Some random notes and thoughts on the eve of the draft.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about the draft’s new format when it was first announced. But I’m thinking I like it now as I look ahead to Thursday. My plan is to hit the gym in the morning, join “The Fabulous Sports Babe’’ on ESPN Radio Tampa Bay live from Peggy O’Neill’s Irish Pub and Eatery at 13910 W. Hillsborough Ave. in Tampa from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET and then head out to One Buc Place, where I’ll be spending much of the night Thursday and Friday. Relax Atlanta and New Orleans fans, I’ll be reporting on your picks from out there, too. And we’ll get around to the Panthers on Friday when they finally make a draft pick. Also, Carolina fans, I’ll be coming to Charlotte for minicamp next week.
On my earlier post about guys who should be nervous about the draft, I cut the number off at five. But we’ll throw out an honorable mention here to Tampa Bay receiver Michael Clayton. The Bucs are going to come out of this draft with at least one receiver, probably two. Even if those guys are raw and inexperienced they might have an edge on Clayton, who hasn’t been seen since his rookie year.
Scott Reynolds made the pick for the Buccaneers on NFL Network. He said the same thing I’ve been saying –- defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.
I’m still thinking defensive end Brandon Graham for the Falcons, if he’s still available. But I keep hearing this voice in the back of my head that I heard from someone with the Falcons soon after their brass attended Penn State’s pro day –- “Keep an eye on that one.’’ Presumably, the reference was to defensive tackle Jared Odrick. It could have also meant linebacker Navarro Bowman, but I think he comes with more questions than the Falcons want.
Suggestion for any NFC South general manager looking for a safety: You should take a look at some talk-radio producers. These people are relentless. Their hosts give them instructions to track down writers to take part in mock drafts and they’ll chase you every way they can. Not sure about their measurables, but they are fearless. Anybody that knows me, knows it’s not a real good idea to call my cell phone before 7 a.m.
I still am a little amazed that so many Carolina fans think something incredibly dramatic is going to happen with the Panthers during the draft. I understand your frustration. But if the Panthers were going to make some major trade or sign a big-name free agent, they would already have done some things like this. John Fox and Marty Hurney are sticking to their principles even as they sit on the hot seat.
Mike Triplett points out one of the best draft facts I’ve seen this year and it’s especially relevant to his audience because the Saints hold the 32nd overall pick. Exactly nine years ago, No. 32 overall was Drew Brees to San Diego. Yeah, you just might be able to find a player at No. 32.