DRAFT NOTES FROM NASHVILLE
May 1, 2019 | View PDF
Music City, Nashville, Tennessee exceeded all expectations for hosting the 2019 NFL Draft. From Thursday, April 25th through Saturday, April 27th attendance at the draft exceeded 500,000, a record for the event. Philadelphia hosted the 2017 draft and drew a record 250,000. Nashville doubled that figure to establish a record that will be hard to beat.
The NFL Draft will be held in Las Vegas next year. There were representatives from Vegas studying how Nashville handled the logistics. Twelve other markets had people there to see how they could handle the draft if they ever win a bid to host. The honky tonk area of Music City was closed to traffic allowing fans to walk to every attraction during there attendance. The “real country” artists have left Nashville because of the new “rock” emphasis at the studios. But, Nashville is not dead. The city officials proved that at the 2019 NFL Draft. Music City has never had 500,000 people to attend anything. Kudos to Nashville.
Once again, Alabama led all of college football with 10 players selected in the first three rounds. For the third straight year Alabama has had double digit numbers in the draft. Alabama has become a feeder team for the National Football League. What is the significance of this? It should not be difficult to understand. Nick Saban has had recruiting classes ranked in the top ten for ten years. Most of those classes were in the top three. Some were number one. When a team has the best players in the country, it is not hard to understand why so many are drafted. Not to take away from Coach Saban, but, NFL players for the most part are born and not just coached to be great. When a college coach gets a “five star”, the coach and his staff can improve their skills slightly. However, they can mold that player to fit the needs of the team and the concepts required to play their position on that team. Talent will take the player to the NFL, not coaching. Coaching can build a player into the kind of person they should be in order to succeed in their chosen field. Extra work by the player from junior high school on will determine if talent, size, speed, height can land a player in the NFL. It’s really simple. Alabama has the best players. As long as the greatest recruiter in the history of college football is the coach at Alabama, the Tide will dominate the NFL Draft.
There is so much hype surrounding the lead up to the draft. Newspapers, magazines, radio and TV programs all get into the act. There are so many “draft experts” today that it becomes monotonous to even listen to any of them very long. Some have never played football. Some are just members of the media who are attracted to this endeavor. Some are ex-players who have been through the process and spent years playing in the league. Some are ex-coaches who have found a way to make a buck without a lot of effort. All are just helping to build the hype in order for everybody involved to make some money. It works. Millions of Americans watched the draft. Some watched every segment. I watched a lot of it myself. I’m always interested to see where some of my favorite players are drafted.
The biggest hoopla surrounds the mystery of who will be the first player selected. There was much fanfare about Kyler Murray being the first player drafted. This was not the player that was my selection. Murray won the 2018 Heisman trophy as the quarterback for Oklahoma, who played Alabama in the first round of the play-offs last year. Nick Saban’s boys turned the lights out on Oklahoma in the first quarter. Murray was not a real factor in the game until it was practically over. He only started one year at quarterback in Division I football, relegated to being the back up to 2017 Heisman Trophy winner, Baker Mayfield, now playing for the Cleveland Browns. Anyone with a football background could see that Murray was a very talented athlete. I was somewhat surprised that he threw the football so well. However, at 5’10” and 200 lbs, I did not think that he was a great prospect to play quarterback in the NFL. He certainly warranted a high draft selection because of the many things that he can do so well. Coach Kliff Kingsbury proved me wrong. The new head coach of the Arizona Cardinals saw something that I did not see. So, he drafted Kyler with the number one pick. Kliff Kingsbury was somewhat mediocre running a wide open spread offense for years at Texas Tech. It may work in the NFL. But, if it didn't win at Texas Tech, how is it gonna win in Arizona. We will get our first glimpse of the phenomenon in three months.
As mentioned, Alabama dominated the draft. Defensive lineman Quinnen Williams was drafted with the third pick, going to the New York Jets. As with Kyler Murray. Williams only started one year of college football. He was stuck behind several players who were drafted in the last two years. However, he worked really hard in the off season to get bigger and faster. It paid off on pay day. Quinnen can play inside or outside for the Jets. He will be fun to watch in the fall.
Auburn had seven players taken this year. The most interesting pick for me was the New England Patriots taking Jarrett Stidham in the fourth round. Coach Bill Belichick saw something that other coaches did not see. He has the best program in the National Football League. Stidham could not have gone to a better team. Working behind Tom Brady will do more for him than all the coaching that he has ever had. The 6’2”, 210 lb quarterback has a chance to be an NFL quarterback. It may take a few years, but he has everything he needs now that he is with the “Master”. His delivery always reminded me of Tom Brady anyway.
Another big surprise came in the first round. Alabama State had its very first, first round draft choice on Thursday. Tytus Howard, their 6’6”, 325 lb offensive tackle was expected to be drafted, but not in the first round. This player has earned his stripes. He was a walk-on high school quarterback at Alabama State. He knew he couldn’t play quarterback so he switched to tight end. He was finally moved to tackle. Over his four years he developed into an outstanding pass blocker. Guess what the NFL is looking for? Pass blockers make more money than other offensive positions if they are really good. Howard will be playing for the Houston Texans this fall. They believe that he can start at one of the tackle slots. His best attribute is his arm length. This is a milestone for Alabama State football. Coach Donald Hill-Eley said “When you are a performer, all you need is a chance.” Howard has his chance.
Now, it is time to turn to the 2020 draft. Not for me! My only interest in the NFL is watching where these college boys go and how well they do in their careers. The NFL is just like any other business. They can hire, fire, trade. Every player is expendable. Here’s hoping this years crop will be successful with the teams that drafted them.