LOS ANGELES, May 3, 2015 — The Kentucky Derby was an afterthought. The fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather was what it was. Hockey and basketball had playoff games, and baseball had another sleepy regular season day.
For those wanting even less excitement, riots in Baltimore spread to other cities while the British royal family procreated another princess.
None of these events have anything to do with the 2015 NFL Draft. There is football, and then there is everything else.
The third and final day of the draft contains rounds four through seven. The first pick of the fourth round had the Tennessee Titans selecting defensive tackle Angelo Blackson.
After Blackson came four straight trades. Moving up in place of the Oakland Raiders allowed the Carolina Panthers to finally get some protection for quarterback Cam Newton with guard Daryl Williams. The New York Jets traded with the Jacksonville Jaguars and moved up only one spot. By drafting quarterback Bryce Petty, Gang Green sent a clear message to Geno Smith.
Three-way trades were confusing enough, but there was even a four-way trade. The Detroit Lions in the fourth round got a pick from the Philadelphia Eagles through the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills. All of that maneuvering allowed the Lions to take defensive tackle Gabe Wright. The Buccaneers received a pick from the Raiders through the Panthers, but the Raiders received their pick from the Buccaneers through the Colts. Makes perfect sense, right? When all was said and done, the Raiders had the first and fourth picks of the seventh round as well as the 25th pick.
The fifth round showed history repeating itself. Once again, quarterback Aaron Rodgers has to contend with the return of quarterback Brett to the Green Bay Packers. This time it is not Favre, who is still retired and riding his tractor in Kiln, Miss., and coaching high school football while awaiting enshrinement to Canton. Now Rodgers is the veteran and his new understudy is quarterback Brett Hundley. The Packers moved up 19 spots to grab him. Hundley will sit for a few years and learn. What could possibly go wrong?
Adding to each round are the compensatory picks. The Seahawks had the 31st pick of the seventh round as scheduled. Yet the Patriots moved from spot 32 to spot 30, as the Falcons had pick 32. Then came the compensatory picks. The 39th pick of the seventh round was the 256th pick overall. It belonged to the Arizona Cardinals. The final pick is officially known as Mr. Irrelevant. He and top overall pick Jameis Winston celebrate at events around the country for an entire week known as Irrelevant Week. 2015’s Mr. Irrelevant is tight end Gerald Christian.
One theme throughout the 2015 NFL Draft was the ghost of Al Davis and his mantra of “Just win baby.” The late Raiders owner was never afraid to gamble on picks with a checkered past. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones follows the Davis model.
First, he picked up defensive end Greg Hardy in free agency from the Panthers. Hardy is facing a 10-game suspension for domestic violence. Hardy also endeared himself to people everywhere by making a tasteless joke about 9/11 on Twitter.
In the second round, Jones took defensive end Randy Gregory, who failed a drug test. This comes on the heels of the recent drunk driving incident of Josh Brent that killed his teammate Jerry Brown.
Denver Broncos president John Elway was willing to add defensive end Shane Ray, who is now immediately in the NFL’s drug program. He will line up with Von Miller, who has already been suspended for failing a drug test.
The biggest story of the draft from a jurisprudence standpoint remained La’El Collins. Before the draft, police were questioning him about the murder of his pregnant girlfriend in Louisiana. As of this moment, Collins is not a suspect. Collins was initially expected to be drafted in the first round. After not being drafted through the first three rounds, he withdrew from the 2015 draft and stated he would reapply for the 2016 draft. Unfortunately for Collins, NFL rules prohibit this. Collins can either join a team as an undrafted free agent or see his NFL career go up in smoke.
Meanwhile, one team not acting like the Al Davis Raiders is the Raiders. General manager Reggie McKenzie is selecting solid citizens. Now the hope for the silver and black is that they can play football.
If the Raiders were the original bad boys, then Chicago is the original tough city. New York may disagree, but the NFL draft clearly affects behavior. While riots were taking place in New York City, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made absolutely sure that the streets of Chicago were clean for the draft.
The draft is like a presidential convention. It brings thousands of tourists and their dollars. With cities competing for fewer and fewer dollars, landing big ticket events like the draft requires safe streets. Over 250,000 people attended the last day of the draft in temperatures that surpassed 70 degrees. Once the draft ended, Chicago was expected to return to its tradition of violent crime and miserably cold weather.
The scramble for underrated free agents is now under way. The Seahawks got some help on special teams with a guy from the Special Forces. Former Green Beret Nate Boyer is 34 years old, and he now has signed his first professional football contract. While he has never played professional football, his two deployments in Afghanistan have him trained and ready.
One constant remained nationwide. Whether watching horses in Kentucky, pugilists in Las Vegas or riots in Baltimore, Saturday was all about Chicago. There is nothing like professional football. The 2015 NFL Draft is now in the books. In barely more than four months, the 2015 regular season kicks off.