by Dan Snapp
The trouble with the NFL draft is nobody calls me on my crap.
I need somebody to keep me honest, to be the counterweight for the eventuality when I blurt out, “Grab McKelvin!”
“Saw a lot of his college play, did you?” my personal BS detector would chime in.
“Sure. Played for Troy. Top cornerback available. Talented returner.”
“And you actually watched a Troy game when?”
I think this service could be marketable. Think of the time savings. Your own personal BS detector would be there in the months running up to draft, dissuading you from clicking the articles of others lacking BS detection services.
“Don’t read King,” he’d tell me. “He doesn’t know. He knows guys who know but probably aren’t telling. The difference between him and the average fan is somebody actually pays him for his Starbucks complaints.”
My brother won’t be of help in this instance; my third-hand stuff is gospel enough for him to pass on as fourth-hand stuff. My wife’s a good BS detector, but we’re talking about the NFL draft here; she’ll roll her eyes and call me a geek.
So no, I confess I haven’t heard of most of these guys prior to February. Matt Ryan, sure, Darren McFadden and Chris Long, a handful of others. I knew about Louisville QB Brian Brohm – a likely second rounder from what they tell us – but that’s just residual third-hand knowledge from last year’s pre-draft hype, before Brohm decided to come back for his senior year.
Ken-Yon Rambo is my NFL Draft patron saint.
The former Ohio State receiver is the constant beacon reminding me the overarching lesson of the draft: no matter the information taken in, the draft guides absorbed and experts trusted, when the NFL draft finally plays out, I know squat.
Rambo was predicted by many to go in the first day in 2001. “First round talent,” some said. But he slipped past the first, past the second, and out of the first day altogether. And as he kept sliding and each new Patriots pick came up, I beseeched the screen, “He’s still there! Grab him!” The screen didn’t listen, not until some Raiders fans’ prayers were answered sometime in the seventh round when Oakland finally drafted him.
Rambo’s career ultimately followed suit with his draft positioning. He bounced around the league for a couple years, then ended up in the CFL. The teams were right, the pundits wrong, and a bunch of fans looked like idiots pleading for two days for their teams to draft a journeyman receiver.
If you, too, have fallen prey to this phenomenon, hire a BS detector. Your family will thank you.
Shedding a Little Light
For the sake of a nice little storyline, Peter King recycled an old Patriots/Jets draft story from 2001. He recounts the tale of Matt Light being on the phone with both teams at the same time, and the Patriots telling him to stay on the line while they work a deal with Detroit to get in front of the Jets.
In the recycled version, King says the Patriots worried about the Jets’ interest from the start:
The Patriots very much wanted Purdue tackle Matt Light in the second round, but worried that the Jets might want Light too. New England personnel chief Scott Pioli called Light with the draft at the 47th pick and asked if he’d heard from any other teams recently. “Yeah,” Light said. “I’ve got the Jets on the other line.” Pioli thanked him, hung up, and the Patriots called the Lions, at 48, and swapped picks, giving Detroit a sixth-rounder in return.
In his original telling of the story, there’s no hint of their concern for the Jets’ interest in him until Light lets Scott Pioli know they’re also on the line:
Light then had phones to each ear. The Patriots asked who was on the other line. “The Jets,” Light said. The Patriots told him: We’re putting you on hold for a minute, but do not under any circumstances hang up. “I waited 90 seconds, maybe two minutes, then the Patriots came back on the line. They told me they just traded ahead of the Jets with Detroit to get me.”
Now perhaps King’s got Pioli on record as saying they were worried the Jets might want Light. But more likely, it’s to advance the storyline of the Patriots doing whatever they can to thwart the Jets, and vice versa.
King speculates a scenario where the two teams are vying for the same players, with the Chiefs’ Carl Peterson the likely benefactor of the turf war, presumably with the Pats trading up to 5 and giving a giddy Peterson a handsome bonus pick.
For a better history lesson, King would do well to consult the 2003 draft, in which both the Jets and Patriots were seeking defensive line help. The Jets gave up a bundle to move up to the fourth pick and draft DeWayne Robertson, while the Patriots moved up one spot to 13 to take Ty Warren.
Ron Borges declared that the Jets had outmaneuvered the Patriots, leaving the Pats to select the “fifth or sixth best defensive tackle” in Warren. Chicago GM Jerry Angelo said afterwards that contrary to Borges’ beliefs, the Patriots never had serious discussions about the fourth pick.
Warren, of course, has solidified himself as one of the best defensive lineman in the league, while the Jets this offseason have been trying to rid themselves of the disappointing Robertson and his prohibitive salary.
The Pats won’t be trading up.