Things I think I know about a draft that's hard to predict
Lord. How great was that golf? Angel Cabrera's approach shot on 18 and Adam Scott's putting and Cabrera's excruciating near-miss putt and Scott's winning putt ... and the sportsmanship. The real sportsmanship. And hitting those championship shots under such tremendous pressure. That's one of the best 40 minutes of sport I can recall, in any game, any match.
How many of you said, watching that: "I've got to get to the Masters!'' And you do. I scratched that off the bucket list two years ago, and I'm still determined to go again, once, twice, three times. Other than the theater and the beauty and the setting, what's so great about it? Everything.
Anyway, enough with my Masters infomercial. The next big sports thing is 10 nights away. That's the first night of filming of
This was mock draft weekend. When Paul Zimmerman suffered a series of strokes four-and-a-half years ago, SI's Mock Draft was handed down to me. I've done one forever, just not with the pressure that comes from following Dr. Z.
It used to drive Zim crazy, the time he spent on the unknowable. Many's the Sunday afternoon before the draft we'd be on the phone, Zim trying to crack the code of just one more team and asking if I knew anything to help. How angry he'd be if he found out something about, say, the Vikings at 11, that swayed him to make a change there, and then of course the dominoes would fall and he'd have to change 12, 13, 17, 18, 20, 23, 25, 26, 27 and 28.
Now, with round one of the draft moved to a Thursday night, the magazine has moved the mock to a week earlier. I used to file mine two or three days before the draft, online; now I file it 11 days before, and it runs in the magazine a week before. It's never very pretty. This year, it could be a stink bomb.
I talked in confidence to quite a few people around the league Friday through Sunday, so they could (I hoped) be relatively honest. I tried to barter some information as the calls went on, but mostly I was fishing. And the lines I cast over the weekend came up empty quite a bit.
Empathizing with me Sunday was Mike Mayock, the wizard of these things and of draft research, and we agreed on the three reasons draft-placement intelligence is going to be hard to come by this year. 1. The absence of no-doubt franchise quarterbacks means you can't pencil in great prospects at the very top. 2. There's a lack of must-have franchise guys at the top of the draft, with a bigger upper middle class than normal, meaning a Star Lotulelei could go sixth or 26th; beauty's in the eye of the GMs. 3. So many new GMs and franchise czars are at the top of the draft -- six new coaches in the top 10 of the draft, and seven new men running draft rooms -- that it's tough to predict what they'll do when they haven't developed a track record. Only two men among the top 11 teams in the first round -- Buffalo's Buddy Nix and Detroit's Martin Mayhew -- have been running drafts longer than two years.
"And,'' Mayock said, "you throw a Chip Kelly in there at No. 4. He could be so different. I'm not sure they value things in Philadelphia the way everyone else does in the league anymore. So we don't know that. Add to that the talent in the first round and the second round is pretty equal at a lot of spots. I could see [defensive end] Bjoern Werner going six, I could see him going 28. Right now, I think it's simply an unpredictable year. I feel very good about my player analysis as we sit here right now. I don't feel good at all about where those players are going.''
I'm in the same boat as Mayock. Here are a few things I know, or feel good about, in round one:
Scattershooting after that: I did one mock draft Saturday night that ended with no quarterbacks in the first round. But I eventually put Geno Smith in my mock for the magazine, because there's just too much smoke about him going in the first round. I just don't know who's going to take him ... At 13,
As I reported Sunday night,
Now for the Super Bowl participants.
Finally: Quarterbacks Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib and E.J. Manuel all should be gone by 41. (Buffalo picks there, and I expect the Bills to take a quarterback in the first two rounds.) The quarterback position is the toughest to figure in this draft. A sliding Geno Smith could make it more problematic if he's not taken in the first dozen picks -- and I cannot promise he will be.
Quote of the Week I
"Yeah, that's golf. Golf gives and takes. So yeah, sometimes you make those putts, sometimes you just miss them. But that's golf."
Quote of the Week II
"There is not a guy that's done more for this franchise in this offseason than Matthew Stafford. The guy's been in the building every day. He's been living here the entire offseason. He's been working out, he's helped us recruit free agents, he's been involved on a daily basis in trying to get ready for the season, and he would do anything to help us be successful."
The Lions and Stafford will have a new long-term deal done by the end of the year. Write it down.
Quote of the Week III
Quote of the Week IV
"This is such BS! All the training and sacrifice just flew out the window with one step that I've done millions of times! The frustration is unbearable. The anger is rage. Why the hell did this happen?!? Makes no damn sense. Now I'm supposed to come back from this and be the same player Or better at 35?!? How in the world am I supposed to do that?? I have NO CLUE. Do I have the consistent will to overcome this thing? Maybe I should break out the rocking chair and reminisce on the career that was. Maybe this is how my book ends. Maybe Father Time has defeated me... Then again maybe not! It's 3:30 a.m., my foot feels like dead weight, my head is spinning from the pain meds and I'm wide awake. Forgive my venting ... Feels good to vent, let it out.''
Ridiculously Overstated Quote of the Week
"This will cast a dark shadow over the entire day of golf, over this entire event, but more importantly over his entire career for the rest of the life."
So ... on the day Tiger Woods dies, everyone will skip right by the 14 majors he won (or 18, or 24, by then) and say, "All of the victories are rendered insignificant by the time Tiger dropped his ball two feet behind the spot where he should have dropped it in the 2013 Masters. And that's the most important thing he ever did, positive or negative."
That is some pathetic golf analysis. Shouldn't these analysts go to Hyperbole School?
Jason Hanson Stat of the Week
The most amazing thing about the notable NFL career of kicker Jason Hanson, who called it quits at 42 last Tuesday, is how good he was at the time of life when other players his age were long since retired or fired.
In the five years he kicked for the Lions since turning 38, Hanson made 85.3 percent of his field-goal attempts. A kicker with a career percentage of 85.3 would be eighth on the league's all-time field-goal-accuracy list.
Jason Hanson Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
The 1992 NFL Draft was 12 rounds in length, divided between a late-April Sunday and Monday. It was not a particularly good draft. Out of 336 players, none has been selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The draft is now officially history. When the 56th player in the draft, Jason Hanson, retired, he was the last active player of that class (by far) to leave the game.
Hanson played 327 games for Detroit over a 21-year career and made two Pro Bowls.
Out of the 1992 NFL Draft, the top three picks -- Steve Emtman, Quentin Coryatt and Sean Gilbert -- ended up playing 278 NFL games combined and earning one Pro Bowl.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
Well, now I've seen the other side. I spent three days last week in Boston, Detroit and Chicago talking to advertisers and ad agency reps about the new NFL-exclusive website SI is foolish enough to be giving me to play with. This week, I'll do more in Manhattan, and I'll travel to Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles.
The Five Things I Have Learned About the Business of Our Business:
Needed a couple of good nights' sleep after the Chicago-Detroit trip. This week, I have Pat's Run, the 4.2-mile race memorializing the late Pat Tillman and raising money for his foundation, Saturday at 7 a.m. in Tempe, Ariz. That'll be interesting, to see the energy I have left for that one.
Tweet of the Week I
"Glad the business side is out of the way. Now its back to playing football and bringing number 7 back to Pittsburgh. Love!!! #Steelernation"
Tweet of the Week II
"Talked to my dad about the viewer calling in on Tiger. We both agreed its best viewers can't call in holding penalties on me.''
Tweet of the Week III
"Am I the only one who woke up seeing a bunch of "DQ" tweets & thought something had happened w Dairy Queen?"
Everybody's a comedian.
Tweet of the Week IV
"Wow. I love golf."
Ten Things I Think I Think
Sanders had 44 catches for a team-high 14.2 yards per catch. He'll likely start alongside Antonio Brown. Folks, that's worth $2.5 million, a starting wide receiver on a team that's going to send the quarterback back to pass 575 times.
a. If you read one sports story today, read this one by Chuck Culpepper of Sports On Earth on the late Frosty Westering, a football coach from Pacific Lutheran in Tacoma.
b. If you read one story about football this week, I strongly suggest buying
c. And if you read one story about journalism this week, read this incredibly sad gem from Jeff Pearlman on being whacked as the unpaid adviser to the Manhattanville College student newspaper.
d. I don't know how I missed this, but what a cool gesture this was by the former president.
e. Memo to MLB: Maybe scheduling the Mets to start the season in Queens (six games), Philadelphia (three) and outdoors in Minneapolis (three, minus Sunday's sleet-out), and then Colorado (three), with temperatures for one game this week scheduled to be in the teens, wasn't such a great idea.
f. Memo to MLB II: Maybe scheduling the Yankees to start the season in the Bronx (three games), Detroit (three games) and Cleveland (two coldouts, one game) wasn't such a great idea.
g. Memo to MLB III: Maybe scheduling the Twins outdoors in the north for the first six weeks of the season wasn't such a good idea.
h. By the way, baseball needed to suspend Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin for five games longer than the period Dodgers pitcher Zach Greinke will be gone with his fractured collarbone (which will keep Greinke out for two months), which would be a revolutionary but justifiable penalty. Instead, Quentin got eight games. There was no need for Quentin, who clearly has some sort of anger-management problem, to charge the mound Thursday night in San Diego. And for major-league baseball to slap Quentin on the wrist is to say to him and all other outlaws who have made blood sport out of charging the mound in a misplaced-traditional rite of machoness, "Hey, go kill the pitcher. It's OK."
i. Coffeenerdness: You know you're drinking too much espresso when you have a Starbucks gold card in your wallet and on your Starbucks phone app. Different cards too. Gold at both. That means I'm over the top as a latte man.
j. Beernerdness: Doubt I am the first, but I managed to have an Iron Mike's Ale (nice and dark) and glass of his Iron Mike's The Icon Cabernet (bold, heavy on the blackberry aroma) in the same evening. And I'm a better man for it.
The Adieu Haiku
Angel Cabrera should instruct a class in class. Wouldn't you enroll?