'Twas the night before Draft Day, and all through the rafters
Not a cellphone was ringing, not even A. Schefter's;
The mock drafts were posted with nary a care,
In hopes that good prospects still would be there,
The top QBs were all hiding face down in their beds,
While visions of playing for Cleveland flashed through their heads.
And Mel with his bouffant, and McShay with his smirk,
Had just settled in to justify a year’s work
When out on the stage there arose such a clatter,
Fans sprang from their seats to see what was the matter.
Away from the TV I flew like a flash,
Opened my browser, and pulled up the Draftcast.
The voice of Chris Bermann blabbering nonsense had started,
Recapping past draft busts leaving Brown’s fans brokenhearted,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a RB named Saquon, and 5 over-rated QBs,
With a much-maligned commissioner, so lively and well,
I knew in a moment it must be Goodell.
More rapid than emails the draft picks they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now! Mayfield, now! Darnold , now! Chubb, and Roqoun,
“On! Rosen, on! Jackson, on! Allen and Saquon;
“To the top of the stage! to the top of the hall!
“Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
So up to the stage-top the players they flew,
With a new hat and jersey – and Goodell hug too:
And then in a murmur, I heard from crowd
Frustration and second-guessing aloud.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Up to the podium Goodell came with a bound:
The bundle of draft cards nowhere in our view,
The first round was over, it’s time for round two.
With a wink of his eye and a twist of his head
he gave all the fan bases a whole lot to dread.
He spoke a few words, then went straight to his work,
Announcing the draft picks without being a jerk.
With round one now finished, his work here was done.
A few hours work for some hefty compensation.
But I heard him exclaim as he left without reason,
Happy Draft Day to all, enjoy the offseason.
Seriously though, the NFL draft is finally here. For some (re: Mel Kiper), it's like Christmas in April. For the casual fan, it's like an oasis in a barren sports desert between the end of March Madness and the start of meaningful NBA and NHL match-ups. Sure, April starts off with a bang with MLB opening day and the Masters, but what then?
- MLB - April brings rain, snow and freeze outs to start a 162-game slog of a season.
- NBA - The bad teams are tanking, the good teams are winning or losing to set up ideal playoff match-ups and chase meaningless stats - looking at you Russell Westbrook.
- NHL - Does anyone even care about the regular season? It wraps up in April and then the real season starts. What if the NHL played a 24-game preseason and then kicked off a double-elimination tourney for the Stanley Cup start in January. Maybe then they could wrap up the season in April not June.
- NFL - The off-season is full of failed drug tests and random arrests. Less domestic violence this year so that's a good thing.
Ok, that said, let's get on with the draft talk. Guess how many results you get if you do a Google search on NFL Mock Draft? 729,000! I'm ashamed to admit that I've read most of them. Don't judge me - it's already been a long off-season and I'm between Netflix binge watches. I won't bore you with another mock. Instead, I'll channel my inner Mel Kiper Jr. and offer some thoughts on players predicted to go in the top half of the first round.
Like Mel, these predictions are likely to be 25% accurate, if at all. Enjoy!
JOSH ALLEN, QB - Wyoming
- Pros: Unbelievable arm strength. At the combine, he completed a pass that traveled about 70 yards in the air. Good character. Good QB name.
- Cons: Not very accurate. Played against lesser competition in the Mountain West and didn't really light it up.
- Best Case Comp: A less "rapey" version of Ben Roethlisberger
- Worst Case Comp: Ryan Leaf without the prescription drug problems
- Draft Potential: Top 5, maybe even first
- Prediction: Buffalo trades with Denver and takes Allen with the 5th pick.
SAM DARNOLD, QB – USC
- Pros: USC QB pedigree. Good size and mobility.
- Cons: USC QB pedigree. Prone to lots of turnovers. Young and needs time to develop.
- Best Case Comp: Carson Palmer
- Worst Case Comp: Mark Sanchez. Sure, Sanchez took the Jets to the AFC Championship game but he’ll be forever remembered for the Butt Fumble. Amazingly Sanchez is still in the league and is now serving a 4-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs. The irony.
- Draft Potential: Top 2, probably 1st
- Prediction: After reading too many articles about how they’ve missed on every QB in the past 5 years, Cleveland takes Darnold with the 1st pick.
BAKER MAYFIELD, QB – Oklahoma
- Pros: Attitude. Thinks he can win every game. Very accurate and good mobility.
- Cons: Attitude. Played in the Big 12 and ran a silly offense. Short.
- Best Case Comp: Drew Brees without the giant face mole
- Worst Case Comp: Every other short, white Big 12 QB that got drafted too high
- Draft Potential: Top 7, there are too many teams that need a starting QB for Mayfield to fall past 7
- Prediction: The NY Jets pick Mayfield with the 3rd pick. He’s perfect for the Jets as he plays with a chip on his shoulder and will never be successful in the NFL.
JOSH ROSEN, QB – UCLA
- Pros: Strong arm, deemed most NFL ready (whatever that means) of all QB prospects.
- Cons: Lacks mobility. Name better suited for an accountant or lawyer, aloof attitude, Jewish
- Best Case Comp: Eli Manning (vs. the Patriots in SBs XLII and XLVI)
- Worst Case Comp: Eli Manning (all other games)
- Draft Potential: Top 10
- Prediction: Rosen falls out of the Top 10 due to concerns about his on-field passion. In a dream scenario for residents of Del Boca Vista, the Dolphins take Rosen with the 11th pick.
LAMAR JACKSON, QB – Louisville
- Pros: 2016 Heisman winner. Above average passer (threw 27 TDs) and excellent runner (ran for 18 TDs) in a very underrated 2017 season.
- Cons: Scored a 13 on the Wonderlic
- Best Case Comp: Michael Vick prior to the dog fighting fiasco
- Worst Case Comp: RGIII from year 2 on
- Draft Potential: Mid first round
- Prediction: New England trades up in the first round and takes Jackson in the mid-teens. Brady plays two more years before Jackson takes over as starter in 2020.
SAQUON BARKLEY, RB – Penn State
- Pros: Excellent runner, pass catcher and blocker. All-star name.
- Cons: An RB in a pass happy NFL
- Best Case Comp: Zeke Elliott without the drama, Adrian Peterson without the child abuse
- Worst Case Comp: Blair Thomas. Remember him? The Jets took Thomas with the 2nd pick overall pick in the 1990 draft prompting this wonderful reaction from Jets fans. Honorable mention: Curtis Enis (5th overall in 1998) and Ki-Jana Carter (1st overall in 1995). It’s extremely concerning that all three worst case comparisons were Penn State RBs drafted in the top 5.
- Draft Potential: Top 2 – it’s either 1 or 2 for Saquon
- Prediction: Browns pass on Saquon and pick a QB. NY Giants don’t pass and take the best RB prospect since AP with the 2nd pick.
QUENTIN NELSON, G – Notre Dame
- Pros: Nasty in the trenches, great size and strength
- Cons: Had some injuries at Notre Dame. Plays a position that typically doesn’t get drafted in the top 10.
- Best Case Comp: Jon Hannah. Played 12 seasons for the Patriots from ’73-’85. The best player on a horrible Patriots team.
- Worst Case Comp: Tony Mandarich who was picked 2nd in 1989 before Barry Sanders and Derrick Thomas.
- Draft Potential: Top 10, could go as high as 2 to the Giants
- Prediction: Nelson falls after a run on QBs. 49er's pick Nelson 9th and get a solid 10-year Hall of Fame career from Nelson.
BRADLEY CHUBB, DE – NC State
- Pros: Great combination of power, technique and speed
- Cons: Played in the ACC
- Best Case Comp: J.J. Watt without the injuries
- Worst Case Comp: Courtney Brown. Picked #1 overall by the Browns in 2000, Brown was the 2nd of back-to-back #1 picks to re-start the Browns franchise. Unfortunately for the Brown, both Tim Couch and Brown were huge busts setting the tone for the Cleveland Browns 2.0
- Draft Potential: 2nd, 4th or 6th – first defensive player taken
- Prediction: Browns take Chubb with the 4th pick pairing him with Myles Garrett for a fierce defensive front
ROQUON SMITH, LB – Georgia
- Pros: Great on-field leader, speed
- Cons: A bit undersized at just under 6’
- Best Case Comp: Ray Lewis minus the double murder charge
- Worst Case Comp: Aaron Curry. No one thought it was a bad idea to draft a player from Wake Forest in the Top 4?
- Draft Potential: Top 10
- Prediction: 10th to the Oakland Raiders
- Editor’s note: Even though I have the Giants taking Saquon with the 2nd pick, my preferred scenario would be for the Giants to trade pick 2 to Buffalo for a collection of picks including #12 where the Giants take Roquon. Just including this in case this happens making me look like a genius.
MINKAH FITZPATRICK, S – Alabama
- Pros: Best player on a great Alabama defense. Can do everything – rush passer, stop run and defend TEs and big receivers
- Cons: Distant 2nd on list of all-time people name Minkah (see: Minka Kelly)
- Best Case Comp: Jalen Ramsey
- Worst Case Comp: LaRon Landry
- Draft Potential: Top 10
- Prediction: Tampa Bay takes Fitzpatrick with the 7th pick
We'll see what happens Thursday night when ESPN and the NFL drag the first round out over the course of a four hour live broadcast. Also, we are only three days away from Todd McShay's way too early 2019 mock draft. It's the NFL circle of life.