get you back to the playoffs, Ralph? Uh, no.
The Browns are under new management, too, and Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert continued to revamp their offensive and defensive backfields.
First-round CB Joe Haden and safeties T.J. Ward and Larry Asante join trade acquisition CB Sheldon Brown in the new secondary. The Browns might not be better this year, but they sure will be different.
McCoy wasn’t the only quarterback to slide a round farther than he was projected. Jimmy Clausen dropped to the second round, where Carolina snatched him up. People are claiming NFL teams were turned off by Clausen’s personality. Hey, you’d have a personality disorder, too, with a head like that.
Something wasn’t working in Jevan Snead’s head, that’s for sure. The Mississippi junior QB had a bad 2009 season, but he decided to leave school early anyway. And then he wasn’t even drafted. He should follow the advice of New Hampshire TE Scott Sicko: Stay in school.
As we said beforehand, Mark Cuban’s fears that the NFL draft would overshadow the NBA playoffs were well-founded. The first night of the draft attracted 7.3 million viewers on ESPN, plus another million or so on NFL Network. That was more than twice as many people as watched the NBA playoffs that night. The NFL’s ratings were up by 30 percent over last year, so it’s a no-brainer that the NFL will use the same prime-time format next year. Wanna bet the NBA takes that Thursday off?
Because ESPN tends to use way too many analysts for the draft, NFL Network has become a better choice for the past couple of years.
However, one thing that was really annoying about the Network’s coverage was Jason La Canfora announcing picks just before the commissioner did. It happened a lot in the first round, and the Network apparently received so many complaints about it that it stopped doing it the next day.
It’s one thing to show a player on the phone with the team picking him (some people don’t even like that), but to have a reporter pre-empt the official announcement is not kosher.
It was blatantly obvious that the league was feeding La Canfora the picks so the Network would announce them before ESPN did through the commissioner. That actually drove us back to ESPN for a while – until the cast of thousands started to annoy us again.
Speaking of the two big NFL TV giants, not sure why they were in a tug o' war for Matt Millen's services (he does NFL Network's Thursday games).
The guy is just a complete doofus with perpetual foot-in-mouth disease. His apology for calling fellow ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski a Pollack was as lame as they come.
Millen is a buffoon, as his disastrous eight-year run as GM of the Detroit Lions revealed him to be, and he simply shouldn’t be on TV.