Days of Joy and Happiness

The draft has passed and, to hear the teams tell it, everyone has had a draft for the ages. Optimism beams brightly in team offices, but the will hide for another three years...

As the dust from the NFL Draft settles, various experts will offer their grades on how the 32 teams fared.

Of course, it will take three to four years to truly determine which teams stocked their rosters with the talent they needed and which ones dropped the ball.

Walk into pretty much any team's headquarters right now, and everything seems rosy. Ask coaches and general managers, and virtually every one will tell you how lucky they were that the player they targeted all along fell right into their laps in the first round. And naturally, there were a slew of second round picks that the selecting team was certain would be gone in the first round and was just shocked to find available when their turn came back around.

Add to the mix third and fourth round picks with various talent, injury and/or character concerns that most teams are now passing off as "we're tickled pink about what we think is a big steal" selections, and one would think all 32 teams are chock full of undeniable talent right down to the water boy with the cannon for a right arm.

And many teams did help themselves significantly in what was generally considered a deep draft - particularly at glamour positions like quarterback and wide receiver. Even Indianapolis team president Bill Polian, who questioned the perceived depth of the draft last week, brokered deals that resulted in the Colts going from six to nine selections.

Like any other draft, this one will be looked back upon for the gems teams unearthed during the second day that wind up being solid starters and possibly even Pro Bowl players. That's why Polian - despite his reservations about the draft's depth - stocked up on late-round picks.

"We value the second day picks. I know that they're not as noteworthy to the general public, but you all know if you study our roster how well we've done on the second day. So it was really important for us to get those second day picks," Polian said.

The honest truth is any grade associated with a team's draft bounty is pure speculation. Ultimately, there will be a couple of first round busts who will be out of the league in a few years, and some teams will be struggling down the road because they didn't stockpile enough young talent.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher might have summed up the feelings of most teams when he said, "Every one we drafted has the potential to come in and play right away. How long or how much we just don't know."

And if all 13 of Tennessee's picks play next season, the Titans either had a draft for the ages or Fisher and Co. are in for a long year.
 


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