I have a persistent nightmare around draft time. I will burn out my youth by working round the clock, bringing my mock draft absolutely up to tip top shape, file it to the magazine editors, watch the
With the deadline passed, I am powerless to move. Thus the announcement earlier this week that Miami is drafting
Worst of all, the mood of my loyal readers is not anger, as it should be. It's sorrow. A fine mind burned out at the still productive age of 93. A lifetime's work wasted.
Here's what happened.
I place another call to Condon. "We've been talking," he says. Right, and you'll be talking while he drafts the other guy. Ah, Fra Diavolo, do I know this vicious game or don't I? I am the man who will nail this ruse while others fall into the trap. I'm the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo. I am LeCarre's Smiley and Fleming's Bond rolled into one package. How can my readers get so lucky?
Then Parcells agreed to a deal to draft Long. My suicide attempt was foiled when the Redhead snatched away the soup spoon I was trying to swallow. I give you now my, sob, amended top of the draft, since quite a few lives have been affected by this unforeseen change in fortunes:
Miami needs a ... sorry, I just can't go through with it. See above.
"We'll take whichever Long falls to us,"
The scouts love
Damn! Gholston's gone and we oh so wanted him. Dorsey? Hmmm, would be dynamic in the middle, no question, and if we draft him, then New England couldn't -- those are the rules -- but Clady's a terrific O-lineman, a complete tackle, one of the Boys from Boise. Why not?
They're a base 3-4 defensive team, but
Do you fortify an already powerful defense with the most gifted, nifty-footed linebacker on the board, or try to trade up for Matt Ryan -- or hope the BC quarterback falls to you at No. 8? If Dorsey is still there, he'd be too good to pass up as well.
Cincy hasn't seen this kind of player on its interior defensive line since the days of
Could use Keith Rivers, but he'll likely be gone. The top corner is available if the Saints want him. The decision will be between the explosive Jenkins and Troy's kinetic
Surprising that the best wideout is still left, but it's a great fit for the Bills, who need someone to complement
The Panthers are looking for an active pass rusher to take
Dynamic run blocker, a reincarnation of ... that's right --
At 6-7, 315, he slides over to tackle, with the power and athleticism to handle the move. (Albert started two games there last season.) Harvey's a possibility if the Lions decide to go defense, Mendenhall if they're looking for a runner -- if either is available.
Sensational combine workouts and a big-time Senior Bowl, but he was strangely unproductive in some games for the 5-6 Tigers. Explanation? "He was probably bored," says Cardinals coach
Where's the offensive lineman you promised? Oh this will never do, never do at all. I mean Troy? Why not draft Helen Of. You say what? He's the best pure cover corner on the board. A natural. Smooth and instinctive. Sorry, the O-line is still an area of crucial need.
Houston's quarterbacks are perennially under pressure, and the Texans are finally addressing the problem at the ground level. Williams is the consensus No. 4 tackle in the draft, a tall, smooth, athletic type with fine pass-blocking instincts.
He's higher on Philadelphia's board than on other teams'. A size-and-speed guy (6-1, 202 and 4.44 in the 40), he plays with a kind of arrogance that makes him liked or disliked by the scouts. There's no middle ground.
How much longer can Joey Galloway carry the receiving load for the Bucs? Hardy, with his outstanding size (6-5, 217) and athleticism, is a perfect complement. He's not a burner, but that's no problem -- the 36-year-old Galloway can still leave 'em behind when he has to.
An unusual pick for the Skins, who are generally attracted by the flashy athlete. Merling is an unspectacular, fundamentally sound wingman who isn't highly rated as a pass rusher but will give new coach
Every draftnik with a pencil is predicting
OK, it's a name that belongs on the back of a Pittsburgh uniform. But more than that, the 6-7, 315-pound Cherilus is the kind of pick the Steelers love to make -- a tough, hardworking, drive-blocking offensive lineman. I love this kind of pick too.
Stewart, the Oregon running back, will get a long look. "Eddie George came back from the same toe injury [Stewart had],"
The Seahawks could go a lot of different ways with their pick, including tight end, but there's just something about the history of safeties from the U. Phillips has solid measurables (6-1 1/2, 213; 4.43 in the 40) and good coverage skills.
If there's one defensive tackle left on the board,
If not for March turf-toe surgery, he'd be long gone by now. It's a gamble, but
And that should empty the cornerback storehouse. Extreme toughness is Flowers's trademark, which offsets a less-than-dynamic 40 time (4.55). But guaranteed, he'll make his presence felt on the field, either in the base defense or in the nickel.
Here's a big guy (6-4, 219) whose unimpressive 40 time of 4.54 will cause him to drop deep into the first round. But Kelly could be a valuable possession receiver, and what better gift for new starting quarterback
I was all set to hand them
But just to show that he still has some modicum of sanity left, Frank invites me to visit the Washington wine country. I think I mentioned in a previous column, Frank old boy, that I used to go with a lady cattle rancher from Benton City named Sharon Engstrom, and we did a good number on the wineries in that area, and even made it to the International Pinot Noir Festival in McMinnville, Ore. What was one great thing about Sharon? She had a cattle herding dog named Morgan who could jump as high as your head and never tired of messing with dog fanciers such as myself.
Chris Long plays the run better than Smith did. Gholston has more talent but, so far, less desire than Mamula had. Jake Long? You might be right there. But don't be so bitter. It's the draft, man. Biggest lottery in the world. Best flesh market this side of Constantinople. Have fun. Draw up 30 or 40 Mock Drafts yourself. Watch the TV coverage all weekend with a couple of cases of beer at your side. Invite your friends and girlfriends over.
Hear that bugle? It's sounds the end of draft questions. And here comes the next squadron.
The first time I noticed something odd was when I covered the Super Bowl and immediate pre-Super Bowl Steelers. Their bodies looked smoother, almost rubberized, like inflated balloons. I remember writing that they looked like nothing I'd seen before, like they were from another planet. No kidding, I really wrote this. I remember staring openly at
Since then things were refined, and now the traces are tough to detect. They say undue amount of pimples on the back, and things I'm sure you've heard about, are tipoffs, but aside from too much bulk with not enough of a corresponding amount of body fat, I can't think of too many sure giveaways. Besides, human growth hormones have replaced steroids as the drug of choice.
Is this fair? No. Am I opinionated and biased? Absolutely. But for too many years I covered the Jets and sat at the dinner table at camp with a bunch of their coaches and argued politics, such as in the 1972 election,
The same city, in which I was born, incidentally, produces an email from
Whew, you've got me confused. Is it a shame I don't write exclusively about football, straying occasionally into such esoterica as wine? Sorry, but I don't live in a box. Is it a shame that I don't pay attention only to the technical aspect of football? Ah, the heck with it. Just skip the parts that stray from the path. You ask if I ever get discouraged that the business end intrudes too often. Yeah, but even worse was the old era in which players got paid only a fraction of what they should have been making.