Happy Monday Cougs! As usual, here's hoping all is well in your world as we kick off another week. And hey, in case you haven't noticed, it's NFL DRAFT WEEK! Football in April, even in the middle of a nasty labor dispute, don't you just love it?
I have always been a draft nerd if you want to know the truth. I don't wear a jersey and travel to Radio City Music Hall to boo whatever player the Jets pick, I mean I'm not THAT much of a nerd. But I love the excitement and anticipation when picks start coming off the board, and you start to visualize what might be coming for your team in the very near future. Love it or hate it though, there isn't anything else quite like the NFL draft. The NFL has this whole marketing thing figured out, and this year they will roll it out from Thursday through the weekend as they maximize as much exposure as possible into the experience.
The draft is, of course, a complete crapshoot. It's really quite amazing that even today, you still have the hits and misses like the contrast shown above. Yeah, as Peter King tweeted earlier in the weekend, the Chargers were given serious warning signs with Leaf and his personality, but then-GM Bobby Beathard chose to ignore the analysis (whoops). But as one NFL scout said in a story earlier last week, the problem is that after all this time of poking and prodding and breaking down of each prospect, all the hours and workouts and everything else, you eventually "hate everyone by the time the draft arrives!" (*sorry I don't have the source of the article linked, I've read too much lately to actually remember where I read that).
Speaking of Leaf, it's interesting to note that at the time, not only did San Diego LOVE him on draft day, they traded three draft picks and two players just for the right to select Leaf. But it's also important to note the situation that Leaf actually walked into. Here was a team that was 4-12 the previous year, and then what did they do after they picked Leaf? They got rid of their best WR, to the extent the rest of the NFL was wondering just what the hell San Diego was up to! Check it out, from the SI.com archives from the summer of 1998, after San Diego traded away any semblance of a WR corps for Leaf to throw to:
Around the league, people began to wonder where general manager Bobby Beat-hard and coach Kevin Gilbride were stashing their peyote. Many Chargers were equally baffled. "We were blown away," says one veteran. "We've seen some strange s—-here the past few years, and this was right up there."
Anyway, you see that it was a disastrous marriage from the start. A player far too immature to take the next step, and an organization that was turning it all over after reaching the Super Bowl a few years before. I guess one lesson to the draft is that it isn't always about the player and it's all on them if they succeed of fail. So much of their success or failure can be directly tied to the organization that they join.
As to our Cougs and 2011? Well, this will probably be another quiet weekend. If you recall, the 2010 NFL draft was the first time in 15 years that a WSU player did not get his name called on draft weekend. There was hope that maybe Kenny Alfred would get selected, but it wasn't to be. Alfred did end up signing with the Titans and went to camp with Tennessee, so, if you don't get picked there is at least hope that you can still make a camp. But that was about it for the Cougs.
And as you can probably figure, the WSU draft day success hasn't been real exciting. We've had our share of excitement with the Bledsoe's and Leaf's of the world making huge news, but otherwise it's been pretty slow. We've only had 16 players drafted in the last 10 years, dead last in the Pac-10. And in those 10 years, only one, Marcus Trufant back in '03, was a first rounder. That's it. But what about this year? Is there hope that someone, anyone, can hear their name called this weekend??
It appears the lone player who MIGHT get the call is none other than Zack Williams, the center/o-line prospect. Williams went to the NFL combine a few months ago to show what he could do, and from all accounts, he at least held his own.
Williams came in at 6-3, 309. His 40-time wasn't great though, 5.27, but he did show good strength on the bench press (28 reps at 225) and a 30-inch vertical leap. Here's some video from Williams at the combine, via NFL.com.
As you might be able to figure out, there isn't a whole lot of "MOCK DRAFT ACTION" in regards to Williams. But there area few who see him getting selected. NFLDraftScout.com has him as their 9th rated center in the draft, and possible 7th round draft pick. Ourlads.com has Williams going to Kansas City in the 7th round. And finally, something called footballsfuture.com has Williams going to the Redskins, also in the 7th round. But almost everything else out there has him as an undrafted free agent.
SI.com did say this about Williams, after the Shrine Bowl a few months ago:
C, Washington State
Williams had his moments during the week, yet in the end left practice with a lower draft grade then the one he arrived with. Williams struggled with the quarterback-center snap exchange several times and was overrun by defenders on more than one occasion.
Well, whatever happens, we'll be rooting for Williams to find a new home by the end of the weekend!
It must also be said that Zach Enyeart and Reid Forrest both do have at least a chance to make an NFL camp. Enyeart has the legendary long-snapping trick shot video that made the rounds, all the way to ESPN's Sports Nation and PTI TV shows.
Enyeart's video had over 316,000 page views as of today. You know some NFL scouts have seen it by now!?!? And Forrest has been working out for some NFL teams, including the Chicago Bears. So while it's highly unlikely either will hear their name called during the draft, it's possible if not probable that both will end up in an NFL camp as undrafted free agents. WE wish them well!
All for now. GO COUGS!