Apr 29, 2011
Thursday may have been the best day to be a football fan since the season ended, as we not only found out that the league was re-opening their doors to players, but saw one hell of a first round in this year’s draft. While the majority of picks were safe, we did see a few trades and a few shockers that shook things up significantly.
League allows players to return to work … as of 8 a.m. ET Friday morning. With Judge Susan Nelson ruling that the lockout was illegal and refusing to grant a stay, it took some time for the league to work out the details before they re-opened the doors to the players. Teams had been told to turn away players who reported over the last three days, but welcomed them in this morning with reports of the Panthers and Titan players already at team facilities. Team workouts have already been scheduled by the Lions (OTAs on Wednesday) and Bears (rookie camp next weekend). Players reporting for workouts will get credit towards team bonuses, which was a major reason why some reported earlier in the week, even if they knew they’d be turned away. With the league still looking for stay from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals while the case is heard, player transactions have not been re-instated, although Commissioner Roger Goodell said a conference call is scheduled on Friday to address rules for any roster moves. The players have been told to respond to the motion for a stay by Friday at Noon.
First round highlighted by QB selections … starting with Cam Newton going #1 overall to the Carolina Panthers. While many believed Blaine Gabbert would be the second QB off the board, one of the first surprises in the draft came when the Titans selected QB Jake Locker with the #8 pick. Gabbert’s extended stay in the green room almost looked like it might become a replay of the draft nights of Aaron Rodgers and Brady Quinn, but he was rescued by the Jaguars, who traded up to #10 (originally held by Washington) to select the former University of Missouri Tiger. The Vikings were the fourth and final team to take a QB in the 1st round, addressing a major need by taking Florida State’s Christian Ponder at #12 after being unable to trade back. Speaking of trades, the Falcons, who all week had been rumored to be looking to trade up to grab a WR did just that when they moved all the way to #6 to grab Alabama WR Julio Jones. Atlanta had apparently discussed the move for some time, and paid a king’s random, flip-flopping 1st-round picks with the Browns (Atlanta was originally supposed to pick at #27), in addition to giving up a 2011 2nd-round pick (#59), a 2011 4th-round pick (#124), and 2012 1st and 4th round picks. Jones was the second WR drafted after the Bengals went with A.J. Green with the 4th overall pick. The Saints were lucky enough to have DE Cameron Jordan fall to them at #24, but they weren’t done in the 1st round, trading with the Patriots to get the #28 pick overall to snatch up Alabama RB and 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. The move didn’t come cheap, as New Orleans gave up the 56th overall pick in this year’s draft and a 1st-round pick in next year’s draft. Reggie Bush, sensing he could be the odd-man out in the crowded backfield, Tweeted, “It’s been fun New Orleans.”
Thanks to everyone who joined our Draft Chat last night. Matt Brown and I will be back tonight with our Day 2 Chat starting at 6ET. Also, John Hansen and Joe Dolan will host the SXM Fantasy Football Draft Special from 8-11ET on Sirius 211/XM 147.