NFL Draft - Day 1 - the good, bad and ugly

After day one of the draft, there's the good, the bad and the ugly, as there always is with this NFL function that has become literally an event. The cream of the crop to the most underrated and even overrated players in the country, all finding homes at either surprising times or just about where they were expected to go. Well, I am going to take a rundown of some of those good, bad and ugly moments of day one of this year's NFL draft.

 GOOD: Nebraska gets their first first-round draft choice since 1998, the Oakland Raiders actually trading up to get Fabian Washington with the 24th pick overall.

That's great for Nebraska, great for Washington and proves even more that the annual NFL combine can make or break your status.

You look at Fabian's career at Nebraska and while it started off with enough promise, it ended on a rather sour note, rumors about as to his disenchantment with the new defensive coaches, most specifically the new secondary coach, Phil Elmassian.

For most cornerbacks, Washington's junior year wasn't bad, Fabian grabbing three interceptions and leading the team in pass break ups with 15.

However, this is a young man that not long ago ran a 4.25/40, benched 225 19 times and jumped over 40 inches.

He was the combine's most stellar performer, yet the questions continued about a couple key points: Could he play the run and why exactly did he not perform last year even close to what his physical ability said he should have and?

Those questions will be answered over time, but the Raiders showed remarkable consistency in their draft on day one, going for one common theme:


Washington ran a sub-4.3, but not far behind was future teammate and fellow cornerback Stanford Routt of Houston, who ran a 4.36.

Fabian has that and honestly, if he gets the coaching and is disciplined to follow that coaching, with just his physical numbers alone, he could be a star in the making.

Now, let's just see if he has the mentality for the NFL game.

THE BAD: Who's to say that if Richie Incognito were 100 percent healthy, he would have gone any higher than when he did, the St. Louis Rams taking the former Husker in the third round as 81st pick overall.

The fact is, Incognito re-aggravated that knee injury, being worked out (some say far too hard) by a team (Arizona) that had no interest in taking any linemen in the first place.

In the first three rounds, Arizona has taken four players, two cornerbacks a linebacker and a running back.

Whatever the motives were behind a matter that I have heard has yet to be settled, it could have hurt Incognito's already ailing stock.

Being ousted from Nebraska and then getting kicked off the Oregon team even before he had a chance to get on the field, it was all taking it's toll on one offensive lineman that can say he outran Maurice Claurett.

The much-maligned Ohio State star ran a reported 4.88, while Incognito reeled off an incredible 4.84 and this is at 300 pounds.

There was never doubting his physical ability, even the grand master of the draft, Mel Kiper said as much. It was about his off-the-field issues.

He did get drafted, however, and even in day one, something some thought wouldn't happen. I just wonder if it wasn't for some apparent responsibility from some coaches, he wouldn't have gone higher than that.

THE GOOD: Though I would have loved to have heard Barrett Ruud's name go in the first round of the draft, it was good that he didn't have to wait much longer, Nebraska's all-time leading tackler going early in the second, landing with Tampa Bay with the 36th pick overall.

The fit was evidently perfect for him, Ruud saying of Tampa Bay that it's been his favorite team for awhile. And, Ruud will no doubt find himself with an early role on special teams, his position at linebacker probably to be decided at a later time.

With pro-bowler Shelton Quarles at the middle spot right now, Ruud could see opportunities on the outside, but it's highly doubtful that you are going to have to wait very long before you hear his name called.

It's fun watching physical freaks on the field, their blazing speed, strength, size or whatever, always amazing any who are fortunate enough to watch. But, to watch a real football player, someone that has relied on their athleticism some, but more their intelligence to play the game.

During the draft, the phrase "He just looks like a football player" was used ad nauseam, but with Ruud, you can't use it enough.

He does and is a real football player and if Nebraska wants an ambassador for the Huskers and how they would like to be perceived in attitude, character and work ethic, this is the guy everyone wants.

He's a Husker and just one of many from his family and this guy will be playing in the NFL for years.

THE BAD: Ok, I admit it; about half way through the first round of the draft, I had to go to the bathroom to throw up. I mean, seriously, how many times can an entire network apologize for Aaron Rogers not getting drafted so early?

Yes, Aaron, I am sorry, but instead of an 8 million dollar signing bonus, it's only going to be 4.

I'll be sure to let the welfare office know that Aaron Rogers will be coming by.

I don't remember someone getting so many sympathetic comments as to how terrible it was they were dropping, Rogers ultimately finding his way to Green Bay as the 24th pick overall. I don't remember so many people weeping for a kid that will soon be making more money in one year than most of us will see in a lifetime.

This kid was a junior college QB at one point and now he's a first-round draft pick, soon to be playing under and behind one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of this game.

Yeah, I feel real sorry for the guy. Let's have a moment of silence for Aaron Rogers.

May his ego rest in piece.

THE GOOD & BAD: How about that? Nebraska gets more players taken quicker than it has in decades. And, all but one are on the defensive side of the ball, Josh Bullocks taken by the Saints as the 40th pick overall, that part of the run of the big red.

It says something when you have three defensive stars all go in the top 40 picks of the NFL draft.

That only makes the irony of last year's defensive disaster that much more pronounced.

No, I am not trying to dredge up old news here, but that's alarming, don't you think? You have a cornerback that was the fastest player at the combine, the most prolific tackler in Nebraska history and a safety that just a year prior led the country in interceptions and was an All-American as a sophomore.

Some would say that's a by-product of a major transition, while others would say……well, other things.

I say that this was Nebraska's one instance in having the feel of what it is like to be a Texas Longhorn fan. Sure, Texas fans go INTO seasons thinking they have all this talent, only to find that it didn't pan out like they had hoped.

Nebraska fans are using hindsight to see just how talented this defense was, lamenting over what could have been.

It's not a good feeling is it? Well, the good thing is, you aren't Texas fans, so you know that you probably only have to go through this once in a while. Texas fans go through it every year.

THE UGLY: I'll admit that it wasn't a great message the NFL draft was sending when Lawrence Phillips got taken as the 6th pick overall in the draft some years ago.

Sure, as Nebraska fans, we lauded Osborne for his discipline in sticking to his guns, playing Phillips after a six-game suspension, because the head coach admitted himself that he thought Phillips needed the structure of the game.

So, play him, let the world see what could be the most talented running back Nebraska has ever had and cross your fingers that it would all work out in the end.

It didn't and every time Husker fans heard his name after that, they were cringing at the message attached.

Well, the NFL hasn't gotten any better over the last few years, but I tell you that for a lot of reasons, nothing chapped my butt more than the last pick of the first day of the draft.

Denver took Maurice Claurett.

Here's a kid that allegedly broke about every rule there is to break when it comes to agents, money, cars or whatever. Heck, he admitted a myriad of things himself, implicating Ohio State for countless offenses that if they were all true, THE Ohio State would become THE replacement for SMU as the most prolific program that the NCAA took down.

He called everyone out, blamed everything that happened to him on everyone else and when it came to the NFL combine, Claurett professed he had changed, learned his ways and after running a barely sub 4.9/40, he promptly quit.

Even the experts on the panel at ESPN were dumbfounded. Even with Denver's success at taking project backs, they weren't projects like this. Olandis Gary, Terrell Davis, Mike Anderson, they were unproven, but from what I know, not under investigation.

I don't know why I am surprised, but I am. I shouldn't be, though.

Randy Moss, one of the NFL's most prolific players, heck, that guys quits all the time and he had teams clamoring to pick him up with the Vikings wanted to cut their losses and move on.

Terrell Owens said he wouldn't be a problem for the Eagles, even though that's all he has been for anyone else, but the Eagles signed him and now, they are having to deal with Owens' typically selfish antics and it looks like T.O. is going to have to find another team.

The thing is, these guys are actually good. They actually produce and while I would say that idealistically, that shouldn't matter, we know that it darn well does. Lawrence got drafted, because he was easily the most talented running back, perhaps player in that entire draft.

Moss gets picked up, because he's 1,200 yards and 20 touchdowns a year. Owens will get picked up, because he's physically able to do almost whatever he wants out there on the field and there hasn't been a cornerback found that can stop him.

What exactly as Claurett done? What? His freshman year? Yeah, he looked good, ran hard, had solid inside and outside moves. A decent burst, reasonable hands, but he also had an all-star offensive line.

Since then, it's been two years of health issues, maturity issues and legal issues, along with proving that the physical luster he once had, has most definitely wore completely off.

Yet, the Broncos still take him and even in the first day.

I don't get it, but as the draft is and will always be, it's surprising at one point, joyful at another and at times, a bit unsettling.  Just don't expect a lot of tears from anyone, perhaps especially from Ohio State fans if this guy falls flat on his face. Besides, if he does, he'll just blame everyone else.

ROUNDING OUT: I have to admit that because this draft wasn't so star-studded, I actually enjoyed it a little more. From basically after the top ten picks, it was up in the air as to just who was going to go where.  Of course, the fact that Nebraska did so well made this draft a little more interesting to me, but it didn't stop me from gleaning a few other things after day one was done:

     -      Oklahoma's success in the draft with wideouts proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Jason White is going to have a short NFL career.

     -      Auburn should have been playing USC instead of the Sooners

     -      Jets' fans are still one of the highlights of the draft

     -      I hope for Bill Parcell's sake that when he was comparing Marcus Spears to L.T., he wasn't talking about their social life.

     -      The man with all the nicknames, Chris Berman has just found a name he apparently can't say enough – Richie Incognito.

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