Mandel’s Musings – NFL Misses Its Mark With Primetime Draft

Published on: 23rd April, 2010

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Mandel's Musings - NFL Misses Its Mark With Primetime Draft

NEW YORK - APRIL 22: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at the podium on stage during the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 22, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)  | read this item

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New York – The 2010 NFL draft has now completed its first three rounds, spread out over two prime time, made for television productions with one more “show” remaining tomorrow morning. The NFL, perhaps taking advantage of the recent popularity of tv reality shows,  had been hoping to make this event into an extravaganza filled with all the drama of television serials from the past like Dallas and Dynasty and from the present, like American Idol. 

Instead, today’s completion of  rounds two and three likely elicited reactions from fans that were closer in emotion to the more current show known as Glee.

The problem lies in the fact most of the high-profile college stars are usually chosen in the first forty or so picks. After the heavily publicized, All-American-caliber players are off the selection board, the endless stroll to the podium to call out the next couple a hundred or so names can become a mind-numbing experience for most viewers except perhaps, the ultra die-hard draftniks. There may be interesting stories associated with these young pros-to-be but those stories don’t appeal to enough of a prime time audience for four hours.

The most dramatic story lines over these past two nights were something far less satisfying than “who shot J.R.” quality. In football parlance, it was more like “who’ll take Jimmy Clausen” and, “what will happen to Colt McCoy.”

The two star quarterbacks, Clausen from Notre Dame and McCoy from Texas were skipped over in the first round despite putting up huge statistics throughout their acclaimed careers. For many reasons, NFL teams decided to either draft for other positional needs or felt these two quarterbacks were probably not franchise-altering performers.

The one quarterback who was viewed as an immediate impact player was Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford who, despite recent surgery on his throwing shoulder proved to NFL teams in pre-draft workouts that he had healed well and had retained his arm strength and accuracy.

The bigger surprise at the quarterback position, and perhaps the story worthy of primetime television programming was the drafting of Tim Tebow, the University of Florida lefty thrower, by the Denver Broncos, with the 25th pick of the first round. Tebow, a two-time national champion, had not been rated an NFL-quality talent but had generally been accepted as a great leader and winner at the college level. It was felt right up until the day of the draft by many personnel experts that Tebow’s game wouldn’t translate well to the professional ranks. Scouts had viewed his throwing motion and his lack of accuracy as major drawbacks in evaluating his skills in a league where a split-second delay in delivering a pass invariably leads to a drive-killing interception. It was felt Tebow simply lacked the physical tools to successfully make the transition to the NFL. One wiseguy scribe, noting Tebow’s well-publicized devotion to spiritual and religious pursuits, described his drafting by Denver as the teams’ wish to fill, not a need for a quarterback but for the job of team chaplain. Evidently, Denver’s hierarchy feels differently. We’ll see.

 As it turned out, Clausen, listed on most football scouts’ draft prognostications as a first rounder was finally selected with the 48th pick by the Carolina Panthers, the former home of Jake Delhomme who spent much of his last two years being chased by onrushing defensive linemen and getting smashed to the ground much more than he would have preferred. Unless Panther head coach John Fox does something about the Panthers’ porous offensive line, Clausen, more of a pocket passer than a scrambling quarterback, will find himself running for cover a lot of the time. His years at Notre Dame, also a team with offensive line problems will have given him good practice for his professional experience with Carolina, it appears.

McCoy, a national champion with Texas, had to wait all the way till the 85th pick, by the Cleveland Browns before he could call himself a professional player. Despite his near-legendary production as a four-year starter at Texas, his short stature and average throwing arm turned off NFL teams, but not as turned off as many televisions across America became as the names of insignificant story lines, I mean, college players rolled off the tongue of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

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