Thursday, April 25, 2019

More NFL Draft stuff

With the 2019 NFL "selection meeting" upon us, let's look at the draft from 25 years ago. It was most memorable for a war of words exchanged by an NFL front office guy and a draft analyst.

The Indianapolis Colts had two selections among the first five picks. As such, draft "expert" Mel Kiper, Jr. insisted the Colts had to select a quarterback with one of those choices given that just a month earlier they traded QB Jeff George (whom they selected with the top choice in 1990) to the Atlanta Falcons. That meant going into the '94 season, veteran Jim Harbaugh was atop the Colts' QB depth chart, a situation which Kiper firmly believed would not get the club anywhere near a Super Bowl.

So when the Colts selected a running back at #2 and a linebacker at #5 (a pick they acquired via trade), Kiper went off. He basically called it a "typical Colt move" and such a track record is why they're "picking second every year in the draft." Naturally this didn't sit well with Colts VP/Director of Football Operations Bill Tobin. When asked about why he didn't take a potential franchise QB, he launched into a diatribe against Kiper.

"Who in the hell is Mel Kiper anyway? Here's a guy that criticizes everybody, whoever they take. He's got the answers to who you should take and who you shouldn't take. And my knowledge of him: he's never ever put on a jock strap, he's never been a coach, he's never been a scout, he's never been an administrator and all of a sudden he's an expert."

This next quote by Tobin is my favorite

"We don't have to take anybody Mel Kiper says we have to take. Mel Kiper has no more credentials to do what he's doing than my neighbor, and my neighbor's a postman, and he doesn't even have season tickets to the NFL."

I would imagine NFL front office administrators make pretty good money, even 25 years ago. So how is it that a postman can afford to live in Tobin's neighborhood? For some reason, that part of Tobin's rant always stood out to me.

But I digress.

To recap: The two franchise QBs available in 1994 were Heath Shuler out of Tennessee and Trent Dilfer from Fresno State. Shuler was an absolute bust and Dilfer had a pedestrian 14-year career, though he did ride the wave of an awesome Baltimore Ravens defense in 2000 to win a Super Bowl.

So who did the Colts select at #2 overall that year? That would be RB Marshall Faulk, who ended up being a Hall of Fame player, albeit with the St. Louis Rams upon being traded there after five seasons in Indy. The Colts then used their #5 choice to select LB Trev Alberts, who played in only 29 games over three seasons. And even though Harbaugh indeed never led the Colts to a Super Bowl, they got within a whisker of getting there in the 1995 season when they lost a tightly contested AFC Championship Game to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Colts would bottom out a couple of years later but then hit pay dirt when they drafted QB Peyton Manning with the #1 overall pick in 1998. And Manning's favorite receiver in his years with the Colts was Marvin Harrison, who was selected in the first round in 1996 with one of the draft picks Indianapolis received in the George trade. Amazing how things can come together.

Anyhow, check out the backstory from what was perhaps one of the most entertaining moments in a live TV event.



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