A Little Bit Of Everything In The Big Apple

By Lloyd Vance
Updated: April 27, 2008

NFL DraftNEW YORK — Now that the anticipation, drama, and excitement of Day One of the 73rd NFL Draft is in the books, 450 media members covering the event including myself can ponder what happened.

The draft that marked the official debut of the new NFL shield logo started out predictable with all six invited players leaving the Green Room early — Did anyone really think Al Davis would not take Darren McFadden.

But then the event went back to its usual unpredictable nature. Some topics that must be talked about from Day 1 are listed below:

— Speed is Essential: With everyone always talking about speed on the field being important, the NFL applied the same standard to the draft. The event was crisp and ran with unbelievable speed. I believe the NFL has to stick with their new time restrictions that saw an almost record speed of three hours, 30 minutes for the first round, which was almost half the time of last year’s draft (six hours, eight minutes) and almost equaled the record of the 1990 draft (three hours, 24 minutes).

— Rip, Rip: That was the sound of mine and everyone’s Mock Drafts. No one can predict what will happen on Day One of the NFL Draft especially in the first round. It was fun for a little while seeing that I got the first four picks dead right. But with the trading going on later, unpredictability ruled the day. In the end I had nine out of 31 right for a respectable .290 batting average, which Phillies slugger Ryan Howard would kill for right now.

— Where are all of the receivers??: Unfortunately as predicted the this year’s receiver class had too many question marks. I kept looking at my available list heading in the last five picks and that is when it really donned on me that for the first time since 1990, there were not any receivers deemed first round worthy by the NFL. With GM’s knowing that there was second round value in this year’s group the receivers started flying off the board starting with the Rams grabbing speedy Houston receiver Donnie Avery. Bigger names Devin Thomas, James Hardy, DeSean Jackson, and Malcolm Kelly soon followed the unheralded Avery.

— Flacco and Rodgers-Cromartie represent for D1-AA: Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco (selected at No. 18 by the Baltimore Ravens) and Tennessee State cover corner Dominique Rodger-Cromartie (selected No. 16 by the Arizona Cardinals) became only the third and fourth 1-AA players drafted in the top 30 selections in the past 10 years (Joined 2000 NFL Draft selectees and former Jackson State teammates CB Rashard Anderson and WR Sylvester Morris).

— Big schools reign in round one: NFL teams know where to go to find players, BCS schools in case you didn’t know. In the first round 26 out of 32 players (84%) came from the BCS. Led by USC (three first round picks), the Pac 10 had 11 players overall selected in the first two rounds. The ACC also had 11 players with the surprise of the draft being “big boy” conferences the SEC, Big 12, and Big 10 only having eight players selected on Saturday.

— The “U” keeps a first round tradition going: With the New York Giants selection of top rated safety Kenny Phillips with the 31st pick of the in the first round. The University of Miami (Fla.) continued the school’s impressive active streak of a first round selection (14). The incredible streak goes back to the 1995 draft where All-American defensive tackle Warren Sapp was selected No. 12 overall by Tampa Bay.

— Aggressive Trades: Teams not wanting to miss out on their guy were willing to ship later and future picks to move into position. There were 14 trades in the 31 first-round picks. Starting at the seventh overall spot, where New Orleans moved up to No. 7 trading their No. 10 spot, a 3rd round pick and a 5th rounder to get defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis of Southern California.

Another noteworthy trades was the Jacksonville Jaguars moving up from 26th overall to eighth, where it grabbed Florida DE Derrick Harvey. In the deal the Ravens traded their first-round selection (8th overall) to the Jag’s for a first-round selection (26), two third-round selections (71 and 89), and fourth-round selection (125) – Man that is a lot of picks.

— The veterans stay put: With all of the attention paid to possible trades of veteran players Eagles CB Lito Sheppard, Dolphins DE Jason Taylor, Bengals WR Chad Johnson, Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin, and others did not go anywhere. I believe the clubs that have these players may have inflated expectations and they may need to curb their asking price.

I don’t like to give “Letter Grades”, because as I always like to say, “It takes two to three years to evaluate a draft”. That being said, some teams definitely did seem to strengthen and weaken their teams for the upcoming season and in some cases next season in the 2007 NFL Draft.

Day 1 Winners

Dallas Cowboys: An exciting day for the Cowboys as they added homerun threat running back Felix Jones from Arkansas and South Florida man to man corner Mike Jenkins in the first round. Picked up athletic former basketball player TE Martellus Bennett in the second round and added a fourth rounder in a trade with the Dolphins.

Miami Dolphins: Got their cornerstone tackle in Jake Long, Long’s Michigan teammate quarterback Chad Henne, traded RB Lorenzo Booker to the Eagles for a fourth round pick, and grabbed Cowboys From Miami for Akin Ayodele and Anthony Fasano for only a 4th round pick.

Kansas City Chiefs: Selected three guys with first round grades in DT Glenn Dorsey, OT Branden Albert, and CB Brandon Flowers. The Chiefs are clearly in rebuilding mode and they may have gotten the best player in the draft in Dorsey. With nine picks on Day 2 expect some wheeling and dealing by GM Carl Peterson and head coach Herman Edwards in rebuilding this four-win team.

Pittsburgh Steelers: The “blue collar” tough team grabbed Illinois workhorse running back Rashard Mendenhall in the first round and big Texas receiver Limas Sweed in the second round. Mendenhall will team with Willie Parker to former a formidable one-two punch and Sweed could possibly finally big receiver that Big Ben was asking to be added.

Day 1 Head Scratchers

I really didn’t see many huge reaches or losers, but two teams did some head scratching moves that caused their fans to be unhappy.

Philadelphia Eagles: Surprisingly for the second year in a row the Eagles traded out of the first round. I had one Eagles fan scream at me “A #$@$#ing trade again, WHY”. I am not sure, but many of the fans were not happy after their team traded down several times until finally picking upstart Notre Dame DT Trevor Laws and much-needed WR/KR DeSean Jackson of California. They better hope the Panthers 2009 first rounder is high.

Baltimore Ravens: Reached too early for Delaware QB Joe Flacco in my opinion. The Ravens panicked after trading down from No. 8 when Ryan was unavailable and then feverishly trading back up — Ravens dealt the first-round choice they received from the Jags (26) along with the 89th overall selection and a sixth-rounder to Houston for the No. 18 pick — to grab the 1-AA signal caller. Flacco will compete with Troy Smith and Kyle Boller, but has a lot to learn about playing under center after coming from a spread offense.

Carolina Panthers: In a crazy move the Panthers traded their 2009 first round selection to the Philadelphia Eagles to select Pittsburgh Offensive Tackle Jeff Otah at No. 19. They also selected Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart coming off a turf toe injury in the first round and passed on Rashard Mendenhall. Also where is the quarterback??

Seattle Seahawks: In one of his first draft’s for GM Tim Ruskell, he may have reached for USC DE Lawrence Jackson and Notre Dame TE John Carlson in the first to rounds. Both players had average production in the pre-draft process and were Day 2 grades in my book.

Lloyd’s Leftovers

— For the second year in a row, The “Commish” Roger Goddell was everywhere at Radio City Music Hall. He spent quality time with media, fans, and players while working the room with ease. I really like his hands-on style of administration and let’s hope he keeps up the good work.

— A record eight offensive tackles were taken in the first round, which is a record for the position in the round including surprise Houston Texans pick Virginia Tech’s Duane Brown. Sorry Eagles fans the Birds stuck with veterans John Runyan and Tra Thomas plus gave a vote of confidence to former 2nd rounder Winston Justice by not selecting any of the talented offensive tackles.

— HBCU powerhouse Tennessee State had its first player picked in the round since 1974 (Ed “Too Tall” Jones by Dallas Cowboys) when CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was picked 16th overall by Arizona.