Ryan Leaf: the unquestionable face of the NFL draft-day "loser."
The NFL draft, unlike the NFL on game-day, is not a zero sum game. One team's win is not necessarily another team's loss. This is for the simple fact that very few players are "once-in-a-generation" talents (no matter how many times ESPN experts use this phrase).
So the draft itself is not the an irreparable event. That said, there are always losers on draft day. Team's can commit, as Bill Parcells calls it, "economic devastation" by drafting the wrong guy in the top ten.
They can do equal damage by adding a consistent string of bad players in lower rounds (though the long term effects may not be comparable.)
And while there certainly were many winners on draft day, here's a look at some of the losers...
Number 10: Brian Hoyer, backup QB, Patriots
Wait...who? Oh right, Brady's latest understudy following the departure of Matt "Saracen" Cassel got some bad news on Saturday. He might still be miles ahead of Patriots third round draft-choice Ryan Mallet in knowing the playbook, but in reality we all know what his fate now is.
The simple fact is if Tom Brady ever gets hurt again, no one (repeat that, NO ONE), is going to want to see Brian Hoyer.
They are going to be screaming at the top of their Bostonian lungs for Mallet, the strong armed Arkansas man who the Patriots mysteriously picked on day three.
They look happy, but deep down they really want to be booing right now.
Number 9: The Perpetually Negative Jets Fans
I mean just look at these guys. They're awesome. I love watching Jets fans boo their pick. You can set your watch to it (or you used to be able to anyway).
So what the heck? Why are they being so competent all of a sudden? (Granted that Vernon Gholston won't be making any Pro Bowls for Gang Green anytime soon.)
But still, what gives? They think they're all cool drafting guys like D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Darrelle Revis who actually turn out to be good?
As a Giants fan, they were much more fun as the team we made fun of (and sorry Rex, I love you but the Jets still aren't better than the Giants.)
Number 8: Trent Dilfer's Offspring
Not sure if anyone was watching at this point (I believe it was on Saturday), but Trent Dilfer has some 'splaining to do...
I wish so much there was a video clip of this but I can't find it. Regardless, Mr. Dilfer was weighing the pros and cons of quarterback Jake Locker (an issue he seemed torn on). He might not be sold on Locker's accuracy, but...
Apparently Jake Locker is free to marry Trent Dilfer's daughter. Whattttt? Yeah that's right. He said it, noting that after spending three days up in Washington state for his daughter's volleyball tournament (a period where he also spent time with Locker), that he loved Locker's character and that the newest member of the Tennessee Titans was free to marry his daughter.
ESPN luckily cut away from this awkward situation to Teddy Bruschi back in the studio, who IMMEDIATELY seized on it. Bruschi said that while he had only sons himself, if he had daughters he wouldn't give them away so quickly. Great stuff fellas, great stuff.
Number 7: NFL Draft "Gurus"
Wow, I mean Mel Kiper Jr. your hair continues to be immaculate, and you have the coolest job in the world Todd McShay.
But you guys (along with every other draft "expert) was left looking like Standard & Poor's during the 2008 financial crisis about midway through the first round.
I mean, can they just stop spending so much damn time on their latest "mock draft" and instead try to keep us informed about interesting prospects in every round of the draft?
Because when it comes to predicting who will take who, they just aren't that good...
Number 6: Roger Goodell
Hilarious...just hilarious. For once, actual fans (not millionaire fans, just regular fans) had a forum to address their commish.
And they let him have it.
He kind of looks like a shark...
Number Five: Quarterbacks in the NFC North Who Don't Play in Detroit...
(cue up the music)
...Nick Fairley is coming. And he won't be happy to see any of them. In fact, he probably won't be happy that he got so disrespected in his draft status. He'll probably eat one of those QB's (or maybe just an ear or something).
Seriously though, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. I can't harp on this enough! It's going to be a matchups nightmare for any team trying to block both of these guys.
Number Four: Seattle Seahawk Fans
Did they get one guy who they can really cheer about?
Number Three: Jimmy Clausen
Imagine being Jimmy Clausen for a moment. One second you're at Notre Dame deciding to leave a year early so you can take the next step in your destiny (to become an NFL star), and the next you're an absolute afterthought on the Carolina Panthers.
Where did it all go wrong?
The thing is, nobody actually knows. I mean, do the Panthers braintrust really know what they have with this guy? They gave him less than a single season on the worst team in football to prove his worth, and apparently they know he's not their guy?
It's as peculiar a move as I've seen in a while. But hey Jimmy, it could be worse. You could be...
Number Two: Cam Newton
Okay, I really, really hope I'm wrong with this. But I just can't help but think this won't go well.
Very, very few elite quarterbacks can come straight into the league and play well. Not because they aren't good athletes. Not because they aren't good people.
But because many of them aren't used to getting knocked on their butts relentlessly (like what generally happens when you come into the NFL on one of the worst teams). Can Mr. Newton deal with this?
Had he been drafted lower in the draft (as he was projected to do so not that long ago), then his situation could have been dramatically better. At number one? That's trouble. The weight of expectation (which isn't fair to Newton but is inevitable), could weigh him down.
As many noticed over the weekend, the underlying plot (whether we admit or not) was the ongoing NFL lockout, lurking just below the surface like the Loch Ness Monster. Courts can rule on whether or not there technically "is" a lockout, but we all know the real answer.
Until the owners and players agree to a new labor deal, there will be a lockout and football will not proceed in the completely awesome manner that we've grown accustomed to.
What's fascinating to me is that through all the bickering between the owners and players, the fans have had absolutely no representation. Are we to let them assume they will continue to get our nine billion a year?
And the NFL draft was, as I mentioned earlier with Goodell, a forum for fans. Finally. And they rose to the occasion beautifully, letting anyone and everyone know exactly what they wanted ("We want football!").
So as we step off from the draft and into the abyss of the current lockout, remember where you were when the draft ended. Because that might be the last NFL experience you have for a little while.