SCREAMIN’ FROM THE CHEAP SEATS : MAY 4
By Leo Haggerty
My entire column, in one way or another, deals with the 2017 NFL Draft. What a surprise, right?
From the good to the bad to the ugly. Let’s take a look at my perception of what went down in Philly at the end of April. Don’t be afraid to comment and tell me if you think I’m spot-on or way off base. Trust me, I’ll read all them and respond so here goes.
DOES ANYONE HAVE A CLUE
THE CHICAGO BEARS
This section of my column should be titled “Who Gets The Last Laugh” and rightfully so. That’s because we won’t know who was clueless until at least four years from now.
When the Bears moved up one spot, and gave up three draft picks to accomplish that feat, to select North Carolina QB Mitchell Trubisky, my phone exploded with text messages. The best text, and the one that summed up the Chicago logic to perfection, was from my wife.
Barb’s one-sentence statement of, “What did the Bears just do?” was the icing on the cake. That’s because about 99% of most football fans were thinking, basically, the same thing. Has Chicago lost their mind?
I’m going to come at this from both angles. Let’s start with the Bears being clueless.
Chicago probably got played by the 49ers. Maybe San Francisco told the Bears it was “put up or shut up” time because another team wanted to move up to the second spot. Maybe they told Chicago that they were taking Trubisky and “to make me an offer I can’t refuse” to swap spots in Round 1.
For whatever reason, Chicago felt the need to move up and traded away three mid-round picks to do so. Right now, that looks like a dumb move and the guys in the Windy City will have to live with that for a few years.
Now, let’s look at this from the other side of the field, shall we? What if the Bears had the right information and all of us were clueless?
If, in four years, Trubisky becomes one of the Top 5, or even Top 10, signal callers in the NFL then the Bears got it right. If he becomes “that guy” then it doesn’t matter how many draft picks Chicago gave up to get him.
Quarterback, and a franchise one, has become that scarce of a commodity that teams are willing to “give up the farm” for a chance to secure one. Just look at what Kansas City and Houston did later in the first round to grab Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson.
So, for right now, the Bears look like they didn’t have a clue. That, my friends, could change dramatically if the kid from Carolina can lead the Monsters of the Midway back to the Super Bowl.
All eyes were on the brand new San Francisco 49ers General Manager as the 2017 National Football League Draft convened in Philadelphia on Thursday. Everyone was wondering what rookie GM John Lynch would do with the #2 pick and most experts believed that “old #47” would play it close to vest.
Well, nothing was farther from the truth. Lynch, looking like an astute long-time riverboat gambler, flat out bluffed the Chicago Bears and fleeced them right out of the gate. Like disguising a coverage in the secondary, the former All-Pro safety laid the groundwork for the first, and for that matter the biggest, trade of the entire three-day event.
It all started approximately two weeks ago when San Francisco starting “leaking” information that they would be taking QB Mitchell Trubisky. Lynch, knowing all along that their guy was Stanford DL Solomon Thomas, had “baited the hook” to see if he could get any nibbles.
I must admit, I saw right through the subterfuge and went “on the record” that Saturday. I said on April 22nd on the Tan Talk Sports Network to host Peter Blake that San Francisco, “had no intention of taking the former North Carolina signal caller. They were looking to ‘trade down’ and acquire more picks and they are ‘floating’ the notion of taking Trubisky to see if they can find a taker.”
Well, enter the Bears and here’s how I believe it played out on draft day. After Cleveland took Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett with the first overall pick, Chicago picked up the phone and called the West Coast to speak to Lynch. They probably asked him if the 49ers have definitely decided on who they were taking and he enthusiastically responded Trubisky.
Here’s where the Bears had to make a decision. Do they say, “Thanks John” and hang up and force Frisco to make the pick? Do they say, “What would it take for you to trade your spot in the draft to us?” Do they say, “Thanks” and hang up the phone and wait and see if Lynch gets back to them or call back a little later?
I think the Bears panicked and thought Lynch was really going to take Trubisky. So Chicago gave up two third round picks and a fourth round selection to swap one spot with the 49ers. The fleecing was complete.
In the end, both teams got what they wanted. Chicago feels they got their franchise QB of the future and I don’t think that’s sitting real well with newly signed free agent quarterback Mike Glennnon. San Francisco got the additional draft picks they feel they needed to fill some gaping holes on both sides of the ball.
My call? Advantage, San Fran and well played, 47. Well played.
The Bills fire General Manager Doug Whaley immediately following the Draft. Talk about being on thin ice. He didn’t even make it to the rookie mini-camp in early May before he was jettisoned by ownership. Plus, there looks like there is no candidate in the foreseeable future. What is going on up in Orchard Park, you ask?
The rumors coming out of upstate New York is the Bills are looking for a more single-minded approach. Owner Terry Pegula and his wife Kim, who has a tremendous influence on him to the point where it’s almost a partnership, are trying to emulate what is being done a couple hundred miles to the east in Foxboro. They want to franchise have one voice, like the Patriots have with HC Bill Belichick, when it comes to player personnel decisions.
If that comes to fruition, the Pegula’s are going to put all their eggs in the coaching basket. That means HC Sean McDermott will have almost total control over the direction the Bills will proceed after the 2017 Draft.
Now, if the 20th Bills head coach is really running the show and it sure seems like he is, some may wonder about his thought process right out of the gate. The first decision he made in Buffalo was not to pick up the fifth year option for WR Sammy Watkins.
On the surface, it looks like a dumb move but let’s look deeper. Instead of picking up a $13 million plus option for 2018, the Bills are going see if #14 can just stay healthy.
If the former Clemson Tiger can return to the form he showed in 2015 and 2016, all it’s going to cost the Bills is about $3 million more than the fifth year option to hang the franchise tag on him until a long-term contract can be negotiated.
If Watkins can’t stay on the field, the Bills just saved big bucks. If he can, they can take their time to resign him.
Maybe Buffalo is “colder than ice” coming out of the draft but the temperature may be rising quickly. Then again, we are talking about the Bills and, if the past is any predictor of the future, they will be an after thought in the AFC East by Thanksgiving.
Personally, I hope that’s not the case. I grow tired of watching the Patriots clinch the division title by Week 10. Here’s to wishing the Bills, as well as Miami and the Jets, make it a horse race in December.
LOOKING INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL
The Crystal Ball sees two things as clearly as it has even been in the glass sphere. Both, by the way, deal with the NFL Draft.
The first image appearing in the Crystal Ball is that the National Football League had no idea the Draft would be as big an event. Philadelphia city officials estimate over 70,000 fans, of all ages, flocked to the big tent at the end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Thursday night to get a glimpse of what was occurring.
For three days, waves of people gathered at the front of the Museum of Art to witness what players their favorite team would select. Basically, the 2017 Draft in Philly showed the NFL that, by moving it to a venue outside of New York City, it can draw crowds of Super Bowl magnitude.
With that in mind, the Crystal Ball is showing in perfect clarity that the Draft will be in Dallas next year. Look for “Jerry’s World” to host the 2018 Selection Meeting simply because it can handle the 100,000 fans that will show up to listen to Roger Goodell start the evening by saying, “With the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.”
One thing is puzzling. If you look to the back of the Crystal Ball there a very faint image of Rocky Balboa holding up a 2018 Draft poster at the top of the steps in front of the Art Museum. Hummmmm?
The Crystal Ball, after saying hey to Adrian along with Cuff and Link, takes a well-deserved rest.