2002-04-27 / Sports

Patience Is A Virtue In Analyzing NFL Draft

By Elio Velez

By Elio Velez

I know the NFL playing season is over. The season ended in wintery February and we are now in full bloom in Spring. (The wacky weather changes messed with my sinuses totally this week.) The middle of April becomes NFL draft time. Mel Kiper Jr. becomes the most knowledgeable and important football analyst to ever appear in an ESPN screen. ESPN gives you wall-to-wall coverage on networks and Internet to drive you mad. A mad two-day extravaganza, where people holler and scream at college players most have never seen in their lives.

The idea of the draft, more than ever, is to get players that will help quickly in this salary cap era. I understand Giants and Jets fans at the draft (even the Raider fan that was decked out in full armor, studs and makeup on TV that scared the bejeezus out of me) want quick results.

Here is what the Mel Kipers, the Ernei Accorsi and all the draftniks keep trying to tell all of the fans who expect magic to be drafted every time. The NFL Draft is at most a crapshoot. Chill out because we aren’t sure that all our picks would turn out ok. The Giants would love TE Jeremy Shockey to be the next Mark Bavaro, heck they would love him to be Shannon Sharpe. General Manager Ernie Accorsi would love to have a first round pick actually become successful.

Have you ever heard of first round Giant picks such as Jarrod Bunch, Derek Brown and Thomas Lewis? They never turned out to Rice, Butkus or Sayers that’s for sure. So the Giants messed up, it happens. But for those horrible choices, there was: Michael Strahan, 2nd round choice in 93, Jesse Armstead 8th round choice in 93, Sam Garnes, 5th round pick in 97. So some picks actually turned out for the G-Men. (No not the G-Man but with the lack of receiving depth, I expect him to challenge for a starting job if he was ever signed up!)

For anyone tuning into the Saturday portion of the draft, I was anticipating the Jets’ first round pick. I predicted them taking some college player those so-called experts and Jets fans at the Garden weren’t expecting. I love when curveballs are thrown. When they picked DE Bryan Thomas, it didn’t matter he was a pass rusher that the Jets missed dearly last year as they was ravaged in Oakland in the playoffs. You know the real reason they booed him.

He wasn’t from a big college that played all the time on TV.

When was it deemed sacred that most football players should be drafted from top schools because they play at Michigan or Florida State on ABC? Don’t discriminate players from small schools who most supposed experts believe can’t perform in the big top. If that were the reason, then Walter Payton, who came from Jacksonville State, or Steve McNair from Alcorn State, would have never been drafted? We would have missed out on great talents because they was discriminated for not attending the large schools. Luckily for those players, scouts were there to mine the great talent.

Another reason the Jets did take Thomas and not a cornerback was because they were going to get free agent Donnie Abraham to come in. Jets fans almost rioted at the draft choice. The dude hasn’t been drafted 5 minutes and already he is regarded as trash by Jet fans in game time war paint and J-E-T-S chants. This is why I don’t go to the Theatre at the Garden to take up the offers to wait at dawn to watch a snoozefest. And those fans don’t make it easier for me to watch it.

The teams on draft day get a pass from me. I don’t second-guess most teams on their choices. Tom Brady was a sixth round choice for the Patriots and the heck I knew he would be a Super Bowl quarterback. But I will second-guess the Jets and Giants three years from now if the draftees have panned out or struck out. That’s my job ladies and gentlemen. The teams know it’s coming.

Root, Root Root, For The Home Team?

The Charlotte Hornets do not play home games. They are effectively playing all their games on the road. Why? Ineffective and controversial ownership plans to move a championship contender from a growing city such as Charlotte to New Orleans. N.O. has laid out the red carpet to owner George Shinn, who was charged with sexual harassment and leaving an arena that was only built in 1988.

The bull that Shinn pulls out to media is that he should get respect and blah blah, so of course the Charlotte fans don’t care anymore. In Game 1 against Orlando, 10,000 fans out of capacity of 23,000 showed up.

What I want to see is the fans stick the middle finger like Stone Cold and show up the NBA and ownership. Fans don’t know the political games that are played behind closed doors. The lack of understanding that Commissioner David Stern shows Charlotte and other cities around the league is disgusting. They admit money is the almighty dollar and that is what they subscribe to. Loyalty be damned because if the home city don’t show the money, some other city would.

Don’t ever believe that any teams can’t move anywhere else for greener pastures. This city remembers the Dodgers, Giants, football Giants and Jets leaving town. The Jets and Giants may be in Jersey but it isn’t New York proper they reside in. They reside in East Rutherford, N.J. Until next week, Peace.

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