National Football League
April 28, 2011
Draft King Analysis
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
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Today the 2011 NFL Draft is slated to begin, but top of mind for me are the people who were hurt, killed, or left homeless from the storm system that caused multiple tornadoes across the south yesterday. My sister is slated to graduate from Birmingham Southern in a couple of weeks, and I had great concern for her, along with friends I have in the Birmingham area from the 13 months that I lived there, during the tornado warnings. Luckily all is well for those I know, but many people have faced some very, very difficult situations that won't get better anytime soon.
Bryant-Denny Stadium avoided any damage despite the Tuscaloosa tornado coming within a reported 250 yards of the facility. Multiple video clips show the stadium with the tornado looming close by in the background, but luckily the stadium wasn't damaged. That wasn't the case for many other parts of Tuscaloosa, though, where repair and rebuilding will be needed to fix the buildings that were damaged or destroyed by the storm.
As for the NFL, it remains locked in a legal quagmire here in the hours leading into the draft, potentially risking being in contempt of court by continuing to prohibit players today from working out at team facilities. The plan appears to be to let players in beginning tomorrow, but the order from Judge Susan Nelson vacating the lockout came down earlier this week. Whatever the final ruling is, in the short-term there is confusion among players, coaches, and even some NFL franchises about what the best (and proper) course of action should be.
This is nightmare timing for general managers who are in full-blown draft prep mode. Instead of last minute due diligence about the players they are prepared to draft, many are finding themselves distracted by the possibility of having to bring players in to potentially begin off-season workouts as soon as Monday. In many ways it's fitting that so much confusion and chaos would hit right before the draft in this most uncertain of NFL off-seasons.
One point of amusement are the people on Twitter (or in person at Radio City Music Hall) who are writing/chanting "We want football!" Even if the owners hadn't decided to end the CBA early (don't forget that element of this complicated story), there wouldn't be NFL football until August, and that's just the pre-season stuff. So it's not like the lack of a new CBA is keeping us from seeing any NFL games -- at least not yet.
Keep a watch out late Saturday for non-drafted players on the edge who aren't drafted being potentially scooped up by the UFL. The lesser-known league, which appeared to be created with the anticipation of the NFL having labor issues in the 2011 off-season, could swoop in and sign the best of the undrafted. This reality might, in turn, create an inflated price for 6th and 7th round picks in this draft on Saturday by teams desperate to get that one extra guy who a given GM or owner might be adamant about adding to the roster.
The late rumors in the stretch run toward the draft today have been interesting to hear. Is Denver really targeting Von Miller, or will Nick Fairley perhaps be a surprise #2 pick for the Broncos? Will we see Washington or Atlanta trade into the top seven? It's fascinating to watch it play out, and soon enough we'll all see how it all plays out.