Good morning. It’s day one of three of the NFL draft and I’m still working on my Round 4 mock for Saturday morning. So stay tuned!
Seriously, I remember when they used to do this thing all in one day. At the risk of sounding like the old guy on the front page, screaming every time a car with New York plates drives by, I liked that better. For one thing, we wouldn’t have to wait until possibly 10:40 p.m. before the Falcons make their first selection.
So here’s how it’s going to work today. I’m not in New York, I’m not embedded in anybody’s “war room” and I certainly don’t have Bill Polian on the hotline. But I’ll keep you up to date as best I can on things going on throughout the day and we’ll go live with a blog during the first round. Then when the Falcons trade their No. 1 pick 15 minutes before I have to post a column, I will run head first into the nearest wall.
As of now, here are five hot button topics that I figured would be of some interest to you:
♦ FALCONS PICK: I believe our Darryl Ledbetter had things pegged correctly when he listed five potential Falcons draft picks: Florida center Maurkice Pouncey, Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham, Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham, Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and Georgia Tech wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. Those are the same five names I threw out to you to you in a poll earlier this week. After nearly 1,400 votes, you ranked them in this order: Graham (33 percent), Weatherspoon (28), Thomas (22), Pouncey (14), Gresham (3). I would tend to agree, although I have a slight problem with Graham’s height (6-foot-1) for a starting DE and would probably list him behind Weatherspoon.
This much I do know: As Thomas Dimitroff has said multiple times in the past two weeks, the board is wide open. They don’t feel the need to focus on just one side of the ball or the other. When Dimitroff came in, he determined the 2008 draft would be offense heavy and last year’s would be defense.
Here’s a nugget you may not be aware of: Even if the Falcons passed on Matt Ryan and drafted LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey with their first pick two years ago — as so many people wanted, including me — they were focused on taking Michigan quarterback Chad Henne (now of the Miami Dolphins) with their next pick. So either way, the quarterback position was going to be settled in Dimitroff’s first draft.
So one more time: Do you have any preferences on the Falcons’ first pick?
♦ ROETHLISBERGER UPDATE: The suspension of Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has thrown a wild card into the top 10 picks. I say top 10 because that’s reportedly what the Steelers want as part of a trade. For what it’s worth, I don’t think 31 out of 32 teams would even consider trading their two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback in a case like this. But Pittsburgh is different — both the city and the franchise. If the Steelers can get a deal they like, he’s gone.
Former NFL player and coach Herm Edwards criticized Pittsburgh for being open to a deal, telling ESPN radio: “As a coach and a guy who’s been in this league for 30 years, and understands about protecting the shield, I agree with the commissioner about suspending Ben. But what I don’t get is rumors about Ben being traded. … We preach the team is a family. When your son gets a DUI and wrecks the car, do you take him to the adoption agency and say you don’t want him as your son anymore?”
OK, Herm: You lost me there. You’re right: We don’t trade our kids after DUIs. But we also don’t draft them, release them when they’re 37 and sign them to multi-million contracts. Lame analogy, dude.
♦ TIM TEBOW: He opted not to go to New York for the draft. Smart decision. While Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft has Tebow going in the first round to the Minnesota Vikings — really? – there’s a chance he may be sitting in the waiting room until the third on Friday. Of course, Tebow being Tebow, he said this was more about staying home with family. But if he was a solid No. 1 pick, I don’t think there’s any question he would be at Radio City Music Hall. “It would have been exciting to be [in New York] and hold your jersey up with the commissioner. That’s always something every athlete wants to do,” he said. “That would have been really special. But it’s going to be really special being at home. Being with my family, my friends, my best friends, my high school teammates, people like that that I know couldn’t make their way up here, that I wanted to be able to spend this moment with. That’s what it’s truly about for me.”
♦ BERRY RIPS DEION: Former Creekside High School and Tennessee star Eric Berry, who could go as early as fifth, took a nice swipe at Deion Sanders this week. Berry said he wasn’t interested in speaking to Sanders at an “NFL Play 60″ function (a campaign to tackle childhood obestity) earlier in the week. Why? Because Sanders refused to give him an autograph when he was in high school. Some of you may think that’s childish. I think it’s kind of funny. It also reaffirms how long incidents like that can stay with people. Berry: “I just try to make sure that if someone comes up to me, whether it’s for an autograph or a handshake — because I’ve been shot down before like I told you — I don’t want nobody to feel like that. … That’s why I try to make sure I give back. To make sure that I treat them with respect. To make sure I remind myself that they are looking up to me and really want to meet me, so I’m going to treat them like they should be treated.” I like this kid.
♦ MORGAN TO BROWNS? The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that if the Browns can’t draft Berry, their fallback choice is Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan. The only potential problem is that while Morgan is projected as the best 4-3 defensive end in the draft, he might have to be converted to an outside linebacker in the Browns’ 3-4 scheme.
OK, there’s your warm-up. I’ll check back later.