On Draft or In The Bottle


Baseball season’s over! And nobody cares about NBA playoffs! It’s time for the second most riveting time of the year: the NFL draft!

Here are some highlights:

#1: Miami Fish: Jake Long, OT. The only OT to go first since 1967.

#2: St. Luda Rams: Chris Long, DE. Some brief camera time with Suzy Kolber proved that Chris not only runs faster and hits harder than his father Howie, but also speaks at least as well. He’s practically guaranteed a cushy commentary job when he retires, so Chris has locked his future down.

#3: Hotlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan, QB. Chris Berman described Ryan as “personable,” a comment painstakingly crafted to avoid any argument. Writers slaved over copy for hours to come up with such a non-controversial remark. “Can we say he shows promise?” “Maybe, but …” “He’s cool under pressure!” “Except when he’s throwing picks.” “Hell, stick with ‘personable’ and keep going.”

#4: Chokeland Raiders: Darren McFadden, RB. I caught a bit of Michael Smith’s interview with McFadden on ESPN earlier this week. Berman and Kiper revisited it on Saturday. “Darren McFadden: violent thug or criminal mastermind?” wasn’t quite the tone, but it was close. My take: a man who’s never been to jail, who stands by his family of crack addicts and gangsters and who takes responsibility for children he may have fathered – even before the paternity tests come back – shines like a cherub at the right hand of God in today’s NFL. Put that man on a poster.

#5: Kansas City Chefs: Glenn Dorsey, DT. I like Dorsey the most of any of the first rounders. Suzy Kolber caught him after he walked off stage, commenting on his visible emotion when he took a phone call in the green room. “It was the general manager,” Dorsey said, “asking me if I’d like to be a Chief. And I said I’d love to. And then they put the head coach [Herm Edwards] on the line. He asked, ‘You think you can help our defense out this year?’ And I said, ‘Yes sir, I surely will.'” Dorsey didn’t relay any of the rest of the conversation, though, on the subject of how bad the Chiefs’ defense is, Edwards probably didn’t lack for conversation.

#6: New York Jetropolitans: Vernon Gholston, DE. Commissioner Goodell addressed this draft pick to “Jets fans,” meaning the hundred or so people packed into the auditorium who’d been issuing a steady stream of boos for the last 45 minutes. I don’t want to say Jets fans are the worst fans in American football: the Missoula Babyspikers have a particularly grotesque halftime show, and the less said about the Portland Luftwaffe the better. About Gholston: he’s played competitively both at linebacker and at defensive end, making him a coveted multi-tool player. Which should be handy for the multiple tools filling the seats at Jets Stadium every year.

#7: New Orleans Aints: Sedrick Ellis, DT. Our first bit of draft chicanery. Bill Belichick, crafty sonuvabitch* that he is, traded the 49ers for a first round pick – and then traded this #7 spot with New Orleans! Always thinking, that guy.

#8: Jacksonville Jagoffs, Derrick Harvey, DE. Perich at T-minus-five minutes: All right! #8! The Ravens can snatch up Dominique Rogers-Cromartie! Perich at T-minus-two minutes: The Ravens traded their draft pick? Newsome! Harbaugh! What are you thinking? Perich at T-plus-five minutes: Okay, so they traded 1 draft pick for 3 others. All right. It’s cool. We’re all cool here. I’ll clean that beer off the wall later.

#9: Cincinnati Bangles, Keith Rivers, LB. The integrity of the draft gets compromised! Hidden cameras in the Rivers’ household** capture young master Rivers receiving a phone call. His college chum then hands him a Bengals cap, which he proudly and prominently wears for many minutes before Commission Goodell can take the stage! Shock and horror! Dishonor and taint! We learned what team he’d be playing on before we were supposed to! What’s next?

#10: New England Patsies, Jerod Mayo, LB. He’s versatile and he’s strong. Given the sudden gaps in the Pats’ defense this year – Roosevelt Colvin, Asante Samuel, Randall Gay, etc – those qualify him and then some. Hell, Serpico could probably walk onto the Pats’ secondary this year. Serp, you busy?

#11: Heffalump Bills, Leodis McKelvin, CB. Old Man Easterbrook shits his pants every time someone runs back a kick for a touchdown, so McKelvin’s 7 TDs at Troy should get him crapping like a dehydrated horse. I’m surprised he went above Rodgers-Cromartie, frankly.

#16: Arizona Pigeons, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB. Now that’s what I’m talking about! Fast, nimble, good hands and a hunger for interceptions. I foolishly predict big things of this man. Note this down and call me on it six months from now when he runs into his own safety or something.

#18: Baltimore Ravens, Joe Flacco, QB. Analysts seem to think he’s competing with Troy Smith for the starter spot, but I wonder. Who should Harbaugh tap for QB – a Heisman winner who’s taken snaps for the Ravens already, or this tall rookie fresh out of Delaware who missed a year due to transferring? Not to say that Flacco won’t live up to expectations, but I have my feelings on the stronger horse here. Also: the Examiner should have a field day with the name “Flacco.”

#20: Tampa Bay Buckaroos, Aqib Talib, CB. Another of the hot young cornerbacks to wow scouts at the Combine, Talib loves tackles, stops behind scrimmage and interceptions. Another foolish prediction: 2008 will be the Year of the Cornerback. Count it!

#31: New Jersey Giants, Kenny Phillips, FS. Great. Another guy to tangle us up in the run and pick off Tom Brady. I hold a secret hope that Phillips proves too good, giving Elisha insufficient time to rest on the sidelines and bringing about the Lesser Manning’s eventual death through dehydration. Too much to ask?

I know I skipped a few, but nobody really wants to read my opinions on all 32 first round picks. So ask me if you want to hear more about someone I missed, and I’ll tell you what ESPN told me.

* WordPress’s spell checker flagged the words “Belichick” and “WordPress” but let “sonuvabitch” pass.

** One of these days I want to go to a draft day party for an ambitious young prospect. Those must be fun. Mom cooking up wings, Dad checking out his profile in various team hats, friends and cousins hanging around with cameras. Everyone touching base with you but also keeping a respectful distance from your imminent transcendence.