Right now I am sitting on a train heading north through the New York wilderness to visit my brother in Saratoga Springs. And what better time than now to write a post on the topic he recommended? So, let's talk for a few minutes about the drafts of 2013.
Let's start with the NFL Draft, or as I like to call it, the year of the Niners. It was bad enough that San Francisco was 5 yards away from winning the Super Bowl. Bad enough that the Niners had already accumulated 14 draft picks for this upcoming annual spectacle. But then, San Fran went and traded it's now backup quarterback, Alex Smith, for yet another 2nd round draft pick (this one the first of the round as they sent Smith to the QB-needy Chiefs). Now, I can debate all day long who the better QB was for the California gold squad, but there's one thing I can't debate: the scariest team in the NFL is about to get a whole lot scarier. Talk about a holster full of bullets and no hesitation to fire. The Niners are already the favorite to win next year's big game and now they can either trade picks for an established player (cough Darrell Revis cough) or maybe they can just go hog wild on prospective talent. Like, how about Marcus Lattimore, the broken but still volatile running back from South Carolina. Here's a kid that many teams might be afrad to pickup because of the uncertain recovery in his second major knee injury. But how bout San Fran? If they grab him in the second round and he lives to his potential, you could be looking at a Hall of Fame back to bolster an already incredible backfield. If he's a bust ... oh well! Pretty good odds that one or two of the other FOURTEEN guys they pick up will turn out to be decent. Not bad for a team that could run the table this year without using a single pick, huh?
And speaking of the Alex Smith trade, let me tell you one person who is NOT happy: Geno Smith. The [overrated] star QB out of West Virginia was all set to be taken first overall by the Chiefs and then this bombshell hits. You know what that means? Geno is going to lose a lot of moolah over this trade. Not only will he not get #1 pick money, who knows when he'll actually be drafted? How many teams are going to roll the dice on a guy who fell flat the second half of his senior year. Geno could be going from a $40 million first contract to significantly lower than that.
But, enough football for now. Let's turn our heads to the NBA draft that will take place later this year. Depending on who wins the Draft Lottery (perhaps the most ridiculous concept in sports history), the chances are very good that the first overall pick will be Nerlens Noel out of Kentucky. Now, 2 months ago I might have agreed with the assessment. But a major ligament tear to his knee later, I really have to question this pick. But maybe that just goes to show how weak this year's draft class will be. Think about this ... right now both Mason Plumlee and Alex Len are projected as lottery picks. And why you ask? Probably because they both stand 7 feet tall and the NBA is starving for quality centers. Unfortunately, I don't think either of these guys will get the job done. Mason has simply benefitted from being taller than his peers in college and that has made him look much better than he actually is in Coach K's system. As for Len ... earlier this week against a North Carolina team that starts 4 midgets and a small forward, Len couldn't even manage double digit scoring. In a game where you have that kind of size advantage (let alone knowing a win likely secures an NCAA tournament birth for your school) I would have expected a much better performance out of the kid. He's what they call a "project" and in my opinion, this project won't work. Toss him in a stack with all the other International players who were supposed to be basketball geniuses just because they were tall. How's that working out for Darko Milicec?
All this goes to say ... it's going to be a very bizarre year in the world of sports drafts. I'm looking forward to surprises, drama, and a 49ers team that collectively can bench press Sleeping Beauty's Castle.
PS: If you were wondering how I felt about the MLB Draft ... ask me 45 rounds from now and we'll talk.