Here we go! My hometown of Chicago is a more than fitting place to host the NFL college draft for the second year in row. For the first time in memory, the top two picks overall in the draft have already been traded. Tennessee traded their 2016 No.1 overall pick to the Los Angeles Rams who vacated St. Louis after last season, and the Cleveland Browns with the number two pick, traded with Philadelphia a bunch of picks in a block buster deal.
Last year the top two picks were quarterbacks. The Titans with the number two pick last year drafted a franchise quarterback.
So this year they decided to give up the top overall selection for value and multiple picks. Not a bad decision, as you can use your position to grab depth and quality young players to build your team with. Every NFL team, all 32, identifies players differently based on their value to that respected team.
In both cases, Tampa Bay and Tennessee last year fired their head coaches after or during the season after taking quarterbacks (Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, respectively) with the first two overall picks. That concerns me because it says the ownership of both teams were not patient with their leadership.
When you change head coaches are you are building the team, the next coach hired may not be as good as the previous head coach at developing or evaluating young players. Your continuity has to be rock solid.
Some great players develop overnight, others it might take two-three years depending on the system they’re in, and the strength of the team. Remember three years ago the Vikings hired Mike Zimmer as head coach and drafted Teddy Bridgewater, even though most experts believed Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M was the better of the two quarterbacks.
Much of that was based on hype. Bridgewater has a low-key personality unlike Manziel, who had a reputation for partying and has so far been a major disappointment, investment and quarterback. He was indicted this week by a Dallas County Grand Jury on misdemeanor assault charges.
Character is also a major part of scouting and drafting, investing millions of dollars in players. Bridgewater led the Vikings to the NFL North title in year two (11-5) and made the Pro Bowl. The Vikings have a franchise quarterback. They were right. Cleveland, on the other hand, drafted Manziel two years ago and now have released him. And maybe because of that mistake, they did not want to invest big money on another quarterback in 2016. So they traded that pick to the Eagles. The NFL draft, like the NFL, stands for not for long.
The Vikings are in a great position to build their team up now that they have the quarterback and the running back to build around. Twenty seven years ago in 1989, four future Hall of Famers were selected in that draft’s first five picks: Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, and Deion Sanders. You cannot mock that draft — wow that’s impressive. The draft as ex-Vikings Vice President Frank Gilliam once said, is a time for celebration. You’ve worked 365 days to identify the players you need that fit your system. That’s why organizations like New England and Pittsburgh just reload each year.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.