The NFL Draft started last night. Which prospects are going to have the most successful careers? The Mike’d UP guys pick three.
Kowaleski: Disclaimer: I hate draft prognoses. Always have and always will. But here goes.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson: This kid is an absolute freak. I watched him play in the Orange Bowl against Ohio State…actually, “play” is a pretty soft word. He tore Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes apart, brutalizing them for 16 receptions, 227 yards, and two touchdowns. He was a force of nature, like Texas A&M’s Mike Evans, but has speed and character that Evans lacks. Evans might very well overtake Watkins, but if I’m drafting a wideout, I’m going Sammy first and everyone else second.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: Everyone keeps making a big deal about how his pro day was awwwwfullllllll and he was terrrriiibbblllleeee. Newsflash: I watched it today, and while it was shaky at worst, it wasn’t disastrous. He was also performing without a glove on his throwing hand, a departure from his college playing style. The kid’s the safest QB pick in the draft, and while Johnny Football will be more exciting, Bridgewater will have the better career. Don’t even get me started on Boyle…he is Blaine Gabbert 3.0.
Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo: Western New York represent! Mack is a pure athlete hailing from my mother’s alma mater, and I think he’s going to do better than Jadeveon Clowney. For real. While I don’t think Clowney is a bust by any standard, and he’s going to have a fantastic career, I just have a gut feeling about Mack. If he goes to the right team, I’d call him a Hall of Famer.
Kelley: No disclaimer. #HereWeGo
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: One of his major weaknesses is that he does not consistently dominate as he should. But he is a physical specimen that combines speed and strength. Clowney needs to be put in the right situation with the right supporting cast around him. I would be disappointed if Houston did not select him and create the most fearsome pass rush in the NFL.
Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh: His draft stock has boomed since the start of his senior season. Now, the Pittsburgh native is projected to be a top 10 pick. I believe Donald is on his way to an outstanding career. He has that continuous motor you seek out of your defensive lineman and it will not be long until he hears his name announced by Roger Goodell.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: Teams search constantly for that “IT” factor and Johnny Football has it and some to spare. He is remarkably clutch and seemingly makes those highlight reel plays out of nothing. I love his drive. He will be winning many games for the team that drafts him. Just please not the Browns.
After two and a half years of Mike’d UP, the guys are graduating. Here is a reflection of their time on the column and hint at great things to come. It’s the end of an era…or is it?
Kowaleski: An end of an era indeed. We both came on the sports editorial staff at the same time following the departure of Eric “The First” Goldwein ‘12. We knew we wanted to do a column where we tackled national sports topics every week…but little did we know the force that it would grow to be.
Building Mike’d UP Nation from the ground up has been a sincere honor, Mike. Even as we matured into better journalists and took on more responsibilities, this remained the best part of my production week. As we gained more readers and I saw more people with their issues of The Lafayette turned to page nine, I discovered that we had something pretty decent on our hands.
We tackled incredibly weighty issues, like athletes’ health, the Penn State scandal, and gay athletes. We’ve joked around about Ray Lewis growing antlers and Tony Romo breaking into tears. We’ve made prediction* after prediction after prediction.
But above all, we’ve had a damn good time. It’s been a pleasure, my friend. But we have some news, right?
Kelley: News indeed, Mick. Mike’d UP will continue on next year and beyond in an online blog that will be formed early this summer. It will run weekly and we hope Mike’d UP Nation continues to read us loyally. We hope it has been as much of a pleasure for you as it has been for us.
The weekly print edition in The Lafayette though will always hold dear in my heart. Having that opportunity to publish my opinion in the oldest student newspaper in Pennsylvania was not one I took lightly. I admit, I was immature when it first began. Constantly and unnecessarily publishing positive opinions regarding my beloved Steelers was so wrong but it felt so right. I learned though and can safely say I put forth an unbiased year of analysis.
My favorite memory is when the janitor of Pardee Hall approached me out of the blue one day and say, ‘Hey, you’re that guy that writes Mike’d UP!’
It has indeed been an honor and I will miss it. But as you said, we’ve had a damn good time. Many thanks to all involved for making it special.
*For those of you keeping score at home, Mick has a 23-18 advantage with NBA and MLB predictions pending.