Thousands of articles, hundreds of television hours, and about six trillion Tweets will be devoted to draft speculation in the next few weeks, creating a free-for-all of hype, confusion, and misinformation. In the run-up to the draft, smart people will say dumb things, dumb people will say smart things, and rumors will take on lives of their own. In his regular Draft Chatter feature, Mike Tanier tries to find nuggets of meaning and truth in a roaring river of draft nonsense. Eagles fans: get ready to party like it's 1999!
The Eagles are throwing a party at Lincoln Financial Field on Draft Thursday, April 26, and as Peter Mucha of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, it's a chance to meet the Eagles cheerleaders, get some autographs, and swap Mike Mamula nightmare stories with your fellow Philly fans.
It's also a chance to keep Eagles fans off the streets, particularly the streets around Radio City Music Hall.
Yes, we are back in Boo McNabb mode, in part because McNabb recently called himself the "most unfairly criticized quarterback in NFL history." A whiny, self-serving comment to be sure, but folks in Philly are out to prove McNabb wrong by shredding him mercilessly about the remark. Hey, it's not the City of Brotherly Irony.
As Mucha points out, Philly fans (specifically, a bunch of central casting boo birds assembled as a sports talk radio publicity stunt) booed McNabb when he was taken third overall in 1999, though revisionist historians argue that they were booing "the pick," which was probably not much consolation for the player who was, in fact, the pick. The Eagles are kicking tires on Ryan Tannehill right now, and while it is unlikely that Tannehill will last until their selection, and he would actually be a fine fit for a team that can wait a year or two while a quarterback develops, who knows how the Phaithful will react when the Eagles inevitably select an offensive or defensive lineman?
The Phaithful cheered Danny Watkins last year, but not even an Eagles fan can boo a fireman.
-- Theme Party: If the Eagles do draft Tannehill, they will be drafting for depth. The Ravens have flat-out stated that improving their depth is their theme for this draft.
Ravens director of player personnel David DeCosta said at a recent press conference that his drafts, like birthday parties for four-year olds, have themes. "Last year, we felt like we needed playmakers, so we brought in (receiver) Torrey Smith, and we brought in (cornerback) Jimmy Smith," DeCosta said. "I think this is a depth draft for the Ravens, at virtually every position."
The Ravens consistently have productive drafts, so the "theme" concept must work. Focusing on playmakers, or depth, makes more sense than the typical Dolphins theme: "let's cast about randomly and grab guys." The Redskins theme in 2013 and 2014 will be "let's arrive late." The Bengals theme is often "Live at Folsom Prison." And of course, Matt Millen was like the little boy obsessed with Spider-man: he kept having a wide receiver themed party over and over again.
"Depth" can also be interpreted as "guys who can take over when all of the old timers on defense retire." And with the 29th pick, the Ravens aren't likely to get an immediate playmaker, anyway.
-- Bench Warrant: Wisconsin center Peter Konz would certainly qualify as depth for the Ravens, whose starting center is 36-year old Matt Birk. As Rob Rang reports for CBSSports.com, Ravens representatives attended Wisconsin's Pro Day, along with delegations from the Bengals, Bears, and other clubs.
Konz improved on his bench press numbers from the Combine, going from 18 reps at 225 pounds to 23 reps. "I've just never been that good at the bench," Konz said. May we all be so terrible that we can only get 225 pounds in the air about two dozen times.
Konz reported that he is about 90% healed from the ankle injury that kept him out of three games last year, forced him to hobble through the Rose Bowl, and limited him at the Combine to interviews and the bench press. Still, he did not run his 40-yard dash. Slacker! We demand 40-times for rehabilitating centers!
-- Floyd and St. Jimmy: Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd did run the 40 at his Pro Day on Tuesday, and he cut his time from 4.74 at the Combine to 4.54. When players make significant improvements like these in about six weeks, you have to admire their commitment to improvement a little and question the validity of these measures a lot. How much does an NFL player's sprint time fluctuate during a season? Think of all of the factors that can affect a sprint time: fatigue, minor injuries, a slight fever, a too-big breakfast, and the fact that it's December and the quarterback isn't going to get you the football, anyway. Floyd is back in the early first round, though he probably never left, because most NFL personnel guys watch game film instead of harping on one number to two decimal places.
Former Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen threw to Floyd, and Clausen was no doubt thrilled to take a break from answering Cam Newton questions so he could answer some Floyd questions. "He's gonna do great," Clausen said. "He's a competitor, he works hard -- one of the hardest guys that I've seen work. Just to have his mentality and his skill set, he's gonna fit in really well." Clausen must be taking lessons from David Carr, the NFL's best backup quarterback when it comes to providing affable soundbytes about more-interesting teammates. (It's the reason the Giants re-signed him). Asking Clausen to throw for him was an inspired move by Floyd: you never want to select a wing man who is more impressive than you are.
Representatives from the Bengals and Bears attended the Floyd workouts. Yes, they were at the Wisconsin Pro Day too; it's cheaper to carpool. No Ravens reps were reported to be in attendance, perhaps because they were looking elsewhere for depth, and the Eagles don't need wide receivers and hope to deflect draft criticism by locking fans in The Linc, anyway.
But with a big wide receiver helping his draft stock, they should have invited Matt Millen. For old time's sake.