I will admit to being a bit of a traditionalist---I have always loved the Saturday at High Noon start to the NFL draft. The morning coffee and apple fritter rarely tasted better, the sports page rarely felt crisper, the internet rarely seemed more relevant.
So when I first heard the league was going to move the first round to a weeknight, for crass ratings purposes alone, I didn't like it much. I may have even harrumphed. It happens when you get to a certain age.
But I seem to have come around. Woke up this morning easier than usual for a Thursday, already anticipating a full day of hype (and maybe sneaking an occasional peak at the web from my desk), before sitting down tonight over a steak and generous supply of cold ale to dive into the delicious arcana that the annual NFL Player Selection Meeting (really) has become.
Throw in the fact that rounds two and three will be my reward for surviving Friday rush hour on the Beltway tomorrow night, and that I still get some Saturday draftology to enjoy (hey, the Redskins might actually make a pick or two), and I am prepared to admit I was wrong.
Thursday night prime time NFL Draft.
Bring it on.
Figured the only thing any true Redskins fan wants to read about on the web today is the draft, specifically what first-round talent "the experts" believe will end up wearing burgundy and gold. It's all I really wanted to see today ... so I indulged myself with a quick scan around the web for the "final" mock drafts by some of the biggest names in the business to see what exactly is the buzz...
No scientific method here, just slapping them up there as I find them. I will add and update as the day goes on as possible.
First up, the three top Mock Draft Compendium sites I visit:
Walter Football - 429 mocks. All but a dozen or so have the Redskins taking either LT Russell Okung or LT Trent Williams. There are still a few Clausen's & Bradford's thrown in there, but not from any of the better-known mockers that would make you go "hmm."
DC Pro Sports Report - 429 total mocks, 177 of them "munched" to reflect 78% Okung, the rest almost all Williams, with Dez Bryant sighting (!), a LT Brian Bulaga, Suh and McCoy here and there.
Hailredskins - 214 Mocks. Overwhelmingly Okung, followed by several Williams, a scattered Clausen, Bradford, even a Bulaga or two.
And, in no particular order, some of the more familiar names out there mocking away madly on our behalf:
Scouts, Inc.: LT Russell Okung - "The Redskins seem to be involved in a good portion of the trade rumors out there, but we are not buying the speculation they will move up to take Bradford. Moving back to acquire additional picks seems more likely, but if Washington stays put Okung is the safest pick at their No. 1 need, though Williams would make sense, too."
Todd McShay: LT Russell Okung - Scenario 1: The Redskins fill their biggest hole with the safest offensive tackle on the board. Scenario 2: Washington GM Bruce Allen is a notorious wheeler and dealer and could seek the right deal to move back in the first round and also recover some picks in the second and third rounds. Scenario 3: We don't envision the Redskins staying here to take Clausen. More likely is a defensive end, or Tennessee NT Dan Williams could come into play if the Redskins deal DT Albert Haynesworth, who has expressed displeasure with his team's new 3-4 defensive scheme, on draft day.
Mel Kiper: Don't know. As of this writing ESPN continues to guard the hairpiece's mock like Vinny Cerrato did his drafting genius. Sorry Mel, I love ya but I'm just not going to pay for the privilege. If some paying customer would like to add his pick and take in the comments below, however, I will gladly plug them in here.
[Thanks to an enterprising colleague at BGO, here is a sneak peak at Kiper's selection: LT Russell Okung]
Rick Gosselin: LT Russell Okung - "If the Redskins can't protect Donovan McNabb, he will suffer the same fate as Jason Campbell (46 sacks and a loss of confidence). Incumbent Chris Samuels has retired at left tackle, so this pick becomes a walk-in starter."
Michael Lombardi: S Eric Berry - "Many people in the NFL believe the draft will start with Washington at the No. 4 pick. No one really has a feel for what the ‘Skins will do, and they can head in a number of different directions. But I keep hearing offensive tackle is not one of the positions they’ll pick — no smoke screen. I have a hunch, and it’s only a hunch, that it might be safety Eric Berry."
Jason LaCanfora - LT Russell Okung - "Who wants him? The Chiefs, with the fifth pick, love him. The Redskins, at No. 4, are high on him as well, with a team source indicating he is the highest-rated left tackle on their board. Still, the Redskins are also very enamored with left tackle Trent Williams. If I were doing a mock, I'd give Okung to the 'Skins."
Rich Tandler: LT Russell Okung - "Yes, the trend among scribes and talking heads lately has had the Redskins taking taking offensive tackle Trent Williams instead of Okung. But that smells like a smokescreen. They’re saying that Williams is a better athlete and has higher upside potential. But Okung’s potential for being a bust is lower, and the Redskins can’t afford to blow this pick. They need someone who will be able to step in at left tackle on the first day of training camp and still be at the same spot when camp opens in 2020. Russell Okung is that someone."
Pete Prisco: LT Trent Williams
Clark Judge: LT Trent Williams
Rob Rang: LT Trent Williams
Chad Reuter: LT Russell Okung
Pat Kirwan: LT Russell Okung
Brian Baldinger: LT Russell Okung
Charley Casserly: LT Trent Williams
You get the idea. Nothing new or earthshattering ... the vast majority of "experts" in the field predict the Redskins will use the fourth overall pick tonight to take the top-rated left tackle on their board.
Most believe that will be Russell Okung, with a steadily-growing late sentiment for Trent Williams. A few cling to the notion the Redskins will buck common wisdom, shake things up and go quarterback, particularly if Oklahoma' Sam Bradford miraculously slips to number four (he won't).
Some even cling to the notion they'll go totally off the reservation and grab an outlier like FS Eric Berry or WR Dez Bryant. I gotta be honest ... I'm thinking those people are more interested in being the lone voice who "got it right" if something really weird happens than they are using any actual inside connection or insight. But then, I'm a skeptic. If Berry or Bryant or some other "wtf?!" pick ends up a Redskin with pick number four, I'll write anyone who got it right a formal apology tomorrow.
Generally in the top five picks, by draft day the weight of all the actual "inside" information there is filters up out of the background noise of misinformation, disinformation and just plain silliness, and the consensus gets it right.
With that in mind ... assuming the Redskins are not able to entice some other team into a blockbuster trade down scenario and they end up using the number four pick, if there is not a new Left Tackle Elect standing at an Ashburn podium tomorrow squinting into the lights and grinning a multi-million dollar grin, it will be an upset of significant, if not monumental, proportions.
So, I've kept you long enough. There are mocks to review and rumors to monitor.
Breathe easy, Mr. McNabb. Pretty sure they've got ya covered.