Labriola On

On opening in NE, Ravens draft, drops

Ready or not, here it comes:

  • Whaddya think of opening in New England now?
  • Back in 1963, the NFL Commissioner was Pete Rozelle, and he faced a situation in which the highest-profile player on a two-time defending championship team coached by the legendary Vince Lombardi was suspected of betting on his own club and said to be associating with "known hoodlums." Paul Hornung said he bet on his Green Bay Packers with "friends" for $100 or $200. Rozelle said the bets actually were for as much as $500 with the implication that Hornung's "friends" were ne'er-do-wells.
  • A classic case of he-said, he-said, but Rozelle still suspended Hornung, who had set an NFL record with 176 points in 1960 and been the league's MVP in 1961, for the entire 1963 season. The entire 1963 season.
  • I cannot get myself to believe Roger Goodell will make the kind of statement Rozelle did back in 1963, and there can be debate over whether tampering with footballs rises to the same level of impugning the integrity of the sport as players betting on the outcome. But there has to be a suspension, maybe two.
  • In my mind, the team that could be watching this very closely is the New Orleans Saints. The Saints had their head coach suspended for an entire year for BountyGate, and even though Sean Payton claimed to be completely unaware of the particulars of the violations, Goodell essentially ruled that ignorance is no defense against wrong-doing.
  • The Wells Report concluded that Bill Belichick was largely unaware of footballs being deflated, but if ignorance was no defense against wrong-doing when Payton got suspended for a full year, then that same standard should apply here. And since the NFL already found Belichick guilty in SpyGate – the $500,000 fine the league levied against him points to his guilt – is this a second offense? In a court of law, a second offense typically brings a harsher punishment.
  • There is some perception that the Baltimore Ravens are masters of the NFL Draft, that Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh do it better on a more consistent basis than any other team in the league. Apparently, that perception isn't necessarily universal. You might even say that perception doesn't reach the Baltimore city limits.
  • This is what sports columnist Mike Preston wrote in The Baltimore Sun about the Ravens' performance in the 2015 draft: "After several months of planning and three days of participation in the NFL Draft, the Ravens still need a starting cornerback. Despite adding nine rookies over the weekend, the 2015 Ravens look a lot like the 2014 Ravens, the team that had problems matching up against quality quarterbacks, and allowed New England signal caller Tom Brady to chew them up in the second half of an AFC divisional round playoff game. Unless the Ravens make a trade between now and the season opener, or Brady, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck or Ben Roethlisberger decide to retire, history could repeat itself."
  • Speaking of the Ravens and their "mastery" of the draft process by the way, if Newsome truly believed he needed to vault the Steelers in the second round to pick Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams, then he wasted a fifth-round draft pick.

Photos of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 Draft Class.

  • The Steelers were not going to be in a situation where they had used their first two draft picks and not added a cornerback, and the selection of Bud Dupree  in Round 1 had them singularly focused on the position when Day 2 of the draft dawned. Hours before the 7 p.m. picking was to begin, word had filtered out that the Steelers were one of the teams looking to trade up in the second round.
  • The target was a cornerback – most likely Jalen Collins from LSU – and the Steelers thought they had a real chance at a deal with the St. Louis Rams, the owners of the ninth pick in the second round. As the Rams went on the clock, Carolina swept in and bowled them over with an offer that included swapping picks in the second round and throwing in a third and a sixth.
  • Naturally, St. Louis went took it, and the Panthers picked Michigan wide receiver Devin Funchess. Carolina spent three draft picks on that guy? Not to be judgmental.
  • Anyway, the Falcons followed with the 10th pick in the second round and used it on Collins, so at that point the Steelers' calls to the teams above them looking for a trading partner were geared toward picking Senquez Golson. A cornerback.
  • I understand the whole "we don't draft for needs" philosophy, but there are times when roster reality must factor into these kinds of decisions, because this draft was going to be the Steelers' last best chance to re-make their depth chart in the secondary.
  • The decisions to move on from Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu, to step away when the offer to Brice McCain was for the caliber of player the Steelers didn't think he was, those decisions could be made more easily if the second part of the equation involved utilizing premium draft picks to replenish the position. You don't do that by going linebacker-tight end on the first two rounds of the draft.
  • All due respect to Maxx Williams, but you don't go tight end in Round 2 after you've gone linebacker in Round 1 even if the tight end is John Mackey. Maxx Williams is not John Mackey.
  • It seems the third-round selection of Sammie Coates didn't sit well among some draft analysts, both professional and those who lurk in the comment sections throughout cyberspace. Drops too many passes. A luxury pick. Just another Martavis Bryant.
  • Oh, no. What a disaster it would be if Coates were another Bryant. What could the Steelers ever do with eight receiving touchdowns from a rookie receiver again?
  • The offense would have TWO big, really fast receivers who do nothing better than track the deep balls. Imagine Coates on one side of the formation and Bryant on the other, with Antonio Brown lining up wherever and Le'Veon Bell in the backfield next to Ben Roethlisberger.
  • Ask Mike Preston how he thinks that would turn out for the Ravens.
  • And as for the dropping of the balls, there is some belief that Bryant was actually a bit worse coming from Clemson, but those eight touchdowns sure compensated nicely. About Coates' drops, wide receivers coach Richard Mann speculated that they might stem from concentration lapses or maybe from the way Coates positions his hands when making underneath catches. "But the thing is I've never seen any bad body language," added Mann, "so he's not afraid, and that's a good thing."
  • A very good thing.
  • It's spelled G-a-r-o-p-p-o-l-o. Jimmy Garoppolo.
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