Less than one week out from NFL Draft, it's officially crazy time
We’re now inside of a week until Roger Goodell steps to the podium in Nashville to announce the first pick of the draft and 253 more players are chosen after that.
And it’s crazy time!
Most of us who cover what is annually America’s favorite shopping spree by the 32 NFL teams and their tens of millions of fans for a living are now battling severe ear aches and blisters on our fingers from having our phones permanently attached to our ears and banging away at our keyboards trying to keep track of all the analysis, tidbits and latest rumors we can grab from anyone in a position to actually know what teams are thinking.
It is exhausting but fun, and the reason it starts to get so crazy over these final few days leading up to the event is that whatever could be gleaned from watching tape, evaluating workouts and personal interviews has been in the bank for a while now.
These last few days are far more about sorting through the disinformation being spread by just about every team than anything else, in the hopes it will create an edge for them in the players they really want being available when it is their turn to pick.
Are you convinced that Kyler Murray is going to the Cardinals with the No. 1 overall pick?
One extremely dialed in team exec told me this morning the only thing he’s sure of is Arizona absolutely has not decided yet what it's going to do because the Cardinals believe they haven’t heard anywhere near yet what the most they could get in return for the pick is, and where that might leave them in the first round, with a very real chance to still select Murray, if they even want to.
We know what Murray did in his one season as a starter at Oklahoma and that he’s only 5-10.
We know all about Josh Rosen’s personality “quirks.”
But has anyone actually done a full evaluation of what Rosen might be able to do running Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense?
Apparently, the Cardinals are working on it now.
Speaking of quarterbacks, and certain top-10-type defenders, one of the biggest issues NFL general managers are spending sleepless nights over right know is the great “leadership” conundrum.
At least five or six evaluators have brought it up with me in talking about Dwayne Haskins, Daniel Jones, Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams and a half-dozen or so others, some because they’re uncertain if a player can lead and others they’re considering drafting earlier than people might expect because of their value as leaders.
One thing you’d think clubs should have settled on by now but clearly haven’t with a number of players are medicals.
A couple days ago we heard about a top 10-15 defender who may drop significantly because of concerns about a chronic health issue.
I’m not going to name him (A) because it’s his personal medical information and (B) I have no way of knowing if the issue is real or not, but all it takes is for that buzz to get out and kids lose hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars.
If he’s not off the board by 15, you’ll know who I’m talking about.
The last draft was a perfect example of this. Michigan’s Maurice Hurst was the best player on one of the best defenses in college football and a top-15 prospect.
Rumors of a congenital heart issue that Hurst played through with no issues at Michigan surfaced at the combine, and he not only fell out of the first round, he fell all the way to the fifth round and the 140th pick by the Raiders.
He ended up producing a very good rookie campaign — with no heart issues — playing in 13 games, with 10 starts, 4 sacks, 3 TFLs, 1 FF and 3 PD.
That’s what you call a fifth-round steal.
At least a half-dozen players with first-round grades will fall at least to the second and third rounds this year because of uncertainty about their medicals.
You’ve all heard stories about quirky players teams form no consensus on because of their arrogance, meekness, selfishness, immaturity, etc.
Some teams will risk it, and others want no part of it, but it’s just one more calculus that makes accurately ranking these kids so hard.
And lastly for now, and clearly my favorite of all are the "little-league dads."
The trickiest part of this whole exercise is billion dollar businesses are investing tens of millions of dollars in players who are basically still kids coming out of college and projecting whether they will become mature and wise enough young men to become accomplished professionals.
Most of them can, but a surprising number don’t because of a dad or a mom who thinks they know more, better or both than the folks about to employ their kids — and those potential employers want no part of the aggravation.
It’s a problem, and at least one pretty good quarterback is going to fall farther than you think he should this year because Daddy can’t keep his mouth shut.
Please don’t be upset with me for not naming these prospects now. It’s just not fair to them, and I promise I’ll tell you exactly who they are in a few weeks, if you haven’t figured it out already.
It’s just another reason so many are fascinated by this whole process.