The Green Room... It's a little space set up just off to the main stage at New York City's Radio City Music Hall. There really isn't all that much "green", so I suspect it has something to do with the ironic envy. Year after year, players who look likely to be taken high in the draft are invited to sit - and wait - with their family, friends and agents. The agent is the easy one to see. He'll be the one staring at his phone, and patting his client on the sleeve as pick after pick goes whirling by...
We've all seen it, and there's a tinge of schadenfreude to watching players like Brady Quinn, D'Qwan Bowers, and others drop like proverbial draft day rocks. NFL fans watch in painful silence - and whisper "Awkward!" - as a star college prospect finds out just how teams really think of them. It seems to happen every year, with a player going from being called a "top prospect", and sure-fire talent by the likes of Mel Kiper and Mike Mayock, to one who gets his ego slapped around on national television for all to see.
This year's candidates for NFL Draft Day Wallflower are a bit harder to discern, but let's give it a shot. The biggest problem every year is trying to discern what the position wish lists truly are for each NFL team. For the St. Louis Rams, their fans see what they think are "obvious needs", but Les Snead and Jeff Fisher may have different ideas. The next thing to consider is draft round value set to each position, and for fans this is a real crap-shoot at best. There's also the sly way NFL teams like to send out fake signals about a certain player in the hope of shifting the draft day selection process in some way. Houston needs a quarterback, right? So they talk about Jadaveon Clowney, and hope one of the teams in the top three or four picks overall - who covets a certain signal caller like Teddy Bridgewater - will offer a bounty of draft picks to move up to snag him. So if the Jaguars and Oakland want Bridgewater, the Raiders need to make a move. Houston then can grab a Blake Bortles at #5 - if he's there - and all will be right in their world...
All that being said, here's my list of potential Draft Day player who could find waiting in the Green Room a long, painful experience:
Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA - Once tagged as a possible #2 overall pick by a vastly intelligent, wise, and circumspect Yugo driver we all know and LOVE, Barr's NFL Combine left me with little in the way of inspiration. In a post Combine interview I watched, he looked and sounded like he couldn't care less that he seemed like the 4th or 5th best linebacker in his group. I've begun to wonder about Barr's ceiling as a player, and if we've already seen it in his college highlight film?
Dee Ford, OLB, Auburn - Here's a prospect some had in the middle to top of the first round only a week or so ago. His Combine wasn't bad, but what caught my eye were his rather lumbering feet as he went through the many drills. I think the potential is there, but it's the little things which make a player fall like a rock in the first round. I think Ford will fall some, but it will be as much about the rise of other players in the first round that pushes down the first day of the NFL Draft.
Oh, Johnny Football, Say it ain't so... - Yes, the Goblin-esk Johnny Manziel could be in for a slip-n-slide wait in the Green Room. Gravity works Johnny, and teams are listening to guys like Greg Cosell who think you have some "undraftable" qualities. The most glaring flaw I see with Manziel is the way his 20-plus yard passes seem to float a bit. In the NFL, guys like Richard Sherman will feast on him. Opposing defensive coordinators will have short meetings with their secondaries. They'll simply say, "If he throws, break to the ball." Is there a bad moon rising for Manziel? Probably not, since there's bound to be a team who drafts him purely on his apparent "Just win, baby" style of play. But I recall a guy named Tebow - who won tons of college games - and had a small problem at the NFL level. While I think the comparison is unfair when it come right down to it, the simile is sound.
Jason Verritt, CB, TCU - It's the 'ol "injury alert" thingy, and Verritt has a shoulder issue. I have a bit of experience with shoulder surgery recovery, and I'm reading the speedy TCU corner back has a labrum in need of repair. If so, strike him from the first round for any team needing "day 1" help this season. Six to eight months to fully recover, and he should be fine.
The tight ends are fallin' - Not more than two weeks ago, there were THREE tight ends being mentioned in the first rounds of many mock drafts. Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington have already found their way out of the imaginary first rounds in many Mocks, and Eric Ebron - TE, NCU has drop ever so slightly. In a search for the "Gronk-esk", there's quite a few teams trying to find a REAL weapon at tight end. It's hard to sort the Jimmy Graham-s and Vernon Davis-s from the chaff, but they're there. Yet taking one in the first round of the NFL Draft - when a team has other glaring needs - is a gamble at best.
So who do you think will fall hard and fast Day 1 of the 2014 NFL Draft? Let me know in the comments, plus the reason why.