LOS ANGELES, April 28, 2016 — After 362 days underground, Mel Kiper Jr. appeared, saw his pompadour’s shadow and declared three straight days of football talk.
Sir Roger of Goodell then spaketh words that had not been heard in 22 years.
“The Los Angeles Rams are on the clock.”
The 2016 National Football League Draft is now a reality. Round one is now in the books. While it was significantly quieter than in years past, that is mainly because the big blockbuster trades took place before the draft began.
The top two quarterbacks kicked things off as expected. The Rams choose Jared Goff over Carson Wentz, who ended up with the Philadelphia Eagles. Meanwhile, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay still has no regrets from choosing Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf.
The big news began with the third spot when the non-Los Angeles Chargers were on the clock. San Diego was expected to select offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil to protect Philip Rivers. The draft was rocked when a video appeared Thursday showing Tunsil smoking marijuana through a gas mask bong. The video went viral and sent Tunsil’s draft stock plummeting.
San Diego instead took defensive end Joey Bosa.
Next came Dallas. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is always a gambler. Jerrah resisted the urge to trade all his picks away for Johnny Manziel. Asked who they wanted Jones to add to his team, Cowboys fans responded “Jimmy Johnson.”
They chose running back Ezekiel Elliott. It was only fitting on Passover that Ezekiel entered the room. Then came the wait for Elijah.
The London Jaguars chose Jalen Ramsey, who may have sobbed after being told that some Jacksonville home games are played in North Florida and not Europe.
A complete list of all 31 first round Draft decisions showed plenty of teams sensibly filling needs to replace departed players. The New England Patriots forfeited their first round pick due to the Deflategate cheating scandal.
The Bears and Buccaneers both honored their heritage and went with defense after swapping the nine and eleven spots. New Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd has already been ordered by Dick Butkus and Brian Urlacher to beat the daylights out of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Buccaneers went with cornerback Vernon Hargreaves and his dreadlocks. Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber and Warren Sapp expected to take Vernon Hargreaves and shave his head in the name of Buc Ball.
Tunsil’s misery finally ended when he was chosen by the Miami Dolphins with the 13th pick. After dealing with Richie Incognito, the Dolphins picking Tunsil is nothing. There is some consolation for Tunsil. Warren Sapp, Randy Moss and Aaron Rodgers all fell badly in the Draft (although Rodgers had zero character issues) and went on to have stellar careers.
Reggie McKenzie continues to be the antithesis of the late Al Davis. The Raiders used to be about “Just win baby,” ignoring guys with criminal records. McKenzie has taken risks on guys with medical issues, but not character issues. McKenzie was trained by the Packers before coming to Oakland. By taking safety Karl Joseph to replace Charles Woodson, McKenzie made another safe, solid and sensible pick.
The other major piece of drama centered around quarterback Paxton Lynch. By choosing defense with Sheldon Rankins over Lynch, the New Orleans Saints seemed uninterested in grooming a successor to Drew Brees. Brees is still elite, hence a lack of urgency in the Big Easy.
While it appeared the Bills and Jets at 19 and 20 would fight over Paxton, both Rex Ryan and Todd Bowles went with defense. That is what they know. Lynch was finally selected at 26 by the defending champion Denver Broncos. The great thing about being Denver’s quarterback is that there is no pressure since expectations are low. Just win Super Bowls.
Lynch is not being asked to be a savior like John Elway in 1983 or Peyton Manning in 2012. These Broncos are Von Miller’s team. Lynch has to be Trent Dilfer, nothing more.
Two of the most ridiculed franchises are the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions. Those days of futility may be ending. Thanks to clever wheeling and dealing, the Browns may have close to all 32 first round picks next year. Detroit in taking offensive tackle Taylor Decker chose safe and solid over sexy.
Decker is a big wedge of beef meant to protect Matthew Stafford. Coach Jim Caldwell was so pleased at Decker’s selection that he almost made a facial expression. If the Lions are not careful, owner Martha Ford may not fire anyone this year.
The Minnesota Vikings made a perfect pick. Teddy Bridgewater to new wide receiver Laquon Treadwell could become the new Randall Cunningham to Randy Moss. With Adrian Peterson, the Vikings have to guard against overconfidence. It is way too early to declare this 1998, but the Vikings are a legitimate Super Bowl contender under Mike Zimmer.
The Cincinnati Bengals should skip players and instead draft a psychiatrist. They have talented head cases who blew up in the playoffs last year. Marvin Lewis picked defensive insurance in case any of his current defensive stars get arrested or suspended.
The 31st and final pick of the first round came from the Seattle Seahawks. A Draft with few bombshells ended quietly. Pete Carroll and John Schneider again played it safe and solid by taking offensive tackle Germain Ifedi. He is needed to replace Russell Okung. Ifedi is expected to immediately be on the phone with Walter Jones asking for advice.
Once Round 1 ended, there were approximately 19 hours until Round 2. Rounds 2 and 3 take place Friday starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The final four rounds take place Saturday. For now, the Cleveland Browns are on the clock.