There'll be no Free Form Friday this afternoon as we'll instead be openly commenting on this evening's NFL Draft festivities in a fashion best described as "threaded." First though a few random thoughts on the 1st round of the draft, especially as it relates to SEC football generally and University of Georgia football in particular.
- I like Julio Jones. He will be a very good NFL receiver, and especially valuable to the Falcons as a compliment to Roddy White. Having two legitimate deep threat receivers on the field at all times should be a huge help to Matt Ryan, assuming he ever figures out how to consistently throw the deep ball. That being said, the price to move up to 6 and take him was just too damned high. Unless the Atlanta brain trust has some reason to believe that White is not going to be around much longer (by which I mean 2-3 years) they just spent franchise player level capital on a solid #2 receiver. You pick up #2 receivers in free agency. You don't give up two 1st round picks and three other selections for them. That's like paying $200,000 for a shiny new Mercedes. It's an excellent car, but even if it does everything it's supposed to you still paid at least three times what you should have, leaving aside even the question of whether you had the money to spend in the first place. With John Abraham and Tony Gonzalez not getting any younger and their linebacking corps a continual work in progress, I don't think the Falcons had the extra coin to make this move. Unless Julio Jones ends up becoming a Pro Bowl-caliber receiver by his second season this trade will follow Thomas Dimitroff around for the rest of his career. Jason Kirk is absolutely correct in writing that this was a very un-Belichicky thing to do, and given the results Belichick has produced over the past decade, it's going to take a lot to convince me that diverging from that model is a good thing.
- Of course Jones was one of four Crimson Tide footballers to go in the first round, an impressive presence. If you want to know why Nick Saban can get a cup of coffee in the living room of every talented high school football player in the country, this is exhibit A. Mark Ingram is a great fit in New Orleans, which could definitely use a solid power runner. Marcell Dareus filled a solid need for Buffalo, even if they will be paying out the nose for him and could have gotten other guys nearly as good by trading down. But I think offensive lineman James Carpenter may end up being the star of the group in terms of value to his team. Seattle needed to get younger on the offensive front and they did so, and with a guy who can play all up and down the front, to boot.
- The Carolina Panthers draft like a troupe of brain-damaged capuchin monkeys. Seriously. Not only can they not stop drafting quarterbacks, they can't stop drafting the wrong quarterbacks. Neither Cam Newton nor Jimmy Clausen will be under center for the Panthers during the 2015 season. One is Rich Gannon without the intangibles and the other is Jamarcus Russell with a weaker arm. The Newton pick was a move that I believe in my heart of hearts was calculated at least in part to sell tickets. And it will work for a season or two. Then neither Newton nor the fans are going to want to come to the ballpark.
- The Lions on the other hand continue to draft pretty well in the post-Matt Millen era. Say what you will about Nick Fairley (and I have, repeatedly), but don't say that he won't make a great compliment to Ndamukong Suh on the Detroit defensive front. A lot was made of "character concerns" with Fairley in the lead up to the draft, which may have something to do with him falling to the Lions at #13. But character concerns come in a lot of different shapes and sizes. Is Fairley a dirty football player? Unquestionably. Did he get to Auburn via the JUCO route, a route which NFL personnel people have always seemed a bit skeptical of? Sure. But so far as I know of he's not been arrested, never failed a drug test, and consistently played his rather large rear end off for the WarTigerPlainsBackpackDroppers in 2010.
- Arizona's selection of Pat Peterson to pair with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie should give the Cardinals a young cornerback tandem that will last them for the foreseeable future. This is a great example of why picking "the best player available" and "filling needs" are not always mutually exclusive.
I'll be back with you this evening for the Day Two Open Comment Thread. Until then, feel free to talk amongst yourselves, and . . .