FOOCH'S NOTE: Josh put this together and offered it up and I thought we could hold off with more in-depth analysis until tomorrow. Let's end the night with a little levity.
For those who don't know (a.k.a. "n00bs"), I posted a columns a couple of times a week during last season (you can check those out here). Due to time constraints, I've gone postless since the Super Bowl, but I'm back with a vengeance for the greatest offseason event in sports -- Draft Day.
I’ve watched the NFL Draft for over 20 years now. And I’ve never experienced it in any other way than on ESPN. I can still vividly remember being super pissed when the Jets took Roger Vick, a RB out of Texas A&M, with the 21st pick in 1987, because Mel Kiper made it clear the Niners wanted to take him at #22. Boy, that really came back to bite the Niners, huh?
When the NFL Network began airing the draft, I always meant to give their coverage a try. But I’m a creature of habit, so I never managed more than a cursory click-over during a commercial or particularly annoying part of ESPN coverage. The coverage was decent enough, with Mooch, and Deion, and Marshall Faulk. It also had Rich Eisen leading the charge, a huge improvement over Berman. The Net’s version of Mel Kiper is Mike Mayock. He actually played in the NFL, so he’s got that going for him. And he’s every bit as abrasively East Coast as Mel -- his Phillyese is quite similar to Mel’s Baltimorese.
Because I’m so into my comfortable routines, I’ve never actually gave them a shot, going with them right from the get-go. But after 20+ years of Chris Berman’s bad jokes, Mel Kiper’s hair, and the ever expanding Scott Stuartization of their coverage, I’ve finally had enough. I need to go one year without it. So today’s the day -- except for that rare click-over during commercials, I plan to stay ESPN-free today. I'm flying with The NFL Network -- The Net, for short -- all day today. Won’t you join me on this journey of discovery?
8:59am -- I’m all ready for this draft. All settled in on the couch, got my notebook, food, drink, computer, TV’s on. I’M READY ROCK N’ ROLL!!!
9:01 -- Wait, the draft’s not on. Checking my programming guide, I see it doesn’t start until 1pm. Totally forgot about that. So I got up at 8:30am for no absolutely no reason. Oh well, more time to
download porn do research.
11:47 -- After a long nap, I’m back and ready to roll again. Turn on the NFL network pre-
game draft just in time to see Rich Eisen toss it to Santa Clara, where Brian "Creepy Pinky" Baldinger is at Niner HQ. He breaks big news on the Niners plan of action for the draft: "That’s what this draft is all about -- improving the roster, improving their chances of winning next season." Mind blown. Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor.
11:49 -- After that truly enlightening report from Baldinger*, the feed switches back to the ballroom, where a camera mounted up high gazes down at reporter’s doing stories on the main floor. This shot includes a sweet look at Erin Andrew’s ass. Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor again (this time for real). We’re going to see a lot of talent on display here today, but surely none will be as awe-inspiring as that. * No actual enlightening included
11:50 -- More shots from the ballroom floor, including one of Michael Crabtree. Rich Eisen and Marshall Faulk take this opportunity to praise him for his lavender shirt. There’s a joke in there somewhere, but I’m too lazy to look for it.
11:53 -- Back from commercial, we’re presented with a 3-man satellite desk where Brian Billick, Charles Davis, and Brian Billick discuss the Jets. Dukes’ microphone appears to be turned off -- nice work by the crew there, and I’m not being sarcastic.
11:57 -- Dukes’ mic is now working -- the Lord giveth, and He taketh away.
12:00pm -- High noon. Now I can start drinking alcohol without feeling guilty. Don’t get me wrong -- I’ve been drinking since dawn, it’s just that until now I’ve been feeling guilty about it.
12:01 -- Nice ponytail, Cushing. Now that was sarcasm.
12:01 -- Two good bits of info from the main desk: 1) Mike Mayock calls this the worst draft in recent memory. 2) Steve Mariucci has been nominated for an Emmy. I’m not sure which is more disappointing.
12:02 -- What the hell is that?! It looks like Bill Belichick, now there appears to be something on his face I’ve never seen there before. I know this sounds crazy, but it has all the earmarks of... a smile.
12:06 -- Belichick drops the nice guy act when Eisen asks about the Matt Cassel, giving a typically lifeless answer. This is a good thing, because Smiling Belichick was giving me cold chills down my spine.
12:25 -- The NFL network airs a retrospective on the QB class of 1983. They call Todd Blackledge "the biggest bust in Kansas City Chief history", then proceed to show him a) taking a shotgun snap to the face, and b) the worst mullet in NFL history. Somewhere, Blackledge sits in the dark listening to The Smith’s and cutting himself.
12:35 -- The Niners unveil their new jerseys. A nation says, "Meh". I like them, myself. Reminiscent of the 80’s version, which is all I ever wanted.
12:45 -- Deion introduces the top prospects in the draft. Jets fans boo him. Jets fans are in full-throat, as usual. This is really their day, more than any other. When I think "NFL Draft", I think "Jets fans booing".
12:46 -- Watching the top prospects all take the stage, I can’t help but wonder which of them will look back on this day as the highlight of not just their career, but their life. It sounds a little morbid when put like that, but it’s really morbid when you realize none of us will ever achieve such greatness. I’m making another drink.
12:59 -- John Gruden: "I’m fired up!" Gruden, fired up? I’m shocked, shocked.
1:01 -- The Net opens their coverage with a terrible, repetitive, annoying song. ESPN opens theirs with Chris Berman. This is like ‘Sophie’s Choice’, only in reverse.
1:03 -- The Commish steps to the podium to announce the first pick. I’m going on record to say I think it will be Matthew Stafford.
1:04 -- Oh my, I was right! Matthew Stafford is the #1 pick in the Draft, and the New York crowd shows it’s class by booing him and then chanting "Overrated".
1:10 -- The lambs are on the clock. Mayock says Spanolouloloulououo wants to improve the ground game, as shown by his off-season moves -- including personal favorite Mike Karney.
1:12 -- Copious shots of Mark Sanchez on his cell at his home in Orange County before the Rams pick at #2. Sanchez is doing the right thing -- chill at home, and celebrate with your friends and family instead of doing it before hundreds of strangers in person and the prying eye of the national TV camera.
1:14 -- As their time expires, the Lambs pick is in. Mayock says a team might purposely pass up their pick, insinuating the Rams might do it. Eisen corrects him that there is a pick -- Jason Smith.
1:19 -- ESPN comes back from commercial for 8 seconds before Berman says anything. I turn back to The Net.
1:22 -- The Chiefs are on the clock, and Gruden says they will go offense here, as Haley wants to give Cassel another weapon. Crabtree? Really? The Chiefs had a terrible pass rush last year and also got pushed around. And they already have Bowe.
1:23 -- The Chiefs pick is in. Eisen explains that the pick was be checked for spelling and pronunciation before it is "processed" and handed to the Commish. It’s Tyson Jackson. Note to self: Don’t listen to Jon Gruden.
1:32 -- The hosts talk about the widespread rumor that Seattle is picking Mark Sanchez, but the Seahawks select Aaron Curry. And this is why you watch from home like Sanchez is doing. If he was at Radio City, the cameras would be so far up in his grill we’d know if he trimmed his nose hairs recently or not.
1:36 -- Rich Eisen sees people on the phone and starts a rumor there might be a trade. Mayock says it could be someone moving up to snag Sanchez, or it could involve Braylon Edwards to the Eagles (but wouldn’t that involve the Browns getting another pick, not losing this one?).
1:38 -- Eisen was right -- there is a trade, and it’s the Jets! Jets fans are beside themselves, and I am too. Everybody said they liked Freeman, but could this be for Sanchez?
1:39 -- It is! It’s Mark Sanchez! The Net has him on TV at his home putting on a Jets cap before he’s even picked. Maybe he should’ve come to New York after all.
1:41 -- Most Jets fans are thrilled and cheering, but the camera is staying trained on two guys who hate the move. They’re scowling, and one clearly says, "This horrible! I’m so pissed!" I love Jets fans.
1:50 -- The Bengals take Andre Smith, and his ample breasts.
1:54 -- The Raiders are on the clock and everybody is thinking a speedy WR. Why? Because they are the Raiders. Is it Crabtree?
1:56 -- Oakland does pick a WR, but not the ones most people were talking about -- Darrius Hayward-Bey. Mayock: "A classic Al Davis pick". Meanwhile, Crabtree's still on the board. I wonder if he wishes he was watching at home.
1:59 -- The Jags are on the clock. Gruden is saying it might be Crabtree.
2:05 -- It’s Eugene Monroe. Second reminder to self: don't listen to Gruden. That makes 3 OT’s in the first 8 picks. Mayock: "He can bend!" Okaaaay.
2:06 -- Crabtree continues to slip. If he slips past Green Bay (which he should -- no way they need another WR), he'll be there for the Niners. That both excites and terrifies me. He could be a poor man’s Jerry Rice, or he could be a rich man’s Rashaun Woods.
2:08 -- And there’s Raji on the phone -- the telltale sign of an upcoming pick (or a Drew Rosenhaus production). This is happening, it’s really happening.
2:10 -- I feel like Jessie in that very special ‘Saved By the Bell’: I’m so excited... I’m so scared! I don’t know whether to root for Crabtree, or against him.
2:13 -- The Pack takes BJ Raji, and the Niners are on the clock. What will they do? I hope they don’t screw this up. They really have no choice but to take Crabtree. You just don’t see talents like that slip to you that often. They have to do it, or potentially watch while he blows up elsewhere.
2:18 -- Crabtree on the phone! And grinning! This is good. Being on the phone is always a good sign you’re about to get picked, but the fact his expression went from "My dog just got run over" to "I’m the next Jerry Rice" in two minutes means he’s about to be a Niner.
2:21 -- It’s official -- Michael Crabtree is a Niner, and I’m thrilled. It took me like 10 seconds to go from "Should we?" To "What the [SITE DECORUM] are you talking about?! Of course, we should!". In fact, I don’t know that I’ve been this excited about a pick in a long time. I knew Patrick Willis would be great, and I hoped Alex Smith and Vernon Davis would be. I honestly don’t know what Crabtree will be, but I’m damn excited to find out.
2:23 -- I click over to ESPN on the other tuner, and rewind to watch their coverage of the pick. It’s quickly followed by a interview between Crabtree and Erin Andrews -- this works on so many levels of entertainment. Great TV.
2:25 -- So Crabtree is headed to San Francisco -- at least there he won’t be the only man in a lavender shirt. See, I told you there was a joke in there somewhere.
2:26 -- The Bills select Aaron Maybin at #11, but I’m still too busy thinking about Crabtree to comment.
/goes back to picturing Crabtree beating Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for a long TD on Monday Night Football, and Ron Jaworski getting so excited while talking about his talent, he has an orgasm on national TV.
2:31 -- The Broncos take Knowshon Moreno. They could use the help at RB, but what about that porous defense?
2:33 -- The picks are coming fast and furious now as the Skins take Brian Orakpo. I like how much quicker the Draft moves now -- I used to get so bored between picks, but now the pace is much more crisp and efficient.
2:40 -- The saints pick is in, and Jamie Dukes says what many others have -- they’ll take Beanie Wells. But it’s Wells’ teammate, Malcolm Jenkins.
2:43 -- The camera catches Brian Cushing putting his hand in his nose, then his mouth. Seconds later, his gets a call clearly telling him he’s about to be picked. Apparently, the Texans just can’t resist I guy with a ponytail who eats his boogers on national TV. Who can blame them?
2:45 -- It’s official -- the Texans take Brian Cushing. One more douchebag in Texas.
2:51 -- The Chargers take Larry English at #16. I’d like to give you some informed analysis on this pick, but to be perfectly honest, I’ve never heard of Larry English.
3:01 -- Cleveland trades down again -- sending the #17 pick they got from the Jets to Tampa, who picks Josh Freeman. Cleveland must be picking up quite a few picks today. If they end up trading Braylon Edwards for picks today, they could end up setting some kind of record.
3:02 -- The guys at the mian table are all giving Gruden crap about Tampa finally drafting a big-time QB now that he’s gone. Gruden is smiling, but he clearly wants to kill them all.
3:06 -- The Broncos use their second pick in the last half-hour to select Robert Ayers, finally adding some help to their D. The Net shows video of him absolutely owning Michael Oher in a Senior Bowl practice. Mayock: "He might be a big reason Oher hasn’t been drafted yet."
3:11 -- Eisen announces that the Browns have traded down yet again. They’ve dealt the #19 pick they got from Tampa to Philly, moving down to the Eagles’ spot at #21. The Eisen: "They’re stockpiling late-round picks, and also have three 2nd’s from their trade with the Jets."
3:13 -- Who did the Eagles trade up 2 spots to nab? Jeremy Maclin. between him and DeSean Jackson, the Eagles can't say they don’t have speed at WR.
3:19 -- Detroit uses their second pick to take Brandon Pettigrew. I’m surprised -- with all the problems they have, I’d think there would be a better use of their resources than that.
3:21 -- The Browns are on the clock. Again. They can’t possibly make another trade, can they?
3:24 -- Nope, no trade -- the Browns have made a pick: Alex Mack.
3:26 -- The Vikes are on the clock, and Mayock is pushing Percy Harvin as a way to help them stretch the field. Gruden concurs.
3:28 -- The Vikes do take Percy Harvin. Remember, the last time they took a WR who tested positive for pot in college it was Randy Moss. Dope-smoking WR’s FTW!
3:30 -- As the guys from The Net all celebrate the Harvin pick, Mayock gets off the line of the day: "We’re all patting ourselves on the back here, but if ends up on the Love Boat smoking a bone, we’ve all got a problem." I think I like this guy. No way Kiper comes up with a line like that.
3:36 -- The Pats trade down, sending the #23 pick to Baltimore, who takes Michael Oher. He may have slipped further than many people thought, but this has still got to be a great day for Oher -- his journey has now officially taken him from the outhouse to the penthouse. If you haven’t already read about his story in The Blind Side, I don’t know what you’re waiting for.
3:42 -- The Falcons take Peria Jerry. Or is it Jerry Peria?
3:45 -- The Dolphins are on the clock, and the guys on The Net are making the point that Parcells likes bloodlines -- both Brian Robiskie (son of Terry) and Clay Matthews (son of Clay) are available. The Phins make their pick -- Vontae Davis, VD’s brother. I don’t think those were the type of bloodlines they were talking about.
3:50 -- Fatigue is starting to become a factor. I’m not used to working this hard on a weekend. All this drinking and eating and watching and typing has me feeling more dead than that guy Donte Stallworth ran over. Too soon?
3:52 -- Bill Belicheck is making a run at the Browns -- the pats have traded down for the second time today, and trail Cleveland by only one trade-town. The Pats entered with 11 picks in the draft, and 6 in the top 100 -- more than anybody else. They now have 13 picks overall, and 8 in the top 100.
3:53 -- The Packers get the Pats pick, trading up from #26 to take Clay Matthews.
4:00 -- The Colts select Donald Brown. That’s all i have to say about that.
4:04 -- The Bills select Eric Wood. Mayock informs us that he is "not sexy". Seeing as he is an offensive lineman, I don’t find that especially surprising.
4:09 -- The Giants (and their loud mouth fans) take Hakeem Nicks to fill their void at WR, though I still wouldn’t be surprised if they trade for a big name WR between now and training camp.
4:18 -- With the #30 pick, the Titans choose Kenny Britt to fill the gaping hole left by Brandon Jones. Gaping, I tell you. Gaping.
4:20 -- Know what time it is? Time for Percy Harvin to get high. That’s what time it is.
4:22 -- The Cards are on the clock. Eisen suggests they might take Beanie Wells, but Mayock says he’s too similar to Tim Hightower, and Faulk agrees. Seriously? I think Wells in a whole other class than Hightower.
4:28 -- Yup, the Cards take Beanie Wells. And Mayock does a quick flip-flop, saying Wells is an "upgrade". He does question his ability to stay healthy. Faulk sticks to his "same as Hightower" argument
4:30 -- The world champion Steelers cap off the 1st round by drafting Evander "Ziggy" Hood. I’m not watching ESPN, but I’d be willing to bet $1,000 Chris Berman just made a "Ziggy Stardust" reference.
4:32 -- Alright, that’s it for me. I’m TiVoing the rest of this, while I go see if my wife is still speaking to me.