Posts Tagged ‘Jason Verrett’

The NFL draft begins Thursday and I am noticing I’m not really looking forward to it.

That’s an odd feeling in that I covered the draft as a professional more than a dozen times at either the professional or college level. And always made sure my Saturdays were clear to watch it prior to that well before this decade’s dumb three-day format.

Analyzing things, I can see why I’m not all that interested in the 2017 NFL draft.

That’s because this is the first draft in my lifetime in which my hometown doesn’t have an NFL team.

Not the least bit interested in who the Los Angeles Chargers pick. Geez, it is hard writing that city’s name before Chargers.

The Chargers belong to San Diego, not the smog clowns and silicone fakes of Los Angeles. The draft is really the first time a big NFL event happens in which the Chargers aren’t referred to as “San Diego Chargers.”

When Roger Goodell reads that phrase off the cue card as the Chargers make their first-round pick, it is a loud reminder to the football world that San Diego is no longer an NFL town.

Dean Spanos had ample opportunities to make it work in San Diego and didn’t have the big-boy leadership abilities to make it happen. Good riddance to him and his poorly run organization.

That is where we will miss the draft — mocking the Chargers for their sad first-round picks.

The lousy picks roll off the tongue easily — receiver Walker Gillette in 1970, running back Leon Burns in 1971, fullback Bo Matthews in 1974, cornerback Mossy Cade in 1984 (Google him to see what a total reject he is) and the biggest draft bust of all-time in quarterback Ryan Leaf in 1998.

There are many other busts — one of my favorites being receiver Craig “Buster” Davis in 2007. I called up Davis’ receivers coach at LSU while writing a profile story and got greeted with all kinds of criticisms of Davis’ desire, toughness and inability to stay healthy.

Guess what Davis was known for during his 26 total games over four seasons with the Chargers? Yep, low desire, no toughness, always injured.

During Davis’ second season, I already wrote song lyrics about him called “Wasted Draft Pick,” to the tune of Rod Stewart’s “Infatuation.”

Great pick, A.J. Smith! Might want to talk a player’s position coach before you select him.

Of course, there were superb first-round picks over the years too — defensive tackle Gary “Big Hands” Johnson in 1975, tight end Kellen Winslow in 1979, defensive end Leslie O’Neal in 1986, linebacker Junior Seau in 1990, running back LaDainian Tomlinson in 2001 and the great quarterback maneuver of 2004 when Eli Manning refused to play for the Chargers but Smith drafted him anyway before working out a trade with the New York Giants for Philip Rivers.

General manager Tom Telesco has fared well in the first round of the last three drafts with cornerback Jason Verrett, running back Melvin Gordon and defensive end Joey Bosa.

The Chargers select seventh this time around so they are positioned well to land another good talent.

But there will be a different feeling when Telesco makes his pick.

You see, these aren’t the San Diego Chargers anymore. So it no longer is a big deal if the team scores with its pick or lands another bust.

Perhaps that is why the draft’s appeal isn’t there for me this year. My hometown doesn’t have a team and the fun is gone.

You see, I could care less if a team from Los Angeles messes up its draft.

The 2014 NFL Draft will forever be known for one of the big-time moments in sports history: Michael Sam becoming the first openly gay player to be selected.

It looked like the draft might conclude without Sam hearing his named called before the St. Louis Rams tabbed him with the 249th selection of the 256-player draft.

Being chosen in the seventh round is a bit lower than one might expect the SEC Defensive Player of the Year to be picked. But it certainly is a good situation for the outside linebacker who played college football a few hours down the freeway at Missouri.

Having an esteemed veteran coach like Jeff Fisher – a secure leader who has handled a multitude of situations during his career – makes the situation a good one for Sam. Fisher’s presence will help things become more manageable as the upcoming media crush hits minicamp with everybody wanting a piece of Sam.

The playing football part is up to Sam. Yes, his draft stock fell partly due to his measurables. Sure, he’s a bit of a tweener. But he was a standout pass rusher in college and he should be able to play a role for the Rams.

And if for some reason he doesn’t pan out as a player, it won’t be because he’s gay and kissed a guy on television after being drafted. It will be because he didn’t pan out as a player.

Period. Just the way it should be.

Here are some other draft thoughts …

Wasn’t all that long ago when I had questions about whether or not Johnny Manziel was worthy of a first-round pick or more likely to forever be a knucklehead like Ryan Leaf. I started to feel he was first-round material last September when he tore up Alabama and I think he went right about where he should have by going 22nd overall to the Cleveland Browns. Jon Gruden looked like a fool opening ESPN’s coverage by hyping the Texas A&M star as the possible No. 1 pick and Manziel will now have an opportunity to show us all he can play at the NFL level in the near future. Well, Browns coach Mike Pettine said prior to the draft that none of the quarterbacks could beat out Bobby Hoyer for the starting job. Watch how quickly that thought process changes now.

Got to say I hope the NFL Draft goes back to April for next year. Not sure I’ve ever watched less of a draft than the current one. Dragging out the hype became even more galling than usual and pushing it back to May didn’t work, no matter the silly claims of commissioner Roger Goodell (who never admits being wrong about anything). It was only pure luck that I got to see Sam get drafted as it happened during the small timeframe in which I even turned it on for a few minutes on the third and final day.

I really liked the early defensive selections by the San Diego Chargers. Both cornerback Jason Verrett (first round) of TCU and outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu (second round) of Georgia Tech can help shore up deficiencies that were exposed last season. Verrett is small in stature but heavy in aggressiveness and production and Attaochu is a pass-rushing force with plenty of room to get better. The fifth-round pick of defensive tackle Ryan Carrethers (Arkansas State) also could be one of those mid-round steals.

Remember when San Diego State running back Adam Muema departed the NFL combine early in February because God had informed him he would be chosen by the Seattle Seahawks? Well, that didn’t happen. I’m guessing his post-draft prayer session with God will be a bit, um, interesting. Muema originally made a poor decision by skipping his senior season with the Aztecs but he buried himself when he left what was essentially a job interview for all 32 teams to go wander around an airport in Fort Lauderdale for three days. That lack of accountability and just flat-out weirdness clinched he wouldn’t be drafted.

And can’t overlook this factual truth, the Texas Longhorns didn’t have a single player selected in the NFL Draft for the first time since 1937. Repeat – 1937! That was the year my father was born and he has been in heaven for close to 11 years now. The list of schools that had players drafted include Bloomsburg, Concordia-St. Paul, Furman, Liberty, Lindenwood, Marist, McGill, Pittsburg State, Saginaw Valley State and Towson. Even Princeton had a player picked. Again, not a single player from Texas was drafted. The school ought to fire Mack Brown again just for this embarrassing fact.