First round of the NFL Draft is complete and let's get the grades out of the way:
As for the draft itself, some notes:
--As stated on the radio show Thursday, Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, Daniel Jeremiah, Pro Football Focus and just about any other mock draft you found after Georgia won the national title in mid-January had Travon Walker as the third best Bulldog defender on the board. DT Jordan Davis and LB Nakobe Dean were both rated higher and projected to go in the top 15. Most had Walker in the 20s. Walker becomes the first player in the modern draft era to be the number one overall pick and not be named to an all-American or all-conference first team. Five Georgia defensive players were selected in the first round and Nakobe Dean was not among them.
--Kenny Pickett to the Steelers sounds like a Disney movie script that turns into a sappy 93-minute film with an actor who can't pass because he has small hands but I actually love this pick because the dude played at Pitt and now just moves one locker room down.
--Giants draft a pair that need to and will start and might actually be really good players.
--Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton might be the best athlete in the draft and yet he fell to the Ravens at 14 and why do I think he will become a hall of fame player?
--Love Kaiir Elam pick by the Bills.
--How and why did FSU's Jermaine Johnson II fall to the Jets at 26? The buzz was Johnson was soaring up draft boards and some thought he was a lock to be a top 10 pick.
--I like Utah's Devin Lloyd but the Jags gave up a lot to move up and get him.
--Of course the Patriots took an offensive lineman from Chattanooga in the first round when most people projected him to be a 3rd round pick.
--Malik Willis will likely get drafted early in round two but imagine how he feels after everyone told him he could go as high as second but certainly in the top 20.
The NFL Draft is just another example of the league being a marketing machine. They have turned this event into a three-day infomercial and we can't get enough...
We appear to have our first NIL holdout in Miami basketball player Isaiah Wong. Wong's NIL agent(that's right, his NIL agent) says if Wong's NIL deal with Miami superfan/reported billionaire John Ruiz and his Life Wallet/Cigarette Racing companies are not increased he will enter the transfer portal today. I called this right after Ruiz chose to make so public the deal he gave Kansas State transfer Nijel Pack. Ruiz told anyone who would listen that Pack's deal is for two years and $800,000 and a car. When I heard the news I wondered when Miami QB Tyler Van Dyke would ask for a raise from his $60,000 deal from Life Wallet. I just got the player wrong.
Here is one of the unintended consequences of when NIL becomes pay for play. Sports attorney Darren Heitner, who also represents a number of athletes, brands and collectives in the NIL world, jumped into the social media pool claiming Pack's deal came after he committed to Miami. Because it's against the NCAA rules and state law to use a money deal to land a player. Stop that. While it's impossible to prove, no one believes that and there is enough chatter that Pack's people were going back and forth with Miami and other schools bidding for his services.
Wong's NIL agent told Bary Jackson of the Miami Herald that if other companies step in to up Wong's money he may stay. Wong has until Sunday to enter the portal and be eligible to play next season somewhere else. Ruiz has publicly said he DOES NOT RENEGOTIATE so he has put a foot down and the showdown is now on. It might be the first of these types of NIL holdouts but it certainly won't be the last...
The Athletic had a story about BIlly Napier asking for a pot of cash to get the Gators caught up to others in the SEC when it comes to getting players. Here's the nugget in the story that makes it clear what the market may be for a recruiting class and transfer portal free agency:
The annual war chest required to field a contending SEC roster? Napier set the price at $20 million.
“I love that number,” said Eddie Rojas, CEO of the Gator Collective. “It’s a doable number, and we’re building for that.”
That's $20M a year. I just don't see that being sustainable where your rich donors keep pumping cash into a pot for players...
Tidbits: The City of Miami has voted to clear the way for their MLS team, Inter Miami to get their soccer stadium in Miami and city commissioners think it's a good idea for the stadium to be bigger than planned so that the University of Miami's football team can play there. Ok, sure. This is the fourth stadium deal the soccer team has landed and they still play 40 miles north of Miami. Time will tell if this deal actually puts a shovel in the ground. The stadium is one part of a massive retail development project with so many questionable deals tied to it, but that's Miami politics baby...The Cincinnati Reds are 3-16 and on a pace to win 26 games this season...College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock says ESPN told him the selection committee remains popular and says "it's something like a 76% approval rating from the public." He made that up. He knows he made that up and if he didn't, then someone made it up and told him that...I took my car for a car wash yesterday and still clean out my car before going to the car wash and I can only assume I do this because I don't want the staff to think I am a slob. Then, while at the car wash, I always hold my two one dollar bills so that when they call for me to get my car they see me drop the cash in the tip bin. Just feel like I want to let everyone know I appreciate the effort...
Final note: Travon Walker gets a four-year deal worth $41.3M and $27.3M signing bonus.