Saturday, May 9, 2015

NFL DRAFT RECAP AND SOME OTHER STUFF

FROM THE DESK OF THE “FUGITIVE” COMMISSIONER

 Hello Football Fans,

Attached is a summary of the 2015 NFL Draft including some obscure and hopefully interesting facts and figures.  



I like the Quiz Question, and you may be able to get the answer (or most of it) this time.

Enjoy,

The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL



The 50th annual pro football draft was conducted at the Auditorium Theater in downtown Chicago from Thursday, April 30th through Saturday, May 2nd.  And for the first time ever, part of the draft was held outside, as Rounds 4 through 7 on Saturday were conducted across the street from the Auditorium Theater in Grant Park near the gorgeous Buckingham Fountain.  The weather was beautiful throughout the weekend, and a throng of fans showed up to check out the happenings. 
 

Thursday night inside the theater was rather anticlimactic, as the hype surrounding a potential trade of the #2 pick in the draft dominated the first round speculation and nothing materialized.  One thought was that PHI Eagles’ head coach Chip Kelly would try to move up from the #20 pick to #2 in order to grab his former QB at Oregon; that turned out to be much too expensive for the Eagles and never came close to fruition [supposedly it would have taken two 1st rounders, a 3rd rounder, DT Fletcher Cox, and other players that could have included “new” QB Sam Bradford].  Another rumor had Chicago trying to move up from #7 and dangling their current QB Jay Cutler as trade bait; not sure that was ever very realistic.  Cleveland had two first round picks to dangle and have a big question mark on their roster at QB, but the price was probably still too expensive to get up to the #2 spot.  And rumors of San Diego dumping Philip Rivers to move up to select Mariota was probably never more than an ill-conceived rumor.
As it turned out, the Tennessee Titans kept the second pick and selected QB Marcus Mariota themselves (see lead-in pic, page 1). 

There ended up being only two trades in the first round, and both were relatively minor deals.  In each of the previous two drafts, there had been five trades in the first round.

BEFORE THE DRAFT


Before the 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 (and in parentheses, the number of actual picks each team made during the draft after maneuvering):

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

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

NOR Saints      Picks #13 and #31      Got #31 pick from SEA in TE Graham trade
CLE Browns     Picks #12 and #19      Got #19 pick from BUF re: 2014 trade

BUF Bills         no picks          Traded pick to get WR Sammy Watkins in 2014 draft
SEA ‘Hawks     no picks          Picked up TE Jimmy Graham in offseason for 1st rounder  

NFL DRAFT – FIRST ROUND (Thursday night, 3.5 hours)


On Thursday night, only the first round of the draft was conducted (and it lasted 3½ hours).  Each team had 10 minutes to make its pick.

The Chicago crowd on hand didn’t seem to “boo” Commissioner Roger Goodell as badly as the New York fans in the last several years.  But, the Commish got a mildly steady stream of “boos” each time he took the stage.  When the New York Jets’ #6 pick was approaching, the Jets’ fans in the audience were quite vocal, but otherwise did not have the impact as in prior years in NYC.  The Bears’ fans were somewhat subdued overall, but did come alive when former LB Dick Butkus approached the podium.  Overall, there appeared to be a broader base of fandom – Packers, Colts, Vikings, and Rams in addition to the Bears’ contingent.

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

THE 1st ROUND PICKS

Keep in mind that historically only about 50% of the first round draftees actually are “successful” in the NFL.

The CBSSports betting odds on the first pick of the draft were lopsided (of course, these odds varied wildly among bookmakers and changed based on the latest rumors):
QB Jameis Winston (FSU)      1-to-10 odds (-1000)
QB Marcus Mariota (Oregon) 7-to 2 odds (+350)
Everyone else (“The Field)      12-to-1 odds (+1200)

And the top selection was as expected:

#1 TAMPA BAY QB Jameis WINSTON (Florida State), 2013 Heisman Trophy winner
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, first-round draftees are pretty much slotted into specific contracts for their first four years; Winston had already signed his NFL contract with Tampa Bay by Friday at noon; 4 years, $25.35MM with $16.7MM guaranteed.


The TB Buccaneers have made the #1 overall pick in the draft several times in the past:
1976      DE Lee Roy Selmon
1977      RB Ricky Bell
1986      RB Bo Jackson (never played for the Bucs; played baseball early in post-college career)
1987      QB Vinny Testaverde
2015      Winston has plenty of on-field talent as a pocket passer, but will need some guidance off the
field in order to be successful in the league.  We’ll have to wait and see whether the calculated risk by the Bucs pays off.  He is expected to start immediately – 2015 Week #1 vs. Tennessee.

Since Lovie Smith joined the Bucs as head coach before the 2014 NFL Draft, 12 of his 13 draft picks have been on the offensive side of the ball; only the Bucs’ 2015 fourth round pick was a defensive player.

#2 TENNESSEEQB Marcus MARIOTA (Oregon)
After all of the hype, no team traded up to get the #2 overall pick, and the Titans selected the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner.  He will need to adjust somewhat to the NFL game, but is still expected to start immediately.  If that’s the case, the #1 and #2 draft picks will likely face each other in Week #1.

This year’s draft marked the sixth time that quarterbacks were selected with the top two picks.  But it was the first time in modern draft history (since 1970) that two HEISMAN TROPHY winners went #1-#2.
And once again, you can speculate as to which of these two rookie QB’s will be successful in the NFL, since there is about a 50% success rate for QB’s drafted in the first round.  Back in 2012, it was Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III – Luck is clearly already successful; RG3 was the Offensive Rookie of the Year, but injuries and then mediocre production thereafter have presumably derailed his career.

#3 JACKSONVILLE DE/OLB Dante FOWLER Jr. (Florida)
Fowler was a highly coveted player, an edge rusher with versatility and also plays well against the run.

#4 OAKLANDWR Amari COOPER (Alabama)
Cooper was viewed as more polished and ready for immediate NFL success than the next two wide receivers in the draft, even though his upside might not be as great.  He has bigger hands than even the bigger, taller top WR prospects.  Raiders QB Derek Carr is happy.

** FIRST Mini-SURPRISE OF THE NIGHT **
#5 WASHINGTONOT Brandon SCHERFF (IOWA)
The ‘Skins want to bring back an attitude of toughness on the team overall; maybe the passionate Scherff is the start of the next offensive line generation of “Hogs”.  He is also versatile; could play right tackle, guard, or center immediately.

#6 NY JETSDT Leonard Williams (USC)
Williams was arguably the best player available in the draft this year; he fell to #6 and the Jets were more than happy to add to an already stellar defensive line.  The Jets have selected a defensive player in the first round for SEVEN years in a row (four defensive linemen).

#7 CHICAGOWR Kevin WHITE (West Virginia)
White is 6’3” and 215 pounds and fast; he blossomed in his senior year and had become a top-flight prospect as the draft approached.  He has plenty of upside potential, and should help fill the void created when the Bears traded Brandon Marshall.


#8 ATLANTAOLB/DE Vic BEASLEY (Clemson)
The Falcons need a lot of help defensively, and were probably looking for the best “D” player available.  Beasley showed well at the Combine; he’s mainly a pass rushing specialist and needs work in coverage and the run game.  Two of his competitors for this spot had marijuana mishaps leading up to the draft and may have been eliminated from Atlanta’s draft board (Picks #23-Shane Ray and #60-Randy Gregory).

** FIRST “REACH” OF THE NIGHT (a mini-reach) **
#9 NY GIANTSOT Ereck FLOWERS (Miami.FL)
Flowers is considered “raw”, but with significant upside.  Mel Kiper had him being drafted in the 20’s of the first round, so this wasn’t a big reach by the Giants.  They evidently considered him better than OT Andrus Peat, who was drafted at #13 overall.  Flowers has issues with protection on the outside, so will likely begin the season starting at guard or maybe right tackle, but will eventually move to left tackle if he progresses.

#10 ST. LOUISRB Todd GURLEY (Georgia)
Gurley is the first running back selected in the first round in three years and he is coming off of ACL surgery.  If he’s healthy, he will be a “beast” similar to Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch (maybe better).  The Rams have stated they will only insert him into the lineup when he is 100%.  St. Louis could have gone several different directions with this pick, so it was an eye-opening selection.

#11 MINNESOTACB Trae WAYNES (Michigan State)
The Vikings needed help with the back seven of their defense, so they selected the top cornerback available (according to many pundits, but not all).  Waynes is tall with length, but needs to build bulk and strength.  Many of his CB competitors in the draft had similar issues (or worse overriding problems) heading into the NFL.
Note: RB Adrian Peterson didn’t get traded before or during the draft; maybe he’ll stay with the Vikes.

#12 CLEVELANDNT Danny Shelton (Washington)
Shelton is one wide and strong individual (as are many nose tackles) at 6’2”, 339 lbs.; he is a consistent run stuffer that the Browns definitely need to help shore up their porous run defense.  He was a three-time PAC-12 All-Academic 1st teamer.
He is Samoan and dressed in his native garb (“lava-lava”, I believe it’s called) for the draft.  When Shelton came on stage to meet the Commissioner, he bear-hugged Goodell and picked him completely off the ground in celebration.  The crowd loved it.

#13 NEW ORLEANSOT Andrus PEAT (Stanford)
Peat is an imposing left tackle but needs to improve on his foot work skills.  He has all of the measurables at 6’7” and 313 lbs. and long arms.  He was a true junior coming out early, so his youth may keep him from being productive immediately and he will want to avoid the “soft” label in the NFL.

#14 MIAMIWR DeVante PARKER (Louisville)
Parker was the consensus third best wide receiver in the draft, and he was the 3rd WR selected.  He has similar measurables to Kevin White, who was drafted at #7 overall, but he may be a fraction slower.



** FIRST TRADE – only a TWO-SPOT MOVE **
San Francisco traded down two spots to #17 and received a 4th round pick and a 2016 fifth round pick from the SD Chargers; nice value for the Niners.

#15 SAN DIEGORB Melvin GORDON (Wisconsin)
The Chargers feared that Houston at #16 may take Gordon, so they traded up to make sure he ended up in San Diego.  He had an amazing college career, using both quickness and size (6’1”, 215).
Gordon was a teammate of Trae Waynes (drafted #11 overall by the Vikings) at Mary D. Bradford High School in Kenosha, WI before they both graduated in 2011.

#16 HOUSTONCB Kevin JOHNSON (Wake Forest)
Johnson was the second cornerback to be selected and may be more well-rounded than Waynes picked at #11 overall.  He has shown a willingness to support the run, and needs to add some bulk to help in that endeavor.

#17 SAN FRANCISCODE Arik ARMSTEAD (Oregon)
The 49’ers traded down, got two extra picks, and still picked up the player they were targeting for the first round.  Armstead was a basketball player until his junior season as an OU Duck, so is still technically “raw”.  He is 6’7” and 292 lbs., but doesn’t have the quickness and/or technique to be an imposing pass rusher right now.  He has tons of upside potential.

#18 KANSAS CITYCB Marcus PETERS (Washington)
Arguably the top talent at cornerback in this draft, Peters was thrown off his UW football team and thus was considered a risk (“not coachable” or “high opinion of self”).  Chiefs’ HC Andy Reid supposedly got comfortable after talking with a few coaches that worked with Peters previously.

#19 CLEVELANDOL Cameron ERVING (Florida State)
Erving is a versatile offensive lineman who could play any position on the front line.  The Browns need a right tackle currently, so would expect him to be a starter at that spot in Week #1.

#20 PHILADELPHIAWR Nelson AGHOLOR (USC)
Agholor is presumably versatile enough to fill the void created when former Eagles’ wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was lost in free agency.  He will be given every opportunity to flourish in HC Chip Kelly’s offense.

#21 CINCINNATIOT Cedric OGBUEHI (Texas A&M)
Ogbuehi had at one time in 2014 been projected as a future Top 5 draft pick, but he suffered a torn ACL in the Aggies’ bowl game and has back injury issues as well.  He may be a year away from being productive for the Bengals.

#22 PITTSBURGHOLB Alvin “Bud” DUPREE (Kentucky)
The Steelers have been decimated in the secondary (and “Back 7” overall) mainly due to retirements; plus, they lost defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.  The rebuilding process needed to begin, and they got a potentially big piece in the puzzle when Dupree dropped into their lap at the #22 spot.  He will likely fill the void created when Jason Worilds retired.

** SECOND (and last) TRADE OF FIRST ROUND **
Detroit traded down five spots to #28 and received a 5th round pick, a 2016 fifth round pick, and OG Manny Ramirez from the DEN Broncos.

#23 DENVEROLB/DE Shane RAY (Missouri)
Ray was busted for marijuana possession on the Monday before the draft and supposedly has a lingering foot injury.  Nevertheless, the Broncos traded up five spots to get him.  With Wade Phillips as the new DC, he will likely switch to a 3-4 scheme and will need another edge rusher to complement Demarcus Ware and Von Miller.  Ray only started one year at Mizzou, as he played behind Michael Sam (2014 7th round; SEC defensive player of year) and Kony Ealy (2014 2nd round).

#24 ARIZONAOT D.J. HUMPHRIES (Florida)
Humphries will be an immediate starter at right tackle.

** Another mini-reach **
#25 CAROLINAOLB Shaq THOMPSON (Washington)
Thompson is the third UW Huskie drafted in the first round already (the only school with 3 first round draftees).  He played both RB and LB in college; in the NFL, he will be limited to playing the weak-side LB position in a 4-3 scheme (I’m told), and needs to work on his defensive skill set.  Alternatively, he does have the talent to switch to RB at the pro level. 

#26 BALTIMOREWR Breshad PERRIMAN (Central Florida)
Perriman is a good-sized speedster at 6’2” and 212 lbs.; his father was a 2nd round pick in the 1988 NFL Draft by New Orleans.
At UCF Breshad had lapses in concentration and dropped some easy throws, but if he resolves this flaw he will excel with the Ravens, who would like him to replace departed WR Torrey Smith.

#27 DALLASCB Byron JONES (Connecticut)
Maybe Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones is taking over the philosophy of Oakland’s Al Davis (RIP), who thought speed alone translated to success in the NFL.  Byron Jones (no relation!) was the star of the NFL Combine, putting up impressive numbers in all of the drills.  Whether he is a stellar football player at the NFL level remains to be determined.

#28 DETROITOG Laken TOMLINSON (Duke)
The Lions traded down five spots to pick up a 5th rounder and a 2016 5th rounder and also received OG Manny Ramirez from the DEN Broncos.
Tomlinson should be the opening day starter at left guard for Detroit.

#29 INDIANAPOLISWR Phillip DORSETT (Miami.FL)
The Colts are being criticized for selecting this type of wide receiver that they already had on their roster in T.Y. Hilton.  Dorsett is a smallish WR at 5’10” and 185 lbs. with speed to burn.  If QB Andrew Luck can utilize both of these guys at the same time, look out AFC South.

** A MAJOR REACH?? **
#30 GREEN BAYFS Damarious RANDALL (Arizona State)
Lindy’s Sports Draft magazine projected Randall as a 6th round draftee (Hub Arkush projected him to go undrafted), but he had a great NFL Combine.  He didn’t play football for his first two years out of high school, but developed into a 1st team All-PAC12 performer in his senior year.  He has cornerback size with a free safety skill set (according to Lindy’s); the Packers obviously saw more potential in Randall than did other pundits.

#31 NEW ORLEANSILB Stephone ANTHONY (Clemson)
Anthony is very athletic and will be an immediate starter for the Saints; his biggest weakness may be lateral speed.  He played with #8 overall draft pick Vic Beasley at Clemson.

#32 NEW ENGLANDDT Malcom BROWN (Texas)
The draftniks are generally calling the Patriots’ pick a steal at the bottom of the first round.
Brown was highly productive as an interior lineman for the Longhorns.

TEAMS WITH NO PICKS IN FIRST ROUND


The BUFFALO Bills’ first selection was Pick#50 in the 2nd round; they picked up CB Ronald DARBY (Florida State).

The SEATTLE Seahawks’ first selection was Pick#63 in the bottom of the 2nd round; they chose DE Frank CLARK (Michigan), who has major character concerns as he is currently embroiled in a domestic violence case as the accused.  The Seahawks have already taken some heat for drafting him, questioning whether the team did enough of a background check before making their draft selection.

SUMMARY and MINUTIA FROM THE FIRST ROUND

18 of the 32 picks in the first round were underclassmen.

TWENTY-SEVEN draftees attended the draft in New York.  Each of the players (and their entourages) got to hang out in the “Green Room” until they were selected by a team.  The last man sitting in the Green Room was Randy Gregory, DE/OLB out of Nebraska, who was drafted #60 overall (2nd round) by Dallas on Friday night; he had some off-field issues (failed drug test at Combine; mental health “issues” which may have led to him missing three scheduled visits with NFL teams prior to the draft).

Projected 1st rounder La’el Collins, offensive tackle out of LSU, made the trip to Chicago for the draft.  But later, he felt compelled to leave before the draft began with regard to the investigation of the murder of his ex-girlfriend who was 8 months pregnant (the baby was delivered, but later died).  Collins wanted to clear his name before being drafted, and told teams through his agent that he did not want to be drafted if not selected by the end of the 3rd round; and no team drafted him.  He is now an undrafted free agent and is allowed to sign with any team (although he won’t get the kind of contract he otherwise would have gotten as a 1st round pick).  More later.

BREAKDOWN BY POSITION

Half of the picks in the first round of the draft were used to select players in the “trenches” (OL and DL including OLB pass rushers).  And two running backs were selected in the top half of the first round.
Following is a breakdown, and comparison to last year’s draft breakdown:

Position           2015 1st Rd      2014 1st Rd

              QB                   2                      3
              WR                  6                      5          Record is seven
              RB                   2                      0          2-year streak of no RB’s is broken
              TE                   0                      1
              OL                   7                      5                     
              DE/OLB          6                      5          Mainly “Pass rusher” group
              DT/NT            3                      3
ILB                  1                      1
              DB/S               5                      9*        *Record set last year 

Tallying up those numbers, the 1st round had 17 offensive and 15 defensive players selected in 2015 (14 offense & 18 defense in 2014).
After the first two picks at the top of the 1st round, no other quarterbacks were selected in the first round.

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS
The 2014 National Champion Ohio State Buckeyes had zero players selected in the 1st round.  The last time that happened was in the 2003 NFL Draft, and guess which team had won the 2002 NCAA title?
Yep, you guessed it (or knew it)!  The 2002 champion was the OSU Buckeyes, who had zero players selected in the first round of the 2003 NFL draft.

FIRST ROUND BY CONFERENCE

The breakdown of first round picks by conference was:

              PAC 12             9        The record is 12 (SEC 2013 & ACC 2006)
ACC                  9
SEC                   7       
              Big 10              3                     
              Big XII              2
AAC                  2       
The Washington Huskies out of the PAC-12 had three players drafted in the first round, more than any other school (two each for FSU, Oregon, Florida, USC, Clemson, and Miami).

FRIDAY NIIGHT DRAFT - 2ND and 3RD ROUNDS (4+ hours )


There were six trades in the second round and more trade activity in the third round that provided for an especially exciting Friday evening.  Plenty of excellent players were still available. Each team had 7 minutes to make their pick during the 2nd and 3rd rounds (and then 5 minutes for the 4th through 7th rounds on Saturday).

Just before the start of the 2nd round, the NY Football Giants traded up 7 spots with Tennessee to select safety Landon Collins (ALA) at #33 overall and fill a need for them.  In return, the Titans picked up extra 4th and 7th round picks.

2ND ROUND

Friday night started again with an intro by Commissioner Goodell, and he was roundly “boo’d” by a rougher crowd than the Thursday night bunch; and once again there were boo’s every time he walked on stage.  This night, however, he brought out a famous player from the NFL team to announce that team’s pick of the 2nd round.
At Pick #39, Bears’ Hall of Famer ILB Dick Butkus strode out with Goodell and received a thunderous roar before announcing Chicago’s 2nd round selection (NT Eddie Goldman – FSU).
At Pick #50, Bills’ Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly announced Buffalo’s pick (CB Ronald Darby – FSU) and thanked everyone for their support over the last year as he battled cancer; he received a standing ovation from the crowd.
At Pick #53, former Bengals’ RB Ickey Woods (1988-1991, two knee injuries) performed the “Ickey Shuffle” before announcing Cincinnati’s selection (OT Jake Fisher – Oregon).
At Pick #59, former Broncos’ WR Rick Upchurch (1975-1983) was introduced and then before announcing Denver’s pick, informed everyone of his current battle with leukemia and thanked all of his supporters; he received a rousing standing O.  Denver’s 2nd round selection was OT Ty Sambrailo (Colorado State), a left tackle that needs to build strength.  Upchurch started his college career at Indian Hills Community College (campuses at Ottumwa, IA and Centerville, IA). He dated and was briefly engaged to the former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the 1970’s.

At Pick #35, Oakland selected DE Mario Edwards Jr. (FSU), who announced he didn’t want to play the 3-technique DT position; he weighed 310 pounds in August, and then 272 lbs. at his Pro Day in March.  He wants to play on the outside.
At Pick #36, Jacksonville selected the third RB of the draft – T.J. Yeldon (Alabama).
At Pick #37, the NY Jets selected the first Ohio State player – WR Devin Smith.
At Pick #40, Tennessee rolled the dice and selected Dorial Green-Beckham, who is a huge wide receiver at 6’5” and 237 lbs.  He has character issues; was kicked off Missouri team, transferred to Oklahoma and never played for the Sooners.  DGB needs to mature; off-field issues are related mainly to drugs.

At Pick #46, San Francisco selected safety Jaquiski Tartt out of FCS Samford (Homewood, AL, suburb of Birmingham).  He had been projected as a 3rd round pick by many pundits.  His best friend is the 49’ers 1st round draft pick from last year in SS Jimmy Ward.  Both players attended Davidson High School in Mobile, AL.

At Pick #47, Philadelphia gave up two 5th round picks to move up 5 spots to select safety/CB Eric Rowe (Utah); since Chip Kelly (formerly of PAC-12 Oregon) became the HC last year, the Eagles have selected nine PAC-12 players out of their 17 picks (53%).

At Pick #55, Baltimore traded up 3 spots to move ahead of Pittsburgh and select the first tight end of the draft – TE Maxx Williams (Minnesota).  It was the longest wait to hear a TE announced at the start of a draft since 1994 (pick #61).

At Pick #60, Dallas selected the last player still sitting in the Green Room, DE/OLB Randy Gregory out of Nebraska.  He had been projected as a Top 5 draftee prior to his off-field question marks that did not begin until the NFL Combine in February of 2015. 

3RD ROUND

At Pick #75 the third QB finally came off the board.  New Orleans selected Garrett Grayson out of Colorado State, who will learn behind starter Drew Brees for at least of couple of years.

Just before that at Pick #74, the NY Giants selected DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (UCLA); his name translates to “Peace, Love, and Joy”.

At Pick #78 New Orleans selected CB P.J. Williams (FSU), who had been busted for DUI within the last month.  He had been projected as a late 1st or 2nd round pick prior to the arrest.

At Pick #89 of the third round, the STL Rams selected QB Sean Mannion (Oregon State), the fourth quarterback chosen in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Through three rounds, there had been 43 underclassmen selected out of 99 total picks (43%).

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


For Saturday’s picks, the stage and team tables were moved outdoors into the beautiful Chicago weather (sunny, 70’s, no rain).  The picks were announced at or near each team’s facility by season ticket holders or someone otherwise connected to the team.
One of Jacksonville’s picks was announced from London.
One of Minnesota’s picks was announced by a construction worker at the site of the new stadium.

The fifth QB was selected at Pick #103 of the 4th round – Bryce Petty (Baylor), by the NY Jets; he needs some work, so isn’t likely to pose a threat to Geno Smith at the start of the 2015 season.

At Pick #108, the first fullback was selected by Tennessee – Jalston Fowler (Alabama).

At Pick #113, Philadelphia gave up its 4th round pick to Detroit, and in exchange receive the Lions 3rd round pick in 2016.  The Lions selected DT Gabe Wright (Auburn).

At Pick #120, Cincinnati selected CB Josh Shaw (USC) – remember him?  He lied about saving his nephew from drowning by jumping off a 2nd story balcony to rush to the young kid’s aid.  He broke both ankles, but he’s now healed and ready to help the Bengals.

At Pick #133 in the 4th round, Denver drafted the third offensive lineman to be selected out of the University of Florida this year – OC Max Garcia.

At Pick #138 (second pick of the 5th round), the 12th running back was selected – David Cobb out of Minnesota.

At Pick #147 Green Bay moved up 17 spots to select QB Brett Hundley (UCLA); he was the sixth QB drafted this year.

At Pick #165 of the 5th round,, San Francisco selected PUNTER Bradley Pinion (Clemson), the first and only punter/kicker chosen during the whole draft.

On the next pick, at #166 overall, New England picked up LONG SNAPPER Joe Cardona out of Navy.  Seriously, wouldn’t he still have been available in the 7th round?

At Pick #194 in the 6th round, Buffalo selected TE Nick O’Leary (FSU), Jack Nicklaus’ grandson.

At Pick #224 in the 7th round, St. Louis obtained this pick from the NY Jets in a trade to give up RB Zac Stacy, who was ticked off when the Rams selected RB Todd Gurley in the first round on Thursday night.  The STL Rams selected a LB out of Baylor, and Stacy the malcontent was ejected from the locker room faster than a negative tweet delivery.

At Pick #226 the NY Giants selected OT Bobby Hart out of Florida State, giving FSU 29 draftees in a 3-year span, the most during that stretch in the last 30 years.

At Pick #229 the first and only Notre Dame player was selected – TE Ben Koyack, by the JAX Jaguars.

The last pick of the draft at #256 overall was “Mr. Irrelevant”, TE Gerald Christian (Louisville) selected by the AZ Cardinals.

SUMMARY OF OVERALL DRAFT – ALL SEVEN ROUNDS


CBS Sports’ PETE PRISCO DRAFT GRADES

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports has been following the NFL professionally for over three decades, but his projections are just guesstimates (just as are all of the other pundits’ projections and draft grades).
For what it’s worth, following are Prisco’s draft grades for each team (plus draft grades from Sports Illustrated in parentheses), and note that Prisco’s average grade is about a B- while Sports Illustrated average grade is about a B:

Grade    Teams

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

In summary, both Jacksonville and Miami received “A” grades, while Baltimore, Houston, Minnesota, and Atlanta ended up at the top of these two projections (on average).  At the bottom end, Buffalo was rated the worst by both projections.  There was a huge difference in projection for St. Louis, presumably a reflection of the Rams’ first-round pick of RB Todd Gurley (coming off ACL surgery).

And to further illustrate the disparity of opinions about how well teams performed with their drafts, long-time draftnik Mel Kiper identifies these five teams as having had the best drafts: SEA (B- grades above), PIT (B- and B+ grades above), BAL (in agreement), WSH (B- and B grades), and NYJ (B- and B+ grades).  And Mel’s #32-ranked team: BUF (in agreement); the Bills mortgaged their draft future last year by trading up for WR Sammy Watkins during the 2014 draft.

PICKS BY POSITION

Defensive backs (CB & FS & SS)                   47
Offensive linemen (OT/OG/OC)                     43
Linebackers                                                      37
Wide receivers                                                 34
Defensive linemen – inside (DT/NT)              22
Defensive linemen – outside (DE)                  23
Running backs (RB/FB)                                   23
Tight ends                                                        18
Quarterbacks                                                      7        WOW, only seven in 256 picks
Punters                                                               1
Long snappers                                                    1

PICKS BY CONFERENCE

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

              SEC                 54        9TH year in a row with most draftees
              ACC                47
PAC 12           39
Big 10             35
              Big XII            25
              AAC                11
MW                 10       
              C-USA              6
              MAC                 4
Sun Belt            3
Independent      2        Notre Dame 1, Navy 1
              FCS/Other       20        including Missouri Valley Conference 4      
                                       
Florida State had the most draftees by any one team with 11, including at least one player at each position on offense (first time in history).  Louisville had 10 players drafted, followed by Florida with 8, then 7 for Alabama, Miami of Florida, and Oklahoma, and 6 for USC and Stanford.
The University of Tennessee had zero draft picks this year, the first time since 1963 that has happened to the Volunteers.

HALL OF FAMERS

Are first-round draft picks more likely to end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
As you would expect, yes.
Here is a breakdown of number of players having been elected:

1st round          102      [of which 13 were the #1 overall pick]
              2nd round           32     
              3rd round           21
              4th round              8
              5th round             6
              6th round             1
              7th round             9
  8th-27th rounds                          23      [one 27th rounder: #321 overall pick by NYG --
                                                     Roosevelt Brown, who entered NFL in 1953]
Undrafted rookie FA      15

No player who started his career after 1997 has been elected to the Hall (yet).

PLAYER NEWS AND OTHER NFL MINUTIA

The Miami Dolphins’ DE Dion Jordan, selected with the #3 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, has been suspended for the 2015 season after testing positive under the substance abuse program.  He had served a 4-game suspension for the same thing in 2014.  Reinstatement will require him to take up to 10 drug tests per month while suspended.  He will lose about $5.6MM in wages during his suspension.

OTHER SPORTS NEWS – WILD SATURDAY 5/4/15

KENTUCKY DERBY
As the final round of the 2015 NFL Draft was wrapping up, the first jewel in the Triple Crown races was on the clock.  The Kentucky Derby, a 1.25 mile race in Louisville, KY, has been known over the years to be quite unpredictable, significantly due to the number of horses in the race (maximum 20).  This year, two horses “scratched” late on Friday that reduced the field to 18 horses.

Over the prior 10 years, underdogs have prevailed.  Following are the average odds for winners of a few of the more popular bets at the Kentucky Derby:

Average winner odds               16.6 to 1          [$2 bet pays $35.28]
Average $2 Exacta                   Paid $1,483     Pick top 2 horses in order
Average $1 Trifecta                 Paid $10,482   Pick top 3 horses in order
Average $1 Superfecta             Paid $148,320 Pick top 4 horses in order

The 2015 Derby bucked this underdog trend as the favorite won the race.  Jockey Victor Espinosa won back-to-back Derbys, and trainer Bob Baffert won his fourth Kentucky Derby (the 4th trainer to accomplish this feat).
Winner American Pharoah was the 3-1 betting favorite and paid $7.80 on a $2 win ticket.
Runner-up Firing Line went off at 9-1 odds and paid $8.40 on a $2 “place” ticket
Dortmund was the 2nd betting favorite at 4-1 odds and paid $4.20 on a $2 “show” ticket
Fourth place Frosted at 12-1 odds rounded out the Superfecta.
These four horses were three lengths in front of the rest of the field at the finish line.

Payouts were not as astounding as the 10-year averages above, since the big underdogs did not surprise this year (winner was the favorite at 3-1, 2nd place was 9-1 fourth choice of bettors, 3rd place was second betting choice at 4-1, and 4th place was the fifth betting choice at 12-1).  The $2 Exacta paid $72.60, the $1 Trifecta paid $101, and the $1 Superfecta paid $634.10.

NBA BASKETBALL
After the Kentucky Derby, the seventh and final game of the first-round series between the #3 seed LA Clippers and #6 seed and defending NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs was played in Los Angeles.  Most agreed it was a great game as there were 31 lead changes.  Clippers’ star guard Chris Paul tweaked a hamstring during the game but came back in to finish the game; he buried the winning shot on a runner with one second remaining on the clock (the all-time record for latest winning basket in a 7th game in NBA playoffs history).

BOXING
Big money, little show.
Floyd Mayweather won a unanimous decision over the one-armed Manny Pacquiao (116-112, 116-112, 118-110) to extend his professional record to 48-0.  The fight (I am told) was a bore and a joke, with very few punishing blows connecting.  And this fight ended up in controversy, not unlike most boxing matches lately.  Pacquiao fought the bout with a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, which he did not properly disclose on his pre-fight paperwork (which by the way was signed by his team/attorney under penalty of perjury).  Lawsuits are pending, as big money was generated from the fight.  Mayweather’s payday was about $200MM and Pacquiao’s was about $80MM, as many fight fans paid the $99 pay-per-view fee to watch the fight.  Some ring-side seats were going for $130,000 or so, I’m told.
If there is a rematch (that is a disgusting thought; two over-the-hill over-35 boxers) , the fight had better be offered for free.
[The Fugitive comments: Once again, this was not the one-armed man I was looking for].

FOOTBALL QUIZ QUESTIONS

QUESTION #1:  This is astounding to me!  In the previous four years (2011-2014), one quarterback drafted OUTSIDE of the first round started all of his team’s 16 regular season games in his rookie year.  Try to name these four QB’s.





ANSWER #1:
Derek Carr (OAK; 2nd round) in 2014
Geno Smith (NYJ; 2nd round) in 2013
Russell Wilson (SEA; 3rd round) in 2012
Andy Dalton (CIN; 2nd round) in 2011
What would you project for 2015?  It sure seems the streak will be broken.  But that’s what most of us thought immediately after the draft in all of those prior years.
Here are the possibilities:
Garrett Grayson (#75 pick in 3rd round) is not likely to unseat incumbent Drew Brees in New Orleans
Sean Mannion (#89 in 3rd round) is possible for STL Rams, with Nick Foles coming into new system
Bryce Petty (#103 pick in 4th round) could possibly steal the job from shaky Jets’ incumbent Geno Smith
Brett Hundley (#147 in 5th round) will at best be backup to Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay (barring injury)
Trevor Siemian (#250 in 7th round) – who? Out of Northwestern, “competing” against Peyton Manning















































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