When last we left Thursdayish Monday writer, Peter King, he was consulting his favorite source, anonymous cowards in NFL front offices, to say bad things about Jadeveon Clowney. Meanwhile, he was talking up Tom Savage as the hottest rising star in the draft purely on the fact that Savage’s agent mentioned that his client has a lot of planned meetings with teams. Later in the week, PK tried to compose a positive tweet about this year’s Boston Marathon, but ruined it with laughably mindless phrasing.
But what about this week? Did you know that drafting a quarterback from this class is a tough decision? WEIRD! That’s never happened. What has happened is a man got a taste of Freedom Coffee and felt alive for the first time. Finally, there’s a dig at “The Sports Reporters” that only a person with zero self-awareness could make. Fun! Now, READ ON.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. —
Ooh, this looks to be the week we get the scoop on the quality of the Vikings team headquarter coffee. Will it lead the league in swillishness? Or good enough to ensure Peter spends an extra day wasting time on his annual training camp tour? WE DESERVE ANSWERS.
In my travels over the past week to watch Johnny Manziel game tape with people who know quarterbacks and quarterback play
Wow, you know Sports Illustrated has money to burn when they can fly Peter King around the country to watch gametape with people who have already watched said tape. He could just as easily, say, email these folks for a film breakdown. Does it really add more color to the writeup to have Peter there to ask, “HEY, ON THAT DROPBACK, DID JOHNNY FOOTBALL LOOK EXTRA SHORT OR DISTRACTED BY PARTIES?” “CAN YOU SEE THE JET SKI ON THE SIDELINE?! FREEZE IT THERE!”
I had a coach tell me that trying to figure out which passer to pick this year is “torturous.” I’ll have a good chunk about the quarterback dilemma with one under-pressure general manager’s view of the QB market … and why he agrees with the “torturous” description.
“Damn these athletes putting the screws to our precious front office personnel. If they just had the courtesy to be uniformly good then these poor overworked souls would be able to enjoy a little family life, but nooooooooooo.”
But 17 days before the draft begins (Lord help us: Seventeen more mind-numbing days of this) here’s what I’m hearing:
Draft buildup is terrible but it’s not like the off-season is any longer overall. A couple weeks of pointless bullshit now is just as bad as a couple weeks of pointless bullshit later. Though I’m sure this is more about Peter having to delay his annual month-long vacation by a few weeks.
Houston, at No. 1, isn’t set on Jadeveon Clowney. In fact, one FORS (Friend of Rick Smith)
I assume the acronym is PK trying to be cute, but I wouldn’t put it past a GM to actually force his friends to join an organization celebrating him.
told me the Texans general manager likes Khalil Mack over Clowney, and we still don’t know which quarterback Houston would choose if it chooses one first overall. I still think the Texans would go with a more sure thing with the first overall pick than a quarterback—and that sure thing could also be tackle Greg Robinson.
But wouldn’t the MOST sure thing be Tom Savage? What of all the interviews you mentioned last week? Meetings mean everything! Surely he’s the most coveted pick in years by now!
Jacksonville is the most logical spot for the loser of the No. 1 pick derby between Clowney and Mack. GM David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley want a pass-rusher, badly.
I’m sure even if the Jags pass on a quarterback in the first round they’ll take a QB in the second. Nevertheless, I’d love nothing more than Jacksonville getting stuck with Chad Henne as their default starter for next year.
Detroit taking a tight end? I doubt it, but North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, the clear top tight end in this year’s draft, was asked by one team he visited recently who he thought would pick him. “Detroit,’’ he said.
LOFTY SCOOPISH NUGGET
Arizona is sweet on a couple of quarterbacks, Derek Carr and A.J. McCarron, who are first- and second-round possibilities.
Oh yes. I would love love love for someone to take McCarron high. And that would be a highly Cardinals thing.
Pittsburgh likes Odell Beckham and Brandin Cooks at wide receiver, and one or both should be there at No. 15 if that’s the direction the Steelers go—and they need to replenish the receiver position after losing two in free agency in two years. (I’d go corner if I were GM Kevin Colbert.)
Thanks for the input, Guy Who Thought Jimmy Clausen Was The Best Quarterback of the 2010 Draft. Clearly we should be deferring to your expertise.
Hot guys right now: Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, Notre Dame tackle/guard Zack Martin, Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence. Cold guys right now: Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio.
“Here’s the section where I take smokescreens at face value!”
Oakland? Clueless there. Sorry, Black Hole people. The Raiders seem like a logical place for Johnny Manziel, but Oakland hasn’t exactly been the bastion of quarterback wisdom in this century.
Pretty sly trolling for Petey. “Oakland sucks at picking quarterbacks so they’re a natural fit to bomb with Manziel.” Though with the Raiders relative lack of talent at receiver and questionable backfield, Oakland is a good destination if you want him to flame out.
Why this is a bad year to stake your reputation on a quarterback.
As I said, I’ve been traveling to measure what smart people think about Manziel.
“Up until now, I’d only been chatting up the fuckwits. NOW the analysis begins!”
In so doing, and in talking to a few of the decision-makers whose necks will be on the line, I’ve reached a conclusion about the position and the men who are charged with picking the passers this year.
It is a torturous decision, as the coach of a quarterback-needy team told me. As a GM, if you take a quarterback in the first round, any of them, you’re going to go home and not sleep well that night. If you pass on a quarterback with some spellbinding tools—Manziel, for instance—you’re going to go home and not sleep well that night, fearing what you’ve passed up.
How is this different from picking a quarterback in the other round virtually any other year? If anything it’s way less risk than it was before the rookie cap.
“The torture part of it,’’ said Rick Spielman, the Vikings’ GM, “is you see a player sitting there when you pick who you know can help you right away, a significant player at another position, an impact player as a rookie. Then you ask yourself, ‘How do we feel about our options at quarterback in the second or third round? Is it close? Is there a big separation? Or is it close?’ We’ve broken them down in al the ways we could think of. Analytically—measuring them against their five toughest opponents, indoor-versus-outdoor, by psychological testing, and it is such a mixed bag.
“That’s a big reason why we made it a high priority to sign Matt Cassel back. Every one of these quarterbacks … nothing is a sure thing. There’s no Andrew Luck, no Peyton Manning.
Well then it’s a good thing you have a fail-safe like Matt Cassel on the roster. Never let it be said that the Vikings haven’t thought of everything.
Also, don’t get me wrong, Andrew Luck is really good, but are there really no questions about him at this point in his career? Yes, he reduced turnovers in his second season but then followed that up with seven picks in two playoff games. Let’s stop acting like he’s already an all-time great before he’s earned it.
It is such a mixed bag with each player—every one of them has positives, every one of them has negatives.
Which makes them like every other player ever.
And if that’s the way you end up feelings
I end up feelings a great murder spasm.
why don’t you just wait till later in the draft, and take someone with the first pick you’re sure will help you right now?
BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW THAT! THERE ARE NO SURE THINGS! FUUUUUUUUCCCCKKKKKK
Spielman said the big benefit for Minnesota will be that, on the weekend before the draft, new offensive coordinator Norv Turner will get his hands on Cassel and Christian Ponder on the field during head coach Mike Zimmer’s first mini-camp of the off-season. So Spielman would have had his eight days of meetings, and Turner would have had his three days on the field with the quarterbacks, and then the staff would be able to know: How urgent is our need at quarterback, and how much of a consensus do we have on one of the college guys in this draft?
It would be so great for Norval to torpedo the Vikes’ draft process. “Say, guys, what do we need a fancy new quarterback for? I can make Ponder a winner! Just give me another three to five years to make it happen.”
This year reminds me of 2011. In fact, GMs should learn from that year. Check out the quarterbacks picked in the top 100 that year:
1. Cam Newton, Carolina
8. Jake Locker, Tennessee
10. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville
12. Christian Ponder, Minnesota
35. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati
36. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco
74. Ryan Mallett, New England
My point: Don’t put the pressure on Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles by picking them so high. Pick a surer thing in the first round, then a quarterback from a large pool in the second round. Or third.
Yes, every QB taken in the first after Cam has turned out to be mostly dogshit. So let’s change drafting strategy forever based on one quarterback class. Of course, that strategy assumes teams in the late first round with an older established quarterback (Patriots, Broncos, Steelers, Saints, etc.) will pass on those players.
Just as in 2012, when the Seahawks (Russell Wilson, 73rd overall pick) and the Eagles (Nick Foles (88th) picked quarterbacks at the right time, teams could do the same this year. Should do the same, really.
Good point. Lofty point. Remember, GMs, to pick quarterbacks at the right time. When is the right time? You may not know it at the time, but two or three years down the road, it will be incredibly evident. So many teams should heed that advice. The prevailing NFL wisdom is just pick quarterbacks whenever. Silliness, if you ask me. Not when there’s a RIGHT time.
Remembering Pat Tillman … and his case for Canton
As America celebrates the 118th running of the Boston Marathon today—and the renewal of life a year after the terrorist attack there killed three and wounded 264—we also should remember that Tuesday also is the 10-year anniversary of the death by friendly fire of Army Ranger Pat Tillman in Afghanistan.
Tillman is a unique player, and man, in recent NFL history. The only time I ever spoke with him was an hour or so before a Cardinals practice in 1998, in Tempe, Ariz. Tillman was a rookie safety, drafted in the seventh round from Arizona State to the team that was just a couple of miles from where he went to college. And he showed up for work that day—and for our interview—riding a 10-speed bike. That’s the only player I ever interviewed who arrived on a bike.
Except all those times you’ve covered Packers camp?
Now, I hadn’t thought of the Hall of Fame part of it in several years, until Cris Collinsworth Tweeted this on Sunday, after ESPN ran a tribute to Tillman:
Peter King helping Cris Collinsworth start A CONVERSATION. Lofty NBC synergy. NBCYNSERGY!
Collinsworth and I have discussed this. He remains unconvinced by my argument, which is this: Should all 26 NFL players who have died in service to our country—either in World War I, Vietnam or Afghanistan—be enshrined in Canton? Is one NFL player’s service worth more than others’? Should every player who served in wartime be enshrined, or put in a wing of the Hall of Fame? For instance, quarterback Eddie LeBaron was twice wounded in the Korean War, earned a Purple Heart, and came back to play in the NFL; he’s not in the Hall—should he be?
/yinzers immediately demand a Rocky Bleier wing in Canton
And what about others who played football and went on to great things? Byron “Whizzer” White, a running back in the NFL, went on to be a Supreme Court justice. Jack Kemp quarterbacked the Bills, then became a nine-term Congressman and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Should they be in?
Psst. That’s what the HUD Hall of Fame is for.
I think football players and coaches and executives should be in the Hall of Fame for what they accomplish as football players and coaches and executives, and not for anything else.
There is, by the way, a large area of the Hall devoted to NFL men who have served, including a big display for Tillman.
Hate to say it, but I don’t disagree with Peter on this point. Frankly, it’d just come off as another cheap way to liken football to warfare and there are certainly enough examples of that as it is.
Quotes of the Week
“I really just should have coached the team, but he [owner Randy Lerner] didn’t want me to.”
—Former Browns president Mike Holmgren to me last week, on whether he had any regrets about his years in Cleveland.
Nobody does sour grapes like Mike Holmgren. Because surely he had no desire to be a GM, even though the Seahawks let him do coach and be in the front office for a few seasons before realizing it was a huge mistake.
Factoids of the Week That May Interest Only Me
According to an official of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series I met in Boston on Friday as the running community gathered for the Boston Marathon, Bill Belichick will run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon in Nashville on Saturday. My guess is, with the long-range forecast for temperatures in the high 70s Saturday in Nashville, Belichick will be hoodie-free.
“GRUMBLE GRUMBLE KNOCK OVER THIS HYDRATION TABLE. IF GRUMBLELORD CAN’T FINISH, NO ONE CAN. HEY MARRIED LADY, HOW ‘BOUT WE FORGET THIS RUNNING BULLSHIT AND GET CRAZY IN THE PORT-A-POTTY AT THE FIVE MILE MARKER GRUMBLE GRUMBLE GRUMBLE”
Minnesota special teams coach Mike Priefer had a good idea this month:
Move all the gays from Nuke Island to Nuke Archipelago!
He decided when his kicker and punter—Blair Walsh and Jeff Locke—reported back for the start of official (but not mandatory) workouts this spring, he’d have them go to TCF Bank Stadium, meeting with the University of Minnesota kicker and punter, and discuss the wind patterns and kicking conditions inside the stadium. Walsh and Locke went, took notes, and reported back to Priefer. It’s the first of several trips they’ll make to the stadium to research how to adjust their games, if at all, kicking outside for the next two seasons while the new Vikings stadium is being constructed in Minneapolis.
“I wanna make sure the fallout from Nuke Island doesn’t blow this way!”
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
It was good to be in Boston Friday, watching the city prepare for such an important, healing event—this morning’s Boston Marathon. In the Hynes Convention Center, where runners and their families were picking up racing bibs and going from booth to booth to shoe and apparel and nutrition companies, the mood was bright. The One Fund, which had a goal of $10 million for those injured and affected by the terrorism last year, has raised $70 million and is still going strong. The city was packed with joggers and walkers and people excited for the Marathon to be back. I met a San Diegan, 64 years old, who was new to marathoning and was surprised to find out last year he qualified for Boston because he ran a qualifying time in his age group in a San Diego race. “I had to come,’’ he said.
It’s like everyone there says—no act of evil or people with evil intent will take away their race. Today’s going to be a great, great day in Boston.
Lovely stuff. They sure are #BostonStrong up there. Anyway, it’s worth repeating PK’s Twitter fuckup:
Tweets of the Week
HAHA I PICK YOURS AGAIN! WHAT A DIPSHIT!
Oh and this brainfart:
For those not understanding the buzz on Tom Savage: It's not about what he is now as a QB; it's about what he'll be 3-4 years.
— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) April 17, 2014
Totally. What team WOULDN’T want to take a quarterback high who won’t be effective until 2017? Lunacy not to take him. Make the pick and pop the bubbly. Though make sure to leave some for the GM who takes your job after you get fired in a year.
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think Arizona will take a quarterback in the first two rounds.
WHAAAAAAA? 34-year-old Carson Palmer isn’t the long-term answer? I won’t hear it.
2. I think the Rams will take a quarterback in the first three rounds.
Oh ho ho! Marginally more controversial!
3. I think you shouldn’t be surprised at that last one.
Good, because I’m not even remotely shocked a team doesn’t have faith in shitastic Sam Bradford.
5. I think I chuckle when the Detroit Lions say they are not concerned about Ndamukong Suh skipping the team’s off-season workout program as he tries to work out a new contract with the team. It is 111 days since the season ended and Suh was last with his team. The team has a new coach, and a new defensive coordinator, and a new defensive line coach. Suh is the best player on the defense. Not concerned? The correct quote, if club president Tom Lewand was on truth serum, would be something like, Pretty lousy start to our offseason program when our best defensive player’s a no-show—particularly when he’s the guy who most has to buy into the new staff since he’s going to be the highest-paid defensive player in our history. Yeah, we’re ticked off. Wouldn’t you be?
Lewand must not be a helpful source for Peter if he’s straight-up calling him a liar in his column. Moreover, this would be the kind of pointless story that would occupy the next few weeks if the draft was scheduled the same as before. “Some player with a bad reputation missed an off-season workout! Why are they not getting released outright?”
9. I think the draft should Thursday, not two weeks from Thursday.
I think the draft should Thursday as well. We all should Thursday as Thursday as we can.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
d. Not a big fan of Major League Baseball making the Red Sox and Orioles play Sunday night baseball, with the annual Patriots Day 11:05 a.m. start this morning at Fenway featuring the same two bleary-eyed teams.
It’s really because PK hasn’t kicked his hangover, but sure, sympathy for the players is a nice excuse.
e. I’ve always felt the biggest thing wrong with the NBA, from very much an outsider’s perspective, is how bad teams embrace losing so it will help them rebuild. And when I read the Philadelphia 76ers owner, Josh Harris, tell USA Today after the team finished 19-63 this season, “I think the season has been a huge success for us,’’ there aren’t many other ways to spin that. The 76ers used this year to get into the best situation for the future, which involved clearing out the roster and losing as much as possible to be in the best draft position in 2014.
It’s a matter of semantics. Rebuilding NFL teams engage in the same practice, albeit with a touch more shame.
f. Great line by a sprung prisoner, Jonathan Fleming, to the New York Post, after being freed from prison when evidence surfaced he’s been falsely imprisoned for 25 years for murder. He had a coffee.
Just any coffee?
The Coffee. Of Freedom.
“Which kind am I drinking?’’ Fleming said to the Post. “Latte? Much better than Tasters Choice and cream. Much better. It’s real good. My first time ever at Starbucks. Coffee was like 40 cents when I first went to prison.” Good news: The coffee’s better. Bad news: It’s not 40 cents anymore.
Lofty news: Peter has whipped those layabout baristas into shape in the meantime. American hero? Maybe! Deserving of his induction into Canton? Well, he’ll be the judge of that.
h. Who’s going to start the Giancarlo-to-Boston-for-young-pitching rumors?
I don’t know, some asshole?
So yeah, that works.
i. Please learn to run the bases, Mike Carp. Please.
Let’s recall that Peter stole 120 bases last year, so clearly he has the bona fides to talk about baserunning like it’s nothing.
j. Coffeenerdness: Memo to Starbucks: If you care about quality, please address the situation at your BWI Airport locations. You’ve got some very long lines there, if a couple of stops last week are any indication.
“HEY STARBUCKS, MAKE YOUR COFFEE SHITTIER SO FEWER PEOPLE WANT IT! THEN I CAN COMPLAIN ABOUT THE COFFEE-FLAVORED WATER OR EVIDENT LACK OF BARISTA ENTHUSIASM!”
k. Beernerdness: I have found it—the beer in the world that’s closest to the refreshing and hooray-it’s-spring taste of Allagash White.
At last, the legend of the Quasi-Gash comes true.
I found it in the Minneapolis airport the other night: Lift Bridge Farm Girl Saison, from the Lift Bridge Brewing Company in Stillwater, Minn. (And kudos for the airport bars at this great north hub, for having so many Minnesota microbrews and brews.) Light and refreshing and full of taste, “ale brewed with orange peel” as the label says, and worth your effort to find it.
Or you could just drink Allagash, which is pretty much everywhere. Or the several dozen other white ales that fit that very generic description.
m. Shouldn’t ESPN’s “Sports Reporters” show be called “Sports Columnists?”
Someone sounds upset that they haven’t gotten an invite. Perhaps once they change the title to “Nugget Dumps With Overpaid Fucksticks”
n. You’ve still got it, “Veep.”
“Thanks” – Ricky Veep, the mascot and personification of an entire television series.
The Adieu Haiku
Hey Mel! Mel Kiper!
I miss my “Draft Report” book.
Bring it back next year.
The draft should Thursday
We should all Thursday as one
Thursday is the goal