Last weekend’s NFL draft saw few major surprises on the first day after the Houston Texans announced early that they had already come to a contract agreement with North Carolina State’s defensive end Mario Williams as the number one overall pick.
USC running back Reggie Bush looked like a sure bet to go number one at first, but after not accepting the offer from the Texans before the draft he fell into the lap of the New Orleans Saints who were quick to snag him with the number two pick. It was probably for the best.
As a Saint, Bush will have less pressure to put up fantasy-like numbers each week because Deuce McAllister is already there. Had he become a Texan, he would have been looked upon as an immediate savior of the franchise. He will still be regarded as the future of the Saints, but if they do not win a lot of games this season, Bush will not have to take all the heat.
Even if McAllister begins the season as the starting running back, Bush will still get some snaps and play some receiver and return kicks until he takes over the starting role, which should not take too long.
The first quarterback to get picked off the board looked to be between Vince Young from the University of Texas and Matt Leinart from USC. Young won that battle against Leinart just like he beat him for the National Championship title earlier this year. The Tennessee Titans selected Young with the third pick and Leinart fell all the way to Arizona, which had the 10th pick.
Had Leinart chosen not to stay for his senior year at USC he probably would have been the number one overall pick last year and made a lot more money, but he is in a better position to succeed in Arizona. With two Pro Bowl caliber wide receivers, Edgerrin James running the ball and a top ten defense, Leinart could not ask for a better start to his pro career. That was one expensive ballroom dancing class, though.
It was a little surprising seeing Denver using their first round pick on a quarterback considering Jake Plummer had the best season of his career. He led the Broncos to the AFC Championship and even earned a spot on the Pro Bowl roster. Head coach Mike Shanahan must have seen Jay Cutler from Vanderbilt as his quarterback for the future and decided to go for it.
The San Francisco 49ers did a good job giving their quarterback, Alex Smith, a nice security blanket in the form of tight end Vernon Davis from Maryland. The guy is a freakish athlete at 6-foot-3, 254 pounds and he is faster than most receivers in the draft.
Smith should be able to have a more balanced sophomore year this time around. He finished his rookie season with a quarterback rating of 40.8 after throwing 11 interceptions and only one touchdown and being sacked 29 times in nine games.
The second day of the draft was more open and general managers loosened their ties, rolled up their sleeves and started to gamble a little bit. Some teams drafted players for positions they did not play in college.
Darnell Bing played safety for USC, but he will be asked to play outside linebacker for the Oakland Raiders because of concerns for his cover skills.
Many college quarterbacks were drafted as either running backs or receivers in hopes of turning out to be the next Antwaan Randle El, who made a remarkable transition from quarterback to wide receiver and return specialist for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Michael Robinson, Brad Smith, Reggie McNeal and Marques Hagans all played quarterback for their respective universities. In the pros, Smith, McNeal and Hagans will try to learn the receiver role, while Robinson will start out as a running back.
Robinson is the one who stands the best chance of making the switch. After all, he played almost every skill position on offense during his time at Penn State.
A lot of schools were well represented in the draft this year with USC leading the way with 11 players selected. It was Ohio State, however, that had the most impressive impact on day one. Five buckeyes were picked in the first round alone and they ended up with a total of nine players going to different NFL teams. The fact that they still have enough quality players to be regarded as the top team going into next season says a lot about what coach Jim Tressel has done for the football program in Columbus these last few years.
The winners of this year’s draft have to be the New York Jets and the Steelers. Both teams managed to get several quality players that can come in and contribute right away one way or the other.
The losers of the draft are the Texans’ fans who will not get to see Bush as often as they had hoped. You could add the defensive coordinators in the NFC South to that list as well because they will see more of Bush than they ever wanted to.
Johan Mengesha can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.