First of all I have to give a sarcastic thank you to ESPN for breaking a 25 year tradition of watching the 1st round of the draft with my best and longest fan who happens to be a Cleveland Browns and Ohio State fan and cracking jokes about Mel Kiper and his hair. Due to the inclusion of Ray Lewis (who is the agreed upon most hated player past or current of my friend and I) on the ESPN draft program, we actually watched on NFL Network this year for the 1st time. Also want to comment on my anger that no one from the NFL took time to honor a NFL Legend in Mr. Bill Nunn.
Now onto my opinions of the draft and the more exciting things to happen on the evening. Clowney taken first and Robinson taken second, yawn, saw these picks coming 2-3 months ago. The Jaguars throw a twist out there with Bortles taken in the third slot.
EXCITEMENT TIME!! The Browns trade out of the 4th spot to the 9th and my friend is hot under the collar. Direct quote "There is maybe 7-8 truly special players and you dumbs**ts trade to nine, glad to see idiots are still in charge." The other big surprise of this trade is the Bills trade up to take Watkins and not the hometown college hero, Khalil Mack. Mack, Matthews, and Evans go 5,6, and 7, no real shockers there as many mock drafts over the last several months had those players in those spots.
"What the hell are they doing now?" are the words out of my friend's mouth as the Browns now trade up one spot to move into the eighth spot. "Aww, s**t" are the words out of my mouth as Justin Gilbert is announced as the pick and I automatically think of his return ability on both kicks and interceptions and how that could hurt my Steelers. My friend however is now happy since his team just picked his favorite cornerback in this draft and have improved their already improving defense.
Anthony Barr, Eric Ebron, Taylor Lewan (thank God because I wanted no part of him on my Steelers), Odell Beckham, and Aaron Donald (damn he was a favorite of mine, but the Steelers probably wouldn't have taken him) come off the board 9-13 and once again not many surprises there.
"Damn, damn, damn" these are the words I speak as the Bears take Kyle Fuller who I felt was the best corner fit for the Steelers defense. This pick makes me angry and gives my friend a good laugh because now I am the one mad and cussing instead of him. My problem with this pick is that now, after all the mock drafts have messed with my thinking, I figure the Steelers will go with Dennard. I think Dennard will be a quality player, but I don't care for his fit into Pittsburgh's defense and I am secretly hoping for someone else. Then I start getting scared that the pick could be Benjamin, who I like even less than Dennard, so now I am hoping for Dennard.
The Pittsburgh Steelers knowing how much I don't like suspense, once again make their pick in record time as the ticker shows the "pick is in" and Dallas is on the clock. Oh boy, Godell is heading to the podium. My friend gives me a nice thought as he says maybe now is when they will give condolence to the Nunn and Steeler Nation family. I think yeah that would make sense, but once again the NFL and Godell fail to step up and I am still angry about that until the pick is announced.
With the 15th pick, the Pittsburgh Steelers select Ryan Shazier.
"Yes, yes, yes, I love it, this is great, f***ing awesome, we just improved our linebacking corps," is a toned down quote from me after the announcement. My good, Ohio State diehard, friend is uncharacteristically quiet on his side of the room and I ask what's wrong. "That sucks you guys just got a great player and I really like him and now we have to play against him twice a year. He is probably the best LB Ohio State has had since Laurinitis and he might be better than he is, so it sucks that he is going to Pittsburgh."
Now I love this pick because I truly feel that Shazier is a true playmaker and that is what the Steelers needed more than anything else. While I admit that cornerback is an area of need, I never felt that the top 3-4 CBs in this draft were that much better than some of the mid-round corners that will be available in rounds 2 thru 4. This is not downgrading Gilbert, Fuller, or Dennard, as much as it is complementing the depth at corner in this year's draft. I did not feel that ILB was a position that had as much depth and there definitely was not another prospect that brought as much upside as Shazier does with his incredible speed and playmaking ability. With as much love for this pick that I had it grew even more when I saw how unhappy it made my friend whose opinions I find very informative and he hits on a lot more of his top prospects then many of the so-called experts. The fact that Shazier comes from Ohio State and my friend has watched him play in every game of his college career even adds more faith in his opinion of his abilities (and no he is not a homer that inflates player's value).
The rest of the draft went along pretty uneventful with the exception of Cleveland trading up again to take Manziel at 22. This made my friend happy as he notes that Johnny Football may be the biggest boom or bust prospect in this draft, but he does have an "it" factor about him. My friend is now hoping that Cleveland gets a quality receiver with the 3rd pick in the 2nd round like a Marquis Lee and I am hoping that they don't because that will make that offense a tough and scary one to defend. I do feel that Shazier (with his incredible speed) will help in defending against mobile QBs, like Manziel, which was something they had a problem with last year.
Six of the last seven picks made me very happy as I saw six players that I didn't care for come off the board that pushed better options further down the board and closer to the Steelers next pick. Smith, Benjamin, Easley, Ward, Roby, and Bridgewater were all guys that I did not foresee the Steelers picking anyway so that made me happy. There are several names that are still available and I hope to see one of them in the Black & Gold. Some of those names, in no particular order, are Matthews, Lee, Robinson, Landry, Tuitt, Hageman, ASJ, Niklas, Attaochu, Gaines, Jean-Baptiste, and there are others.
Are you as happy as I am about Shazier? If not, who would you have taken? Last who do you like in the 2nd round?