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2018 NFL Draft

The first round of the NFL Draft went down, so now I’m going to start giving out my grades.

April 27, 2018 - 9:38 am
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The first round of the NFL Draft went down, so now I’m going to start giving out my grades. Let’s start with the NFC East and the Dallas Cowboys. They took Leighton Vander Esch a linebacker out of Boise State and I give that –ehhhhhhhhh!!! Nope, not going to do it. 

I mean, I could. I could spend the whole show just running down each team, grading their pick from last night and then projecting who they’ll take next. But I won’t, because for the most part, it’s throwing darts blindfolded. There are certainly picks that I liked and some that I didn’t, but we’re not really going to know what did and didn’t work for a couple of years. 

But one grade I can give you right now is for Roger Goodell and more specifically, his efforts to use Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, and Jason Witten as shields against the traditional boos that rain down on the commissioner when he shows up. And that grade is an F-minus. Check out this reception:

Holy crap. Nice try, Roger. Did you really think fans were going to say to themselves, “I really want to boo the commissioner, but wait, that’s Roger, Troy, and Jason, I can’t boo them. What do I do?” No chance.

Gary Bettman can’t believe how badly the commissioner just got booed. And nice effort by the commissioner to use those shields and then when that didn’t work, to use a little humor: "I can't believe you guys are booing the Cowboys. Come on!"

Sure they’re not. They’re booing you. They’re making that pretty clear. A couple of things to take away from that – first off, Cowboys fans can really bring the boos. Secondly, the only thing stronger than the booing was Roger Staubach’s arm. Dude still has a cannon. Did you see him fire that ball? He didn’t just drop that in the first row. That was no dump off. He went deep. 76 years old and he still has a better arm than Chad Henne. Hey-o!

But with the traditional booing of the commissioner over, it was time to get down to business. And by getting down to business, what I mean is Cleveland going on the clock, digging into the batter’s box, and taking a huge swing by taking Baker Freaking Mayfield.

What a brass move. Absolutely incredible. And I don’t want to hear from anyone saying they called that. You didn’t. Because nobody did. Everybody had called everyone in that spot, so zero credit to the prognosticators and huge credit to Cleveland GM John Dorsey. That takes  a brass set. An absolutely monster move. John Dorsey controlled the draft, could pick anyone he wanted, and looked at the draft board and said, let’s do this. Why the hell not?

I’ve only got two words for that and they were the two words that the Browns tweeted out: HEE HEE.

That goes back to a story that Hue Jackson told about how Baker Mayfield was the Pied Piper

But don’t just take if from the guy who is about to coach him, yesterday I asked the guy who has been coaching him what Baker was like to coach and Lincoln Riley said it was a blast.

That’s part of the reason why Cleveland loved him. Sure there are the more than 12,000 passing yards and 119 touchdowns. He’s got an attitude and a swagger about him that a lot of other guys don’t. I know the plan is to have him sit behind Tyrod Taylor, but Baker Mayfield has a history of vaulting over depth charts. He is not just a live arm for practice. He takes jobs. He was a walk-on at Texas Tech and started as a true freshman. And then walked-on again at Oklahoma and started. He was a walk-on twice and then won the Heisman Trophy. I REPEAT: A WALK-ON WHO WON THE HEISMAN TROPHY. A walk on who won the Heisman trophy and then parlayed that into becoming the first pick overall in the draft. The guy freaking walked on in college and a few years later is the top pick overall. Hate on this guy all you want, but that’s one of the greatest stories in sports history. It just is. 

He proves doubters and haters wrong. He lives for that bleep. And if he and the Browns pull this off, it will be even more legendary than anything he’s already done in his legendary career. And the guy is already and living, talking, walking miracle. 

Now, I’m not saying the pick is without risk. And I do think, top to bottom, Sam Darnold was the best q.b prospect coming out. That would have been the safe pick; and considering how badly the Browns have jacked up their q.b. picks in the past, you could see why they’d just stay in their lane and not assume any additional risk. But they didn’t.  That’s why  I love it. I hate that tired old line about how you either love a guy or you hate him; but it definitely applies to Mayfield. And I love him. Sure he runs hot; and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t concern me some. But everything else about the guy overrides it for me: this cat is electric. I don’t care if he is short by quarterback standards because he can make every throw, is a great playmaker, is accurate, he’s a winner and has come through on the biggest stage and yes, this cat is running on rocket fuel. I love the guy.   And I love the pick. 

Again,  I can’t guarantee this guy is going to step in, dominate, and 15 years out, get fitted for a mustard jacket. But I know this: he won’t be Johnny Manziel. And the guy who made the pick, John Dorsey, wasn’t having any of that comparison: “In doing all of our research with Baker Mayfield, he has earned it, from high school, to college, he has earned it. When he gets to Oklahoma, he begins to learn the playbook in three days... I have no qualms whatsoever about him as a man or as a football player.''

Will it work? I don’t know. Nobody knows. Just like nobody knows if Sam Darnold or Josh Allen or Josh Rosen would work in Cleveland. Because nobody really knows anything and because the list of quarterbacks who succeeded in Cleveland in the last two decades is, well, non-existent. 

But I know I dig the pick. And write it down, if it doesn’t pan out, I’ll never crack them for it.

Because it made a team that won one game in the last two years must see-TV. And you can thank John Dorsey and baker Mayfield for that.