As always, I’m excited about tonight’s first round of the NFL Draft to be held in prime time on ESPN, America’s All-Football, All-the-Time network. In my secret life, I’m Mel Kiper III, slicked-back hair and all.
But as much as I enjoy and am entertained by the draft and all the insider banter that comes with it, I wouldn’t say I’m a draft-nik.
I can’t tell you, for instance, about Cordy Glenn, an offensive lineman from Georgia who is expected to be chosen in the middle to lower-middle of the first round. Here’s what my daddy, Mel, has to say about Glenn:
“ Some will see Glenn as a right tackle. I don’t disagree, but I think he can be dominant inside. A huge body, he’ll knock people back in the run game, and has the feet to pull and line up linebackers on the second level.’’
He’s so smart. Not everyone, after all, can line up linebackers on the second level.
When I read Kiper’s assessment about Glenn, I want to buy a team just so I can draft him.
The buildup to the draft is incredible, topped only by the annual draft itself. As we know, the NFL is America’s most sacred sport. Whether it’s the middle of the season or a cold night in the middle of March, the NFL dominates the sports news cycle.
Kiper used to come out of hiding in February to start assessing the draft. Now he’s everywhere and all the time. The draft has become so pervasive that ESPN has another draft expert, Todd McShay, whom I refer to as Mel’s Little Helper.
McShay, believe it or not, might even be more gung-ho about this stuff than Kiper. Wednesday, on ESPN.com, McShay had a mock draft for all seven rounds.
That’s right, all seven. If you’re curious about what the Houston Texans are going to do in the fifth round with the 161st pick, McShay has an opinion. He has the Texans taking Michigan State safety Trent Robinson.
Don’t know much about Robinson? Don’t worry, you can click on his name and a page comes up with everything you could ever want to know about the guy, including his profile, scouting combine results and favorite Tyler Perry movie.
According to McShay, who is younger and has better lateral movement than Kiper, the Mr. Irrelevant of the 2012 draft — the final player picked, No. 253 — will be Montana linebacker Caleb McSurdy to the Indianapolis Colts.
I wonder how much ribbing McSurdy has gotten about this? Even in Montana, I’m pretty sure they have the Internet. It’s one thing to be Mr. Irrelevant, it’s perhaps even more embarrassing to be Mr. Irrelevant in a mock draft. How much more irrelevant can you be?
I also wonder about the relationship between Kiper and McShay. Kiper certainly has more street cred because he’s been doing this for years and years. And from what I can tell, he’s not slowing down. So in that way, perhaps McShay’s presence has been good for him.
But I sense McShay wants more of the ESPN pie. I believe, though without evidence, that McShay harbors deep resentment for Kiper and wants to take the old man down. Why else would McShay thumb his nose at Kiper with a seven-round mock draft? Come on, Mel doesn’t have the endurance any more to pick seven rounds.
The most intriguing first-round drama for me surrounds Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannahill. I always considered Tannahill to be a little bit above average with the Aggies, but to listen to the verbal duels between Kiper and McShay, it now appears he’s the second coming of Dan Marino.
Both experts have Tannahill going to the Miami Dolphins at No. 8 in tonight’s first round. I’ve heard both say they believe Miami might even move up to make sure the Cleveland Browns don’t pull a draft surprise and pick Tannahill at No. 4.
This is what can happen sometimes when there’s too much draft hype. A player can suddenly start to tweak the interest of a particular team’s front office and before long every team buys in. I think Tannahill is a huge risk, a quarterback who seems better suited for late in the first round or early in the second. But what do I know?
Meanwhile, now that I’m back on the St. Louis Rams bandwagon — come aboard, there’s plenty of room — I’m paying particular attention to the No. 6 pick, which used to be the No. 2 pick until the Rams made that big trade with the Washington Redskins to gain No. 1 picks in 2013 and 2014 and a No. 2 this season.
Part of me wants the Rams to pick Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, which is what Kiper thinks they’ll do. But McShay (remember, he’s obviously out to sully Kiper’s reputation) has St. Louis going for USC left offensive tackle Matt Kalil. Both guys think the Rams might try to trade down again to stockpile more picks.
The notion of stockpiling picks excites me, but I’m a bit of a hoarder.
I can’t wait for tonight to see who goes where. And to see Kiper put McShay in a headlock. They don’t get along, you know.