Thursday, May 2, 2013



Hello Football Fans,
Attached is a summary of the first round of the draft and some other details and minutia from the first round and the draft overall.
Also, I have given you an update of the college football playoff system that is rounding into shape (and one quiz question).
This letter started getting too long, so I stopped temporarily.  I hope to get out another summary of draft grades for each team and statistics for the overall draft.
The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL


The 78th annual pro football draft was conducted at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City from April 25th through April 27th.
And, in case you missed it: “With the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select… Sandcastle.”
Who?  Sandcastle, who attended Primetime University, was the fictional character who debuted in a 2013 Super Bowl commercial in which he was picked #1 overall by KC in the 2013 draft.  The afro-wielding character was Deion Sanders, with Ball State’s cornerback Andre Dawson (no relation to baseball great) used as a stunt double.  The character developed a life of its own, and in fact Sandcastle ended up having a card in Madden NFL 13 as part of the “Ultimate Team” game mode.  He also showed up to Radio City Music Hall on opening Thursday night, then transformed into the on-stage NFL Network television reporter, Deion “Primetime” Sanders. (Ed note: Also see our story about "Leon" here)

And by the way, last year’s Madden NFL cover was Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, WR for the Detroit Lions.  But unlike so many other Madden cover players claiming the “honor” before him, Johnson did not get jinxed last year.  In fact, he had a great year and flirted with 2,000 receiving yards (1,964 yards).  This year’s Madden NFL 25 cover selection is Barry Sanders, who beat out Adrian Peterson for the honor.

But I digress.  Enough frivolity, let’s set up the draft.

Before the 11th-hour pre-draft trades and trades completed during the draft, last year’s two Super Bowl opponents had more 2013 draft picks than any of the other teams.  Super Bowl runner-up San Francisco had 13 picks and Champion Baltimore had 12.  That just doesn’t seem right in a league of parity, but some front offices are better than others.  Three other teams had 11 picks -- MIN, ATL, and MIA.

For the first round only, three teams had two picks and three teams had no picks.
NY Jets           Picks #9 and #13     First team in a decade to have two picks in Top 13
STL Rams       Picks #16 and #22   Got ‘Skins 1st round pick in RGIII deal last year
MIN Vikes      Picks #23 and #25   Got Seattle’s 1st round pick in Percy Harvin trade
WSH ‘Skins    no picks                   Presumably have their QB for the next 10 years
SEA ‘Hawks   no picks                   Team is loading up for another playoff run
TB Bucs          no picks                   Got CB Darrelle Revis in trade with NYJ

Of course, trades from April 24th and through the draft changed some of these numbers.  Kansas City, with the #1 pick in the draft, was working on a trade with Miami in which the Dolphins would get the Chiefs’ left tackle Branden Albert in exchange for one of their two 2nd round picks in the 2013 draft.   Miami appeared to be better off just trading up in the first round with Oakland to the #3 overall pick that would assure them of getting one of the top three rookie left offensive tackles (all rated highly).  The Raiders would get Miami’s #12 overall pick and one of their two second-round picks.

UPDATE:  See below for what actually happened.
Last year, there were a record nine trades in the first round.  This year, even more fireworks were predicted.

UPDATE: Only five trades materialized in the first round.  Keep reading to see the details of what happened.

NFL DRAFT – FIRST ROUND (Thursday night, about 3 hours)

When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walked on stage at the Radio City Music Hall in NYC to announce the first pick, he was met with a mixed reaction from the crowd, similar to last year with Jets and Giants fans just wanting to boo and make noise, regardless of the reason (or lack thereof).  Goodell quieted the crowd by bringing up the recent bombings in Boston and Texas, prompting the crowd to chant “USA, USA”.  He then stimulated the local Jets and Giants fans in attendance by mentioning next year’s Super Bowl site: MetLife (Meadowlands) Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ (home of both NYJ and NYG) and bringing Joe Namath and Phil Simms on stage to further promote next February’s event.

And after all of that, the 2013 NFL Draft started.  Following is a summary of the first round of the draft, including comments about the player and team.
Note: If you don’t want to sift through all of the detailed picks for the first round, I have summarized some overall happenings in the first round and for the whole draft later in the letter.


#1 KANSAS CITY – OLT Eric FISHER (Central Michigan)
This was the fourth time in common draft history (starting in 1967) that an offensive lineman was taken #1 overall [Jake Long 2008, Orlando Pace (1997), Ron Yary (1968)].
A quarterback had been taken #1 overall in 10 of the last 12 years.

There was no trade with Miami.  The Chiefs still have OT Branden Albert, and a trade may materialize later with the Dolphins or some other team, and maybe on Friday morning before Rounds 2 & 3, or maybe after the draft is over.  Alternatively, KC could keep both tackles and start the rookie at right tackle.  According to pundits, Fisher beat out Joeckel (see below) for the top honor because of his better natural athletic ability as shown in the NFL Combine and his performance the week of the Senior Bowl.
This was the first time in common draft history that offensive tackles were selected in the top 2 spots.
In 1968, two offensive linemen were taken #1 and #2, but #2 pick Bob Johnson was a center, not a tackle.

The Jaguars took the “other” best left tackle available, and will give QB Blaine Gabbert (or successor) a better chance to succeed.  Joeckel started 37 straight games for the Aggies.

*TRADE Number One of Five, and a bit of a SHOCKER*
#3 MIAMA – DE Dion JORDAN (Oregon)
Oakland had a first round pick for the first time in three years.  2nd-year GM Reggie McKenzie is still trying to clean up the mess created in prior years.  He made a great move to trade down to #12 overall and pick up the Dolphins’ 2nd round (#42 overall) pick.  All of the experts expected Miami to pick up the third-best offensive left tackle in the draft, Lane Johnson, but that didn’t happen, and the first “surprise” of the draft occurred early on.  Maybe the Dolphins will still pursue KC OLT Branden Albert in some other way.

This makes 3 of the first four picks offensive tackles.  In 1968, 3 of the first 4 picks were used on offensive linemen (but not all tackles).
Believe it or not, Johnson started his post-secondary football life as a quarterback in junior college, later was moved to TE and ORT before finishing his Division 1-A college career as a left tackle.  For a big dude at 6’6” and 303 pounds, he posted awesome athletic numbers at the NFL Combine.

#5 DETROIT – DE Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah (BYU)
 Ansah came to the USA five years ago from Ghana, not knowing the game of football.  A gifted athlete, he was cut from the basketball team twice and had a stint with the track team, but ended up as a walk-on for the FB team in 2010.  Ziggy will help fill holes in the Lions’ defensive line after DE Cliff Avril and others were lost in free agency.

#6 CLEVELAND – DE Barkevious “Keke” Mingo (LSU)
Mingo is the third dynamic edge rusher to be selected in the Top 6.  The Browns had plenty of choices here (and plenty of needs), but went with the athletic big man.  The NFL is evolving into a league more focused on the passing game, and the first six picks of the draft give clear evidence of the need to protect the QB (offensive left tackles) and the need to make the QB uncomfortable throwing the ball (speedy, powerful pass rushers).

This is the earliest an offensive guard has been selected in the draft since 1997.  The Cardinals desperately need to improve their offensive line, and Cooper will be an immediate upgrade and starter (and help protect Arizona’s new (old) QB, Carson Palmer).

**TRADE Number Two of Five**
#8 ST. LOUIS – WR Tavon AUSTIN (West VA)
The Rams made a bold move up from #16 to get the speedy and elusive playmaker.  Austin is only 5’8” and 175 pounds, but he never missed a start in his college career.  He should help replace the loss of WR Danny Amendola to free agency. This probably would have been the Jets’ pick at #9, had St. Louis not jumped ahead of them. 
Buffalo traded down to the #16 overall pick and got extra picks with the #46 overall (2nd rounder) and a 7th rounder and the two teams switched picks in the 3rd round (STL got #71, Buffalo got #78).  The Bills were projected to possibly pick up a QB here, but decided to gather extra draft picks instead.

This pick helps the team recover from the loss of cornerback Darrelle Revis (he was selected #14 overall by the Jets in the 2007 NFL Draft).  Milliner is a solid cover guy and tackler, but has questionable hands.  He has had five different surgeries, but didn’t miss any college games.

Warmack improves the Titans’ offensive line; he’ll be an immediate starter.  According to the pundits, he is the last of the “elite” offensive linemen in this draft.

The run on offensive linemen continues, with six of the first 11 picks being used to upgrade offensive lines.  And it was a position of need for the Chargers.  Fluker is a big dude at 6’5” and 340 pounds, and probably will start at guard or right tackle (may not be ready for left tackle).  This was the third straight pick of a player from defending champion Alabama.

#12 OAKLAND – CB D.J. HAYDEN (Houston)
This cornerback prospect severed his “inferior vena cava”, the vein that carries blood from the lower half of the body to the heart, after taking a knee to the chest in practice last November.  Had he not been diagnosed and quickly taken to the hospital for surgery, he would not have been alive to be eligible for the 2013 draft (95% fatality rate on this injury; he could have bled to death internally).  Instead, the medical treatments were swift and successful and he is now fully healed and was ready for the draft.  He was ranked by most pundits as the second-best cornerback in this draft class behind Dee Milliner, who was drafted at #9 overall.

#13 J-E-T-S, NY JETS – DT Sheldon RICHARDSON (Missouri)
The Jets’ second pick in the first round stayed on the defensive side of the ball.  That means no extra help yet for scrutinized incumbent QB Mark Sanchez.  The pundits have mixed grades on Richardson, but he is a big body with talent (Jon Gruden is not on board).

Lotuleilei had a heart imperfection between the regular season and the Combine, but has been cleared to play.  He is an impressive run stopper who helps free up his linebackers, but is limited as a pass rusher.

#15 NEW ORLEANS – Safety Kenny VACCARO (Texas)
The Saints get the consensus best safety of this draft class.


The Bills did a good job of moving down to get extra picks, and could have dropped down again and still gotten this guy.  They needed a QB, and took the guy with the physical attributes (6’5” and 237 pounds) and great attitude; but he had lapses on the field as a Seminole.  He will compete with Kevin Kolb for the starting job, as it stands now.  Most pundits had Manuel ranked as the 3rd to 6th best QB in this “weak” QB draft class.

Jones had substandard NFL Combine numbers for a 1st-rounder (e.g., 40 time of 4.9 seconds), but looks great on the field.  He had health concerns going into the draft (prior stenosis-abnormal narrowing of blood vessel).

** TRADE Number Three of Five**
The 49’ers traded up to help out their secondary.  Reed was the pundits’ 2nd-ranked safety in the draft (Vaccaro was selected at #15).
Dallas traded down to #31 overall and got an extra 3rd round pick (#74 overall).  It seems to me that the Niners got the better end of this trade.

#19 NEW YORK GIANTS – OT Justin PUGH (Syracuse)
Pugh has short arms, which is usually a deal-breaker for a left tackle, but he compensates well with good foot work and technique.  He is versatile, and should be able to start or fill in at center, guard, or right tackle immediately.

*** SHOCKER ***
Long is still a developmental project; he was drafted in the 23rd round of the Major League Baseball Draft in 2008.  After a short stint at FSU, he ended up playing football again at Saddleback College in 2010.  He started out as a DE, but switched over to offense.  He committed to Oregon for the 2012 season.  After last season, his appeal for a fifth year of eligibility was denied and he filed for the 2013 NFL Draft.  But he has NFL pedigree; he is the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame DE Howie Long and the brother of STL Rams’ DE Chris Long.
If you are keeping track, this makes eight offensive line picks in the Top 20.

Eifert was the consensus best tight end in this draft class.  Several pundits called this pick a “steal.”

**TRADE Number Four of Five**
#22 ATLANTA – CB Desmond TRUFANT (Washington aka U-Dub)
The Falcons traded up to jump ahead of several teams looking for help in the secondary.  The smallish, speedy corner Trufant fills a need in Atlanta.  And he has NFL pedigree, with two brothers currently playing cornerback in the NFL (Marcus and Isaiah).
St. Louis traded down to #30 and got extra picks in the 3rd round (#92 overall) and 6th round (#198).

Floyd was projected by many draft pundits to be selected by the Raiders at #3, but he did a free fall to the Vikings.  Speculation was that he has short arms, was not an elite pass rusher at Florida (low sack numbers), and had character concerns.  Nevertheless, he has a great motor and will take over for the retiring DT Pat Williams.  This was a “steal” if you ask me, but we’ll know better later.

Werner hails from Berlin, Germany and had poor NFL Combine numbers, but has huge upside potential
He was projected as a late 1st round to early 2nd round pick, so I wouldn’t consider this pick to be a reach.

Rhodes is a rangy, long-armed 6’2” press cornerback with the size (213 lbs.) to match up with big WR’s, but has shown mediocre results on the field, is weak with run support, and has injury concerns.  Good luck, “Z” (for Xavier).
This is the third Florida State player selected in the first round.  The Vikings needed to upgrade its secondary after the departure of Antoine Winfield, and I’ll trust my team’s management to pick the right cornerback for their system.  Looks like a project to me.

Jones is versatile in the defensive line and will fit well into the Packers’ 3-4 defense.

 Hopkins should complement the Texans’ star wideout Andre Johnson.  If he produces, this team will make the playoffs for the third straight year.

#28 DENVER – DT Sylvester “Sly” WILLIAMS (UNC),
Some pundits called this the “steal” of the first round.

**TRADE Number Five of Five**
The Vikings traded 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 7th round picks get its third pick of the first round.
Patterson is a project, as he was a JUCO player until his 2012 season with the Volunteers.  He is raw and immature, but is expected to eventually fill the former role of Percy Harvin, lost in free agency to Seattle.  He has loads of talent (yards-after-catch YAC potential), and can be used as a kick returner.
New England relinquished its only first round pick, and once again Coach Bill Belichick is stockpiling picks.

There were off-field concerns with Ogletree at Georgia, but otherwise he and Manti Te’o were the top- ranked inside linebackers in this draft class.  The Rams traded their picks masterfully in the first round.

Frederick was a consensus 3rd round pick, but with the run on offensive linemen earlier in the round and with the Cowboys’ desperate need to upgrade the offensive line and center position, this pick may have been warranted.  His appearance suggests he might be a member of ZZ Top, albeit forty years younger.

Even with the last pick in the first round, the Ravens had several good choices and helped fill the gap left in the defense with the departure of safety Ed Reed in free agency to Houston.


The Bucs’ first pick of the 2012 draft (#43) was a solid cornerback, Johnthan BANKS (Miss.St.).  He us not that speedy, but has long arms and is ready to plug into the starting lineup immediately.

The ‘Skins first pick of the 2012 draft (#51) was cornerback/safety David AMERSON (NC State).  He was solid in 2011, but then had a bad year on the field in 2012.  He has potential as 6’3” prospect that needs to eliminate lapses in discipline on the field.

The Pats’ first pick of the 2012 draft (#52) was linebacker Jamie COLLINS (S.Miss), who showed talent in 2011 but struggled in 2012.

The Seahawks’ first pick of the 2012 draft (#62) finished out the 2nd round, after trading down out of their #56 pick to acquire additional 5th and 6th round picks from Baltimore.
Seattle selected the talented RB Christine MICHAEL (TX A&M) with previous off-field problems.


The first round of the draft was dominated by players rooting around in the dirt, the men in the trenches – offensive and defensive linemen, claiming 18 of the 32 selections.
Nine were OL picks, one less than the all-time record of ten in 1968.
Nine were DL picks – the front four (e.g., Purple People Eaters, Fearsome Foursome)

Of the remaining 14 picks, only 1 was a QB, none was a RB, only 1 was a TE, and 3 were WRs.
That means only fourteen of the 32 picks in the first round were used for offensive players; the other eighteen were used for defense. 

Running Backs:  It was the first time since 1963 that a RB had not been selected in the first round.  The offensive philosophy in the NFL has already changed to the passing game.  Five RB’s were drafted in the 2nd round: Giovani Bernard (UNC) at #37 overall to CIN, followed by LeVeon Bell (Mich.St) at #48 to PIT, then Montee Ball (WISC) at #58 to DEN, then Eddie Lacy (ALA) at #61 to GB (consensus best RB in the draft and projected 1st rounder), and then Christine Michael (TXAM) at #62 to PHI.
There were a total of 23 RBs selected in the draft.

Quarterbacks:  Only one QB was selected in each of the first three rounds.  And they were not selected in the order expected by the pundits.  Only 12 signal-callers were drafted in all seven rounds.
Following is a listing of the progression of QB picks:

Player                   School          Round   Overall          NFL Team

EJ Manuel              FSU                1        #16               BUF  Surprising 1st QB off the board
Geno Smith            WVA               2        #39               NYJ  Sat in Green Room all Thursday night
                                                                                              Jets add to the circus act at QB position
Mike Glennon         NC.St             3        #73               TB     Bucs’ QB Josh Freeman has competition
Matt Barkley          USC                4        #98               PHI   Projected 1st-rounder last year drops in 2013
Ryan Nassib           SYR                4        #110             NYG  Not picked by old college coach in BUF
Tyler Wilson           ARK                4        #112             OAK  2012 was a mess with Razorbacks
Landry Jones         OKL                4        #115              PIT    Lack of productivity in 2011 and 2012
Latavius Murray                             6        #181             OAK  Out of Central Florida
Brad Sorenson                               7        #221             SD      Out of Southern Utah (FCS)
Zac Dysert                                     7        #234             DEN   Out of Miami of Ohio
BJ Daniels             USF                  7        #237             SF  Out of South Florida
Sean Renfree         Duke                 7        #249             ATL             
Notables undrafted:
Tyler Bray (TEN), Matt Scott (AZ), Collin Klein (KSU)
Trivia:  It was the first time since 2000 that a QB was not selected in the Top 3 [Chad Pennington at #18].

The Southeastern Conference tied a draft record for most selection in the first round with 12 [ACC in 2006], including Alabama with 3 players selected and two each from FL, GA, and LSU.  The ACC had 6 players selected (3 from FSU), followed by the PAC12 with 5 selections (2 from Oregon), then the Big XII with 3, and one each from Big 10, MAC, C-USA, MW, Big East, and Independent. 

MIA jumped up 9 spots to #3 to get DE Dion Jordan.  This is not a slam-dunk great move by the Dolphins.  They gave up their first of two selections in the 2nd round (#42) and picked #12 in the first.  The team still needs to find a left offensive tackle.
OAK dropped down to #12 and still got their guy and got the extra high pick.  The new front office led by Reggie McKenzie made a nice move here.

STL jumped up 8 spots to get an offensive weapon in WR Tavon Austin, and speculation is that the Jets lost out here.  Great move to move down by the Rams, and they only had to give up their 2nd and 7th rounders.
BUF dropped down to #16 and still got their guy, although the pick was questionable at that mid-first round area.  The Bills probably could have traded down again if they were targeting QB E.J. Manuel.  Guess it doesn’t pay to get too greedy [“Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.”]

SF traded up 13 spots to #18 to make sure they got one of the top two safeties in the draft, and they only gave up a 3rd round pick for the privilege.  Nice move.
DAL dropped down to #31 and ended up “reaching” to take the “best-available” offensive linemen for their situation that was still on the board.  This looks like a “Jerry” move.  [Jerry Jones, Al Davis, George Steinbrenner, meddling owners messing up a good thing].

ATL traded up 8 spots to get the best available cornerback (in their opinion) still on the board, the third CB selected after Dee Milliner and DJ Hayden.  The Falcons gave up 3rd and 6th rounders.
STL dropped down to #30 but got good value, and I’m surmising the Rams still got the guy they wanted.  It was another nice move in the first round by the front office and Coach Jeff Fisher.

MIN traded multiple later round picks (2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 7th) to get a third pick in the first round at #29.  The Vikings needed a replacement for Percy Harvin, but their pick of WR Cordarrelle Patterson seems to be a project (although he can possibly return kicks/punts).  We’ll see; he still has a good chance to start from Day 1.
NE once again stockpiled more picks in giving up their first rounder.  The Patriots first pick of the 2013 draft was at #52 overall in the 2nd round.

Minnesota ended up with three picks in the first round of the 2013 draft.  The record is four picks by the NY Jets during the 2000 NFL Draft.
Four other teams have had 3 picks in the first round since the common draft was instituted in 1967.  St. Louis had three picks in 2001, Carolina in 1995, Dallas in 1991, and Oakland in 1988.


Some other player moves in the offseason (I know I’ve still missed plenty of the action):
SF picked up aging WR Anquan Boldin to help replace the departure of aging/aged WR Randy Moss (I put a negative spin on this just to tweak you, Rick).
OLB James Harrison ended up in Cincinnati with a lesser contract than he would have gotten by taking the Steelers’ previous offer and remaining with Pittsburgh.
During the draft, several transactions took place:
CIN re-signed ORT Andre Smith to a 3-year, $18MM contract.
CLE acquired WR Devone Bess from Miami for a swap of draft picks; Miami moved up 7 spots in the 4th round and got a 5th round pick in exchange for their 7th rounder.
NYJ acquired RB Chris Ivory from New Orleans for a 4th round draft pick.  The Jets signed him to a 3-year, $10MM deal.  Looks like good move for both teams.

The rookie quarterbacks made a big splash last year.  Should we expect the “sophomore slump” to plague these guys in 2013?

Andrew Luck           IND    Tougher schedule; new offensive coordinator (but from Stanford)
Robert Griffin III      WSH  Coming off knee injury; will not be pushed into starting duties
Russell Wilson          SEA    Playing for good team, plenty of support
Ryan Tannehill          MIA    Needs OL, RB, and WR’s to take pressure off
Brandon Weeden    CLE    Struggling just to keep his starting job; could motivate him


“PLAYOFFS!  PLAYOFFS??!!” (quote by Jim Mora, Sr.   )

Yes, college football has finally instituted a playoff system starting for the 2014 season.
There will be a 4-team playoff, and it will be officially called the COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF (no joke).
Following are some of the logistics that have been worked out recently.
The new post-season format will create two national semi-final playoff games to be played on either New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day each year, with the winners advancing to the national championship game.
The semi-final game sites will be rotated among six different locations – Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl (the current four BCS Bowl sites), plus the Cotton Bowl and Peach Bowl (Chick-fil-A Bowl).  The schedule has been laid out as follows (with the higher-seeded team presumably getting the advantage of traveling the lesser distance):

2014             Rose and Sugar                Jan 1, 2015
2015             Orange and Cotton           Dec. 31, 2015
2016             Fiesta and Peach              Dec. 31, 2016

This rotation will repeat through the 2025 season, as it stands right now (assuming there be an expansion of the playoff structure to 8 or 16 teams in future years).

The 2014 season championship game will be played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX (Jerry Jones’ house), but I don’t see a date for that yet.  The sites for the 2015 and 2016 championship games have not been determined yet.

One big deal still to be determines is how the four playoff teams will be selected each year.  The BCS system/formula will be out.  Instead, there will be a selection committee that will come up with the four teams each year, similar to the selection process for the NCAA Basketball Tournament.  The controversy seems to be who will be included in the selection committee.  More on that later when the powers-that-be decide.


QUESTION #1:  Only six players who have been the #1 overall selection in the draft have won an NFL MVP award.  Name them.
I’ll give you one: Peyton Manning, drafted in 1998; he won the league MVP award four times (in 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009).
HINT:  The other five were drafted in the previous four decades (two in the 1970’s), consisting of three RB’s and two QB’s.  Each of them only won one MVP award.

PLAYER                 YEAR DRAFTED     MVP YEAR
John Elway                       1983                       1987
Earl Campbell                   1978                       1979
Terry Bradshaw                1970                       1978
OJ Simpson                      1969                       1973
Paul Hornung                    1957                       1961

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