NEW YORK – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell promised a "new, streamlined" first round, and when 31 selections were made in just three hours and 30 minutes Saturday, he clearly delivered. Goodell's decision to cut the time between first-round picks from 15 minutes to 10 made this entire event more palpable. Last year the first round dragged an interminable 6:08.
That was the longest in history. This was the quickest since 1990.
Just for that, Goodell was the big winner of the draft. He has plans on taking the draft on tour around the country – the contract with New York is complete – and possibly moving the first round to Friday night to increase the entertainment value of the event.
A year ago I would have said that was impossible. After Saturday, it seems probable.
As for the rest of the draft, here are the winners and losers of the event:
WINNER: Jacksonville Jaguars
Say this for the Jaguars, they are playing for keeps. Whether they think their window to win with this team is closing soon or they just decided to go for broke and hope New England steps back, Jacksonville made a move for the immediate.
The Jags lost in the playoffs when Tom Brady sat back and had plenty of time to complete a ridiculous 26 of 28 passes.
That won't happen again. Not after the Jags traded three picks – two third-round selections and a fourth-rounder – to leap from No. 27 to No. 8 overall, where they took Florida defensive end Derrick Harvey. Then they traded a couple of late-round picks this year and next to get Quentin Groves, a pass rusher out of Auburn, in the second round.
It was a steep price for these guys, but as player personnel director James Harris told the Times-Union, "With our roster, we're not sure they (third-round picks) could make the team."
So the Jaguars went and did whatever they could to take care of a most pressing need and position themselves to win this season, whether it is against Peyton Manning in their division or Brady in the playoffs.
WINNER: Carolina Panthers
Nineteen picks into the first round the Panthers had a big-time running game again. Carolina ranked 29th in total offense last year and then saw top rusher DeShaun Foster head to San Francisco.
In an aggressive manner Carolina addressed some of those needs by grabbing running back Jonathan Stewart from Oregon and trading up to get offensive lineman Jeff Otah of Pitt. It cost the team some late-round picks and a No. 1 next season, but while no one knows who will or won't pan out, a purposeful plan always is to be applauded.
"You never want to give that up," general manager Marty Hurney told the Charlotte Observer. "But that says a lot about how we feel about Jeffrey Otah. The two players together, I think, really help us toward our goal, of the personality and character. They are two very physical players."
Bottom line, Carolina should be better.
WINNER: Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens needed a quarterback. They wanted Matt Ryan to slide to them at No. 8. But that didn't happen when Atlanta took the Boston College product with the third pick.
Plan B was Joe Flacco of Delaware. He wasn't worth drafting at No. 8, and there was no threat someone else would grab him – plus, why get stuck paying more money? So the Falcons dropped to 28th, then sprung back up to 18th and at the end of the day got the guy they wanted, for less money, and wound up with extra third- and fourth-round selections to boot. (They lost a sixth-rounder, but whatever).
That's fine draft maneuvering.
The caveat here is how good is Flacco? Is he just the reincarnation of Kyle Boller? A number of player personnel directors who didn't need a quarterback think Michigan's Chad Henne was the best non-Matt Ryan option out there. But Baltimore made its decision and made it work in every imaginable way.
LOSER: Joe Flacco's draft party
Through the years, one of the best parts of the draft is watching the video from the family parties. The legendary bash that LenDale White appeared to be throwing when Tennessee took him remains the stuff of legend. That was a crowd that was enjoying itself.
Flacco needs to step up his game from I-AA to NFL starter. Even his family and friends wore silly "Let's Go Joe" t-shirts. Marlo Stanfield will not allow him to represent Baltimore like that.
WINNER: Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs went for the interior trenches. They grabbed LSU standout defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey at No. 5 and gave up a third- and a fifth-round pick to jump up for Branden Albert, an offensive guard from Virginia who was considered the last of the top-tier lineman available. In doing so the Chiefs are believed to have outmaneuvered the Texans. They then added a physical cornerback in Brandon Flowers in the second round.
Dorsey is going to be a star in the NFL. He's huge, strong, has a great motor and is an extremely high-character, great-locker-room guy. He was a dominant player in college football last year despite being injured for much of the year.
"I know that the Kansas City stadium (Arrowhead) is amazing, the fans are amazing," he said. "I'm just ready to interact with them."
He'll be a huge fan favorite.
LOSER: Vince Young
This was the first draft since 1990 where no receivers went in the first round, so perhaps there was nothing Tennessee could have done to provide support for its young quarterback. But Washington grabbed two pretty good ones in the second round while the only offensive help the Titans added was utility back Chris Johnson of East Carolina.
Young still could use a go-to guy.
WINNER (of the strangest quote award): Jonathan Stewart
"I'm explosive, a power runner, North and South – more North," Stewart said.
I guess he'll only be effective two quarters a game. Did the Panthers know about his aversion to the South when they picked him?
LOSER: Leavenworth Penal League opponents
You know Michael Vick watched on the prison TV, saw the Falcons draft Ryan and went outside to the prison yard and took it out on somebody. He probably hasn't been that fired up since winning at Green Bay in that playoff game.
WINNER: Southern California
This depends on your point of view, but USC should be proud that a ton of talent got drafted on Saturday. Four first-round picks and three second-rounders were taken, meaning it was a great day to be a Trojan.
And while USC fans might worry about the talent left, Pete Carroll has the program stocked. Besides, the last team to have four players picked in the first round was LSU in 2007. They went on to win the BCS title anyway.
LOSER: Brian Brohm
While it's impossible to project these things, it is difficult to imagine the Louisville quarterback would have slipped through the first round, let alone all the way to the Packers at 56th overall, had he turned pro after his junior season. There were plenty of early mock drafts that had Brohm the No. 1 player overall.
But coach Bobby Petrino helped make him a star in college and when he left, everything fell apart. If this was a pure business decision, Brohm should have followed him to the pros.
Now he goes to Green Bay where the clear starter is Aaron Rodgers. That's probably not how he envisioned it.
In trading a first-round and two third-round picks last week to Kansas City, the Vikings assured themselves a fairly quiet first day of the draft. They wound up stealing highly-regarded defensive back Tyrell Johnson of Arkansas State in the second round, but that was it.
However, landing All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen gave Minnesota a major boost and put the Vikes in position as the team to beat in the NFC North. There was no way they were going to get anyone the value of Allen – who had 15½ sacks last year – with those picks.
Rather than a draft party, owner Zygi Wilf threw a party for the signing of Allen, and thousands of fans showed up.
For a team that needed a pass rush and help in the secondary, the week couldn't have gone much better.
WINNER: Oakland Raiders
Everyone is complaining because the Raiders already had running backs when they took Arkansas' Darren McFadden. But did they have a guy as good as McFadden?
Here's the big picture thing with Oakland: It's been terrible the last couple years but the Raiders come out of it with a potential franchise quarterback (JaMarcus Russell) and game-breaking running back (McFadden).
- Joe Flacco