Back Nine: NFL Draft filled with uncertainty
Published: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 at 7:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, May 12, 2014 at 8:35 p.m.
The Back Nine comes at you after a busy weekend covering The Players and the Gator baseball team and spending Sunday missing my mother but fortunate to be with a mom just as loving.
10. Driving home from Ponte Vedra Beach, I was listening to the NFL draft on Sirius. Unfortunately, I got home and started watching about midway through the first round on TV. The radio broadcast was way more enjoyable. Let me sum up what was said between picks on television — “Blah, blah, blah, blah.” Did you hear that Cleveland drafted Johnny Manziel? Geez, talk about over the top. Apparently there were other players drafted as well, but it was difficult to sift through the Manziel chatter to see them. There were a lot of squirrely picks in this draft like there always are. There will be busts and undrafted players who make Pro Bowls. And if you don’t like the draft in May, you might want to get used to it. The TV ratings were massive compared to April and blew the NBA playoffs out of the water. Part of that was that so many teams were able to keep their picks secret and the mock drafts were way, way off. Even the Jadeveon Clowney pick wasn’t a sure thing. Blake Bortles to Jacksonville was a pick we didn’t see coming. I’m not saying it was a bad choice, but there are a lot of Gator fans who are wondering why the Jags were willing to take a quarterback from the state of Florida this year and not in 2010.
11. If I could go back in a time machine to the start of the season, I could have made a fortune betting any of you Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy would both leave early and neither would be drafted. Purifoy is certainly understandable with his issues. Roberson was a bit of a surprise. There was a mock draft last week that had him in the first round. I know because a buddy of mine who is a writer and a Bears fan was asking me about Roberson. There is a cautionary tale here for players thinking about declaring after their junior seasons. First of all, when the NFL advisory board tells you that you will be drafted no higher than the third round, that doesn’t mean you’re a third-round pick. Unfortunately, so many players see third round and think that’s the worse-case scenario. Roberson was given that draft grade. Secondly, if you have durability issues you had better be able to run a really fast 40 at the combine. Roberson missed chunks of two seasons with injuries and ran a 4.6 in the 40. And here is another thing that probably hurt the former Florida cornerback — Dan Quinn is in Seattle. And because he knows Roberson well, every time Seattle passed on Roberson, it raised a red flag. If he’s good, why is Seattle not taking him? I’m not trying to pick on Roberson, just pointing out how it can go terribly wrong.
12. Roberson and Purifoy were hardly alone. In fact, Will Muschamp told his team Monday to take a look at one of the first mock drafts that came out before the 2013 football season. Tennessee’s Antonio Richardson, LSU’s Anthony Johnson and Purifoy were among the top 25 picks. And none of them were drafted. His message? It all goes back to what you put on film. And it helps not to get into trouble.
13. After watching Florida score three runs in three games, two of them meaningless, it would be easy to get down on a team that begs you to dismiss them about every other week. This season is one of the most amazing stories of the last decade in college baseball. I tweeted this but it bears repeating — this Florida team has no bat in the lineup that scares you, has one healthy starting pitcher it can rely on and its shortstop has committed 20 errors. And yet it is one win away from bringing home an SEC championship trophy. Florida is also one win away from the magical 20-win SEC season, which UF has done six times in its history. Five of those teams went to the College World Series (the one that did not was 2002). Which is why I thought Kevin O’Sullivan’s message to his team was perfect after an embarrassing 16-2 loss to Vanderbilt. It’s been a great season. You have a trophy within your grasp. Go get it.
14. Florida’s fast start in softball this season may be forgotten by some, but not by the NCAA selection committee. Tim Walton played a tough schedule and that early success paid off with a No. 5 seed despite Florida being a one-and-done four seed in the SEC tournament. I like the Gators’ draw and if they make it through the regional they would play host to Washington (if the seeding holds) in the super regional. The Huskies, who beat Florida in the title series in 2008, lost six of seven games midway through the season, but won nine of their last 10 games scoring an average of 7.6 runs a game during that stretch. Not that I’m looking ahead.
15. I asked several writers at The Players Championship who they thought was the third most popular golfer on tour after Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. I received a variety of answers. My point was that golf may be heading for a crossroads with Tiger’s health and Phil’s struggles and it needs some of these really talented young golfers to start winning a lot. I’m not sure if golf has ever had more players who could be the next big thing, but being the next big thing requires multiple majors. And by that I mean more than two. The No. 1 ranking means nothing to me. It’s like RPI. Mathematically, Florida’s baseball team is the third best team in the country. What golf needs are for players such as Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth to start dominating. But because there is so much depth, we may not see that. We’re never going to see another one like Woods, who drives ratings like nobody. But while we wait to see if he’ll ever return to form, it would be nice to see the best in the world play like it more often.
16. One more draft note and then we are done until next year and can concentrate on the NBA playoffs and all of the Gator spring sports teams. Oh, and hockey. What do these four Power Five conference teams have in common — Texas, Kansas, Illinois and Northwestern? Zero players drafted. For Texas, it was the first time since 1937. Still wondering why Mack Brown was pushed out?
17. The Tweet of the Week comes from Florida’s starting quarterback after the first round of the NFL draft — “Good luck to @MR_ChUcKie_2 in New England. Congrats man. Picks like that are why the Pats are a great franchise.” Jeff Driskel and Dominique Easley were the leaders of the Florida team last season and were lost for the season three days apart.
18. So during my drive over to Ponte Vedra Beach, a car came flying by me on that four-lane road between Green Cove Springs and the bridge. He got on the bumper of the car in front of him before pulling onto the grass median to pass. Sticks and rocks and dirt flew as he gunned the engine. What a jerk, huh? Well, the guy he passed was an unmarked police car, who promptly pulled him over. Made my day. Make your day with these downloads — “Elevator Love Letter” by Stars, “Satellite” by Guster and for a deep album cut that’s an oldie but isn’t that old (2001) “All The Way To Reno” by R.E.M.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at email@example.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.