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Matt Yogus on Sports - Looking behind the hype of the NFL Draft

Matt Yogus on Sports - Looking behind the hype of the NFL Draft

Matt Yogus on Sports - Looking behind the hype of the NFL Draft

Matt Yogus

With all the ritz, glamour, bling, pomp and circumstance surrounding an NFL Draft that made its debut on Thursday night prime time, it’s amazing to think that none of the guys whose names were called have accomplished, well, anything yet in the league.

            All the media, the big-name athletes, the talking heads and the celebrities joined together to celebrate what is apparently the National Football League’s favorite thing – itself.

            Like the new guy standing in the corner while all the popular kids hung out in the spotlight, the Atlanta Falcons quietly went about their business, making only one pick throughout the first-two hype-filled romps down the list, and kept it consistent on into the weekend. They didn’t draft anyone who would look good on a billboard, they didn’t go after flash and big egos, they just, well, went and got some guys – mainly along the defensive front seven and the offensive trenches – who would make them a better football team.

Very unlike the Denver Broncos - they went after Tim Tebow in the first round.

While the ticket and jersey sales will probably make the first-round investment pay off in the short run, it’s interesting that a team that lost it’s last five games in an 8-8 campaign a year ago under the leadership of Kyle “The Beard” Orton and future Hall of Famer (if you ask anyone in these parts) Knowshon Moreno, went after a guy who is at best a three-year project and at worst a backup tight end in the CFL.

Listen, I’m not a “Tebow hater” in the classic sense. His numbers in college speak for themselves and the class and character with which he carried himself at UF was, in my opinion, a breath of fresh air.

But seriously, let’s take a good hard look at the quarterbacks Urban Meyer’s system has put in the NFL’s first round. Here’s the list – Alex Smith.

Smith was awesome at Utah, probably should have won the Heisman Trophy and probably could have led the Utes to the national championship, if the BCS had a system that worked.

But he was also a massive NFL flop.

No, the Falcons seem to approach the draft in a different way. The biggest name they’ve drafted in the past three years was Matt Ryan, whose unassuming demeanor and quiet, hard-working, constant pursuit of fundamental QB perfection flew under the radar and raised eyebrows when his name was called in 2008.

So they sat back and let everyone else fight over the Sam Bradfords, the Colt McCoys the C.J. Spillers and the Ndamukong Suhs of the college football world. I guess the only complaint is the lack of depth added behind John Abraham, but, if he can manage to stay healthy (a big if), hopefully nobody will notice.

            Also, with the final pick of Montana safety Shann Schillinger, the Falcons once again joined the club of NFL teams giving the FCS guys a shot.

            It was an especially strong draft for the Southern Conference. The big shocker to me was Elon’s All-Everything Terrell Hudgins, who holds just about every NCAA Division I receiving record, being left to the fringes of the free agency. I think the Dallas Cowboys got themselves a steal with him. He may be a step slower than his FBS counterparts, but what he lacks in speed, he makes up for in size, strength and the intangible of being a flat-out winner. Scott Riddle won’t be the same quarterback without him, and the rest of the SoCon can breathe a sigh of relief now that he’s gone.

            The same can be said for Andre Roberts of The Citadel and Armanti Edwards of, well, you know.

            They both went in the third round, and I suppose the only surprise was that Roberts, who was the No. 88 overall pick and went to the Cardinals, got the call before Armanti.

            Of course, Edwards actually had a cast of supporting characters around him, and if The Citadel’s performance against Georgia Southern last season was any indication, Roberts clearly did not.

            Roberts and Edwards, now a Carolina Panther, probably won’t play the same roles on their teams as they did in the SoCon (considering the Panthers also drafted Jimmy Clausen and the Cardinals have somebody named Larry Fitzgerald manning the go-to guy position), but what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and when future SoCon (and specifically GSU) recruits see one of those guys take a punt to the house in the NFL, it can only mean good things.

            Heck, Chattanooga’s Blue Cooper may even find himself on the field in Philly one day. Brian Westbrook showed the Eagles just what FCS talent can do on Sundays.


            Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.


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