I’ve been pondering whether or not to watch Thursday’s NFL Draft and have figured out there is a must-see moment that just has to be witnessed.

That would be NFL commissioner Roger Goodell walking to the podium for the initial time on Thursday night.

Just imagine the boos and cat-calls Goodell is going to hear after the poor way the NFL has dealt with the ongoing labor dispute. This will be the chance for the fans in attendance to express their opinions and I expect the paying customers are going to be vociferous in voicing their displeasure.

The NFL forced the work stoppage with a lockout and then whined when the courts in Minneapolis rightfully ruled against the league’s weak rationale. The fans aren’t fooled about who the bad guys are in the dispute.

Fans know the league and its 32 owners are the reason why the 2011 season is in jeopardy. The fans are well aware the players aren’t at fault.

The NFL has attempted its usual brand of spin doctoring and failed miserably. With Goodell being the leader of the richest sports league, he’s the easy and proper target of the fan’s dissension.

Federal judge Susan Nelson lifted the lockout earlier this week and the NFL had its stay rejected on Wednesday so the league is being routed by two entities right now – the NFL Players Association and the federal courts.

This is an ugly situation for one reason only – the arrogance of the NFL and its ownership.

That’s why it will be highly entertaining to catch the opening of Thursday’s draft.

Avoid Quarterbacks

I have some advice for any NFL teams looking to draft a quarterback in the upper portion of the first round:

Don’t.

There is no Sam Bradford among this year’s group of quarterbacks and I don’t see a future franchise quarterback among the candidates.

Auburn’s Cam Newton and Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert are the top two-rated quarterbacks but I won’t be surprised if both turn out to be busts. Washington’s Jake Locker is a terrific athlete but results have never matched his skill set. Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett represents a huge gamble.

The second-tier possibilities include TCU’s Andy Dalton. In my view, Dalton has been rising up the charts because the aforementioned foursome is one treacherous collection of quarterbacks.

Too bad the win-now pressure is always so intense for NFL general managers interested in keeping their jobs. The prudent decision is to take advantage of the surplus at other positions – for example, there’s a great group of defensive linemen available – than to take a gamble on a hit-and-miss quarterback proposition.

There will be at least one top-flight quarterback available in 2012 in Stanford’s Andrew Luck for teams who skip on committing to one of this year’s possibilities.

I remember when five quarterbacks went among the first 12 picks in 1999. I wasn’t the least surprised that Tim Couch (No. 1), Akili Smith (No. 3) and Cade McNown (No. 12) were huge busts. The two I liked among the five – Donovan McNabb (No. 2) and Daunte Culpepper (No. 11) — were the only two
to avoid the bust label.

I was also miffed that NFL teams rated Alex Smith (No. 1) over Aaron Rodgers (No. 24) in 2005, so I’m obviously not surprised that the San Francisco 49ers are again looking for an answer at quarterback while Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are sporting Super Bowl rings.

So print this out and save it if you like and hit me up in 2016 … or 2021. But none of this year’s group of quarterbacks are worthy of a Top 10 pick.

What will Chargers do?

The San Diego Chargers are in a pretty good position with five picks in the first three rounds so this would be a good year for general manager A.J. Smith to recapture his draft-day magic.

When I study the Chargers, I see a difference-making defensive end as the team’s most glaring need. Nice-guy Luis Castillo hasn’t come close to living up to that $43 million contract he somehow landed in 2008 and he isn’t suddenly going to go from an adequate NFL defensive end to a superstar.

There’s a reason why he has totaled 8.5 sacks over the past four years. It’s because Castillo is only an average player. Kudos to his agent for landing him such a good contract.

It appears to me that three pretty good defensive end prospects could be on the board when the Chargers pick at No. 18 overall – Wisconsin’s J.J. Watt, California’s Cameron Jordan and possibly Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers, who has slipped due to concerns about a knee.

Any one of those three players would be a worthy pick and a good fit for the Chargers.

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