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Nuggets of Gold
Friday, May 9, 2008
By Adam Gold
Adam Gold is program director of the Triangle's "850 the Buzz" and host of "The G-spot with Adam Gold" mornings from 6-10 a.m.


Draft day larceny

By Adam Gold
All rights reserved.

Ah, the NFL mock draft.

Everyone’s got a mock draft. Mel Kiper, Jr., had a mock draft — heck, Mel built a cottage industry out of evaluating the prospective college players and getting the league and ESPN to buy into the concept.

Every major publication and web site has one of its own. ESPN actually has two, as it has started to plan for life after Kiper by grooming someone named Todd McShay as the heir apparent.
McShay’s such a draftnik that he’s actually got a mock draft for 2009!

They all missed it. I did, too. And so did you.

Anyone can get the top of the draft right, especially when the number one pick is signed to a contract 48 hours before the commissioner strides to the podium. But, how many of you got the middle of the first round correct?

Here’s hoping that the Tennessee Titans did.

Tennessee, selecting 24th in the draft and in need of a big-play receiver to give QB Vince Young a favorite target, instead took what could turn out to be the sleeper of the entire NFL draft — at least that’s the way I’m looking at it. The Titans surprised the panel by grabbing East Carolina burner Chris Johnson.

Oh, the humanity!

The experts nearly collapsed the dais! Chris Berman almost did a spit take with his coffee — at least we think it was coffee.

Jeepers, even Kiper’s hair moved!

It was a “reach,” they bellowed. “What do the Titans need with a running back when they’ve already invested draft picks in the last two years on LenDale White and Chris Henry," they reasoned. “Vince Young needs a 'big play' wide receiver,” was the declaration most often heard.

Anyone out there still swelling with pride? Do you remember the only other Pirate to be taken in the first round in modern draft history (dating to 1967)?

Correct. Linebacker, Robert Jones, by the Dallas Cowboys, with the 24th pick in the 1992 draft.

Let’s look at the scouting report on C.J.: Too small (5’11”, 197 lbs.), not an every down back (started every game), and he fumbles too much (two fumbles). I guess two fumbles is too many as you would ideally like to have zero. But the other stuff is garbage.

Let me lay out the facts as the Tennessee Titans clearly see them: Chris Johnson can pick ’em up and put ’em down. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.24 seconds.

That’s world class speed, gang. There might not be a player in the entire NFL that even comes close to Johnson in a foot race. Johnson might be too small, but he’s taller and heavier than three-time Pro Bowler Terry Metcalf, who was a dynamic all-purpose player for the St. Louis Cardinals in the mid-1970’s.

Johnson combined his talents for roughly 3,000 all purpose yards and scored 24 touchdowns while averaging 6 yards per carry, more than 14 yards per reception and 28 yards per kickoff return.

Don’t think he can get it done? Ask the Memphis Tigers, who watched Johnson shred their defense for 301 yards rushing and four touchdowns, including sprints of 44, 70 and 50 yards. Ask Boise State, which lost to East Carolina in the Hawaii Bowl, thanks in part to Johnson’s 400-plus all-purpose yard effort and two scores, including a 68-yard burst from scrimmage.

Ten of Johnson’s 24 touchdowns in 2007 covered more than 30 yards.

When the critics talked about “big play” receiver, couldn’t they have meant Johnson? Sometimes you can overthink these things.

The truth of the matter is that once you get past the first dozen or so picks in most drafts it becomes a matter of personal taste and need for these teams. But, to think that Johnson was a “reach” because he doesn’t have what the experts term to be “ideal size” could turn out to be a mistake.

The Titans needed a big play threat on offense, one that clearly wasn’t readily available from the pool of wide receivers as evidenced by the fact that none were selected in the first round.

They also needed a replacement for their former kick-returning threat, Adam “Pacman” Jones. Not only was Jones traded to the Dallas Cowboys after the draft, but he has yet to be reinstated by NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, after repeatedly getting in trouble with the law.

Now, the kicker to my story:

Why was Reggie Bush the second player taken in 2006 — a great pick at the time, mind you — and Chris Johnson a reach when Bush and Johnson are essentially the same size? You tell me.

I think the Titans stole a player late in the first round, a player who can score from anywhere on the field.

While I’m not suggesting that you make him a fantasy first round pick in your draft come the fall, I wouldn’t wait too long to draft him or else you’ll kick yourself like many NFL personnel directors when Johnson winds up back in Hawaii in the near future.

Only, he won’t be in the Hawaii Bowl playing against Boise State. He’ll be in the Pro Bowl, among the best players in the National Football League.


05/09/2008 02:03:23 AM

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