Ahhh, the season of twisted tongues. Deceit, deception, dishonesty, distortion, falsehood, misrepresentation, detraction, falseness and prevarication are all excellent descriptors of the NFL Draft season. Or as grandpa would say …. “a bucket of horse-hooyey.”
Agent whispers, unnamed executives, off-the-record front office personnel, unknown former coaches and the obligatory “anonymous sources” all have inside player information and seem more than willing to share it. Unlike the last job interview you attended in this cattle-call you have proxies for your competition in full disinformation mode side by side with proxies for teams trying either to increase their chance at a talent they “might” select or obfuscate their true intentions no matter the cost to some unknown collegiate athlete. It’s dog-eat-dog and if you think the top of the draft is all figured out, you haven’t been paying attention.
Though the thick haze of NFL Draft misinformation player profiles begin to crystallize however. Let’s take a look at a few players whose talent is beginning to push the fog to the side.
Derek Rivers, DE, Youngstown State – Like QB, it doesn’t matter when a team gets their edge rusher, what matters is they get one. Forget hype, combine, interviews and back alley banter and go to the film. This kid’s first step is for real. So is his work ethic. The more you look at this kid the higher up the board he keeps climbing. Every executive is in love with him after he interviews. Every coach is in love with him after they watch his film. It’s a QB driven league. That goes on both sides of the ball. The talent here is bigger than the hype.
Obi Melifonwu, Safety, Connecticut – The hype machine was in overdrive before the combine. After the 6’4″, 224 lb SPARQ top-gun blistered the tarmac with a 4.40 second 40 yard dash at his Pro Day while working out at Safety AND CB the UConn product has locked his NFL Draft climb in a dizzying upward spiral. Seahawk’s CB Sherman Richard should ask for a cut of this guys paycheck as it’s his play as Seattle’s CB that has teams salivating and (come draft day) probably reaching for Obi on day one. If a club buys the hype and drafts him as a ball-hawking, over-the-top free safety they will be sorely disappointed. However if they tab Melifonwu looking for a versatile strong safety that can tackle, carry tight ends up the seam as well as cover bigger slot WR’s a team will be ecstatic. The talent is there. So is the hype.
Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina – Every year QB’s drive the draft in one form or another. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first two picks or not. At some point in the draft teams chasing their own “QB of the future” will turn the draft on it’s ear. Trubisky number one to the Browns? What started as a closing round whisper is now being openly talked about as a possibility for the QB needy team. Don’t get me wrong, DE Myles Garrett is the best “talent” in the 2017 NFL Draft. But QB’s drive not only the draft, but the league itself. After missing out on Wentz last season the front office is under a tremendous amount of pressure to bring home a signal caller. Public pressure is a real thing on draft day. This has all the earmarks of a smoke and mirror job, except they’re the Browns.
— Blaq Angus (@BlaqAngus) April 12, 2017
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford – Production and versatility. Both are good things on game day. Together they are NFL Draft gold. The production is in the books. The game tape is there for teams to review. 4.48 second 40 yard dash. 27.5″ vertical. First RB in both the 3-cone and 60-yard shuttle drills. Nice hands, crisp routes, excellent interview, top-flight instincts and a love for the game make it abundantly clear the 5’11”, 220 lb Stanford product is an offensive nightmare in open space. “Size” is the lead you hear in regards to the negative hype. Ignore it. This kid is a matchup nightmare and today’s NFL is fully aware of the effect that has on game day. Who cares about the hype. Get this kid on the field.
The NFL Draft is just a few short weeks away. The Hype-Meter is redlining and showing no signs of letting up. As our own Connor Livesay is fond of saying, football Christmas is almost here. I can hardly wait.
What say you Sports Nation?
Another Left Coast Sports Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over