I've always considered the NFL draft to be a bit like Carousel - the creepy yet comical death ritual for thirty-year olds in Logan's Run. For those too young to get the reference, the society in Logan's Run required every citizen to commit group suicide as they approach their thirtieth birthday. It was like a party, climaxed by the willing victims floating to the ceiling of the ritual hall and being blown up by lasers, or something. Good stuff.
The Draft is like Carousel to me because I don't watch the NFL. The NFL is full of 9-7 teams who employ guys like Pacman Jones, governed by a corporate authority who seeks to trademark common adjectives and nouns. I prefer sustained, demonstrable excellence - where the program is bigger than the individual and tradition is something more than a uniform design. The only Cal guy I watch on a fairly regular basis is David Binn, since he snaps for the Bolts when he's not saving rainforests and banging movie stars.
I know I'm extreme in this view, so I thought it useful to look at where Cal guys might go in Carousel, along with a select number of other Pac-10 players.
The first Bear off the board figures to be Marshawn Lynch. Much has been made of an anonymous comment by an NFL scout suggesting that Marshawn has lots of baggage, based on the since-resolved sexual assault complaint filed by his ex, and, let's see, the fact that he has gold teeth and ghost-rode an equipment cart. No one who spends time with Marshawn - and all the interested teams have - could possibly come away with the impression that he will be a problem at the next level. That quote is either a) from a scout whose team hasn't had such an interview, or b) is purposefully designed to lower Marshawn's stock so said scout's employer has a better chance of nabbing him. More than a couple mock drafts have Marshawn going at #16 to Green Bay, which would reunite him with Aaron Rodgers. The Packers are a bit of a nightmare right now, and I'm hopeful Marshawn goes elsewhere.
Next up should be Daymeion Hughes, who didn't have a very good combine. He ran a 4.7, and some think this will push him down to the mid-2nd round. Not a big fan of the combines, but speed at corner is pretty important. Hughes will run again in individual workouts for interested teams, so he'll another bite at the apple. His cover skills received loads of praise from NFL scouts at the Senior Bowl. Lots of dissension about where he will go; the highest I've seen is Fox, who has him going to New Orleans at #27.
The third Bear off the board should be Brandon Mebane, who figures to be a 2nd-3rd round pick by a 3-4 team looking for an active nose tackle. I really hope Brandon finds himself in a good situation; he's a hard worker whom I'll always remember fondly.
Who else might get drafted? Desmond Bishop is the only other guy who has a shot of having Gene Washington call his name on Day 2. The rap on him is he's a step slow to play MLB in the League, especially with more and more teams asking a lot of the position in the passing game. Feh. He's got great lateral coverage, plays hard and hits. He'll hang on somewhere.
Elsewhere, NFL Draft Day is an occasion to celebrate the fact that certain opponents won't be around to torture us next year. Chief among them is Dwayne Jarrett, who figures to go in the mid-1st round. Good riddance. Other Trojans who should go on Day 1 include Steve Smith, who I think will be a good pro, and Ryan Kalil, who I think was the best player on USC last year and will be a great pro. Zach Miller, the ASU tight end, will go in the 1st or 2nd round - he is a great physical specimen who should do pretty well at the next level. Eric Frampton will be a 2nd or 3rd round pick out of Wazzu - glad to see this really underrated DB leave Pullman.
Further down the board we get to two of the most interesting Pac-10 draftees: Stanford QB Trent Edwards and Arizona RB Chris Henry. Neither did much in college 'cause they had little support and each spent big portions of their careers on their backs courtesy of awful offensive line play. Henry ran a 4.33 forty at the combine, which has some teams very interested in his services. Edwards is still the guy who was a 5-star recruit out of HS - 6'4" with a nice arm, which may push him into the late second round.
Lots of other guys, but I'll flag a few - OSU safety Sabby Piscitelli, who has run a 4.5 and plays with his hair on fire, will make some team very happy. Fellow Beaver Adam Koets is a mid-round guy who has confounded experts at every level and has enough size to be a serviceable OT in the pros. Stanford's Michael Okwo isn't big enough, but he's a great football player and that's enough for me - probably a good pick in the 5th or 6th round. Lastly, Mkristo Bruce might not even get drafted. Bruce's physical measurements are below-average for an NFL defensive end - in particular he's run 5.0 on a couple of occasions. I don't care. I watched Mkristo Bruce dominate the Pac-10 for the last two years and I'll be hoping that a good team picks him up in the mid-late rounds. He will be a good pro, even in a backup role.
And if Mel Kiper disagrees, he can go suck it.