April 27, 2009
To the college-oriented mind, the draft always produces some oddities. Among the players who were selected at some point during this weekend's seven-round, 256-pick marathon were six-foot, 198-pound quarterback Julian Edelman of Kent State (Patriots, No. 232, apparently as a receiver), West Texas A&M slinger Keith Null (Rams, No. 196), Western Ontario, Canada, defensive tackle Vaughn Martin (Chargers, No. 113), and the first draft pick ever from Division II St. Paul's (Va.) College, cornerback Greg Toler (Cardinals, No. 131). Abilene Christian teammates Bernard Scott (Bengals, No. 209) and Johnny Knox (Bears, No. 140) gave the Division II Wildcats more draft picks than Notre Dame, Miami, Florida State, Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan State or Virginia Tech and as many as Arizona, Arizona State, Boston College or Michigan.
The intrigue surrounding the fate of West Virginia's Pat White was put to rest by the Dolphins, who introduced the "Wildcat" to a stunned league last year and appropriately nabbed the quintessential Wildcatter in the second round; a great, scrambling college quarterback couldn't have found a more perfect lab for his uncertain career. Elsewhere, the Chargers used their last pick in the seventh round on LSU receiver Demetrius Byrd, who remains hospitalized with serious injuries from a car wreck that nearly killed him last weekend, and that may prevent him from playing again. The Broncos made tight end Richard Quinn, who had all of 12 catches for 124 yards in two years at North Carolina, the second tight end off the board in the second round. Mel Kiper's preseason darling, Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter, was picked after all, by the Colts as a sixth-round understudy to Peyton Manning, despite briefly losing his job last year to a freshman who began the season as a running back. Three kickers, two punters and one long snapper were drafted; the title of "Mr. Irrelevant," the very last player picked at No. 256, was assumed by South Carolina kicker/punter Ryan Succop, best remembered for having a crucial extra point and then the game-winning field goal blocked in a one-point loss at Florida in 2006.
All of that is to point out some of the obscurities and obvious risks the NFL apparently values to some extent, in contrast to the annual list of notable, productive college stars that it apparently does not:
The League has spoken: No checks shall be issued to prolific spread quarterbacks named "Chase."
The most immediately recognizable name on the list may be Chase Daniel's, but a few other strike me as more puzzling -- namely, Gregg Carr and Jaison Williams, big, productive receivers who I'd think would have the scouts drooling over their size (if not their hands), and Aaron Kelly, another big receiver who passed up a sure spot in last year's draft for a perfectly decent senior season (67 catches) in a wreck of a passing game at Clemson. (See also the decline of one-time scout favorite Harper, Cullen.) What solace did Quan Cosby receive from his host, Bill Cosby, as the rounds passed slowly by? And then there's P.J. Hill, the only major snub who actually left a year of eligibility on the table to test the free agent market (without much success, so far, if this comprehensive list is any indication) -- though, in P.J.'s defense, another year at Wisconsin probably wouldn't have done much for his stock, especially if it was spent behind up-and-coming John Clay.
But for supreme confusion, there's the torrid love affair between Tampa Bay and Josh Freeman, one of the most befuddling first-rounders in recent memory for anyone who watched Freeman against a defense with a pulse at Kansas State, about which new Bucs coach (and former K-State assistant) Raheem Morris actually said, "If I had the Detroit Lions' pick at No. 1, I might have taken Josh Freeman. I'd be fighting for it." Which all goes to show: "Value" and "potential" are all in the eyes of the beholder.