NFL Draft First Round Recap

For the first couple picks of the draft last night, I was only able to watch it on my phone between my legs while at my school’s Danceworks show (which was amazing by the way). I was blown away by a lot of the selections and moves that ultimately spelled out a team’s future for this upcoming season. Here are some of the major events throughout the night that made this first round so special:

  1. The Browns Draft an Army, But Will It Make a Difference?

Hey, at least they didn’t draft another QB… yet. It was obvious that DE Myles Garrett from Texas A&M was going to go first overall. However, their following picks were very surprising because of the big names they selected, trying to bring some life into an already dead team. For their 25th and 29th overall picks, the Browns selected two studs with safety Jabrill Peppers from Michigan and TE David Njoku from Miami. Will these big names help them though? Garrett will be a powerful force coming off the end of the line, but going up against an NFL, possibly all-pro, tackle is way different than embarrassing some far-from-standout offensive lineman. He will be explosive, yes, but he’ll need to prove himself if he wants to be the dominant force that he says he is. Peppers did it all in college, playing nine positions offensively and defensively. If he can help the Browns succeed, then it’s very vital that the Browns strategize their defense, or offense, around him once he finds his groove within the organization.

2. Bears Trade ONE PICK UP to Select Mitchell Trubisky

Instead of me talking about this pick, I’ll let some Bears fans express how they feel about this…

Some Bears fans weren't exactly pumped for their team's selection at No. 2.

A post shared by SportsCenter (@sportscenter) on

Last night, the Bears, who originally had the third overall pick, traded one pick up in order to take QB Mitchell Trubisky from North Carolina. But why? The Niners didn’t even want him; they were going to select DE Solomon Thomas from Stanford regardless. And to top it off, they traded away multiple 2018 third round draft picks when they could end up needing those later on. After signing QB Mike Glennon to an absurd $15M contract, the Bears seem to really be banking on quarterbacks this season, which is understandable after watching Jay Cutler fall off a cliff these past couple seasons. The Bears surely needed a change, but was this the right approach?

3. Jaguars Add Another Name to Their Backfield with Leonard Fournette

Since I predicted this pick, I won’t dive in too deep with the analysis. The Jaguars need some help in their backfield since T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory don’t seem to be carrying the load. Fournette could surely help, but after a lackluster season, I’m very interested to see how he adjusts to a major NFL role.

4. Can the Panthers Bounce Back After a Shaky Season with McCaffrey?

I think this was the most surprising pick of the night other than Trubisky. I wasn’t expecting McCaffrey to go in this direction, but after taking about 30 seconds last night to reflect and think about it, it totally makes sense. The Panthers needed both a running back and a wide receiver; they got both in one pick. This Stanford stud fits the mold of a running back while also being the right size for a slot receiver. It’s a perfect match. Unless I’m proven wrong this coming season, the Panthers could get back up to an over .500 record like they did two seasons ago.

5. The CFP Champion Lands in Houston

Clemson QB Deshaun Watson, who, three months ago, brought down the Alabama Crimson Tide in the College Football Championship with two seconds left, was selected by the Houston Texans with the 12th overall pick. After giving away Brock Osweiler, who proved to not be worth the $72M they gave him, Houston saw that it was time to invest in a new quarterback that would help them be a major contender in not only their conference, but in the AFC South which, statistically, was the worst division in all of the NFL last year. Watson could definitely make a statement early if he and DeAndre Hopkins feel each other out during summer training and running routes after practice. And by the looks of it, that could happen very early…


6. The Eagles Find Someone to Match Legend Reggie White

There were a lot of fans who were very pleased by this pick when Philadelphia selected Tennessee All-American DE Derek Barnett. With the Volunteers, he broke the university’s career sack record of 32.0, which was formerly held by NFL legend Reggie White, who also played with the Eagles from 1985-92. If this isn’t something that has shades of destiny, I don’t know of anything else that could spell it out better. Many improvements need to be made to the Eagles, especially defensively, and this was a great start.

There are only six more rounds to go, but last night showed some impressive faces landing in spots where they could eventually make a difference. The Patriots won’t have a pick until early in the third round, and the 49ers are still looking to make a change since newly-appointed GM John Lynch took over. I’m very interested to see what else unfolds, especially since Florida State RB Dalvin Cook is still on the board. It’s anyone’s game, but it’s the most exciting time of the month for football.

 

Advertisements

The Tragedy of Aaron Hernandez

Yesterday morning at about 9 AM, I woke up to a text from my mom to see if I had heard the latest news that broke out. Right before I responded, I scrolled through my Facebook timeline to see a link to an ESPN article titled “Aaron Hernandez Commits Suicide in Prison Cell”. Putting it simply, I was in shock. Seeing a story like his come to an end in such a tragic way was difficult to take in.

The Patriots were scheduled to visit the White House that day, being the first championship team to visit President Trump in office, despite boasting small numbers in player attendance. The following day would have the 2017 NFL schedule released to the public, with tickets going on sale in the coming days. Lastly, the NFL Draft is in seven days, creating more exciting animosity in the NFL. But when this news broke out of Hernandez’s suicide, everything else started to fade away, making for a dark day for both the Patriots and the NFL.

I kept thinking back to the first time I had heard of Aaron Hernandez, as a Patriots’ fourth round draft pick out of Florida. As he progressed through the organization, he proved to be a dominant addition to the team, becoming a part of one of the most intimidating “tight end tandems” the league had ever seen paired with Rob Gronkowski. They both combined for 24 touchdowns in the 2011 season and controlled spots in tight end stat categories.

aaron2.png

He was well on his way to having a successful football career, but he just couldn’t get himself out of trouble when in the summer of 2013, he was arrested for the murder of Odin Lloyd. It was then discovered that he was involved both in a shooting in Miami earlier that year and a double homicide in Boston in the summer of 2012. He was sentenced for life in prison for the Odin Lloyd murder, but was found not guilty for the Boston and Miami murders on April 14th, 2017. Five days later, he committed suicide.

While I don’t have any sympathy for him and what he did, it’s a tragic story nonetheless. I’ve been seeing posts on Facebook saying that we shouldn’t be calling this a tragedy since he killed people and that he deserved to die. However, there’s another perspective that people are failing to take a glimpse at in this situation which makes the two mutually exclusive.

It’s the tragedy that a player, who had such potential and talent and looked like a sure-fire, accountable weapon for any team, couldn’t step away from gang affiliations despite making a life for himself that would, in the future, lead to a successful and happy career. Yesterday on First Take, Stephen A. Smith reacted to the early morning news and stated:

“He gets no sympathy from me. As far as I’m concerned, he got off easy… The best we can do for both the Odin Lloyd family and the Aaron Hernandez is to forget as much as we possibly can about this. Both families didn’t deserve to be associated with that, especially Hernandez’s four-year-old daughter (who will never know her father). He didn’t still have to be on the streets involving himself in gang-related activity. In the midst of signing a $40M contract, catching passes from Tom Brady, being coached by Bill Belichick, and getting checks cut for you by Robert Kraft, how do you throw it all away like that?”

That’s the real tragedy of it all: that he couldn’t escape and leave behind his affiliation for his main success. That, in the end, it’s what ultimately led to his tragic demise.

It’s very hard to understand that once you find yourself affiliated with gang-related activity, it stays with you. Your fingerprints are on everything that that gang has done and will do.

“My disappointment is what sports has meant to so many kids and what it meant to me,” said Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter yesterday on FOX Sports’ Undisputed. “I’m empathetic of the current peer pressure that young people and the decisions they have to make. There’s so many kids that have been rescued from the streets by sports, and I thought [Hernandez] was going to be another case. This was a colossal disaster, and the kid had all the help in the world. He went to the best schools that offer everything from a medical to a clinical to any type of help an athlete would need. Sports was not able to rescue him because he wouldn’t let go of the streets. He was a high school All-American tight end, basketball star from Bristol, CT, went to play at the University of Florida under Urban Meyer, one of the best athletes to ever come out of Connecticut, and he still couldn’t let go. This is the best example of when people say, ‘Money changes you.’ No, it doesn’t. Money just makes you bigger than what you already are. As he continued to go up the scale in athletics, he only continued to get more violent. Sports has saved so many of these kids, but sports couldn’t save Aaron Hernandez.”

Hernandez had the world at his fingertips, but his life decisions and affiliations held him back. That’s the real tragedy.

What also was tough to see were all the jokes about his suicide. Twitter and other social media platforms were quick to mock his death. There has even been association with his death and the controversial Netflix show “13 Reasons Why” which is about a high school student who commits suicide and the aftermath. The Huffington Post wrote that “we have a long way to go when it comes to having a healthy, productive dialogue about mental health” and that this is a perfect example. “Suicide should never be a punchline,” the article states.

As someone who’s been deeply affected by the concept of mental illness and suicide, I saw a lot of problems with seeing all these jokes and how we treat mental illness. While this man did kill people, the fact that he faced demons that tormented him that others with mental illness face as well is very hard to imagine. If we treated mental illness with the sensitivity that it deserves, the more likely people with these issues are to get help. The stigma attached to it often silences those who suffer from it and prevents them from seeking the help they need. So next time you see or make a joke about Hernandez’s suicide, take a second to think about that.

Reports say that there will be a book coming out about his life and what ultimately caused him to take his own life. Based on the rumors I’ve heard about why he did it, I’ll be very interested to read it once it hits shelves.