LOS ANGELES, May 1, 2016 — The first day of the NFL Draft is about star power.
The second day is about overachievers, surprise falls, and even poignant events that have little to nothing to do with football. The Cleveland Browns were on the clock, and Mel Kiper Jr.’s pompadour was ready for four hours of football.
The biggest fall went to Myles Jack. The talented linebacker fell out of the first round due to concerns over his knee. He finally went very early in the second round to the Jacksonville Jaguars. With Dante Fowler now healthy, Jaguars Coach Gus Bradley finally has the defense he needs to be competitive in the AFC South.
The Oakland Raiders showed they were singular-minded. They needed to draft defense, defense and more defense, and that is exactly what General Manager Reggie McKenzie did. With a safety and two defensive ends in the first three rounds, standout linebacker Khalil Mack now has his cavalry. A team can never have too many quality defensive ends or defensive tackles.
One of those defensive ends the Raiders picked was Jihad Ward. Leave it to the Oakland Raiders to pick a guy named Jihad. As long as he blows up opposing offensive lines, he will be beloved by the Raider Nation. Only in the NFL could a Jewish owner bring Jihad to his team. This is football. It transcends everything else.
The biggest surprise came when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round. Those who laugh at this pick also laughed when the late Raiders owner Al Davis picked kicker Sebastian Janikowski in the 2000 first round. 16 years later, Seabass is still a Raider booming long kickoffs and field goals.
In the playoffs following the 1995 season, announcer Paul Maguire said, “I hate kickers. They should be paid $50 a game.” It is up to Aguayo to disprove Maguire’s maxim.
The New England Patriots finally were allowed to choose a guy after being docked from taking a first rounder. Mike Mayock sais that cornerback Cyrus Jones has “great ball skills.” Time will tell if Jones can deflate them without getting caught.
There were several meaningful moments that showed why the National Football league is so much more than football.
Raiders legend Willie Brown reminded the television audience and the fans in the auditorium to remembers Mother’s Day. He noted that even though Mother’s Day was the following weekend, there was plenty of time to go shopping for all the moms we love.
The Houston Texans took some of their time to remember the recent Houston flood victims. The devastation to Houston has caused incalculable pain, and several Texans players have immediately used their offseason for community service purposes.
The Minnesota Vikings during their waiting period played “Purple Rain” in a tribute to Prince. The legendary singer who died last week at age 57 was always proud to be from Minnesota.
The New Orleans Saints remembered their fallen teammate Will Smith. The defensive end played with the Saints from 2004 through 20013, winning a Super Bowl with the 2009 team. He was shot to death two weeks ago following a traffic accident that escalated into a fatal conflict.
The NFL took time on Daft Day 2 to salute America’s military. The only thing better than the NFL paying tribute to our military was seeing Draft attendees rise to their feet, salute, and cheer wildly.
That spontaneous reaction cannot be faked. Football fans are the best. They understand concepts such as hard work, sacrifice, teamwork, togetherness, and winning. It is one thing for the league to honor our heroes. It is even better that the fans of the greatest sport get it as well.
As Lee Greenwood’s “God bless the USA” blared in the NFL Draft hall, Draft watchers witnessed what America’s best looks like.
Well done, NFL. Well done, NFL fans!
After the Denver Broncos picked Free safety Justin Simmons with a third round compensatory selection, NFL 2016 Draft Day 2 was in the books. Barely 12 hours later, the third and final day of the Draft would commence. Again, the Cleveland Browns would be on the clock.