Apologies to anyone who actually checked the blog last weekend looking for my addendum to my 2007 draft class anaylsis (Ha). I truly sat down to type it up Saturday afternoon, but quickly realized I had way to much to say about the top two picks from this specific draft class, and that entire draft in general. I started remembering a lot about the actual day, as well as my huge expectations and love for both of these players. It was no longer a quick post, but becoming a full blown column, so I figured I would save it for today. Before I get into it too much, a little about the day itself.
April 28th, 2007. McFadden's Sports Bar in New York City. 1 p.m. This was before the NFL realized they could make even more $$$ by moving the opening rounds of the draft into primetime, thus ruining what was always a fantastic day of sports talk with friends and heavy drinking over several hours. I met up with several friends and fellow Bills' fans that day, but arrived with my good friend TomDogg at about Noon in order to get a spot by the bar. It was going to be a good day.
The beer started flowing immediately, and as JaMarcus Russell walked to the podium, signaling another EPIC, EPIC, EPIC failure for the Oakland Raiders, I felt confident. Buffalo was coming off a much improved 2006 season under new Coach Dick Jauron, and more importantly new GM Marv Levy. The draft class from the year before appeared to have some solid sleepers (obviously I was wrong), and the available draftees of 2007 looked incredibly deep. The bar was packed, and as a result of the draft itself taking place in NYC, people that were actually at Radio City started trickling in after their teams had selected. TomDogg and I actually ended up hanging out with a couple of Green Bay Packers' and Arizona Cardinals' fans. It was a joyous occasion for all. In fact, before Buffalo ever selected, my favorite moment of the draft occurred. But more on that later. On to the heartbreak.
The two headed Freddie Jackson-Marshawn backfield was solid. At least this fan/writer/teacher/handsome sonuvabitch thinks so. It could have worked long-term, I really think so. However, the ridiculous drafting of C.J. Spiller ended that pairing before it ever had a chance to REALLY get started. Here there was two players with very different styles and skills in the Bills' hands, and they dropped one for a lousy 4th round pick (which they will most likely fuck up) because "the best player available at the time of the draft" was an undersized specialty player who "could be" a "gamebreaker". I feel like Dr. Evil with all of these quotations, but for God's sake this STILL pisses me off.
Some of my favorite moments watching the games from Calico Jacks in NYC happened to be when Marshawn would bust a 15 yard run up the middle without any hole ever opening up, my friends and I flashing the BEAST MODE sign and going nuts. I know many people loved the Spiller pick originally, and just as many, if not more were fine with the Lynch trade to Seattle. but c'mon people. Tell me you didn't miss Beast Mode even a little bit when you saw this run during the playoffs last year:
Just as I was settling into loving that Marshwan selection, someone yells out from the bar "IT SAYS BUFFALO IS ON THE CLOCK!!!" The place erupts in cheers. Everyone in the building with any inkling of knowledge knew exactly what had just happened. The Bills had traded up to the 34th spot in order to select Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny. It was no secret that experts and fans alike had been predicting that Buffalo would make some sort of move to grab "Poz".
Originally thought to a mid-1st round selection, Poz slipped down the charts and Buffalo jumped at the chance to have a Shane Conlan clone. Conlan anchored the Bills' defensive backfield through the 90's and hell, Poz even wore his jersey number at Penn State in his honor. How could this go wrong? It was a perfect fit. I for one was even more excited because I had just started dating a girl who went to Penn State who was football obsessed, and this gave us a little common ground to enjoy games together. In fact, one of the first gifts I ever bought her was a Poz jersey (and before you make fun of me for that, she loved it, and is still with me today. So suck on that).
How has the pick turned out? A resounding meh. I hate to say it, but Poz has been no better than a run-of-the-mill NFL linebacker. That isn't necessarily a bad thing considering that so many players are out of the league within three years, but he has not lived up to the huge expectations that Bills fans, myself included set forth on him. He also has not exactly been a player of great health. The first mistake was moving him to middle-linebacker in a poor 4-3 defense, but I could go on with that for another 2000 words.
This upcoming season (if there is one), Poz will be a free-agent. Although Buffalo has tendered him an offer, it may mean absolutely nothing if a new CBA is agreed upon. What should Buffalo do? I honestly don't have an answer. Poz had a strong season in the new 3-4 defense, creating six turnovers (which was tied for the NFL lead) and was among the league leaders in tackles despite missing several games AGAIN with injury. But Poz has yet to make a pro bowl, and last year was a contract year.
Which brings me to my most lasting memory from the 2007 draft. The Miami Dolphins were on the clock with the 9th pick overall. They desperately needed a quarterback and Notre Dame star, Brady Quinn was still available. In a bar with mostly Buffalo fans, everyone was almost certain that Quinn would get snatched up immediately, especially after the commisioner walked to the podium made with time still left on the clock. What happened next was one of the best examples of unintentional comedy in the history of sports: