By John Helsley
The mocking continues, and will do so presumably right up to NFL Draft showtime.
If you’re following at home — and we all are — it’s a waste of time. Mel Kiper doesn’t know. Todd McShay doesn’t know.
Heck, if Al Davis takes a nap between now and then, and I highly recommend it considering this year’s shift to prime time, he doesn’t know who he’s going to take with the No. 8 pick.
Those war rooms are top secret. There’s no info seeping out, no matter how informed Kiper and McShay and the likes want you to think they’re in the know.
Now, it’s an informed guess. And sometimes they get it somewhat right. But so do you and I.
What, you think some dude in the Lou doesn’t realize they need somebody better than Marc Bulger to chunk the ball? And that Sam Bradford’s available?
While there’s all kinds of quotes being attributed to “one NFL general manager” and “a high-ranking AFC scout,” those talking are trying to spread misinformation as much as good information, in hopes of disguising their intentions, if they know their intentions.
We all seem to know this: by all accounts, this draft is clear and clean through the first three picks. There’s the best prospects in the draft, defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, and the potential franchise quarterback Sam Bradford.
The theory goes that if you believe in the so-called franchise quarterback, he’s worth taking No. 1. And the holder of the No. 1 pick, St. Louis, desperately needs a franchise QB, so that pick is easy. We think.
Then Suh and McCoy go, probably in that order.
And then… it’s entertainment time. Somehwere in the first round, OSU’s Russell Okung and Dez Bryant will find a pro home. And somewhere could be anywhere.
The only definites from the third pick on: Chris Berman will fall into mock shock. Kiper’s head will bob uncontrollably. McShay will grow absolutely giddy over Kiper’s dismay. And we’ll rush to talking heads stationed at various War Rooms, seeking a take on how the latest pick affects the big boards behind closed doors where nobody’s talking.
I’ve been watching this thing since its infancy, back when I parted my hair down the middle and listened to Ted Nugent on 8 Track in my Chevelle Super Sport.
It’s the same thing every year. Every year.
Even Kiper’s hair.
Yes, it’s blown up. ESPN has a knack for that. With nothing to show on a slow Tuesday night when the NBA Playoffs ruled and Major League Baseball played on the other networks, ESPN produced a grand and glossy show on the NFL schedule and tried with all their might to make it seem like a big deal.
But where the NFL Draft has been bloated by ESPN excess, the bottom line is the same as it ever was.
The teams are picking. And we — and ESPN — can only guess where.
Okung could go No. 2 to the Lions, although Kiper would consider it a reach over one of the dominant D-tackles. Bryant could land in the top 10 or slip to the latter stages, because of some supposed character questions.
We won’t project where they’re going here. Rather, we’ll project what would be the best fit for the players; the ideal place to play and succeed and win.
Okung: The Lions would be great, as Detroit seems to be adding solid pieces in its climb out from the winless nightmare of 2008. Matthew Stafford, the overall No. 1 pick a year ago, looks like a rising star and he needs somebody to protect his blind side. And Okung would find a friendly face in Detroit, with tight end and former Cowboys teammate Brandon Pettigrew already in place. Yes, it’s Detroit, but there’s an opportunity for growth.
Doesn’t, however, seem likely, since we think we know that the first three picks are clear and clean.
So, what’s the next best destination, with the big money of a high pick part of the equation? Washington, at No. 4, where coach Mike Shanahan has taken over and Donovan McNabb has landed and better days are dead ahead. Not Kansas City at No. 5, where most mock’s have Okung headed. Matt Cassell is a major question mark at QB and KC is becoming a sports siberia where winning is a pipe dream.
Bryant: The teams beyond the big three early, who need WRs — KC, Seattle, Cleveland, Oakland, Buffalo and Jacksonville – aren’t all that appealing due to lacking QB play. The Broncos at No. 11 are a popular choice. And they need a No. 1 wideout after trading Brandon Marshall. Yet even with Marshall, the offense was uninspiring.
The truth is, a slide may be the best thing for Bryant, all the way to New England at No. 22. The biggest rap on Bryant is he’s habitually late. Bryant needs a mentor. Randy Moss? No. Wes Welker could saddle up to Bryant, show him how professionals do their job in the meeting rooms and film study. And Bryant could thrive under the game’s best coach and catching balls from one of the game’s best throwers in Tom Brady.