Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Draft day

Tuesday May 1, 2007

Draft day to me is much more about the greatness of college football than it is about the NFL. Only a fraction of those who follow the draft pay attention to the various free agent moves and trades that were made prior to the draft. The fates of those who don’t make the final rosters will barely be noticed. Draft day is graduation day for college football, and that’s why people pay attention. (Well, that and watching insane Jets fans.) For fans of individual schools, draft day is yet another way to keep score and claim bragging rights. It’s about pride as your star takes the stage as a top pick. Football is our national game now, and this is the one day when the college and pro fan bases converge.

I’m not a Brady Quinn fan, but ESPN did him no favors with that ridiculous game of "when will he be drafted?" on Saturday. The result was one of the most embarrassing and awkward green room displays since Jumaine Jones. As team after team passed on Quinn, the ESPN obsession with the Notre Dame quarterback became more and more apologetic until the commissioner, acting out of mercy, moved Quinn to a private area. Even worse was the disservice done to Jamarcus Russell and the other 20 or so guys picked ahead of Quinn. On a day where the focus should have been on Russell or Calvin Johnson, the story became Quinn, and each pick couldn’t pass without a shot back to Quinn, his vest, his untucked collar, and his mom and girlfriend.

It’s become an annual draft ritual for Georgia fans to complain that the Falcons don’t draft enough Dawgs. The Falcons’ job is to put an interesting and competitive team on the field, and they will fill seats if they do. Even if the Birds dressed the entire 2002 Bulldog team, a 4-12 season would still empty out the Dome and get the coach sent on his way.

The complaining got even more pathetic this year. Somehow the decision to take a first-team All-SEC defensive end not named Charles Johnson was the wrong move. Then because the Falcons drafted Martrez Milner, they didn’t draft the right Dawg. Then after the draft, the Falcons signed linebacker Tony Taylor and punter Gordon Ely-Kelso to free-agent deals. Add them to D.J. Shockley and the signing in recent years of Josh Mallard, Terrence Edwards, and Steve Herndon, and it sure does start to look like a big ol’ anti-Georgia conspiracy, doesn’t it? The Dawgs have some great fans, but they’re the most paranoid in the SEC outside of the state of Alabama.

Come to think of it, I’m getting a bit fed up with the Dawgs ignoring guys from my high school.

It has to be asked now whether Danny Ware and Charles Johnson made wise decisions to come out early. I’ve already said that I think Ware’s decision was correct, even if he was undrafted. I just didn’t see his situation or playing time improving this season. Johnson’s case is a bit different. Someone who believes himself to be a possible first-round selection and slides into the third round either 1) got snowed by an awful lot of NFL teams or 2) chose to listen to the wrong people in his camp. Many observers seem to think that the Panthers got a great deal with Johnson in the third round, and he’ll probably make the roster. It’s still an uphill climb though to get himself into the position, both in terms of a contract and the job security, of a first-round pick.

On the flip side, there’s Quentin Moses. Moses was probably drafted lower than he would have been as a junior. He didn’t slide as far as some thought, but I think the consensus is that he would have fared better in last year’s draft. Part of the deal when you come back for your senior season to improve your draft position is to actually show improvement. It’s a risk, and we can’t blame Johnson for taking it. He’s certainly not going to be hurting as a third-round pick, and Moses still did fine for himself as well.

It’s interesting to see the draft results from some of the nation’s most talked-about college offenses. Florida in particular was worth noting. Urban Meyer’s offense was a favorite punching bag among cynics because Florida failed to break 30 points in an SEC game until the SEC championship game. I guess you could say they still had a pretty decent season. Now fans of other schools are trying to convince themselves that the Gators will be vulnerable because of losses on defense. It’s true – the Gators had seven defensive players drafted. But another way to look at it is that Florida had only two late-round draft picks from their offense. Key members of that offense like Caldwell and even Leak went undrafted. It kind of makes you wonder what Meyer can do on offense with better talent, and recruiting rankings tell us that better talent is supposedly in place among the underclassmen.

Another team worth noting is Notre Dame. Charlie Weis got some good results out of his offense over the past two seasons, and the draft tells us that his talent wasn’t the best either. Clearly Quinn was a fine quarterback, and Weis got plenty out of him. But Notre Dame’s only other draft picks from offense were a pair of tackles. Key skill position players Darius Walker and Jeff Samardzija were undrafted. Notre Dame has added some high-profile newcomers like Jimmy Claussen, and we’ll watch what Weis can do with that talent.

With Ohio State’s loss of three receivers, Antonio Pittman, and Troy Smith to the draft, the best concentration of talent on offense in the Big 10 next year seems to be in Ann Arbor. Schools like Michigan, Louisville, Southern Cal, and West Virginia didn’t lose many of their key offensive playmakers to the draft, so it’s no accident that a lot of the preseason attention is on those programs.

2 Responses to 'Draft day'

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  • I enjoyed your article but must point out that Calwell from the gayturds was not drafted because he is a returning starter. Jeff Sam…went undrafted in football but signed to play baseball before the combine even took place. Rheema Mcknight, their other leading receiver did go undrafted though. Overall, I think that the story should be stay in school and quit chasing dollars that may or may not be there. Charles Johnson could have definetly benefited from coming back and showing that he could do better when he was not getting the one on one blocking. I think that you can’t put a price tag on an education and they are all one injury away from a crappy career without a diploma. Most would not be public speakers based on their interviews!

  • Good catch on Caldwell. I was going by the NFL’s draft tracker which had Caldwell listed.