Draft heavy on size, light on glamour
By DAVE SKRETTA
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- This year's NFL draft is heavy on size and light on glamour.
There's no high-profile quarterback destined to go No. 1 and instantly become the face of a downtrodden franchise. There's not even a running back or wide receiver worthy of the top overall pick, someone with the kind of swagger that wins over fans weary of losing.
Nope, there's just beef. And lots of it.
There's 6-foot-6, 306-pound Luke Joeckel, the offensive tackle from Texas A&M whom the Kansas City Chiefs are expected to select first overall. There's also Eric Fisher of Central Michigan and Lane Johnson of Oklahoma, two more 300-pounders who could be snapped up in the first 10 picks.
Even the defensive side of the ball is big on bigness: Florida's Sharrif Floyd, Utah's Star Lotulelei and Sylvester Williams of North Carolina are considered premium space eaters.
Utilitarian? Sure. Flashy? Not so much.
"There are a lot of good football players there," Broncos President John Elway insisted. "It's kind of a matter of what kind of flavor you like, but there are plenty of defensive linemen -- not only defensive ends but defensive linemen -- in this draft, and it's deeper than most."
Only twice since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 has an offensive tackle been chosen first overall, but the Chiefs figure to make it three when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reads off the name of the league's newest millionaire shortly after 7 p.m. today at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
Joeckel is considered the surest thing in a draft full of uncertainty.
He protected the blind side of Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel last season, won the Outland Trophy as college football's top interior lineman, and wowed just about everyone at the NFL's annual scouting combine with his speed, agility and, yes, his size.
"I think this year, the offensive line position has some true prospects in it," Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said. "Every draft has its own unique set of characteristics. Last year's draft had its own unique set of characteristics. This year's draft has its unique characteristics."
Last year's draft made for must-see TV.
One of the deepest quarterback crops in recent years stoked the passions of fan bases in several NFL cities, including Indianapolis, which took Andrew Luck with the first overall pick.
It was the fourth straight year that a quarterback went No. 1.
The run of signal-callers didn't stop there, either. The Redskins traded up to select Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III at No. 2, and two more quarterbacks went in the first round.
West Virginia's Geno Smith is expected to go in the first round this year, perhaps as early as No. 2 to Jacksonville. But outside the strong-armed but erratic quarterback, the market at the NFL's most critical position is weak. That means a handful of teams in need -- Oakland, Buffalo, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Arizona among them -- might wait until later in the draft to make their move.
That's all assuming that no trades are made on the opening night.
Quarterbacks who could still be on the board when the draft resumes with the second round Friday night include USC's Matt Barkley, Florida State's E.J. Manuel and Ryan Nassib of Syracuse.