I still miss the marathon weekend NFL Draft. Completely veg out on the couch. Drink some beer. Take an hour long nap and find out you have missed all of 3 picks. But it is hard to argue against the NFL and ESPN making more money when the demand supports a 2-night and 3d spread out of the draft. Heck, they are already talking about dragging it out to a 4th day. To say nothing of taking the draft on the road.
I would write of the ridiculousness of such a thing, but that would imply that the past 20 years or so of the draft extravaganzas have been considered restrained.
This year, there are reasons for Pitt fans to watch all three days of the draft. Tonight to see where Aaron Donald goes.
One day, it’s No. 14 to Chicago; the next, it’s 16 to Dallas. Sometimes, it goes as high as the No. 10 overall pick to the Detroit Lions.
And every time, Donald’s response is the same.
“Mom, it doesn’t matter,” he’ll say. “It doesn’t matter until they call me that day.”
“I’m the only one that pays attention that stuff,” Goggins said, with a laugh. “He doesn’t.”
Part of that might be because, while the NFL draft is notoriously difficult to predict, Donald’s stock is about as secure as it can be. Almost every mock draft has him going somewhere at or before the Cowboys at the 16th overall pick.
If and when Donald hears his name called Thursday night, he will break a two-year drought for Pitt players getting drafted and would be the first former Panthers player to go in the first round since wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin in 2011. If he goes off the board before the 18th overall pick, a fairly likely scenario, he would be the highest drafted Pitt player since wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald went third overall in 2004.
The Bears are a good possibility, so the Chicago Tribune had a great piece on Donald. A lot of it includes anecdotes and stories of Donald, that we Pitt fans have read over the years.
Friday night will be to see how early in the second round Tom Savage goes. Does he slip back to the third? It doesn’t seem likely at this point. Too many teams are too intrigued by him to let him slip too far. Savage’s story, is also familiar to Pitt fans. Others, only know that his road seems very odd.
As Savage was sitting out at Arizona due to NCAA transfer rules, the school fired coach Mike Stoops and hired Rich Rodriguez, known for his spread offense that often includes a running quarterback.
“I said, ‘Oh my God, I cannot believe this,’ ” said Dan Algeo, Savage’s high school coach. “It just couldn’t have turned out any worse for Tom, because there was no way that he was going to play that style offense.
“You thought to yourself, ‘How much can this kid take?’ You almost feel like there’s a black cat around him.”
Savage said the decision to leave Arizona had more to do with family issues, saying an aunt was ill and he wanted to be closer to home. But either way, he was on the move again. He appealed the NCAA to return to Rutgers, but was denied.
In the meantime, he returned to Springfield and worked construction with his dad, Tom Sr. He would run, lift weights and throw after nearly every shift, and he spent his spare time calling college coaches, begging for another chance.
Part of what has also helped Savage is him taking the responsibility in NFL team interviews for leaving Rutgers after his sophomore year.
Savage injured his throwing hand during the fourth game of the season against Tulane, and backup Chas Dodd rallied the team to victory.
Soon, Dodd took Savage’s place as the starter.
“I really think it was normal growing pains for a quarterback,” said Kirk Ciarrocca, Rutgers’ co-offensive coordinator at the time. “He was asked to shoulder more of the burden, and we weren’t nearly as good a football team.”
Furious and confused over the demotion, Savage transferred after the season. He says now he regrets the choice.
“I was a young, bitter kid, and I was entitled,” Savage said. “And patience wasn’t one of my virtues back then.”
Considering Greg Schiano declared Dodd was the full-time starter it wasn’t completely outrageous to transfer. I mean, Schiano’s handling of QBs with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers demonstrated for most that Schiano isn’t exactly a master of communications.
Then there is Devin Street. There is a chance for him to hear his name called on Friday before the end of the third round, but more likely it will be on Saturday in round four or five. It is a really, really deep draft for wide receivers.
He played in every game from 2010-2012, but shoulder and ankle injuries and a hematoma on his elbow forced him to miss three starts last season.
Predictably, here comes the scrutiny that’s as intense as anything he received from opposing secondaries.
“He’s got some skills,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “I’d like to see him get a little bit stronger. But he can run. He’s got size.
“If he could just beef up, get stronger, win some of those jump balls, I think he’s got a chance to play.”
Mayock’s prediction: “He’s probably going to go in about the fifth round.”
Gil Brandt, who rates prospects for NFL.com after a long career as a personnel man for the Dallas Cowboys, said Street deserves to hear his name called before the end of the draft.
“There are so many wide receivers that I hope he is drafted because he is a quality player,” Brandt said.
Street posted 40-yard times of 4.53 and 4.47 seconds at the NFL Combine that are considered average for his position, but he ran away from enough defenders to register 2,901 receiving yards, third in school history.
“He doesn’t have the great speed that you would like to have,” Brandt said, “but he catches the ball really well.”
Street was never a breakaway receiver. When he starts running, it is more of a stride. That gets faster, but he needs time to build it. He is not explosive off the line or after the catch.
Everyone else, we will hear about on Sunday and Monday with free agent opportunities.