A GRIP ON SPORTS • What was your favorite moment of the NFL draft’s first day? Was it when the commissioner was booed heartily? Or when the Walter Payton award winner was cheered? How about the Seahawks’ pick? Oh ya, that happened weeks ago. Read on.
As we all know, the Hawks’ pick resided in New Orleans, thanks to the March trade for tight end Jimmy Graham. Which made Thursday’s kickoff to the draft a bit anti-climactic here in the Northwest. Oh, sure, there were highlights. Three Washington players were chosen in the first round, the first time that’s ever happened. So why did the Huskies have such a tough year again? Nine players overall were taken from the Pac-12, the most ever and the most of any conference in America. So why was the SEC considered the best conference again last season? The Cougars’ trio of players hoping to be drafted – Xavier Cooper, Vince Mayle and Connor Halliday – weren’t picked, of course. No one expected a first-round surprise from that group. Today, however, we might see one of them chosen. For all three it would the fulfillment of a dream – and the completion of a bumpy road. Cooper had to wait a year to play for WSU due to academics, and while he was waiting the coaching staff changed. Mayle honed his football gifts in junior college and Washington State was the one Pac-12 school willing to take a chance. And Halliday? If there has been a quarterback in the draft who has been battered around more, physically and mentally, I don’t know who it might be. There is one thing the NFL should be sure of: No one is tougher. But that’s for today and tomorrow. Yesterday there were two huge highlights we don’t want to gloss over. The first came courtesy of the Huskies big old defensive tackle Danny Shelton, who not only looked as if he were dressed for prom, he treated Roger Goodell as his date. The hug and lift (pictured) was right out of every movie about prom made in the 1980s. I’m sure Goodell was surprised to be treated as a big teddy bear. That made me smile. So did the attitude and comments from Duke’s Laken Tomlinson. The guard flashed a smile so big it lit up downtown Chicago. And he was so genuinely happy to have been drafted – even if it was by Detroit – you couldn’t help but smile. His reaction is the epitome of what’s good about the event, people reaching a goal they set years before. And that’s fun.
• WSU: A quiet day in Pullman, though Jacob Thorpe did hold a live chat that had some interesting questions. He also has a morning post today with some links. ... ESPN.com’s Pac-12 blog has a piece on Luke Falk. ... Speaking of quarterbacks, Oregon won’t name its starter until the fall, after Vernon Adams has had a shot. ... Former G-Prep standout Charlie Hopkins will spend his senior football season at Virginia after graduating from Stanford.
• EWU: Venky Jois was also mentioned among the top returning seniors, listed at No. 16.
• Seahawks: The Hawks have 11 picks in the next six rounds of the draft and they will probably use at least one to bolster the offensive line. ... Sitting out the first round? It’s no big deal to Seattle. ... Yesterday’s first-round selections did have some effect on the Seahawks.
• Mariners: Wasted chances. If you watched the M’s last night – I did for the most part, flipping back to the draft in dead spots – you know that was the story of the 3-2 loss to Houston in 10 innings. The M’s had a bunch of chances to support James Paxton’s excellent start and they didn’t cash them in. ... Brad Miller’s defensive lapses in Texas might have a decent explanation. ... Logan Morrison has also saved Miller a couple of times.
• That’s it for this Friday. Had some computer problems this morning and still got done early. A first-round performance if there every was one. Until later ...