Tuesday, May 13, 2014

NFL DRAFT RECAP AND SOME OTHER STUFF


FROM THE DESK OF THE “FUGITIVE” COMMISSIONER

Hello Football Fans,

This sports report is an attempt at trying to provide a "brief" summary of the recently concluded NFL Draft.


Set aside 1/2 hour or so and enjoy.

The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL

The 79th annual pro football draft was conducted at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City from Thursday, May 8th through Saturday, May 10th.  The draft had been in late April in prior years; this year, the NFL inexplicably delayed the draft by two weeks.
Thursday night during prime time, the first round of the draft turned into The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Manziel.  By the end of the 7th round of the draft on Saturday, a whole new story nearly dwarfed the Manziel frenzy.  See below.


BEFORE THE DRAFT

Before the inevitable trades completed during the draft, many teams had accumulated additional picks through previous trades and/or from receiving compensatory picks for losing free agents in the offseason.
So even though you would expect each of the 32 NFL teams to get 7 picks each, one in each round, it doesn’t quite work that way.  Following is a breakdown of the number of total picks each team had before the draft started:

                        Picks               Teams
                        12                    NYJ, STL
                        11                    SF, DAL, HOU, JAX
                        10                    ATL, CLE
                          9                    PIT, GB, CIN
                          8                    MIN, DET, BAL, NE
                          7                    OAK, NYG, CHI, MIA, SD, NOR, CAR, DEN
                          6                    TB, BUF, TEN, AZ, PHI, KC, SEA, WSH
                          5                    INDIANAPOLIS

Obviously, it’s more important to have more early round picks.
Following are a few teams with a good number of picks in the first three rounds:
6 for San Francisco
5 for Cleveland
4 for St. Louis, Minnesota, Baltimore, and Green Bay

For the 1st round only, two teams had two picks and two teams had none:

STL Rams       Picks #2 and #13        Finishing up RGIII deal from two years ago
CLE Browns    Picks #4 and #26        Traded RB Trent Richardson during 2013 season

IND Colts        no picks           Traded pick for RB Trent Richardson during 2013 season
WSH ‘Skins     no picks           Finishing up RGIII deal from two years ago

Of course, trades during the draft changed some of the numbers above.  The trades started at Pick #4 overall with Cleveland on the clock.
Last year, there were five trades in the first round.  This year, the anticipation was for much more fireworks; but in the end, there were only five trades again in Round One.  The trading frenzy didn’t occur until the 2nd round.

WILLING TO GAMBLE?

The oddsmakers will let you make bets on almost anything, so following were a few of the percentages being offered in proposition bets prior to the draft:
                                                                                                                                    Result for “favorite”
73% chance that J. Clowney would be picked #1 overall                  WINNER
67% chance that 3 or fewer QB’s would be picked in 1st round        WINNER
68% chance that QB Bridgewater would be picked in 1st round        WINNER, barely
                        57% chance that QB Carr would be drafted before Bridgewater      LOSER
                        55% chance that QB Bortles would be drafted after #8 overall         LOSER
                        54% chance that QB Manziel would be drafted after #5 overall        WINNER

Pointer when gambling:  hindsight is 20-20; it’s so much easier to say something was “obvious” after the fact, but it’s usually very confusing prior to the actual event.  Save your money and don’t bet; alternatively, bet very lightly for the fun of it or call my cousin Clark to figure out how he picks up royal flushes playing the Poker Slots in Milwaukee, WI.

NFL DRAFT – FIRST ROUND (Thursday night, 4+ hours)

On Thursday night, only the first round of the draft was conducted (and it lasted over 4 hours).  Each team had 10 minutes to make its pick, a nice change from prior years’ 15 minutes.
Two networks telecast the draft, and the commentators were:
            ESPN: Chris Berman, Mel Kiper, Jon Gruden, and Ray Lewis [they were surprisingly excellent]
            NFL Network: Rich Eisen, Marshall Faulk, Steve Mariucci, Michael Irvin, Mike Mayock
 [only Mayock was on top of his game, and excellent]

Without further ado, here we go with a summary of the first round, and then highlights from the other rounds.

THE 1st ROUND PICKS

#1 HOUSTON DE Jadeveon CLOWNEY (South Carolina)
A quarterback had been taken #1 overall in 10 of the last 13 years (last year was OL Eric Fisher out of Central Michigan).  A defensive player is not selected here very often; the last time was in 2006 when Houston picked DE Mario Williams (NC State) over Reggie Bush (USC) in a much-debated selection.  The previous two defensive #1 overall picks were DE Courtney Brown (Penn State; 2000) and DT Dan Wilkinson (Ohio State; 1994). 

There was minimal debate on this pick, as Clowney was considered a rung above all other draftee candidates.  QB Johnny Manziel got some hype; and, a trade down could have happened were it not for the Texans just asking for too much.
#2 ST. LOUIS  OLT Greg ROBINSON (Auburn)
Not a surprising pick at all.
Robinson is a road-grading beast at 6’5”, 332 lbs. (under 5-second 40 yard dash).  He was a redshirt sophomore, and declared for the draft to help support his family in need.  He must improve his pass blocking, but has more upside than other top notch offensive linemen in this draft.  He’ll probably be a starter at guard in his rookie season.
HC Jeff Fisher had never taken an offensive lineman in the 1st round of any of his previous 17 drafts.

** FIRST SURPRISE OF THE NIGHT **
(big question mark of the 1st round was when quarterbacks would be taken, if any)

#3 JAXSONVILLE QB Blake BORTLES (Central Florida)
Holy Cow!  Chants were for Johnny Manziel, but now he will not the first QB taken in the draft.
At 6’5”, 235 lbs., Bortles is being compared to Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger, except that his arm strength is not quite as good as Big Ben’s.  Right now, the Jaguars’ front office is saying that incumbent QB Chad Henne will be the starter for 2014 (we’ll see how long that lasts).
The Jaguar front office had their eyes on Bortles out of UCF for over a year, but amazingly did not let the “cat out of the bag” and fooled a lot of draftniks with this pick.

** FIRST TRADE – A WHOPPER **
Buffalo moved up from #9 to #4 after the surprising pick at #3.  The Bills gave up their 1st and 4th round draft picks in next year’s draft in addition to the #9 overall pick this year.

#4 BUFFALOWR Sammy WATKINS (Clemson)
The Bills are banking on Watkins coming through for them as a franchise player (big gamble).  He was the consensus best receiver with the best hands in this class at 6’1”, 211#; he is awesome after the catch and has 4.43 speed (40-yard dash time).

#5 OAKLAND – OLB Khalil MACK (Buffalo)
Mack got only two offers coming out of high school as a 2-star recruit (Liberty and the BU Bulls).  He distinguished himself, even while playing mainly lower level competition in the Mid American Conference.

#6 ATLANTA – OT Jake MATTHEWS (Texas A&M)
Jake is a technician and is ready to start immediately.  He also has strong bloodlines, as his father was Bruce Matthews, who was a 1st round draft pick in 1983 out of USC, played 19 years in the NFL as an offensive guard, and was a 14-time Pro Bowl selection.

#7 TAMPA BAYWR Mike EVANS (Texas A&M)
Just in case you are counting, this makes two TXAM Aggies’ players selected before Johnny Manziel.
Evans was a redshirt sophomore, and was coveted for his height – 6’5” and he will most likely line up opposite his 6’5” WR teammate Vincent Jackson to begin the 2014 season.

**TRADE Number Two of Five**
Cleveland is involved again, giving up a 5th round pick to Minnesota to move up from #9 to #8.  The Vikings evidently do not want QB Manziel, and are going to let Cleveland get him.
#8 CLEVELANDCB Justin GILBERT (Oklahoma State)
The Browns must have thought the Vikings may select “their” cornerback, or would trade the pick to some other team that would take “their” corner.  Gilbert was considered the best shut-down cornerback in this draft class by most pundits, a prototypical NFL cornerback with 4.37 speed.
(Of course the crowd thought Cleveland would select QB Manziel-NOT!)

** FIRST “REACH” OF THE DRAFT **
(Nope, the Vikings didn’t take QB Manziel either)

#9 MINNESOTAOLB Anthony BARR (UCLA)
The Vikings must have drafted for need, as they got Barr as a quality edge rusher who is still a work in progress.
(I was hoping for a Manziel pick here; HC Mike Zimmer and OC Norv Turner are fuddy-duddies.)

#10 DETROITTE Eric EBRON (North Carolina)
Ebron was clearly the most athletically talented tight end in the draft, but he’s not a blocker.  QB Matt Stafford has another weapon.

#11 TENNESSEEOT Taylor LEWAN (Michigan)
The last of the three highly touted left tackles, Lewan is athletic and has a nasty streak [6’7”, 308 lbs.].

#12 NEW YORK GIANTSWR Odell BECKHAM, JR. (LSU)
Beckham attended the same high school as his new QB Eli Manning.  He is fast (4.40), a polished route runner, and a kick returner [5’11”, 198 lbs.].

#13 ST. LOUISDT Aaron DONALD (Pittsburgh)
Donald is undersized (short) for a “three-technique” (lining up outside of the offensive guard’s outside shoulder) at only 6’0-3/4”, 285 lbs., but is quick and disruptive on the line.

#14 CHICAGOCB Kyle FULLER (Virginia Tech)
Fuller has long arms, and is tough and a good tackler.  His older brother is Detroit Lions’ WR Corey Fuller.

#15 PITTSBURGH LB Ryan Shazier (Ohio State)
Shazier could play inside or outside; he’s got speed (4.38 forty) and has gained some weight to get up to 237 lbs.

** SHOCKER – JERRY JONES DIDN’T “REACH”

#16 DALLASOL Zack MARTIN (Notre Dame) 
With Johnny Manziel still on the board, owner/GM Jerry Jones didn’t bite.  He selected a quality offensive lineman that is versatile (can play all five OL spots).  Martin will probably be a starter for the 2014 season at guard or right tackle.  It probably tore up Jerra’s insides to pass up such a fan favorite and marketing boon of Manziel’s caliber.
Jerry really showed restraint; Dallas had made a move (either up or down) with their first round pick in 20 of his last 25 years.
#17 BALTIMOREILB C.J. MOSLEY (Alabama)
Mosley is smallish and somewhat injury prone, but there’s no doubting his talent.

#18 NY JETSSafety Calvin PRYOR (Louisville)
Pryor is a hard hitter and one of the top two safeties in this year’s draft class.
[6’2”, 210 lbs.]

** ANOTHER “REACH”?? **
#19 MIAMIOT Ja’Wuan JAMES (Tennessee)
The Dolphins were surely drafting for need, as James was projected as a 2nd rounder at best by most pundits.  He will probably start the year at right tackle or right guard, but possibly left tackle if necessary.
[6’6” 311 lbs.]

** TRADE Number Three of Five**
New Orleans pulled off a great move and traded up from #27 to #20 to get their replacement for departed Darren Sproles.  The Saints gave Arizona the 27th pick in the first round and a 3rd rounder.

#20 NEW ORLEANSWR Brandin COOKS (Oregon State)
The diminutive Cooks is only 5’10” and 189 lbs., but he ran a 4.33 forty at the Combine and was never injured during his college career.

#21 GREEN BAY – Safety HaHa CLINTON-DIX (Alabama) 
The second of the top two safeties goes three picks after Pryor.
[6’1”, 208 lbs.]

**TRADE Number Four of Five**
And then…..an EXPLOSION
Cleveland made its third trade of the night to move up from #26 (its second 1st round pick) to #22, and the speculation immediately began, since the team was looking for a QB.  When the pick was announced, the whole crowd roared (not just Browns’ fans).  The Browns gave a 3rd round pick to Philadelphia to make the switch of 1st round picks.
#22 CLEVELANDQB Johnny MANZIEL (Texas A&M)
And the frenzy was finally over.  ESPN commentator Jon Gruden had been calling for Manziel to be selected on nearly every pick, starting with Houston at the top of the draft.  Johnny Football just kept dropping, but now the suspense was finally over.  The crowd settled down after this pick.
Manziel is only 5’11-3/4”, but he is elusive and accurate on the field, and charismatic both on and off the field.  His previous off-field issues and celebrity could continue to be disruptive to the team, but I’m saying “probably not” at the NFL level.  He appears to be learning from his off-field mistakes.
Reportedly, in the 2 hours after this pick was made, over 1,500 season ticket packages were purchased by Browns’ fans.

#23 KANSAS CITYDE/OLB Dee FORD (Auburn)
Ford has been a dynamic edge rusher, and could be converted to OLB.  The Chiefs were not really filling a need with this pick.


#24 CINCINNATIDB Darqueze DENNARD (Michigan State)
This could be the best value pick of the first round.  Dennard is a bump-and-run corner and a tackler at 5’11”, 199 lbs.

#25 SAN DIEGOCB Jason VERRETT (TCU) 
Verrett at 5’9-1/2”, 190 lbs., is short but gritty and a good tackler, just a good football player.

#26 PHILADELPHIADE/OLB Marcus SMITH (Louisville)
This was potentially a minor “reach”, but the Eagles were at least able to trade down once.
Smith is athletic (he ran a 4.68 forty), and a good pass rusher in a 3-4 defense [6’3”, 260 lbs.]

** ANOTHER “REACH”? **
#27 ARIZONAS Deone BUCANNON (Washington State)
The Cardinals were at least able to trade down once.  Bucannon at 6’1”, 211 lbs. is a thumper in the box (i.e., good run stuffer and tackler), but tends to get overaggressive (from what I’m told).

#28 CAROLINAWR Kelvin BENJAMIN (FSU),
The Panthers absolutely need huge upgrades in their receivers after letting their top 3 wideouts depart after 2013.  Benjamin at 6’5”, 240 lbs. is more like a tight end and is not a polished route runner, but QB Cam Newton likes this pick, I’m sure.

** ROLL OF THE DICE **
#29 NEW ENGLANDDT Dominique EASLEY (Florida)
Easley has injury concerns after having 2 torn ACL surgeries in 22 months and playing only 3 games during his senior year in 2013.  But he could be a difference-maker if healthy.

** ANOTHER “REACH”? **
#30 SAN FRANCISCOS Jimmy WARD (Northern Illinois)
The 49ers may have liked his versatility, as he could potentially play a safety-cornerback hybrid role in the NFL.  He is 5’10-1/2”, 193 lbs.

#31 DENVERCB Bradley ROBY (Ohio State)
The Broncos are taking a slight risk here, as Roby had off-field issues in college; and although aggressive, he has been inconsistent and an “underachiever.    He is a speed burner and athletic, so has the potential to become a shut-down corner.  [5’11”, 194 lbs.]

**TRADE Number Five of Five to end the FIRST ROUND**
Similar to last year, Minnesota traded its #40 pick in the 2nd round and #108 pick in the 4th round to Seattle to move up to the #32 pick at the bottom of the 1st round.  The Seahawks therefore ended up with no first round pick.

#32 MINNESOTA QB Teddy BRIDGEWATER (Louisville)
Bridgewater at one time was being considered the favorite as the #1 overall pick in the draft.  Evidently, some of his weaknesses were exposed in the draft process (e.g., his Pro Day was a disaster).  He is 6’2”, 214 lbs. and still needs to get thicker, but is tough both mentally and physically.  He will contend for the starting job with Matt Cassel (and maybe even Christian Ponder).
TEAMS WITH NO PICKS IN FIRST ROUND

SEATTLE
The Seahawks had the #32 pick, but traded down to #40 and then down again to #45.  Their first pick, a mid-second rounder, was speedy WR Paul Richardson out of Colorado.  He’s considered too slight right now at 6’0-3/8” and 175 lbs. and has average hands, but he is young and still developing.

WASHINGTON
The ‘Skins originally had the second pick of the 2nd round (#34 overall), but traded down to #47 to get an extra pick in the 3rd round from Dallas (#78 overall).
With their first pick of the draft, Washington “reached” (a projected 4th rounder) for LB Trent Murphy out of Stanford.  Also, it seems they had bigger needs, but at least Murphy is versatile, a hard worker, and a nasty 6’5”, 250 pounder on the field.

INDIANAPOLIS
The Colts stayed with their scheduled first pick at #59 in the 2nd round and selected offensive lineman Jack Mewhort out of Ohio State.  He is versatile (could play either tackle or guard), but is projected for 2014 to likely be one of the starting guards.

SUMMARY and MINUTIA FROM THE FIRST ROUND

THIRTY draftees attended the draft in New York, by invitation only.  Each of the players (and their entourages) got to hang out in the “green room” until they were selected by a team.  21 of the 30 invitees (70%) were selected in the first round.  The last man to be sitting in the green room was Marcus Martin, center out of USC, who was drafted #70 overall (3rd round) by San Francisco on Friday night.

BREAKDOWN BY HIGH SCHOOL RECRUITING RANKINGS

Following is a breakdown of 2014 first-round draft choices (32 picks) based on how they were ranked coming out of high school:

5 star                 4        (#1 Clowney, #4 Watkins, #21, and #29 picks in the 2014 draft)
4 star               13
3 star               12
2 star                 3        (#5 Mack, #24, and #30 picks in the 2014 draft)

Comment: almost half (47%) of this year’s 1st round draft picks were only labeled as “3-star” or “2-star” coming out of high school. 


BY POSITION

The first round of the draft was spread out pretty well, except that for the 2nd straight year there were no running backs selected in the first round.
Following is a breakdown, and comparison to last year’s draft breakdown

                   Position           2014 1st Rd     2013 1st Rd

                        QB                   3                      1
                        WR                  5                      3                      (record is seven)
                        RB                   0                      0
                        TE                   1                      1
                        OL                   5                      9                     
                        DL                   5                      7
                        LB                    4                      4
                        DB                   9*                     7          *(9 is all-time record; includes 4 safeties)

Tallying up those numbers, the 1st round had 14 offensive and 18 defensive players selected in both 2014 and 2013.

Three teams picked QB’s in the first round: JAX, MIN, and CLE.
All three teams had selected a QB in the first round of either the 2011 or 2012 NFL Drafts.
Ugly!  All three teams missed the first time; hopefully at least one (Vikes) will not miss this year.
Jacksonville had selected Blaine Gabbert (Missouri) with the #10 overall pick in the 2011 draft.
Minnesota had selected Christian Ponder (FSU) with the #12 overall pick in the 2011 draft.
Cleveland had selected Brandon Weeden (OK.St) with the #22 overall pick in the 2012 draft.

BY CONFERENCE

The breakdown of first round picks by conference was:

                        SEC                11        (the record is 12—SEC 2013 & ACC 2006)
                        ACC                  5
                        AAC                  4        (the old “Big East”, now the “American”)
                        Big 10                4
                        PAC 12             3
                        Big XII   2
                        MAC                  2       
                        Independent      1        (Notre Dame)

Texas A&M and Louisville (“Say What?!!?) both had three players drafted in the first round to lead all individual schools.

The SEC has had 21 first-rounders in the last two years combined, and the next best conference has had 9.  This really stinks.

MORE DRAFT - 2ND ROUND and 3RD ROUND (Friday night, 4+ hours )

There were so many trades (at least 10) in the second round that neither ESPN nor NFL Network reported all of the details (weak coverage, in my humble opinion).  NFL Network did a better job than ESPN (“Especially Sinful Pump-it-Up Network”).
Anyway, it was an especially exciting 2nd (and even 3rd round), since there were so many good players still available. Each team had 7 minutes to make their pick during the 2nd and 3rd rounds on Friday night, and then 5 minutes for the 4th through 7th rounds on Saturday.

On Thursday night, after Round 1, Buffalo traded WR Stevie Johnson to SF for a conditional pick depending on productivity (2015 3rd or 4th rounder).  This was made possible when the Bills traded up to get WR Sammy Watkins in the first round.

The first running back was selected in the 2nd round at pick #54, the latest an RB had ever been chosen (the record was broken last year with an RB not selected until pick #37 – Giovani Bernard).  This year, Tennessee picked up Bishop Sankey (UW), and then at pick #55 Cincinnati selected LSU’s Jeremy Hill, followed soon thereafter with pick #57 by San Francisco – Carlos Hyde from Ohio State.  Those 3 were the highest projected RB’s in the draft, with due respect to Charles Sims (W.VA), Tre Mason (AUB), Terrance West (Towson), Jerick McKinnon (Georgia Southern), and Dri Archer (Kent State) who were drafted in the 3rd round.

And to put a damper on Cleveland’s euphoria after the Johnny “Football” Manziel pick in the first round, it was reported that the Brown’s stellar young wide receiver Josh Gordon (2013 season: #1 in receiving yards at 1,646 and #1 in average yards per catch 18.9) could miss the whole 2014 season on his third failed drug test.  I believe that suspension is still pending appeal.  With that news, Cleveland would surely be looking for a WR in the draft, right?  (the Browns ended up not selecting any WR’s in the 2014 Draft).

2nd and 3rd ROUND WRAP-UP

BY POSITION

The 2ND and 3RD rounds of the draft were skewed toward the offense 43 picks vs. defense 25 picks.
Following is a breakdown, and comparison to last year’s draft:

                        2nd/3rd              2nd/3rd
Position           2014                2013

                        QB                   2+0=2              1+1=2
                        WR                  7+3=10            3+5=8
                        RB                   3+5=8              5+1=6
                        TE                   3+3=6              3+2=5
                        OL                   6+11=17          1+6=7              more picked in 1st round last year
                        DL                   5+7=12            4+5=9
                        LB                    4+3=7              6+4=10
                        DB                   2+4=6              7+11=18          more picked in 1st round this year

There were 22 offensive linesmen selected in the first three rounds of the 2014 draft, which is tied for the most all-time.
There were 12 wide receivers selected in the first two rounds, an all-time record.
After three rounds, 23 SEC players were selected out of the 100 picks.
BY TEAM – THE TOP 150 (part way through the 4th round)

Following are the number of players from each college team that were selected at the top of the NFL Draft (Top 150):

                        FSU                 7
                        ND                   6
                        LSU                 5
                        ALA                 5
                        Ohio State       5
                        Clemson          4
                        Louisville         4
                        UNC                4
                        UCLA              4

MORE DRAFT – 4th ROUND through 7TH ROUND (Saturday, 7+ hours )

4TH ROUND HIGHLIGHTS (Picks #101 through #140)

At #120 overall, Arizona picked up a developmental QB in Logan Thomas out of Virginia Tech, with all of the physical skills at 6’6”, 250 lbs.  He’s raw, but will be able to sit behind QB Carson Palmer for 1 or 2 years.

At #123 overall, Kansas City picked up Oregon RB De’Anthony Thomas to replace departed Dexter McCluster.

The Houston Texans finally grabbed a QB: Tom Savage out of Pittsburgh at #135 overall.
He’s another big dude at 6’5”, 240 lbs. and has pro-style experience.

Round 4 had a huge disparity in position picks: CB’s 10, safeties 3, RB’s 6 and WR’s 5, leaving only 16 other picks.

After four rounds, the ACC conference has had the most players picked.

5TH ROUND HIGHLIGHTS (Picks #141 through #176)

23 wide receivers had been picked through the first five rounds.

QB Aaron Murray (Georgia) was selected by Kansas City with the #163 overall pick.  At 6’0-1/2”, 207 lbs., he is short and has a relatively weak arm and tore an ACL in 2013, but he presumably still has potential, as he is an accurate thrower.

QB A.J. “Mr. Confidence” McCarron was selected by Cincinnati with the #164 overall pick.  At 6’3”, 224 lbs. and a winning record at Alabama, he expected to be selected in the first or second round.  Supposedly, he rubbed teams “the wrong way” in his interviews before the draft, presenting himself as too cocky (per the Bengals’ GM, it didn’t bother them).
6TH ROUND HIGHLIGHTS (Picks #177 through #215)

At #178, the Tennessee Titans selected QB Zack Mettenberger (LSU), with prototypical size at 6’5”, 224 lbs.
He had a knee injury in 2013 and has an ongoing back injury and supposedly submitted a diluted urine sample prior to the draft.

At #183, Chicago selected QB David Fales (San Jose State).
At #186, Washington selected RB Lache Seastrunk (Baylor), and he’s being compared to last year’s rookie “sensation” Giovani Bernard.
At #191, the first and only punter was drafted by Chicago – Pat O’Donnell out of Miami of Florida.
At #194, Baltimore selected QB Keith Wenning out of Ball State.
At #213, the NY Jets (unable to stabilize the QB situation) drafted QB Tajh Boyd (Clemson).
At #214, the STL Rams selected QB Garrett Gilbert (SMU, transfer from Texas).  He is 6’4”, 220 lbs. and is the son of former 8-year NFL QB Gale Gilbert.
After the Gilbert pick, 14 quarterbacks had been selected in the 2014 Draft.

7TH ROUND HIGHLIGHTS (Picks #216 through #256)

The only two placekickers selected in the 2014 NFL Draft were back-to-back picks at #228 and #229 overall.
Zach Hocker out of Arkansas was selected by Washington, and he has a powerful leg (65-yard FG range).
He was closely followed by Nate Freese out of Boston College, who was selected by Detroit.

Mr. Irrelevant is the last pick in the draft.  This year the honoree was safety Lonnie Ballentine out of Memphis.

But the big story of the 7th round and for the third day of the draft was the 249th overall pick by the STL Rams of DE Michael Sam (Missouri), the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL.  It should be a good fit for him in St. Louis, but he still has to make the team to be able to play for the Rams in the NFL.  He is likely to be a situational player as a pass rusher on 3rd downs, at least to start out.  He is 6’2”, 261 lbs., and has a good first step, but is still just a one-dimensional edge rusher at this point.
This one pick in the last round of the draft, with only seven players remaining to be selected, created numerous post-draft discussions and reactions, taking the heat off of Johnny Manziel for the moment.


SUMMARY OF OVERALL DRAFT – ALL SEVEN ROUNDS

MEL KIPER’S DRAFT GRADES – 5/11/14

Grade  Teams
A          SF, JAX
A-        STL, HOU, PIT
B+       TB, PHI, OAK
B          SD, NYJ, NYG, MIA, GB, DAL, CIN, BAL, AZ
B-        MIN, KC, DET, CLE, CHI, ATL
C+       WSH, TEN, SEA, NOR, DEN
C         NE, CAR
C-        BUF
D+       IND

Mere speculation, but roughly the top half got B or better, and the bottom half got B- or worse.
Five teams had good drafts, per Mel; four teams had weak drafts.
The Fugitive says: MIN messed up the first round, but did OK after that.

TRADES DURING THE DRAFT THAT CARRY OVER TO 2015

Cleveland        Gets extra 1st and 4th rounders next year in trade down with Buffalo
                                    Also got 6th rounder from Baltimore to let Ravens get 2014 7th round pick
San Fran         Got 4th rounder from Denver, who picked up WR Cory Latimer (Indiana)
Denver                        Got 5th rounder from Chicago, who picked up a safety in the 4th round
Buffalo                        Got 5th rounder from Tampa, who picked up a 5th round OT
Conditional pick:
Philadelphia     Traded RB Bryce Brown to BUF for one of: 2015 3rd rounder or 2016 3rd or 4th rounder

BY CONFERENCE

The breakdown of picks by conference for the overall draft was:

SEC                 49       
ACC                42
PAC 12            34
Big 10              30
Big XII             17
MW                 16       
AAC                12        (the old “Big East”, now the “American”)
C-USA               9
MAC                  8
Independent        9        (Notre Dame 8, BYU 1)
Sun Belt             4       
FCS                 19 
Div II                 7

Most draftees by any one team: LSU with 9.
The University of Texas had zero draft picks this year, the first time since before World War II that has happened.

ODDITIES IN THE DRAFT

Overall, there were 53 defensive backs selected out of 256 total picks, or 20.7%.  This partially reflects the evolution of the NFL into becoming more of a “passing” league.

NY GIANTS:   All 7 of their picks have a common thread – each selection was a player who was a team captain on their college team.

PHILLY:          All 6 picks were college graduates; this is a priority for HC Chip Kelly

CINCY:           The Bengals traded up in the draft for the first time in 12 years (from #123 to #111) to select OC Russell Bodine (UNC) in the 4th round (he was the bench press winner at the NFL Combine, and I’m sure that’s why they picked him up).
            Cincinnati had only traded up 3 times in team history.

ST. LOUIS:     Drafted safety Mo Alexander in the 4th round.  Why odd?
He was a janitor at the Edward Jones Dome, the Rams home stadium, two years ago working in his hometown while he was suspended from his Utah State team for fighting with a teammate.  He was reinstated and had a good 2013 year at USU.

UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS (not selected in 2014 NFL Draft)

I will have to address this mess later.  NFL teams have significant interest in undrafted players this year, since the quality of potential draftees this year was greater this year.  That is partially because 98 underclassmen declared for the draft in 2014, whereas the greatest number previously was only 73 (in 2013).  And, 36 of the 98 early entrants did not get selected in this year’s 7-round draft process.  Wow, that’s a huge percentage (37%).

Just as an example, following are a few undrafted free agent pickups:
Denver is bringing in RB Kapri Bibbs (Colorado State); how ‘bout that, E of FC?
Seattle is bringing in QB Keith Price (UW)
Pittsburgh is bringing in QB Brendon Kay (CIN)

And some good players were not drafted based on off-field “issues”, such as:
                        LB Max Bullough (Mich.St) suspended for Rose Bowl game [Houston picked up]
                        DT Anthony Johnson (LSU) failed drug test at Combine
                        CB Loucheiz Purifoy (FL) drug involvement [IND Colts picked up]
                        CB Marcus Roberson (FL) suspension [St. Louis picked up]

I’ll have to give you a more comprehensive list later.

FOOTBALL QUIZ QUESTIONS

QUESTION #1:  Florida State won the 2013 national title last year, and had only one player drafted in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.  In what year did the national champion last have zero players drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft the following year?

QUESTION #2:  In what year was the NFL Draft first televised?
BONUS QUESTION: Who was the #1 overall pick that year?
HINT: He was a Heisman Trophy winning running back out of Oklahoma.

ANSWER #1:
2002-Ohio State.

ANSWER #2:
1980, the inaugural year of ESPN – the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.
The 1978 Heisman Trophy Winner was Billy Sims, who played for the Detroit Lions until 1984 when a knee injury ended his career.

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