Published April 22, 2010
With each pick in the first round of the NFL draft, FOXSports.com provides expert, behind-the-scenes analysis . Meet the draft experts JOHN CZARNECKI FOX NFL Sunday Czar will analyze each team's draft night war room, the reasoning behind every first-round pick and why teams did or didn't cut a deal. PETER SCHRAGER FOXSports.com Live from New York's Radio City Music Hall, Schrager provides an insider's glimpse of the draft-night doings. 1. ST. LOUIS RAMS SAM BRADFORD, QB, OKLAHOMA - Profile CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: The rumor all day was that Washington and Cleveland were in talks with the Rams about acquiring the rights to Bradford, who would have been the first pick last year had he not decided to return to Oklahoma and make a run at a national championship. But the Rams never received a serious offer from any team, including the Browns, who talked about shipping all their picks to St. Louis, according to Mike Holmgren. When the Rams released Marc Bulger, who remains unemployed, the team cleared the way to draft a quarterback and they have A.J. Feeley to tutor him. Bradford scored a very impressive 36 score (out of 40) on the Wonderlic test. So, we know he's extremely smart. Plus, at Oklahoma in 31 starts he holds the Sooner records in pass-accuracy (67.6 percent), yards (8.403) and touchdowns (88). Bradford won the 2008 Heisman Trophy when he tossed 50 TDs. Being a finance major, he should know what to do with a contract that will average as much as $13 million a year. Getting a contract done shouldn't be a problem because Rams CEO Kevin Demoff has dealt with CAA agents Tom Condon/Ben Dogra four times in the last six years on high first-round contracts. Plus, all three men live in St. Louis. The Rams have won only six games in the last three seasons so they desperately needed a quarterback and a leader.
SCHRAGER ON THE SCENE: And we're officially on. The Rams take Bradford, though there have apparently been no talks of a contract with uber-agent Tom Condon, no clarity on the franchise's ownership situation, no veteran quarterback on the roster to learn from, and no offensive playmakers outside of Steven Jackson. And no defense! But hey, good luck with that, kid. As for Radio City, well the crowd's ALIVE. I must say--I kicked and screamed about the draft being moved to primetime, but now that I'm here--it's pretty damn cool. There was a red carpet (something I scoffed at but obviously ended up enjoying), Alyssa Milano just walked by me (I'll never scoff at Sam Micelli), and there's an incredible intensity in the building right now. It's like we're at the Oscars. Only, if the Oscars also happened to feature 350-pound Raiders fans in spiked headdresses and khaki shorts shouting swear words at comparably sized Jets fans. Ah, the draft. There's nothing like it. Detroit's on the clock! 2. DETROIT LIONS NDAMUKONG SUH, DT, NEBRASKA - Profile CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: Well, this was no secret, either. Everybody knew that Lions coach Jim Schwartz loved Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh and that his defense needed to plug its middle. The Lions made some smart deals prior to the draft with the big signing of Kyle Vanden Bosch, one of the game's hardest workers, and the trade for Broncos TE Tony Scheffler and Falcons CB Chris Houston while unloading Matt Millen's next-to-last first-round pick LB Ernie Sims to the Eagles. Suh and Vanden Bosch will make the Lions good on defense immediately, considering the Lions allowed more touchdowns than any NFL team last season. Suh has been compared to Richard Seymour in his younger years with the Patriots. Suh is a dominant player and many thought the best player in this draft.
SCHRAGER ON THE SCENE: Mr. Suh! The Radio City crowd reacts with a "Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh". I like that. Sounds kinda like "booooo", though, which I assume at some point in his career in Detroit--the 'Huskers superstar will hear. Jim Schwartz gets the top overall player on everyone's board and a cornerstone to build his defense around. Meanwhile, somewhere in Texas, Matt Stafford quietly wonders whether he'll ever get a left tackle to keep him on his feet. IThrough the "Suuuuuuuuuuuuuh" chants, I hear a Jets fan behind me scream, "Sanchez to Tomlinson, Touchdown!" He made the same "joke" after the first pick. No one laughed or acknowledged it then. There's thirty picks left. It could be a long night. Suh walks by Marvez and me. He's not small. 3. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS GERALD McCOY, DT, OKLAHOMA - Profile CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: No team is more financially pinched than the Bucs, who also followed the mock-draft procession by selecting Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. This was a no-brainer because some teams liked him more as a pass rusher than Suh. McCoy is super quick, and could be this franchise's next Warren Sapp. Now, Mark Dominik, the Bucs' second-year general manager, has put a lot of pressure on himself, publicly stating that this year's draft is as important as the 1995 one was to this franchise when the club grabbed Sapp and then Derrick Brooks. He added: "If this draft class doesn't succeed, I probably don't either." I met this young man at the Combine and he is one sincere, very emotional and dedicated athlete. He won't cheat the game.
SCHRAGER ON THE SCENE: The Bucs go with Gerald McCoy and the crowd reacts with mild applause. Somewhere, a kid who did a mock draft just pumped his fist. 3 for 3! No surprises yet. The Jets fan changed his joke up a tad. He substituted Tomlinson's name with Santonio Holmes. Jason Taylor's name is next. There are some amazing Tampa creamsicle jerseys in this crowd. Warren Sapp, hello! Errict Rhett, hello! Trent Dilfer, hello! We're seated right below the NFL Network studio. If you're wondering at home, the NFL Network set is on one side of the building; ESPN's on the other. There's no interaction between the two. Sharks and Jets. Bloods and Crips. Mayocks and Kipers. Fox? We're Switzerland. 4. WASHINGTON REDSKINS TRENT WILLIAMS, OT, OKLAHOMA - Profile CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: Washington's false rumor today was that Tennessee safety Eric Berry, by far the best secondary prospect in this deep draft, was the preferred pick over offensive tackle Trent Williams. But Williams made total sense because he was the most athletic blocker in the draft and his style fits what new coach Mike Shanahan likes to do in his running game. However, Williams was a specific need in order to protect 33-year-old Donovan McNabb. It looks like trade talks between the Redskins and the Titans for Albert Haynesworth have cooled off. When you think about what Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen have accomplished is pretty good: Williams and McNabb with their second-round pick. They also have two running backs, Willie Parker and Larry Johnson, to compete with Clinton Portis. Williams fills a void with the retirement of Chris Samuels.
SCHRAGER ON THE SCENE: After weeks of crazy rumors, chatter about Eric Berry on all the blogs today, and just one pick in the first three rounds--the Redskins go with the guy everyone has pegged to them since January. I love when that happens. I'm a big Trent Williams fan. He can play right or left tackle. But can he play both at once? That's what the 'Skins new quarterback really needs. As for Donovan McNabb--I saw the most bootleg attempt at a customized NFL jersey in my life walking in...a HEATH SHULER Redskins jersey with scotch tape over the name Shuler and McNabb written over it in marker. The problem? McNabb's name was spelled "McCnabb". You can't make this stuff up. Jets guy stayed quiet this pick, by the way. He's checking his Blackberry and mumbling about David Wright's inability to hit with runners in scoring position. 5. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS ERIC BERRY, S, TENNESSEE - Profile | Highlights CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: Not only did the Chiefs surrender the biggest running day of last season, but they were also torched by the Cowboys' Miles Austin for 10 catches and 250 receiving yards. They needed Tennessee safety Eric Berry, who has super hitting ability and has the foot speed to may be even line up at cornerback. Berry is very instinctive and had almost 500 interception return yards in his career. He could be an immediate star. Like the Rams, the Chiefs have so many personnel needs in order to be competitive once again; the franchise has only 10 wins over the past three seasons. GM Scott Pioli's big off-season acquisition was Jets RB Thomas Jones, a solid team player, and Colts guard Ryan Lilja and not much else.
SCHRAGER ON THE SCENE: Mr. Rocky Top, himself, Eric Berry. Berry's been compared by draftniks to every great safety from Ronnie Lott to Troy Polamalu to Ed Reed. Apparently, he's a cocktail of all three. Not bad. The Chiefs were the one team in the league no one had heard ANYTHING from all week. It was like Scott Pioli put the entire organization in a room, threatened to take away their keys to the complex if they spoke to anyone, then called Belichick to gossip about "American Idol". (Pioli: "How about that Bowersox?" Belichick: "She's all heart and hustle. Would love to have her on our squad.") The Kansas City fan contingent at Radio City is all over the board. I saw one gentleman in a candy striped shirt and a Chiefs tie. He was shaking hands, kissing babies, and talking about Tyson Jackson in a 3-4. Classy. I then saw a grown man in fuzzy Chiefs pajamas. Matching top and bottom. It's 8:11 PM in the evening. Can't be doing that. What happens when you walk in the door to your family later on having worn pajamas in public for an entire night? Do you just cry yourself to sleep? 6. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS RUSSELL OKUNG, OT, OKLAHOMA STATE - Profile CZAR'S FRONT OFFICE TAKE: The Seahawks had to replace left tackle Walter Jones, who was so critical to Mike Holmgren's run in Seattle. Russell Okung, who started 47 games at Oklahoma State, should start immediately, maybe at right tackle until he gets settled into the offense. But Okung figures to eventually become Matt Hasselbeck's blind-side protector. One thing that first-year head coach Pete Carroll already knows is that his team has plenty of holes, especially at safety and along the defensive line. He needs pass rushers, too. There's going to be a run on offensive tackles in this draft. There could be as many as seven taken in the first round. Offensive and defensive linemen are the strongest and deepest positions in this draft.
SCHRAGER ON THE SCENE: Pete Carroll and Jon Schneider's first pick is a pragmatic one. After draft day rumors linking Seattle to everyone from Jimmy Clausen to Dez Bryant, the 'Hawks pick Walter Jones's successor in Okung. On cue, the house deejay plays Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." One of these days, Temple of the Dog's "Hunger Strike" is going to supplant that tune for Seattle on Draft Day. Better song. (Yeah, I said it.) New Buccaneer Gerald McCoy is introduced to the Radio City crowd and house emcee Alan Roach asks him what he's looking forward to in Tampa Bay. He says "Hopefully, a Super Bowl." And with that, he becomes the first comedian in New York City history to make everyone in Radio City Music Hall laugh in unison. What a joker.