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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Recap from Coopers Pick

Cooper’s Pick Top 10 Draft Recap

The 2011 NFL draft was a memorable one. Just in case you missed it, here are the top ten highlights from the weekend.

1. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was nearly booed off stage.

Fans chanting “we want football, we want football” voiced their displeasure over the ongoing labor dispute. I don’t think Goodell took the New York fans too seriously: Philly fans are notorious for booing Santa Claus but I’m confident New York fans would boo their own mothers if they got up on stage.

2. Christian Ponder goes #12 overall to the Minnesota Vikings.

Hands down the most controversial pick of the draft. Ponder was rated as second to third round prospect on a lot of boards, yet the Vikings tab him as the successor to Favre? The Vikes refused to back down afterwards, with new head coach Leslie Frazier tabbing him as the week one starter already. I’ve heard the echoes of Tavaris Jackson cussing after the announcement could be heard all the way up in South Dakota.

3. The New England Patriots look smarter than everyone else. Again.
I know, I know. You’re sick of hearing about how great the Patriots are. We all are, but it would irresponsible not to report on how the Pats continue their mastery of the league by trading down and refusing to restrain their cap flexibility with overpaid, unproven high draft picks. The Pats needed a pass rusher but refused to compromise their philosophy and trade up in the first round. Their late first-round selection of OT Nate Solder left a lot of Pats fans scratching their heads but this is the same franchise that has managed to draft Jerod Mayo, Patrick Chung, Devin McCourty, and Rob Gronkowski with there past four 1st/2nd round selections. Not a bad track record. More on the Pats later.

4. The Detroit Lions went retro. Retro Matt Millen.
No one can knock Lions GM Martin Mayhew for drafting DT Nick Fairley with the #13 overall pick. It’s what he did afterwards (WR Titus Yong at #44, trading up for RB Mikel LeShoure at #57) that reminds us of Millen. Millen always went for the sexy big name picks rather than addressing his team needs. The Lions have finished in the bottom four in pass defense in the league for the past four years and badly need a talent upgrade at CB. The Lions reverted to their failed draft strategy of pleasing fans by selecting well known position players instead of lesser known names at positions of greater need. It’s kind of like a unemployed single father of four who goes out and buys a Corvette instead of groceries for his kids – just doesn’t make sense.

5. The Ravens-Bears botched trade exposed an intriguing draft loophole.
Both the Ravens and Bears were understandably embarrassed after a botched trade attempt between the teams forced the league to allow the Kansas City Chiefs to jump the line and take the Ravens 26th selection while they figured out how to operate a telephone. The embarrassment continued when the player the Bears were trying to trade up for, OT Gabe Carmini, ended up still being available for Chicago to draft three picks later anyways. Kind of makes you wonder: why not pretend you “botched” a trade when you’re stuck with a high draft pick but don’t think there’s anyone worth drafting for the money you’re going to have to pay them? Just keep pretending you forgot to pick up the phone till your knocked down to a pick where you think you can get actual value. Just an idea.

6. Mark Ingram’s candid reaction to hearing from his jailed father was the feel good moment of the draft.
Yes, it was obviously set up by ESPN to get an emotional response. But it was a genuine moment and it worked. We’re so accustomed to feeling alienated from pro athletes because of all the money, glitz and glamour involved that it’s nice to have moments where you realize they are more than just people who can bench press you with one hand.

7. Ryan Mallett goes #74 overall to the Patriots.
A lot of once highly regarded players plummeted in the draft (Marcell Dareus, Greg Jones). Mallett, once regarded as the #1 overall prospect in the draft, fell the hardest.

“Things just aren’t right with him,’’ one NFL executive said. “Has the drugs and alcohol stuff. He can be a hothead. Carries himself like the 6-7 Eminem. He’s just a different dude. Maybe they can keep him in check. They can take that risk. We can’t.’’

Apparently, Patriots head coach Bill Belicheck was willing to roll the dice on Eminem’s 6’7 protégé. Mallett easily has the biggest arm in the draft and put up big numbers in the SEC, a conference widely known for being stacked with NFL worthy defensive talent. It’s a good situation for a Mallett because he’ll have the opportunity to study in the wings for a franchise that won’t allow him to indulge in any Ryan Leaf type antics. Score one for the Pats for nabbing a potential successor to Brady without having to pay for it.

8. Hype is still the deciding factor for where QBs get drafted

Prior to the BCS Championship game, Cam Newton was at best a late first round draft pick on most boards. Can one game (a game in which Newton was far from dazzling) really make that much of a difference? Yep, because it’s all about the hype machine – we’ve seen this before when Ohio State QB Troy Smith went from being a first round lock to being drafted in the sixth following a dreadful performance in the 2007 BCS Championship game. One game should never overshadow your entire body of work as a player but this year’s draft once again proves that it can so if you’re a high profile quarterback you better make the most of it.

9. The only selection New York fans cheer is Prince Amukamara at #19
No, it’s not cause the Giants drafted him. It’s because ninety minutes into the draft, Neanderthal New Yorkers were finally liquored up enough to cheer for someone -- mostly because he had a cool sounding name.

10. This one’s for the ladies: best dressed goes to Atlanta Wide Receiver Julio Jones for wearing a silver bowtie.
The NFL draft is traditionally an appropriate venue to establish new fashion faux paus. Jones’ grey and white striped suit coupled with a ‘bama red button up shirt underneath was fitting considering the fact he got to don the Falcons’ red cap to top it off. How come none of the beefy linemen ever wear bowties? OK, this Iist is officially over.

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