The first round of the NFL Draft kicks off in less than 12 hours. Most of the guys picked tonight will have enormous expectations to perform at a very high level for a very long time. Many of them will be All-Pros at some point in their careers. Some of them will be colossal busts.
The new format of the NFL draft has the first round by itself on Thursday night, which is either good or bad depending on who you ask. Much of the suspense of the first overall pick is usually gone before the draft starts, and this year the first two picks are locked in. The biggest storyline appears to be where Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill will land. A year ago, he wasn’t on anyone’s radar and hadn’t spent a season as a starter, but after a decent, but not outstanding season, he morphed into the third best QB in a weak QB draft. Because the top two QBs are already locked in as the first and second overall picks, and the NFL is a full-on quarterback league, the only thing that people seem concerned with is where he ends up.
The consensus seems to be that he won’t make it past the Miami Dolphins at #8. Not only did they fail to bring in a free agent QB, but they recently hired Tannehill’s former head coach, Mike Sherman, as offensive coordinator. If no team trades up into the top 7, the Cleveland Browns at #4 are the only other team that would think about taking him, and I heard this week that they have said Colt McCoy is their guy.
The only thing that could make this story exciting, besides a team trading up to get him, would be if the Dolphins passed on him. That would greatly increase the chances that someone makes a move to get him at #9 or #10.
For me, the other things I am interested in on day 1 start with the top two wide receivers. Justin Blackmon has been the consensus top WR since October, but Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd has made a late push and could go in the top 10 as well. It will be interesting to see where those guys land.
It’s also always interesting to see which player drops beyond where most projections had him. Blackmon could be this guy. More likely I predict someone slotted to go in the 15-20 range drops to the 2nd round, but it likely won’t be a big name guy. And I obviously am interested to see who the Chicago Bears take.
The rest of the draft isn’t as exciting. The first half of the 2nd round generally has enough big names to be interesting, and it’s always fun to see where some other recognizable college players land. I am always interested to see where Big 10 players land, Michigan players in particular. In all likelihood only three Michigan Wolverines will get their names called this weekend: DT Mike Martin, C David Molk and WR Junior Hemingway. TE Kevin Koger has a slim chance, but it seems unlikely. Martin has an outside chance to go on day two (2nd or 3rd round), but more likely I think he ends up in the 4th. Hemingway and Molk will likely go sometime between the 4th and the end, but I expect all three to be drafted at some point.
When you are watching on Saturday and wondering if any of the 6th or 7th rounders your team picked can amount to anything, here is a non-comprehensive list of some of the guys picked in the 6th or 7th rounds since 2001 who either went to Pro Bowls or became multi-year starters. Notice the high number of QBs and WRs.
- 2001 – 7th – WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh
- 2002 – 6th – RB Chester Taylor
- 2002 – 7th – DE Brett Keisel
- 2003 – 6th – LB Cato June
- 2003 – 6th – WR David Tyree
- 2004 – 7th – WR Patrick Crayton
- 2004 – 7th – C Scott Wells
- 2005 – 6th – OL Chris Myers
- 2005 – 6th – QB Derek Anderson
- 2005 – 7th – DT Jay Ratliff
- 2005 – 7th – QB Matt Cassel
- 2005 – 7th – QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
- 2006 – 6th – S Antoine Bethea
- 2006 – 7th – OT Zach Strief
- 2006 – 7th – DB Cortland Finnegan
- 2006 – 7th – WR Marques Colston
- 2007 – 7th – RB Ahmad Bradshaw
- 2008 – 6th – WR Pierre Garcon
- 2008 – 7th – QB Matt Flynn
- 2008 – 7th – WR Steve Johnson
- 2008 – 7th – RB Peyton Hillis
- 2008 – 7th – RB Justin Forsett
- 2009 – 7th – WR Julian Edelman
- 2010 – 6th – WR Antonio Brown
- 2010 – 6th – QB Joe Webb
- 2010 – 7th – OT J’Marcus Webb