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Welcome to “Week Under Review,” which is moving to Fridays because it’s almost summer and I sincerely hope you have better things to do with your Sunday mornings than partake in football commentary.
This week we check in with the league’s most notorious cornerback, but first let’s blow up traditional power rankings by examining the people, teams and other randomness sitting atop the NFL’s zeitgeist and beyond following a surprisingly dramatic draft.
15. Roger Goodell
With his 10-year anniversary as commissioner on the horizon, Goodell finally accepted his public persona in Chicago. After two days of incessant booing by fans upon hearing his name, Day 3 Goodell, adorned in a black bomber jacket befitting a villain, told the booing crowd to “bring it on.” If you can’t join ’em, give ’em sass. Or something like that. In related news, how has Goodell only been the commissioner for 10 years?
Speaking of strong leaders, Hamilton made history this week with a record-breaking 16 Tony nominations. And I’m not throwing away my shot to mention it here in hopes that my juju rises and I finally win the damn lottery.
13. Donald Trump
Despite misspelling Bobby Knight’s name, Trump officially became the presumptive Republican nominee for president after a thumping win in The Hoosier State. Trump is the now engulfed by skepticism of his ability to coalesce a shattered party. Do people not realize this is the only human being who has united Rex Ryan and Tom Brady?
12. Mark Sanchez
New Denver Bronco Paxton Lynch is unequivocally the quarterback of the future. But, as it stands, Sanchez is the starting QB today after the Broncos couldn’t reach a deal with Colin Kaepernick and never made a serious run at Ryan Fitzpatrick. Like Michael Myers, Deflategate, movie popcorn and Dostoyevsky, Sanchez is never over.
11. J.J. Watt
Watt hasn’t done anything particularly noteworthy in recent weeks, but this is J.J. Watt. And you don’t exclude J.J. Watt from a power rankings list.
10. Game of Thrones
Before the draft, everyone talked about Game of Thrones and the draft. Now they only talk about GoT. Like every second. On social media. In open-space offices. In public bathrooms. (You’ll have to trust me on that one.)
9. Jerry Jones
Dallas padded its defense with tackle Maliek Collins and versatile defensive end Charles Tapper. And new QB Dak Prescott is raw but mobile with a big arm, making him a much more fascinating potential heir to Tony Romo than say, Kellen Moore or Brandon Weeden or (cough, cough) Matt Cassel. All the unfortunate events of last season—namely, Greg Hardy on the roster and Romo on IR—have flipped, and everything’s coming up Jerry in Dallas.
8. Mock fantasy drafts
There is no more pointless exercise in the world than partaking in fantasy mock drafts before the actual draft. Now that the draft has shook out, fantasy practice season is here, and it’s relevant.
7. Ozzie Newsome
Draft master Newsome came out ready to rebuild, and he may have done it in the span of 72 hours. Baltimore’s 11 draft picks are sprinkled with sheer talent (Ronnie Stanley should supplant Eugene Monroe at left tackle), playmakers (Kamalei Correa, Bronson Kaufusi and Chris Moore, to name just a few) and other bonafide starter options (Tavon Young, Kenneth Dixon). Newsome was aggressive and fearless, and the Ravens will be fun to watch.
6. Jewish footballers
Scrappy wide receiver Daniel Braverman, a Western Michigan product, was a seventh-round selection by the traditionally receiver-deficient Chicago Bears. Speaking of traditions, Braverman’s include buying menorahs during Hanukkah, eating latkes on Passover and saying weekly prayers. Braverman is one of a just a handful of oxymorons: a devout Jew who happens to be gifted enough to make it to the NFL. L’Chaim to Daniel.
Good news for all budding NFL stars growing up in the Swiss Alps with their knickers, fresh air and ability to legally drink beer at 14: You can try be the next AP without having to slum it in the U.S. The Vikings selected Moritz Boehringer, a wide receiver from Stuttgart, Germany, in the sixth round, making him the first-ever football player to go directly from Europe to the NFL.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
Sorry London, but we’d like to keep these Jags a while. What a draft, snagging top-flight defensive back Jalen Ramsey and athletic linebacker Myles Jack, who fell out of the first round because of a knee injury. Add Ramsey and Jack, possibly the best two athletes in this class, to an already overhauled defense led by free-agent pickup Malik Jackson, and the Jaguars must prep for something they’re not remotely used to: preseason hype. Bonus points to GM Dave Caldwell for giving Gus Bradley a little more leash after a three-year record of 12–36. “Another chance” is mostly an archaic term in this league.
3. Jake Plummer
Some of the oddballs teams enlisted to announce their Day 3 picks were curvier (Marilyn Monroe impersonator) or louder (Dick Vitale), but none matched the cool or high degree of difficulty of Plummer, who announced the Broncos’ fourth-round selection of running back Devontae Booker while … skiing at Winter Park Resort in Colorado.
2. Sebastian Janikowski
SeaBass has been under the radar for about five or six seasons now that every kicker can seemingly make a 55-yarder blindfolded. But Tampa’s shocker trade up to grab kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round put the spotlight back on Janikowski, who was Oakland’s first-round pick at No. 17 in 2000. As Janikowski heads into his 17th mostly successful season with the Raiders, it’s hard to argue with the pick. Would you rather have an above average defensive tackle for four years or one of the best kickers in football, if not the best, for 17? I’ll take the latter.
1. Annie Apple
Eli Apple’s mom has taken the world by storm with her refreshing honesty, wit and ability to deliver a quote like no other, as evidenced in this awesome first-person account of her draft experience.
Five Random Questions with Richard Sherman
This week, notoriously outspoken Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was silenced by two gaming champions named HikeTheGamer and TypicalGamer as the three promoted Call of Duty Black Ops3 in a live stream. Sherman eventually emerged from defeat and answered a few burning questions:
Melissa Jacobs: More evil: draft grades or anonymous scouts?
Richard Sherman: I think anything anonymous is worse. At least with draft grades a person puts their name and face on it. When it’s anonymous it’s almost like you’re a coward. You’re taking the easy way, trying not to be judged or ostracized for whatever you say. It’s the coward’s way so you inherently get less respect.
What has it been like seeing Jim Harbaugh back in the college game?
RS: It’s been cool. Obviously he’s a winner wherever he goes. He’s great for college; he’s great for every league he’s been in. He speaks his mind, he does things in his own way and makes the world move by the beat of his drum, and I think that’s cool. People misunderstand him sometimes but that’s what makes sports so unique is that these people can be themselves. Any time you get people who are cliché you feel like it is disingenuous, so any time you find people that are true to themselves and what they believe in you have to respect it, and I do with him.
MJ: How is it that 64-year old Pete Carroll never seems to age?
RS: He’s an optimist, and he doesn’t stress about the small things. He doesn’t let other people’s ways of thinking influence him or what he does or what he thinks. He’s just a positive person and he wants what’s best for the world, and I think that’s cool. Any time you get like that you appreciate those kinds of people.
MJ: You spoke out against Black Lives Matter. Some have suggested you have a political career in your future. Heck, even Bill Clinton once called you misunderstood. How cognizant are you of the power of your platform?
RS: That’s what it’s about. You’re not given this platform to be selfish; you’re given it to help as many people as you can while you can. I try to use my platform to help others. I do a ton of philanthropy, dealing with kids that come from similar backgrounds as me just trying to make sure they understand that anything’s possible and they shouldn’t try to limit your dreams.
MJ: Who’s the best corner in the game?
RS: You’re speaking to him.