No one strikes out more than the Twins. No, wait. Scratch that. All the people who do NFL mock drafts strike out more than anyone who swings at anything.
This was mentioned jokingly to Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman a few weeks ago. He actually reads mock drafts. Not sure why, since he orchestrates an army of Winter Park experts who do thousands of actual useful seven-round mock drafts.
“They’re fun to look at,” Spielman said.
He laughs because he knows those who guesstimate on the outside don’t have all the minutiae that he and his peers have on every draft prospect. Medical, psychological, legal, emotional, you name it and guys like Spielman have ranked it, stacked it and stored it in a binder somewhere.
“We’d be here for an hour if I [named] everyone involved [in preparing for the draft],” Spielman said. “We had close to 100 people in some way, shape or form that put their hands or touch on our draft process.”
And yet sometimes even endless preparation isn’t enough in this business. A prime example came Thursday night with the bizarre free fall of Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil out of the top 10 picks of the first round.
Tunsil once was projected to go No. 1 overall to Tennessee. And even after the Titans and Browns traded the top two picks to teams that needed quarterbacks, Tunsil still was considered the top offensive tackle.
But then everything changed right before the draft began. A video of Tunsil smoking marijuana with a bong mask leaked out on his Twitter account, lasted online for only moments and scared the bejesus out of many NFL executives.
The first offensive tackle off the board was Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley to Baltimore at No. 6. The Ravens, according to the NFL Network, took Tunsil off their draft board after seeing the video.
Two picks later, Tennessee traded with Cleveland to move up and select the second offensive tackle, Jack Conklin of Michigan State.
Five picks later, the Dolphins finally selected Tunsil 13th overall. Tunsil said on NFL Network that his Twitter account was hacked and that the video was shot years ago. He also has reportedly never tested positive for marijuana.
But none of that mattered. The damage was done as Tunsil became just the latest player to tumble on draft day. But it doesn’t mean the guy can’t bounce back.
In 2010, some dumbbell (guilty) followed the herd of mockaholics in projecting a guy named Everson Griffen as a first-round draft pick.
The first round came and went without Griffen being picked. Ditto the second and third rounds. Finally, in the fourth round, with the 100th pick, the Vikings picked Griffen.
Griffen, who was quite the wild child at Southern Cal, admitted this week that he entered the NFL with a bouquet of character red flags.
“Draft day was tough for me,” Griffen said. “I was a knucklehead. I was a little knucklehead, but that’s all right. You mature and learn. I wouldn’t change anything because it made me the person I am today.”
Griffen had one infamous February day after his rookie season. He was arrested twice, tried to flee and was zapped with a Taser. All in the same day.
But give the man credit. He defied many of us who pegged him as a probable crash-and-burn victim long ago. He used that draft free fall as motivation to use his freakish size, speed and athleticism to become a great special teamer and backup situational pass rusher.
Then, when Jared Allen got old, the Vikings gave their big defensive end bucks to Griffen. He has responded with back-to-back double-digit sack seasons while playing the run with equal determination. Even with the big contract, Griffen plays with extreme passion and what might be best described as contained craziness, which is good on the field and really good off the field.
So did Draft Day 2010 play a role in Griffen’s maturation process?
“Yeah, it did,” Griffen said. “Then, with my mom passing and me having kids and getting married, there were a lot of key situations in my life that happened. It caused me to mature and allowed me to grow into the player I wanted to become. I’m not there yet, but I just have to keep on working and keep on doing my job to get where I need to go.”
One wonders if Tunsil will be able to say the same thing six years from now.