On the Couch: The first pick!
Today is the greatest non-sports TV sports day of the year.Beginning at 10 a.m. today, on a total of three different cable channels – ESPN, the NFL Network, and, later, ESPN2 – is the NFL Draft. The NFL Network (Comcast channel 168) offers 12 hours of Day 1 coverage – rounds one through three – beginning at 10 a.m. Day 2, covering rounds four through seven, kick off at 11 a.m. Sunday and will run for about seven hours.Mock drafts and analysis have been going on all week on the NFL Network, including replays of the NFL Scouting Combine from earlier this year. Here, you can watch potential NFLers run through drills, including the 40-yard dash. If you love the NFL, its own network is the channel to have. Here, you can see every pick – who’s the next John Elway, or who’s the next Art Schlichter.Speaking of steals and busts, here are a few startling facts about the NFL Draft that, back then, weren’t so startling …1983: Arguable [or ‘ly’]? the best class ever. John Elway goes first, followed by Eric Dickerson and Penn State RB Curt Warner. Dan Marino is passed over 26 times, going to Miami at pick 27. Rumor has it, in 1983, that Marino was a party animal who liked to booze it up around Pittsburgh, where he went to college. Other quarterbacks taken ahead of Marino? My Chiefs picked Todd Blackledge at number seven (sic), the Bills snagged Jim Kelley (four Super Bowl appearances) at 14, New England grabbed Tony Eason (one Super Bowl appearance) at 15, and the Jets chose Ken O’Brien at 24.1986: Bo Jackson sticks it to Tampa Bay after being chosen number one overall. He decides to play baseball for Kansas City and never signs with the Bucs. Al Davis and the L.A. Raiders snag him in the seventh round the following year, and Bo becomes a dominant force in his “hobby” for parts of four seasons. The Bucs, burned by their pick in ’86, earn the number one in ’87 and draft … Vinny Testaverde.1989: Hyped by one of the most physically impressive covers in Sports Illustrated history, Michigan State OT Tony Mandarich goes number two overall to Green Bay. Sandwiched around him are a few familiar names: Troy Aikman (number one overall), Barry Sanders (three), Derrick Thomas (four) and Deion Sanders (five). The “Incredible Bulk” became the “Incredible Bust,” and the rest went on to NFL stardom.1993: Drew Bledsoe or Rick Mirer? You make the call, but I say Mirer is the next Joe Montana.1998: Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf? You make the call, but Leaf’s the proven prospect – and Manning has what they call “upside.”1999: Philly fans boo the Donovan McNabb pick at number two. They wanted Rickey Williams, who Mike Ditka trades his whole Saints draft for at number five.2000: Some QB from Michigan – Tom Brady – gets chosen with pick number 199.2004: Eli Manning goes to San Diego at number one and Phillip Rivers goes to New York at pick four. Then they swap.2007: Reggie Bush or Matt Leinart? The Texans choose North Carolina State DE Mario Williams and Leinart drops to 10.The beauty of the NFL Draft is every team is involved and everyone has a chance. It’s got drama, intrigue, humor, disappointment and suspense. Like I said, today is the greatest non-sports TV sports day of the year.
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