NEW YORK – Some observations and awards from the longest first round – six hours, eight minutes – in NFL draft history.
• Best dressed (player) – No question JaMarcus Russell had it going on. He arrived in a black suit, black shirt and black tie. Not only did he pull it off, but he also clued everyone in that he was going to the Silver and Black at No. 1. The inevitable hat was a perfect accessory. No word on a black Members Only jacket.
• Best dressed (fan) – With all due respect to the Green Bay Packers backer who wore a replica of Lambeau Field on his head (the draft brings them out of the woodwork), we like the inventive and poetic Cleveland Browns fan who took his Tim Couch jersey and with a well-placed piece of white tape made it declare every Cleveland fan's opinion of the former No. 1 pick overall: "ouch."
• Conversation we wish we could have overheard – Al Davis and JaMarcus Russell. Davis is a phonetic disaster who probably isn't all that certain how to use one of these new cell phone deals. Russell hails from Mobile, Ala., and has the drawl to prove it.
Absolutely no way either guy knew what the other was saying. It's unlikely either one cared.
• Best fight – Chris Mortensen and Steve Young went back and forth all day on ESPN and it sure sounded like it was more than just professional disagreement. Hey, at least something was interesting on that show.
• Ups and downs – Michigan's players fell and LSU's rose. For the Wolverines, Leon Hall dropped, Alan Branch fell out of the first round and LaMarr Woodley, who was a borderline first-rounder, went deep into the second.
LSU, meanwhile, wound up with four first-round selections: Russell (No. 1), LaRon Landry (No. 6) and wideouts Dwayne Bowe (No. 23) and Craig Davis (No. 30). The only question is how, with that much offensive fire power, did the Tigers manage just three and 10 points in critical losses to Auburn and Florida, respectively.
• Best wheeling and dealing – The Dallas Cowboys in the first round.
First, they trade their 22nd overall pick to Cleveland for a second-rounder (36) and next year's first-rounder (probably top 15). Then they trade with Philadelphia to get the 26th pick in exchange for that second-rounder (36) and a third- and a fifth-rounder.
So in the end, the Cowboys gave up four spots in this year's first round – picked what was likely the exact same guy they wanted (defensive end Anthony Spencer). In the end, they got a likely top-15 pick next year for a third and a fifth this year. That's some nice dealing.
• Most disappointing trend – Other than Brady Quinn's slightly strange suit choice, most of the players have given up on the truly outrageous garb and gone a bit more conservative. We liked the fruit bowl colors. At least we still have the NBA draft, which in terms of fashion, never disappoints.
• So much for "character" – The most popular pre-draft storyline was how NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's new emphasis on off-the-field conduct would cause teams to steer away from talented but troubled players.
The three players whose admission of smoking pot became public; all went in the top 10.
Buffalo jumped on Cal's Marshawn Lynch at No. 12 despite a restraining order against him from an ex-girlfriend who accused him of sexual assault. And New England took Miami (Fla.) cornerback Brandon Meriweather despite a suspension for a brawl with Florida International and the firing of a registered gun to fend off a robbery.
The good news, of course, was he was the robbee, not the robber.
None of this matters to me. I'm just saying all that hype of new ethics is never happening in the National Felons League, a bottom line business if there ever was one. If you can play, teams will deal with shootings outside strip joints and fighting dogs being raised at homes you own.
That said, the dancers this weekend were weeping over at Score's with the loss of business from the draft picks who, since they were probably being tailed by a private eye, tried to stay on their best behavior for the time being.
• Most ambitious draft – Cleveland. If the Browns did wrestle over whether to take Brady Quinn or Joe Thomas with the third pick and then wound up with both of them for a second-rounder and a first-rounder next year, then they have to feel like they cleaned up.
Whether it was too much to give up or not remains to be seen, but at the end of the day, the Browns not only got the franchise quarterback they believed in but also the hulking lineman to defend his blindside. That's a huge first round for this franchise.
Quinn was a pick of great value at 22. He only dropped so far because most teams already had that position settled.
• Wildest day – Brady Quinn.
It started as a complete disaster. He got passed over, dealt with the negative exposure of being the last in the green room, had his hair look worse with each pick, had Goodell rescue him for awhile with an invite into his private room and had to watch unfortunate segments such as "Is Quinn's slide worse than Aaron Rodgers in 2005?"
Then finally, he wound up with Cleveland, where he wanted to go due to his comfort with the coaching staff and proximity to his family outside Columbus.
"It felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulder," he said at the end.
• Best line (player) – Quinn. His response to all the TV talk about the money he was losing as he dropped in the first round, from a potential No. 3 to 22.
"Everyone was saying I was losing money. I didn't have it. In my wallet I have like a dollar in cash. And it's still in there. If you have success in the NFL, you'll make (plenty of) money in your second contract."
• Best line (blog) – Over at profootballtalk.com, a reader surmised that if Brady Quinn fell any further he would have wound up the next "Bachelor."
• Toughest pick to pass over – Cincinnati Bengals not taking Terry C. Collins.
Collins doesn't have much of a 40 time, but the Morehead State product is the director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Other than getting all the Bengals sent to the Rock's prison, he may have the biggest impact on the team next season.
The Bengals went with Michigan's Leon Hall instead.
• Gutsiest pick in the face of ridicule – Matt Millen. The Detroit Lions president selected Calvin Johnson with the No. 2 pick, his fourth top-10 selection spent on a wide receiver in the last five years.
At the very least, he made a determination over who the best player available was and he took him regardless of past humiliating disasters. The wrong thing would have been to allow the past to affect the present. After six consecutive years with picks in the top 10, maybe Millen is learning something.
• Tough crowd – Forget Radio City Music Hall. How about hometown draft parties? Both Miami Dolphins head coach Cam Cameron and Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson were booed by their own fans when announcing their first-round selections.
• Dumb luck – Houston Texans. They pass on Vince Young, Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler last year to give one more year to the futile David Carr experiment. That failed, so the team swapped first-round picks with Atlanta to grab Matt Schaub, which made some sense because you couldn't predict a top-line QB (Russell or Quinn) would be available for the Texans.
And then lo and behold, there's Brady at No. 10. So they opted to stick with Schaub over Quinn (although they did get defensive lineman Amobi Okoye). We'll have to see how that turns out, but we're not confident.
- Brady Quinn
- JaMarcus Russell