Sports Outside the Beltway

Are you ready for some bowling? II

No I’m not talking about some middle aged man propelling a ball at some objects at the end of a lane, but the games that climax every college football season. Bowl season officially starts this afternoon, here are the matchups for all the college football fanatics out there.

Note- I gave the shortened name version of all the upcoming games. Also I listed what broadcast network would be televising the game and what time they would be coming on the air. All times are Eastern Standard.

Dec 19

New Mexico- Fresno State vs. Wyoming 4:30 p.m. ESPN
St. Petersburg- Central Florida vs. Rutgers 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 20

R+L Carriers New Orleans- Southern Miss vs. Middle Tennessee 8:30 p.m. ESPN

Dec 22

MAACO Las Vegas- Oregon State vs. BYU 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 23

Poinsettia- Utah vs. Cal 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 24

Sheraton Hawaii- Nevada vs. SMU 8 p.m. ESPN
Dec 26

Little Caesars- Marshall vs. Ohio 1 p.m. ESPN
Meineke- Pitt vs. North Carolina 4:30 p.m. ESPN
Emerald- Boston College vs. USC 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 27

Music City- Kentucky vs. Clemson 8:30 p.m. ESPN

Dec 28

Independence- Texas A&M vs. Georgia 5 p.m. ESPN2

Dec 29

EagleBank- UCLA vs. Temple 4:30 p.m. ESPN
Champs Sports- Miami vs. Wisconsin 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 30

Humanitarian- Bowling Green vs. Idaho 4:30 p.m. ESPN
Holiday- Arizona vs. Nebraska 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 31

Armed Forces- Houston vs. Air Force Noon ESPN
Sun- Oklahoma vs. Stanford 2 p.m. CBS
Texas- Navy vs. Missouri 3:30 p.m. ESPN
Minnesota vs. Iowa State 6 p.m. NFL Network
Chick-fil-A- Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee 7:30 p.m. ESPN

Jan 1

Outback- Northwestern vs. Auburn 11 a.m. ESPN
Capital One- Penn State vs. LSU 1 p.m. ABC
Gator- West Virginia vs. Florida State 1 p.m. CBS
Rose Bowl- Ohio State vs. Oregon 4:30 p.m. ABC
Sugar- Cincinnati vs. Florida 8:30 p.m. FOX

Jan 2

International- South Florida vs. Northern Illinois Noon ESPN2 South Carolina vs. UConn 2 p.m. ESPN
Cotton- Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss 2 p.m. FOX
Liberty- Arkansas vs. East Carolina 5:30 p.m. ESPN
Valero Alamo- Michigan State vs. Texas Tech 9 p.m. ESPN

Jan 4

Fiesta- Boise State vs. TCU 8 p.m. FOX

Jan 5

FedEx Orange- Iowa vs. Georgia Tech 8 p.m. FOX

Jan 6th

GMAC- Central Michigan vs. Troy 7 p.m. ESPN

Jan 7th

BCS National Championship Game- Texas vs. Alabama Jan. 7 8 p.m.

Some random notes on the above 34 games

*- 19 of the 34 games are not scheduled till Dec. 31st or later. I guess college football fanatics are expected to flip channels very quickly on those 3 days(Dec 31-Jan 2) when 15 games are being aired.
*- What a downer must it be for Oregon State players and fans. A few weeks ago they were one win from a Rose Bowl trip. Instead they lost to Oregon and are playing in a minor bowl before Christmas.
*- The NFL network televises a college football game. I guess that’s the cable sports equivalent of the Sci-Fi channel showing wrestling….
*- The bowls are now set where now certain conference finishers are locked into the same bowl games every year. I understand why the current system is done, but I prefer the day when bowl games would have greater variance from year to year. The Peach bowl would usually invite a ACC or SEC school but they could be creative, like when they invited Army and Illinois. Wouldn’t a SEC team against BYU or Wyoming be nice for a change?
*- Bobby Bowden’s farewell game is against the same school(West Virginia) that he left before coming to Florida State. I do know FSU and WV have played at least twice previously in bowls during the Bowden-Florida State era.


NFL Draft 2009 Round 6 #181 – Miami Dolphins – OT Andrew Gardner

Miami goes for help in the trenches.

Good height with adequate build on the edge. Plays strong, attacking his opponent through the whistle in pass protection by punching and continually extending his arms to keep his man outside the pocket. Keeps his feet moving, which keeps him locked on his man. Will go through the whistle on his man when necessary. Good movement to the linebackers, giving good effort to get his hands on quicker defenders in space. Effectively uses angles to direct speedy defenders around the play. Gets low on cut blocks, which he did quite often in Tech’s option attack as a senior. Steady player, hard worker.

Weaknesses: Not the elite athlete most teams want at left tackle. NFL speed rushers may give him problems due to his average lateral movement and tendency to overextend or miss his punch. Inconsistent initial quickness off the ball. Needs to prove strong enough to play inside or on the other side of the line. Does not recover quickly or retain his balance after the initial hit while cut blocking, and sometimes whiffs on the cut itself. Struggles to sustain in space because he overextends and lacks recovery speed.

ESPN writes-

Gardner is a relentless blocker who possesses just adequate overall strength. However, he has excellent upside in terms of agility and athleticism. He will need some development in terms of footwork.

Someone to fight for the right offensive tackle job. Last year’s #1, Jake Long, will hopefully have the left tackle job sown up for years.


Are you ready for some bowling?

No I’m not talking about some middle aged man propelling a ball at some objects at the end of a lane, but the games that climax every college football season. Bowl season officially starts this Saturday, here are the matchups for all the college football fanatics out there.

Dec 20
Eaglebank Bowl- Wake Forest vs Navy
New Mexico Bowl- Colorado State vs Fresno St
MAGICJACK ST. PETERSBURG BOWL- Memphis vs. South Florida
PIONEER LAS VEGAS BOWL- Brigham Young vs Arizona
Dec 21
Dec 23
Dec 24
SHERATON HAWAII BOWL- Hawaii vs Notre Dame
Dec 26
MOTOR CITY BOWL- Florida Atlantic vs. Central Michigan
Saturday, December 27
MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL- West Virginia vs. North Carolina
Champs Sports Bowl- Wisconsin vs. Florida State
Emerald Bowl- Miami (FL) vs. California
December 28
Independence Bowl- Northern Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech
PAPAJOHNS.COM BOWL- North Carolina State vs. Rutgers
Valero Alamo Bowl- Missouri vs. No. 23 Northwestern
Tuesday, December 30
PACIFIC LIFE HOLIDAY BOWL- Oklahoma State vs. No. 17 Oregon
Texas Bowl- Western Michigan vs. Rice
Wednesday, December 31
Sun Bowl- Oregon State vs. Pittsburgh
GAYLORD HOTELS MUSIC CITY BOWL- Boston College vs. Vanderbilt
Insight Bowl- Kansas vs. Minnesota
CHICK-FIL-A BOWL- LSU vs. Georgia Tech
Thursday, January 1
OUTBACK BOWL- South Carolina vs. Iowa
CAPITAL ONE BOWL- Georgia vs. Michigan State
Gator Bowl- Nebraska vs. Clemson
Rose Bowl- Penn State vs. USC
Fedex Orange Bowl- Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech
Friday, January 2
Cotton Bowl- Mississippi vs. Texas Tech
AUTOZONE LIBERTY BOWL- Kentucky vs. East Carolina
January 3
INTERNATIONAL BOWL- Buffalo vs. Connecticut
January 5
TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL- Ohio State vs. Texas
January 6
GMAC Bowl- Ball State vs. Tulsa*
January 8

That’s 34 games, 68 schools spread over a period of 20 days for those of you keeping score at home. An ample supply of college football for any fanatics out there.

A few notes

*- There are a few bowl games remaining without corporate names in their title. Gator, Sun, Texas, Independence. Were these games unable to find sponsors?
*- Will Oklahoma St. and Oregon combine for 70 pts or more in the Holiday Bowl? This annually has been of the most high scoring affairs.
*- Oh how has the Orange Bowl dropped. A game that featured early triumphs of Joe Paterno led Penn State, Nebraska and Oklahoma in their glory days, the first major bowl appearance of Florida State, and the all time classic 84 battle between Nebraska and Miami, has Cincinnati and Virginia Tech playing this year. I’m sure they are talented football teams, but how many people are drooling to see them play in a prime-time network slot?
*- Arizona and BYU meet in a bowl 30 years after the former left the WAC conference for the higher profile Pac Eight(Now Ten, Arizona State joined also)
*- Vanderbilt makes a rare bowl appearance. Congratulations to Commodore fans, but this is a sign of how bowls are grown way out of proportion. 6-6 college teams get bids. When I was growing up I could remember Florida State going without a bowl in 1978 even though they finished the season 8-3.

It is my humble opinion that bowl season has gotten out of hand. Someone may say what’s the big deal? If someone wants to start a bowl game and there are two schools willing to play in it, does their records matter. A good football isn’t only a contest between stars at big name schools.

All true, but how much public money is spent on these affairs? Many of the teams are state universities who get funded by taxpayers. Then there is the game itself where police have to be taken from other tasks to work the day or night of the game or paid over-time.

With the economic downturn right now, you have to wonder if there will be less bowls in the near future. That would depend on how long a deal a corporate sponsor signed on for. I wonder how many fans of some schools plan to make a bowl trip. Are there 1,000 or more FAU Owls willing to journey from Florida to Michigan in December to watch the team play? Even if I were a Owl fan and had money, I’d stay home.

Enjoy the games.


NFL Draft 2008 – Round 4 – Dallas Cowboys – RB Tashard Choice

NFL Draft 2008 Logo After five trades down the Dallas Cowboys take . . . another running back. Georgia Tech’s Tashard Choice seems an odd, er, choice, given that the Cowboys drafted a back in the 1st round and have a young Pro Bowler, Marion Barber, on the roster. Still, this is a good value this deep in the draft (the 122nd pick).

Scouts, Inc.: 101st

Strengths: A workhorse back with natural running skills and excellent competitiveness. Reads blocks well, doesn’t waste motion and gets through holes quicker than people seem to think. Patient, does a nice job of locating cutback lanes and makes sharp cuts behind the line if scrimmage. Displays great stop-and-start skills. Runs hard, bounces off arm tackles and picks up many yards after contact. Consistently makes the first defender miss. Shows effective use of stiff arm. Runs adequate routes and has the burst to separate from man coverage. Catches the ball with hands away from frame and doesn’t drop many passes should catch. Is smooth turning upfield and shows good vision setting up blocks in space. Does an excellent job of selling playfakes.

Dallas Cowboys  RB Tashard Choice Photo Weaknesses: Lacks any elite physical qualities. Is quicker than fast. Lacks breakaway speed and isn’t much of a threat to go the distance when gets a seam. Gets tracked down from behind too often. Lacks ideal size for his tough running style. Keeps ball tight to frame most of the time but doesn’t always cover up when gets into traffic and can put the ball on the ground. Though he flashes a mean streak and a powerful punch when asked to help out in pass protection, he also takes poor angles to assignments and dives at defenders’ feet as a last ditch effort. Lacks ideal lower body strength and struggles to anchor when picking up blitz.

Overall: Choice spent the 2004 season backing up Adrian Peterson at Oklahoma. He enrolled at Georgia Tech in 2005 and was immediately eligible to play after the NCAA granted a waiver of the residency requirement. During his next two seasons with the Yellow Jackets, Choice appeared in 26 games (15 starts) and ran for 1,986 yards and 18 touchdowns on 414 carries (4.8 average). In 12 games (all starts) in 2007, Choice turned in 1,412 yards and 10 touchdowns on 261 carries (5.3 average); 14 receptions for 107 yards (7.6 average); and even an 11-yard touchdown pass. He had midseason knee surgery and also was bothered by a hamstring injury, but Choice missed just one game last year. Choice was tremendously productive at the collegiate level when healthy. He is a proven workhorse with very good vision, toughness and power for his size. He displays good patience setting up blocks and he also is quicker to and through the hole than some think. Unfortunately, Choice doesn’t have the frame to match his hard-charging running style, which has led to several injuries throughout his career. In addition to concerns regarding his durability, Choice lacks ideal top-end speed and will never be a homerun threat as a runner, pass-catcher or kick returner in the NFL. With all that in mind, Choice projects as a solid backup in the NFL and should come off the board in the mid-round range of the 2008 draft.

Rick Gosselin: 94

Albert Breer thinks this was forced by the Felix Jones pick:

And it’s Tashard Choice from Georgia Tech. So the Cowboys take a second back, which makes my point that the choice of Choice (sorry) was necessitated by the drafting of Felix Jones.

Rashard Mendenhall would’ve allowed the Cowboys to go in another direction here. But with Jones on board, they still needed insurance, since if Marion Barber goes down, there’s not enough of it with the Arkansas product.

Calvin Watkins agrees, twisting the knife a bit.

Cowboys got another backup running back in the draft. See Felix Jones. Anyway Choice rushed for 1,412 yards and 10 touchdowns on 261 carries for Georiga Tech last season. Choice battled a hamstring last season and missed one game due to knee surgery.

The ESPN gang seems pleased with the pick. And, certainly, this is a good value for the slot.


Navy’s Paul Johnson Takes Georgia Tech Job

Paul Johnson, who turned Georgia Southern and then Navy into respectable football teams, has been hired to restore Georgia Tech to prominence.

Navy’s Paul Johnson Takes Georgia Tech Job James Lang/US Presswire After turning Navy into a regular bowl contender, Paul Johnson is leaving for ACC country. Navy coach Paul Johnson, who turned one of the country’s worst teams into an annual bowl participant, has agreed to become Georgia Tech’s next football coach, Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk confirmed Friday morning. Johnson, who had a 45-39 record in six seasons at Navy, replaces Chan Gailey, who was fired as Georgia Tech’s coach Nov. 26.

After turning Navy into a regular bowl contender, Paul Johnson is leaving for ACC country.

“Paul is fixated on what Paul wants to do and that’s the next step and new challenges at Georgia Tech,” Gladchuck said. “We appreciate what Paul has done and we’ll always remember him as one of the great coaches in Navy history. But we’re very respectful of his wishes for new challenges at Georgia Tech.”

Johnson informed the team at an 11:45 a.m. meeting at the Navy’s Ricketts Hall, where the football offices are located, said Scott Strasemeier, Navy’s associate athletic director for sports information.

Georgia Tech has scheduled a 5:30 p.m. ET news conference to announce the hiring of Johnson.

Johnson, who is perhaps best known for his potent triple-option spread offense, led the Midshipmen to unprecedented success during his tenure at the academy. Under his watch, Navy was 11-1 against Army and Air Force and won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy five consecutive seasons. Navy went 8-4 this season and beat Notre Dame 46-44 in triple overtime, ending an NCAA-record 43-game losing streak to the Fighting Irish.

Navy plays Utah in the Dec. 20 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. Gladchuk said Johnson will not coach in the bowl game.

Johnson previously worked at Division I-AA Georgia Southern, where he led the Eagles to a 62-10 record and two consecutive I-AA national championships.

Johnson was also considered a candidate for vacancies at Duke and SMU but informed both of those schools Friday morning that he wasn’t taking either job.

Georgia Tech also considered former Washington coach Rick Neuheisel, former Auburn coach Terry Bowden, Georgia Southern coach Chris Hatcher and Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong. Connecticut coach Randy Edsall also interviewed for the job but quickly removed himself from consideration.

A great hire by Tech. I’m surprised Johnson lasted as long as he did at Navy, honestly. Indeed, he was reportedly on Alabama’s short list last year before they ultimately lured Nick Saban away from the Miami Dolphins.

Photo credit: James Lang/US Presswire


Georgia Tech fires coach Chan Gailey

Another Division I coach is looking for new employment.

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech fired coach Chan Gailey on Monday, two days after a sixth straight loss to rival Georgia ended a disappointing season.

Athletic director Dan Radakovich called an afternoon news conference to discuss the football program. A person familiar with the situation, speaking on condition of anonymity because an official announcement had not been made, said Radakovich would announce Gailey has been dismissed after six seasons as the Yellow Jackets coach.

The move was widely expected after Georgia Tech (7-5) came up far short of another run at the Atlantic Coast Conference championship one year after winning its division. Also, Gailey never beat the school’s biggest rival, losing 31-17 to the Bulldogs on Saturday.

Gailey was both head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphin Offensive Coordinator before taking his gig at Georgia Tech. Make a bet he is back coaching in the NFL in 2008.


Upset Saturday in College Football

It was a bizarre weekend in college football, with eight ranked teams losing to teams ranked below them — seven to teams not ranked at all.

    #3 Oklahoma lost to unranked Colorado, 24-27.
    #4 Florida lost to unranked Auburn, 17-20.
    #5 West Virginia lost to #18 South Florida, 13-21 (Thursday night).
    #7 Texas lost to unranked Kansas State, 21-41
    #10 Rutgers lost to unranked Maryland, 24-34
    #13 Clemson lost to unranked Georgia Tech, 3-13
    #21 Penn State lost to unranked Illinois, 20-27
    #22 Alabama lost to unranked Florida State, 14- 21

This was on top of several other close finishes.

ESPN’s Pat Forde dubs it “Insanity Saturday” and observes that this throws the whole season out of whack.

Just that fast, the college football landscape shifted seismically beneath our feet.

Just that fast, the Red River Shootout game Saturday between Oklahoma and Texas was dropped to undercard status. For the first time in years, it’s not the marquee game in the Big 12. And for the first time in years, the league’s maligned North looks more compelling than the South. If you can believe it, the biggest game in that league next week might be unbeaten Kansas at 3-1 Kansas State — either that or 4-1 Nebraska at unbeaten Missouri.

Just that fast, the upcoming LSU-Florida showdown Saturday in Baton Rouge lost half its helium when the Gators were shocked in The Swamp by an Auburn team that had lost at home to South Florida and Mississippi State on consecutive weekends.

Just that fast, the three Big East teams that began the season in the Top 25 all have at least one loss. Louisville went down first, then West Virginia, now Rutgers. Suddenly South Florida, Connecticut and Cincinnati are the unbeaten teams in the Big East. Honk if you foresaw that in August.

Just that fast, Illinois is 4-1 and tied for first in the Big Ten at 2-0. That’s the same Illinois that went 2-10 last year, with only one victory over I-A competition.

Just that fast, we have an ACC plot twist that leaves Virginia and Boston College well out in front in their respective divisions at 3-0 in league play. Virginia was left for dead after a Week 1 blowout loss to Wyoming. Boston College was picked last in its division by at least one preseason magazine.

And just that fast, USC and LSU put that much more distance between themselves and what’s left of the pack.

The object lesson here is that no favorite is safe. Not at home, not on the road, not in league play, not out of league play. If those lessons hadn’t already been learned by Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32, and Syracuse 38, Louisville 35, they were reinforced on Insanity Saturday.

And no lead is safe. You’d think the Sooners getting up 24-7 would be enough to make Colorado quit. You’d be wrong. The Buffaloes scored the final 20 points, winning on the last play of the game — a 45-yard field goal by Kevin Eberhart.


Underdogs aren’t scared right now, by much of anyone. Players and coaches are shrugging off past history, blowing off bad losses, not worrying about falling behind and regrouping to pull upsets nobody saw coming. Nobody’s rolling over.

I’ve seen this sort of thing in college basketball before but never to this extent in football. The bottom line, though, is that Notre Dame and Alabama and Michigan no longer have an automatic recruiting advantage over South Florida and West Virginia and Georgia Tech. There’s a wealth of talent out there and plenty of television exposure to be had in the realigned conference structure. Players would rather go to a program with less prestige and start than sit on the bench and one of the Big Boys.


NFL Draft 2007 – Round 1 #2 – Detroit Lions – WR Calvin Johnson

ESPN’s Chris Berman reports that Georgia Tech wideout wide receiver Calvin Johnson, widely touted as the best player available in the draft–and perhaps the best WR coming out of college in more than a decade–just received a phone call and his a big smile on his face.

Presumably, that means the Detroit Lions are once again taking a wide receiver with a top ten pick. It’s possible, though, that they’ve traded away the pick and someone else will take Johnson in this spot. Or the Lions will take Johnson and trade him later. Or Johnson is smiling for some other reason entirely….

They pulled the trigger and took Johnson.

What the Experts Say: Profile:

Calvin Johnson Photo Civies Player Evaluation: Possessing tremendous size, athletic ability and soft hands, Johnson is the “go-to” receiver who cannot be stopped. Grades out as the top prospect in this year’s draft and will be an early selection in round one.

STRENGTHS: Hands and Concentration, Red Zone Weapon, Size

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Elusiveness with Catch, Route-Running Skills

Biography: Three-year starter awarded All-Conference honors since his freshman campaign and named ACC Player of the Year last season. Junior numbers were 76/1,202/15 after 54/888/6 as a sophomore.

Calvin Johnson Photo Georgia Tech Uniform Pos: Big, fluid, game-controlling receiver who is a dominant force. Uses his frame as an advantage and makes the difficult reception with defenders draped on him. Displays terrific eye/hand coordination, effortlessly catching the ball in stride or making incredibly acrobatic receptions down the field. Strong, sturdy wide out who takes a pounding, yet holds onto the throw and breaks tackles to pick up positive yardage. Comes back to the ball, finds the clearing in the defense and extends his hands, offering the quarterback a big target. Displays a sense of timing getting vertical and winning out for jump balls. Makes the difficult over-the-shoulder reception, adjusting for the errant pass. Gives effort blocking downfield.

Neg: Lacks the quick release off the snap. Long loping runner with built-up speed. Weighed 239-pounds at the combine, about 20-pounds more than scouts wanted.

The Cleveland Browns (v 2.0) are on the clock….


Detroit Lions’ general manager Matt Millen will undoubtedly take a lot of heat for drafting yet another receiver in the first round but Johnson is the best overall talent. In fact, he is arguably the most talented receiver taken in a decade. Blazing speed, impressive body control and formidable size could make Johnson one of the most difficult receivers in the league to cover this year. If he improves his consistency catching the ball and sharpens his route running skills, defensive coordinators will have a difficult time finding ways to slow him down.

Offensive coordinator Mike Martz should be smiling right now because he knows exactly how to get the most out of a player like Johnson. Johnson will benefit from playing under Martz as well because Martz’s scheme demands his receivers run crisp routes. However, it’s important to note that Johnson may not be in a Lions’ uniform next year. Detroit will likely entertain any trade offers from teams like Tampa Bay in an effort to stockpile picks.


Calvin Johnson Best Player Available in 2007 NFL Draft

Hall of Fame sportswriter Rick Gosselin reports that Calvin Johnson has been certified a “once-in-a-lifetime” wide receiver by someone who should know.

Calvin Johnson Georgia Tech Photo  Calvin Johnson (21) is a a cross between Randy Moss and Terrell Owens – bigger than Moss, faster than Owens. Chan Gailey has been around his share of quality receivers, having coached the Three Amigos (Vance Johnson, Ricky Nattiel and Mark Jackson) at Denver in the 1980s. Gailey has been around Pro Bowlers, having coached Yancey Thigpen at Pittsburgh in the mid-1990s. He also been around greatness, having coached Hall of Famer Michael Irvin in Dallas.

But Gailey has never been around a receiver like Calvin Johnson. “He’s a once-in-a-lifetime guy,” said Gailey, the head coach at Georgia Tech. “I’ve coached no one that compares to him.”

Johnson is the consensus best player in the 2007 NFL draft – a physical specimen who could rewrite the league’s prototype for the position. He has only one flaw – his position. There’s an NFL belief that you can find receiver talent deep in the draft.

But few can match Johnson’s physique and talent. He’s a cross between Randy Moss and Terrell Owens – bigger than Moss, faster than Owens.

Johnson is a giant by NFL standards at 6-5, 239 pounds. At the NFL scouting combine at Indianapolis in February, he decided to run a 40-yard dash at the last minute and scorched the turf in 4.35 seconds. The fastest cornerback in this draft is Chris Houston of Arkansas. He runs a 4.32 – but he’s seven inches shorter and 54 pounds lighter than Johnson.

Incredible. Goose is right, though: It’s highly unlikely Johnson will be the first player drafted.

There is only one flaw in his draft stock. –the belief in NFL draft rooms that you can find a receiver in every round of every draft.

Marques Colston caught 70 passes for 1,038 yards and eight touchdowns as a rookie last season, helping the New Orleans Saints to an NFC South championship. The Saints found Colston in the seventh round last April.

Anquan Boldin turned in the greatest season by a rookie NFL wide receiver in 2003, catching 101 passes for 1,377 yards and eight touchdowns for the Arizona Cardinals. He was a second-rounder – the 54th overall pick and sixth wide receiver to come off the board.

There’s a belief that a receiver you take in the second round may turn out to be every bit as good as a receiver you take in the first.

That helps explain why only two wideouts have gone first overall since the AFL and NFL established a common draft in 1967 – Irving Fryar in 1984 and Keyshawn Johnson in 1996. In both cases the drafts were shallow in skill. No quarterback was selected in the first round of either draft, and the first running back didn’t go in 1984 until the 26th overall selection. Nebraska’s Lawrence Phillips was the first runner taken in 1996, and he was a character risk. So Fryar and Johnson found themselves atop draft boards almost by default.

It’ll be interesting to see who gets Johnson. Barring injury, they should be quite happy.


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