Friday, April 23, 2010

Mel got a lump of coal for Christmas

Round one is in the books and a lot of it went the way I anticipated. Tampa Bay took who they were supposed to in Gerald McCoy. Their draft will succeed or fail based on what they do with the third and tenth picks of round two. Miami didn't want to have a high pick and traded out of their spot, although I'd like their move a lot better with Dan Williams at pick 26 than I do with Jared Oldrick at 28. Jacksonville's selection of Tyson Alualu was bizarre - hard to believe no one was willing to trade up for that spot when the next three picks were all dealt. He may turn out to be a fine player, but that was much earlier than any other team would have been interested and moving back might have helped make up for the lack of a second round pick.

Can't say too much about the Florida kids because I'm writing extensively about the draft for, but I think both Joe Haden and Maurkice Pouncey landed in very good spots for them with Cleveland and Pittsburgh. I'm mystified that people where surprised by the Tim Tebow pick - if you read yesterday's blog you know I projected that to happen. I say that not to pat myself on the back but to point out there were plenty of clues here if you were paying attention. Apparently Mel Kiper, who inexplicably has Jimmy Clausen as the fourth best player in this draft, was so determined to be right that he chose to ignore why Denver is a great fit. Tebow won't be asked to be a starter early. He'll have a coach who's shown the ability to develop QBs and runs an offense that he says "stole a bunch of Florida's plays". No one will put any pressure on Tebow to sell tickets or "save the franchise" because Denver's got a rock solid fanbase. With no sure longterm QB solution between Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn, what's odd about Denver wanting Tebow?

I don't know whether the NFL asked teams not to drag things out in primetime if they knew what their pick was going to be, but it seemed like there was a much better flow to the draft than there typically is. ESPN's performance was not so stellar though. They need to trim the crew down to three people - Chris Berman (who, for better or worse, is clearly going to host this thing even though he is now awful at it), Jon Gruden and Mel Kiper. Steve Young adds something occasionally but has no concept of when to stop talking, and Tom Jackson seemed like he was miserable having to be there. Several times it seemed like Berman was putting a hand on his shoulder as a "hang in there buddy" type of thing. Kiper spewing scouting jargon and stats followed by Gruden tearing it apart made for entertaining television. When Tebow was selected and Gruden followed it up with extensive comments about why he'll be a success, Kiper looked like someone had just told him the takeout Chinese he ate wasn't really chicken. Gruden is unbelievably good as a broadcaster, by the way. I'm sure he'll look to coach again but if he was smart he wouldn't. He'll be the John Madden of the next quarter century if he gives himself the chance.

The announcement that the NCAA Tournament will not be ruined by expanding to 96 teams was good news, but no one should believe it's the end of that battle. There will now be 68 teams, but there are two networks showing the event. It's extremely likely they will look to expand the number of games at some point during the term of the new contract. Trying to switch to 96 for 2011 would have been extremely tricky. Arenas have already been booked based on the existing schedule, and a sudden format change would have had a major effect on that. With a little more time to plan, it will be much easier for the NCAA to avoid that problem when they look to make the switch. Fans are going to have to continue to make it clear that 96 teams in the tournament is a horrible idea whenever the topic comes up.

I'll be busy with the draft and other stuff throughout the weekend. Follow on Twitter at heathradio if you want to see what's on my mind or send me comments/questions. Have a good weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.

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