I'm sure that picture above was worth a million words to a million people! Last week I talked about the draft and what our expectations were for our team(s) and now it's here. The made-for-TV event that keeps the NFL in the limelight for that much longer. They've even moved the free agent period around and moved mini-camps so as to have very little "downtime" in the media. But on draft night, the teams are not concerned about the media, or are they?
There are some teams that do the "draft needs" things and they tend to be more successful as viable contenders over the long haul. However, some of the less fortunate teams are seemingly pressured by their fans and local media to draft a high-profile player that may not have an immediate impact on the wins or losses, but puts fans in the stands.
I remember vividly the Jacksonville fans clamoring for them to draft Tim Tebow. Obviously a Gator, but also FROM Jacksonville (Ponte Vedra, to be precise). Clearly that would have been a functional mistake, as Josh McDaniels and the Broncos found out, but it would have rejuvenated the fan base. Instead, with the 10th overall pick, they took Tyson Alualu, a defensive tackle from Cal. As it turned out he played for the Jaguars until last year and is still on the Steelers' roster. However, that certainly didn't fill any seats.
Of course, they could have take Jason Pierre-Paul or Earl Thomas, so that's just further testimony to the fact that although we think WE know what's best, it's often that in hindsight their decisions weren't always "the best available".
With the first overall pick, assuming they don't trade it, the momentum has the Browns looking at Mitch Trubisky (QB - North Carolina) over what has been assumed to be Myles Garrett (DE - Texas A & M) for a long time. Clearly the team needs everything, but having drafted Brandon Weedon and Johnny Manziel as new franchise faces, they've got to be a bit nervous. Since the NFL initiated the rookie salary cap, higher draft picks cost much less than they once did, so it's somewhat less of a franchise-killer to make a mistake than it once was, but still a big concern for some teams.
Cleveland DOES have the second most cap-space behind the 49ers, but on the other end of the spectrum are teams like Kansas City, the Rams, and the Eagles, who basically are already in the red. What's interesting is that most all of the teams that will draft in the Top Ten REALLY need a shot in the arm. Usually there's a team or two that sneaks up there through prior trades that is going to add icing to a cake, but not this year, so far! Cleveland also holds the 12th overall pick. That could make things VERY interesting as far as trades go.
There are two bottom lines here for us as fans. We watch because the draft has been scripted to be made for television (and they did do a good job of that) and we watch because we want to see who OUR team takes. To the latter, don't despair when you're team takes Forrest Lamp, an OG from Western Kentucky. There's a reason he's where he is. And don't get overly excited when your team drafts Leonard Fournette, who most predict will go to Jacksonville. Lamp could turn out to be the next John Hannah and Fournette could end up the next Trent Richardson.
As bettors, there's even more reason to watch because most books have some interesting prop bets. One of the more interesting ones to me is the draft position of Deshaun Watson. BetOnline has an O/U of 12.5, juiced heavily towards the under, meaning someone will take him sooner rather than later. If the Jets don't take him at #6 he could well fall much, much further. So, get in touch with Mike Maccagnan and see what he's going to do, then make your bet.
They've got Dalvin Cook listed at 26.5 (O/U) and I happen to think he goes much earlier than that. The Redskins or Bucs are prime candidates, and the reason he's listed there in my opinion is that people have had him penciled in at 27th to Kansas City for some time. So, do some homework, make a couple of bets, get excited (or angry) at who your team takes - but in the end tomorrow will come regardless.