Le Draft 2007

My first draft was in 1994 when I was a freshman slumming in a dorm flat. This was the first year of my life with the magical and wondrous “cable” television, and its ever-so-amusing ESPN. That year, my Colts were debating on which player to add with the second-overall pick in the first round; a sumo wrestling defensive tackle from Ohio State named “Big Daddy” Dan Wilkinson, or the lightning-fast lad from San Diego State called Marshall Faulk.

The year 1995 was much more interesting. This was the first year I watched college ball seeking the sweet players and the gems in the rough. From that year on “le Draft," as I call it, has become the centerpiece of spring, and the doorway to summer. With the draft, we build our teams the way a child builds a banana split, or a fifth-year Longhorn student constructs a costume for Eeyore’s Birthday Party in the park: We watch our teams mix-and-match ingredients to bring their fans joy come the fall season.

As I sit in my boxers covered in crimson crickets, here are my notes and observations from the 2007 NFL Draft…

5:28am
I am woken by the sounds of neighbor sex. Can anyone name a better way to kickoff the draft?

THE RAIDERS ARE BACK IN BLACK
I am one of the few people on this planet thinking the world is a better place when the Raiders are good. We all need our playful enemies. Thor needs his Loki. Coke needs Pepsi. The NFL needs the Raiders, a team that prides itself on being bad. Oakland takes JaMarcus Russell with the NO. 1 pick, trades Randy Moss, and adjoins several weapons for the fresh QB from LSU to play with. Nice moves all around

And for the others in the AFC West …

Denver
“Hey, guys, I have an idea. Let's trade for all the defunct Browns defensive line-boys.” That was the 2006 plan, and that plan didn’t last long. The Mile High Club goes for pass rushers from the Sunshine State.

Kansas City
Wow. I wonder if Herm Edwards understands the draft is designed to bring players into help his team?

San Diego
Golly. I wonder if Norv Turner has been talking to Herm Edwards?

12:49pm
No sporting event is right without food. I make an egg-and-cheese burrito with Salt Lick BBQ sauce. BBQ sauce is not just for breakfast anymore.

MAKING WAVES ON LAKE ERIE
Cleveland passes on Irish great Brady Quinn for awesome OT Joe Thomas, who has dropped the draft to go fishing with pop on Lake Erie. Quinn drops all the way down to the Cowboy’s 22nd slot were GM Phil Savage trades for the kid. I don’t care for Quinn, he’s overrated and dropped for reasons, but the Browns do need help under center.

And the other teams from the AFC North…

Baltimore
They take Ben Grubbs, OG, from Auburn. One of the few picks I called correctly.

Cincinnati
They draft a Boy Scout in Leon Hall. Good.

Pittsburg
At 2:28pm, Steelhead and Shakespearian actor Kyle “My Dawg” Haden generates a call from the Big Apple. New head coach Mike Tomlin has the best-looking combo of hair and beard I have ever laid my eyes on. Tomlin fortified the front seven, the way he had to, and added FSU’s Lawrence Timmons (infuriating the NY Giants by doing so). Timmons will be a star.

BIG BLUE(S)
“He was playing well ‘til he got traded.” Mel Kiper Jr. on New York Giants QB Eli Manning and his notorious draft-day trade from San Diego to the Big Apple three years ago.

New York Giants
I simply don’t understand what the Giants are doing. Eli can’t play vertically. Why not grab offensive linemen early?

And the other teams in the NFC East …

Dallas
The first pick with Anthony Spencer has bowls of brains, and I love the pick. Sadly, Jerry’s Kids had more than one pick and I am still trying to translate what they said with those selections.

Philly
Do Andy Reid and company know McNabb is still on the team? Their draft has no logic. They must have been talking with Herm Edwards on draft-day advice.

Washington
With only one pick on the first day, the ‘Skins take super safety LaRon Landry. One of the best players in this draft might be playing for one of the worst teams next year. The situation Washington’s in is so speechless, I had to listen to my School House Rock vinyl to find the adjective that best describes this situation. The words “scary” and “frustrating” come to mind.

NORTHERN LIGHTS
12:27pm
Hyper-powered Vikings fan Mark Hillenbrand calls on what his Purple People Eaters might do at the No. 7 pick. Hillenbrand is my financial adviser. Thus, the man who introduced me to Maker’s Mark and its bastard cousin Jim Beam. The Twin City Titans take Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson, and the division gets very, very quiet. The other three teams in the NFC North play a Cover 2 defense, a system not branded for stopping power runners. Peterson is a lights-out runner who “finishes” plays.

And now for the rest of the NFC North …

Chicago
Nice-looking draft. Greg Olsen gives Rex Grossman a simple target in the flat. Grossman now must show he cares to win.

Detroit
Smart-looking draft. Great pick-up with wide receiver Calvin Johnson, and the dumping of Mike Williams on Oakland was the right thing to do.

Green Bay
Someone needs to disconnect Herm Edward’s phone, for the sake of the league. As the Packers take DT Justin Harrell, the television was flooded with images of young boys in green No. 4 jerseys booing the pick. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get the Packers to boo their own pick?


SOUTH BEACH SWAN SONG?
Miami drops a shock and a boom that can be heard from South Beach to Timbuktu. Stunning the pigskin planet, the ‘fins forego draft QB Brady Quinn, and land WR/KR Ted Ginn Jr. From Ohio St. with the ninth pick. This is way too early for a cat little more than a punt returner. Dolphin’s fans revolt and burn season tickets.

This was unwise and reactionary of the Miami fanatics, as head coach Cam Cameron returns in Round 2 and 3 to draft QB John Beck (my favorite QB in the draft), a center, and a running back to help the offense.

Other notes from the NFC East …

New England
Evil abducts another jerk from Miami (Fl.) and then they bring in Randy Moss. If offered the gift of flight, or to witness Evil go 0-16 this fall, which one do you think I’d grab?

New York Jets
My favorite moment of the draft comes when the crowd at Radio City Music Hall explodes in glee as the Jets trade up in the first round to opt for CB/KR Darrelle Revis, and the surly Jets fans still boo their man.

Buffalo
In honor of the dead and injured in the VT killings, former No. 1 pick and VT grade Bruce Smith announces the selection of a running back for his former team. This was a kind gesture of both the Bills and the NFL.

NOTE: I just love what a crass-ass ESPN’s usually kind Chris Mortensen can be to Mel Kiper Jr. and Keyshawn Johnson.

AN OPEN LETTER TO MY COUSIN GREG SOMEPLACE IN FLORIDA
I told you the Bucs wouldn’t trade up for Calvin Johnson. Of course, you only went to Cornell. I went to Columbia. I am smarter than you.

Tampa Bay
Actually, cousin Greg is not dumb, and neither is his team. In taking Gaines Adams the Bucs got their version of aforementioned Bruce Smith. Then, Gruden solidified his offensive line with Aaron Sears, followed by the rebuilding of the defense in the later rounds. We might be looking at this draft as the cornerstone of these cats for the coming decade.

Atlanta
Let’s call this the Rosie O’Donnell draft for the Black Birds. Solidly built. Very unsexy. A lot of meat and potatoes, which is just what this team needs.

Carolina
I hate Dwayne Jarrett. And Carolina will too. Where is the help on defense? Jon Beason and Tim Shaw are nice, but the pride needs more, baby.

New Orleans
Sean Peyton likes to score points and he has made that clear with this draft. But, again, where is the defensive help? If I were a college professor – and I am – I would give the Saints a B- for their picks.

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’
I said the 49ers were one or two players away from the playoffs. They must have been listening to me. Mike Nolan drafted LB Patrick Willis, traded up to snag OT Joe Staley, then pulled off a major upset by stealing WR Jason Hill from Washington State in the third round. Hill was the second-fastest player in the draft, clocking the 40-yard dash in 4.35 seconds, but what makes Hill sexy is his special-team play: He held the “gunner” position for the cougars and blocks kicks with the best of them.

And now for the other NFC West squads …

Arizona
Wisely went for offensive- and defensive-line dudes. I like what is happening in the desert. An honest team to watch this fall.

St. Louis
Okay. I have an idea. Someone rings Herm Edwards’ doorbell. The ringer will say something along the lines of “candy gram.” When Edwards seeks out said “candy gram” I shall sneak into his house via “le bathroom window," unplug his phone, and slip away into the night saving several teams from dumbfounding draft-day advice. Why won’t teams take players they need?

Seattle
Did the ‘Hawks even pick a player in this draft? I haven’t heard of half the players they jumped on.

FOR MY EDITOR
Yes. I am going to write this. And it is honest and true. The Houston Texans did very well in this draft. There. I said it. And it’s okay. I’m all right. I’m glad I wrote what I just wrote. “Le Draft” is “le process.” With this draft Houston has added a hot QB in Matt Schaub who will be better than Mike Vick, and then added meat around him with offensive-line help. With the addition of two vicious-good defensive backs, and the acquisition of wide receiver Jacoby Jones (one of my favorite players in the draft) I don’t see why this team can’t make a push for 8-8 this year.

And for the rest of the AFC South …

Jacksonville
I’m in “like” with what this team’s done, but not “love.” Reggie Nelson looks smart, Justin Durant from Hampton looks bright, but something is missing. I will call it now: the Jags make the playoffs or the team gets junked and rebuilt.

Tennessee
Vince Young did it by himself last year. I guess he did it all so well, Nashville wants to see if he can do it again.

Indianapolis
The Colts have never assembled a draft I was totally amazed by, until now. Every single pick makes sense in both filling holes and filling needs. This is the only way for the Colts to build and maintain the franchise with cash locked up in Peyton and his weapons, and Indy knows it. How on earth did cornerback Daymeion Hughes fall to these guys in the third round?

5:11pm
Sunday, April 29th 2007
"le DRaft" is fin.

5 EASY PIECES: DRAFT EDITION (A quintet of other draft-y matters on my mind.)

1) Pack your bags, Michael Irvin. Keyshawn Johnson was simply fantastic as guest color commentator.
2) Suzy Kolber knows football as good if not better than anybody. No wonder Joe Namath wanted to smooch her.
3) It is probably my deep loathing for evil, but the New England Patriots look more desperate than smart.
4) The first day of the draft was 11 hours and 4 minutes. I need a new hobby.
5) Based on “le Daft," if I had to pick two teams in the Super Bowl come February 2008, it would be the Steelers and 49ers. But I will cover all of that “le August.”

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