What's trending for the 2014 NFL draft
Social media has altered the fan experience on NFL draft night -- and not just because certain journalists tip picks on Twitter before the draft card ever gets to the commissioner's hands. The instant-analysis aspect of following along on social media while watching live on television means every player's wardrobe, handshake, girlfriend and post-draft interview can be critiqued, dissected and hashtagged in the moment.
Remember last year, when Roger Goodell's man hugs and back rubs were the talk of the night, beginning right with his meaty embrace of No. 1 pick Eric Fisher? And you can't forget all the talk of Barkevious Mingo winning name-of-the-draft honors in a runaway. (Sorry, Star Lotulelei.)
So what will be trending this year during the NFL draft? Let's look at trends from years past and take a guess.
Every year, a few NFL draftees stand out for their dapper duds, while others get roasted on social media for their sartorial selections. If social media had been around in 1989, Deion Sanders would have been called out for his shiny two-piece sweat suit and neck full of gold chains, and there's no doubt Brett Favre would've been trending for his now-infamous cuffed jorts on draft day 1991.
Last year, No. 2 pick Luke Joeckel earned cheers for his three-piece suit, while No. 29 pick Cordarrelle Patterson got jeers for his white tuxedo jacket and gaudy Louis Vuitton belt.
Who will miss the mark this year? My money is on Blake Bortles to get it wrong. I think he's a few Esquire shoots away from figuring out his suit game. The good news for Bortles? "Reporters" everywhere will be too busy tweeting about his girlfriend to notice what he's wearing. Because journalism.
#Schefter & #Mort
Once again, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) and ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) have taken the pledge, along with NFL Network reporters, to refrain from revealing picks before Goodell reads them on stage at Radio City Music Hall. They will still have plenty of trade news, draft room insight and perspective on the picks, so they are must-follows on draft night. You can bet Shefty will make headlines for staying glued to his two BlackBerries and three iPhones, even while on live television.
Ever since the NFL started inviting players to attend the draft in person, the potential for great embarrassment has loomed large for all but a few of them. The guys getting picked first or second have to sit in the green room for only a few minutes before being selected, but those players who drop into the late first round -- or even further -- have to wait, hope, pray and sweat while millions watch them squirm.
In 2011, Randall Cobb had to watch every other player invited to the draft get called -- plus 39 more! -- before finally getting selected by the Packers with the No. 64 overall pick, the final pick of the second round. The Packers also swooped in to save Aaron Rodgers, predicted to go top-five in 2005, as they grabbed him with the No. 23 pick that year. Brady Quinn's wait was so torturous that Goodell invited Quinn and his family to sit in his private suite to avoid being on camera for further embarrassment. After some mock drafts had him going No. 1 overall, Quinn slipped to No. 22 in the 2007 draft.
Who will be stuck to his seat this year? Will teams get nervous about Johnny Football at the last minute and leave the cocky QB sweating it out well past the first few picks? Will QB Teddy Bridgewater, a top-five pick in some mock drafts, instead tumble all the way down to the second round? Whoever it is, you know one of ESPN's 23 cameras will be fixed on him until his name is finally called.
Mingo was the best-named player in last year's draft, and it wasn't even close. All over the country, fantasy football players let the Browns linebacker's unique moniker inspire their team names. Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, recently revealed that his team last year was named "Barkevious Mingo's Mum."
Mingo's popularity brought to mind another one-of-a-kind name: D'Brickashaw Ferguson. The No. 4 pick in the 2006 draft had some competition for best name that year from the likes of Brodrick Bunkley and Frostee Rucker, but how do you top D'Brickashaw? You can't.
This year's field of names is a rich one, with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix leading the charge. Ego Ferguson, Marqueston Huff, Crockett Gillmore and Bashaud Breeland aren't gonna let him run away with the prize, though. And let's not forget about the four "Shaqs" in this year's draft, each of whom has a different spelling: Shaquelle Evans, Shaquil Barrett, Shaquille Richardson and Shawntel Rowell (who goes by Shaq).
For years now, Goodell's vigorous man hugs have been a highlight for draft viewers and draftees alike. Giving the commish a meaty, bro-tastic embrace is now as much a part of the day for players as slipping on the hat of their new team. Gerald McCoy, drafted No. 3 overall by the Buccaneers in 2010, gets credit for starting the hugging trend after he joyously enveloped Goodell in a bear hug that Goodell later admitted nearly took the wind out of him.
This year's most awkward hug will likely be between Goodell and Johnny Manziel, who's sure to get a lot of attention from the commish once he's officially an NFL player. And if Goodell has any sense, he'll make sure Jadeveon Clowney doesn't take a running start en route to delivering his hug on Thursday. A record 30 prospects will attend this year's draft, so Goodell better have his hand sanitizer ready and his muscles primed for a long few days of hugging it out.