Randy Smith: NFL Draft Looming Large

Wednesday, April 25, 2018 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
The annual NFL Draft is set for this weekend and over a three day period, the list of new miilionaires will grow quite a bit. Players picked in the first round will get the most money, while the higher the draft pick is, the more money a player will get.  The first SEC player to be chosen should be either Georgia's Roquan Smith or Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick, both defensive standouts . They should both be chosen in the middle to late first round. 

The top draft choice is not a lock by any means, but most so-called experts are saying that former Southern Call quarterback Sam Arnold is the likely choice.
In most years a quarterback is usually the top choice, but occasionally a running back or defensive standout winds up as the top choice. 

The success of an NFL Draft pick is not an exact science. Remember back in 1998, when the Indianapolis Colts had the top choice and spent a lot of time trying to decide whether to pick Tennessee's Peyton Manning or left hander Ryan Leaf. After much thought and deliberation the Colts chose Manning and the rest as they say, is history. Manning went on to become one of the very greatest of all time, while Leaf burned out after a couple of years and turned to drug addiction. 

There are others like quarterback Andre Ware fro/m Houston in 1990 and running back Ron Dayne from Wisconsin in 2000. They were each great college players, even Heisman Trophy winners, but they obviously left it all in college. When they got to the NFL they busted big-time.     

Of course for every draft bust, there is always a player or two who was drafted low or not even drafted at all who made it big in pro football. Perhaps the most famous ones are Johnny Unitas and Tom Brady. Johnny U. was a seventh round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers out of Louisville in the mid 1950s and was cut by the Steelers. He eventually signed with the Baltimore Colts and went on to become the come the greatest quarterback of his era. We all know Tom Brady's story. He played at Michigan, and was a fifth round choice by the New England Patriots. Brady now has five Super Bowl rings and is regarded as one of the best if not the best of all time. 

There are others like Falcons center Jeff Van Note who was the 262nd choice in 1969 and Cleveland Browns running back Leroy Kelly. Kelly was the 110th choice, tabbed in the 8th round by the Browns in 1964. Kelly surprised the Browns as he replaced the legendary Jim Brown as the teams' top running back. Kelly was chosen to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994.

There are several really talented players in the 2018 draft, though there seems to be no sure lock as a success story. We'll find out who gets picked where, beginning Friday night on Fox and ABC.  

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Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com


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