Still not sold on Thursday night
What to expect in the NFL Draft: From Cam Newton at No. 1 to the Mark Ingrammystery
If you’re like me, you’ve about had it with the lockout talk as it pertains to the NFL. While I’m of the opinion that cooler heads will prevail and the season will go off without a hitch, there’s a distinct possibility that the NFL Draft, now a three-day affair beginning in prime time Thursday night, will be the last chance we get to talk about football, at least in terms of on-the-field analysis, for a long, long time.
Let’s not miss that opportunity then, as we take a look at the dominant storylines to watch and the main questions to be answered.
IS CAM THE MAN?
It’s beginning to look more and more like Cam Newton, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and leader of the national champion Auburn Tigers, will be the No. 1 pick by Carolina on Thursday. But it’s been a bumpy ride to this point, as just about every aspect of his game and his personality has been dissected, including, I kid you not, his smile.
The Panthers need a quarterback, and there is no questioning Newton’s rare physical gifts. But the track record of quarterbacks who played in spread offenses in college is pretty spotty in the NFL. Barring any sudden turn of events, Newton will be the subject of even more speculation once he is selected on top. That’s the great thing about draft night: Everybody gets to be an expert, and nobody’s wrong.
RUN ON QUARTERBACKS
It’s the perfect storm this year: A bunch of teams who desperately need a signal-caller, and a bunch of quarterbacks who have draft grades that put them somewhere in the top two rounds. By my estimation, nine of the first 15 teams on the board could legitimately draft a quarterback in the first round.
They all won’t, of course, but the ones who don’t will likely be trying furiously to trade back into the first round late to pick up any of the QBs who might have snuck through. It could make for more trading activity than usual.
I’m still not sold on the Thursday night start for the draft. There was something about stumbling out of bed on a Saturday morning, gathering about 47 different mock drafts, and wasting away the rest of the day. Maybe I’ll DVR the thing and avoid all media for two days (unlikely).
My dream is that they move it back to Saturday, and hold all seven rounds in one marathon session. Just imagine it: You fall asleep, wake up to pee, and find out that your favorite team took that blocking tight end you wanted in Round 6. That’s the only way to roll.
WHERE IS THE SKILL?
As a fantasy football nut, I always have my eye out for skill position talent that has the potential to rack up big numbers, even as soon as their first season. Well, there doesn’t appear to be a lot to scout this draft.
Things are only marginally better at wide receiver, with A.J. Green and Julio Jones both bringing big-time potential, but the tight end position is pretty weak as well.
DROPPING LIKE IT’S HOT
As always, the human drama is a big part of the draft, especially when some highly-touted prospect falls considerably from their predicted status. This year it could be Nick Fairley of Auburn because of character issues, or maybe Da’Quan Bowers of Clemson because of injury concerns. Whatever the case, expect a lot of nervous stares by some poor souls at cell phones as thousands of dollars come off the table.
That is, if the lockout ever truly ends and they ever get paid at all. Happy Draft Day ... er Night ... everybody.