In the wake of this year's draft, as plays out every year, we have those folks who knew, thought they knew, wished they knew and know they didn't. But on the SunnySide, I've got the advantage of knowing that my guys are probably going to be drafted, and it adds a little spice to the days as I watch them going to different teams and wishing them well. It's kind of a small rite of passage.
It didn't take long before the first Tales recipient went off the board. Knowshon Moreno (pick #12) will be happy making his home in Denver, and making his way with the help of three other Tales alumni. He'll be learning from running-back guru Bobby Turner and running behind Ryan Clady. He'll also partner with Peyton Hillis to spark a running attack as good as any in the AFC West, which is saying a lot.
Connor Barwin (pick #46) OLB/DE was perhaps my favorite Tales player. You have to love the guys who give everything they have on every play. He worked himself up form a draft day afterthought to a solid situation with the ever-popular Kubes (Gary Kubiak) in Houston. He'll be perfect for their scheme, given a little seasoning. He brings a rare level of toughness and dedication. Connor - in Texas, "Hail Mary" means something a little different from Catholic school.
Said Houston GM Rick Smith,
"We were just hoping he would be there. We had him rated as a late first [rounder] and thought he would go late in the first or early in the second. He's a guy who is an unbelievably explosive athlete. We see him as a defensive end, and we're going to have him put his hand down and rush the passer -- which will give us a chance to move Antonio Smith inside in our nickel-rush situations."
Cody Brown, (pick #63) OLB/DE, went to a great situation in Arizona. He'll be playing behind four good veterans and have a chance to move from DE to OLB in the hybrid that the Cardinals play. He will need the time to learn the position and will have a chance to gain from the experience that is in front of him. I wish all the best to a fine young player. I look forward to following his career.
Shonn Greene, (pick #65) RB, another Tales guy, went to the Jets. Both sides should be excited. His pounding style fits what Rex Ryan wants to do just fine. Thomas Jones is complaining about his contract, and the Jets needed a pounder anyway. The Jets went a long way towards retooling the offense with Greene and QB Mark Sanchez. It's interesting, though, that with both players the Jets made a bet on a guy with a short history to go by. Greene was a second-stringer before leaving college long enough to get his head on straight. For a guy who was loading crates at a furniture warehouse two years ago, NYC is a long way to go. Keep your head on straight, Shonn. The sprawling city can bite.
Best wishes and heart-felt congratulations to Western Illinois Tales recipient Jason Williams (pick 69) OLB who beat the odds to be taken by the Dallas Cowboys in round 3. From NFL.com:
"Compares To: JAMES HARRISON, Pittsburgh -- This is high praise for an unknown player, but the more film scouts watch on Williams, the more they will notice he has the "it" factor. With patient coaching and in the right system, he could turn into one of the better finds in this draft. He plays with excellent field vision and awareness. Williams demonstrates the instincts to quickly track down the ball. He has the change-of-direction agility and lateral movement to string plays wide and hits ballcarriers with force, driving with his legs to push the opponent back through the rush lane." For a player that wasn't invited to the Combine, that's defeating the odds in a huge way. It wasn't luck, believe me - he's a heck of a player.
Mike Lombardi added, "The small-school linebacker has been flying up draft boards during the post-season process and is now likely to hear his name called off the board in round three. Williams possesses rare straight-line speed for the position and makes plays sideline-to-sideline. He is ideally suited to play OLB in a 4-3 and I could see him drawing a lot of interest from the Titans."
It sort of broke my heart when another great Tales guy, Sammie Lee Hill DE, he of the burning building, went to the Detroit Lions at pick #115. Partly because I wanted to see if he'd work out for the Broncos (too much of a project, I knew, but it was sentimental) and mostly because I wanted him to have a better chance than that. I admire Jim Schwartz's courage in taking on this broken team, and I wish them all well.
Bear Pasco finally went to the San Francisco 49ers in the 6th round (Pick #184) - about where he was predicted, really. It seemed longer before they took him. Congratulations to one of the real tough guys in this year's draft. Do they have calf roping in San Francisco?
Other guys I watched:
I felt a twinge when Ramses Barden went to the Giants. I didn't have time to do a Tales on him, but followed him just the same, having caught him on the local cable out here. A big guy for a big team - he's very raw still, but has a lot of upside. I spent a few weeks in San Luis Obispo, home of Cal Poly during SoCal's last autumn wildfire fiesta. One of the prettiest little towns you ever saw. Life is going to change in a big way for the big WR. Welcome to the big city, Ramses.
Congratulations to Michael Oher. What a fantastic story that is: a kid who was homeless in high school, was adopted, given a home and love and blossoms into a high draft pick. The Ravens have a good young OT in him, but more than anything, it's a great end to an incredible chapter in the man's life, and the start of another.
Around the AFC West draft:
San Diego: Sincere congratulations to them and to CSU running back Gartrell Johnson, who will be a find for the Bolts. He's going to take over for LDT sooner than later. Kevin Ellison will also be in the AFC West, having been picked by San Diego with the 189th pick. After a stellar junior campaign, his college career tanked due to injuries and issues. He's got a good shot at putting things back together, and he's coming to a club that badly needs him to step up at the NFL level. With Eric Weddle running hot and cold and Steve Gregory clearly not the long term answer, the Bolts are hoping that Ellison can retrieve some of his SoCal strut. With a 4.87 40-yard dash, players can run away from him, but with 32 reps on the bench press, they hate it when he catches them. Ellison is bright, mature and was a player-coach on the field at USC. He's intensely physical, makes big plays and has a good football IQ. With a history of repeated knee injuries and a big heart, despite the team he plays for I wish him well.
From those fun Raiders: First Place in the Meanest Name in the Draft Sweepstakes - Slade Norris, Chuck's other son (no, not really), who along with Mike Mitchell was another ‘who the heck?' pick to the Raiders. They know things that none of us do. Nor want to. In Second Place was another Raider - Stryker Sulak, DE , a classic 251-pound tweener, who, at best, would be a 3-4 LB but who is picked by the only 4-3 team in the AFC West to play on the defensive line Sulak doesn't have cover skills and his stiff hips might preclude much time at OLB, but he's too light for the run attack at DE and isn't that fast. Still - he has a great motor and is very dedicated, for what that's worth.
The Raiders took a DE named Shaunessy. Matt Shaunessy is as tough as they come, but he's battled knee and foot injuries throughout his career including a broken fibula in training camp 2008 that slowed him throughout the early season. Another draft day in the land of free psychosis for the fans of the Silver and Bleak. He's had more knee injuries than the Steadman-Hawkins clinic, but they believe he can come in and produce. Let's hope that he makes it all the way through training camp.
The Raiders also took Brandon Myers at TE with the 202nd pick. Sounds like a good fit: (NFL.com) "Can get fundamentally lazy when blocking laterally. Stops moving his feet, causing him to remain engaged at the line of scrimmage or in space. Lacks agility in space to make defenders miss. Arrested in December 2007 on a charge of public intoxication and interference with official acts, pled guilty and was fined." Yep. He'll be a perfect Raider.
The Raiders' habit of taking players no one else wanted and overpaying for the ones someone did reminded me all to vividly of Mike Shanahan's draft-day fliers and why he will always be remembered as an offensive genius - because we try to not remember his personnel moves. This draft, like it or not, was the antithesis of that.
Chiefs: The Chiefs may be happy they took a chance on Javarris Williams, RB from Tennessee State. He can catch, run and block. He's a tough kid with good size. He was injured at the Combine and may have dropped on the boards because of that. His scouting report says Jack-of-all-trades, master of none, but doing a lot of things well isn't a knock.
Peter King's MMQB described Tyson Jackson as a kid who will lead the league in Yes, Sir's and play all four positions along KC's defensive front. Cute line, Peter, but KC went to a 3-4...
Closing thoughts - The big head thing on the NFL.com network was a sheer hara (belly) laugh.
One of the things I'd like to see this season is the full name of Everette Pedescleaux spelled out on the back of his jersey in Arial Narrow 10 point font.
Last year at this time, fans were pulling their hair out and trying to figure out why in the world Mike S and the Goodman's thought that some kid named Eddie Royal was worth a 2nd-round pick. Today, is there anyone in the league who wouldn't give a low first-rounder for the guy? This year it's some kid named Smith, a foolish name if ever there was one. Give Alphonso a chance before you judge the pick.