Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
NFL DRAFT, first round, 5-8 p.m. Thursday, ESPN, NFL Network:
Kevin Costner, Denis Leary Frank Langella and Jennifer Garner have been cast in an NFL comedy film produced by Ivan Reitman called “Draft Day.” Start the laugh track. Costner plays Sonny Weaver, Jr., the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, scrambling to trade up for the No. 1 pick while dealing with Leary (as the team’s head coach), Langella (the team owner) and Garner (a Browns’ front-office exec and love interest). Somehow, there’s got to be a role for Drew Carey.
Why it matters here — the thing probably won’t come out until late next year — is that filming will actually begin in New York this weekend during the “real” NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. They’ll try not to disrupt the proceedings, but part of it includes giving ESPN and NFL Network people roles “as themselves” in the flick. So if during the live draft, you see Costner run to the podium, interrupt NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and claim the team had changed its mind – now it wants USC quarterback Matt Barkley – there’ll be some context.
According to those who are in the know, Barkley and teammate Robert Woods aren’t supposed to go in this real draft until somewhere in the second round. After the Manti Te’o drama ends. UCLA tailback Jonathan Franklin? Probably around Round 4. As for Khaled Holmes, Nickell Robey, T.J. McDonald and Joseph Fauria? They’ll take the fifth.
Otherwise, the Kansas City Chiefs are on the clock at No. 1 in the now annual three-day ordeal and strongly hint they’ll be scooping up some Texas A&M offensive tackle (yawn) named Luke Joeckel – no joke. At the very least, we know he can lift Johnny Football to the heavens.
That’s supposed to start a run on that position. And keep viewers glued to the screen? Someone who hopes to eventually run past all of them (and perhaps tackle Barkley again) is UCLA defensive end Datone Jones.
The ESPN draftniks are using all the right jargon to call him the real sleeper – but does that me he should be all dressed up on Thursday or Friday. “I love his versatility,” gushes Todd McShay of Jones. “He can play left defensive end in a 4-3. He can play a five technique in a 3-4. He shows up at the Senior Bowl kinda unheralded, but he was the most dominant player every single day in practice going up against Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson, the best of the best, getting it done. Highly productive. His football character is exceptional. (He) belongs in the first round but I’m hearing it won’t be until the middle of the second.” Adds Mel Kiper Jr.: “I agree, wholeheartedly. This is a kid with power and quickness. And they already have a nickname for Jones – Da-Tone Setter. Jon Gruden loves this kid. I think late first, early second round is where he comes off the board.”
The tone set in this thing usually emotes from the gut of Chris Berman, unless you’re smart enough to watch on the league-owned channel. That’s there you’ll find plenty of upside. Especially if Garner is taking up the draft cards.
Rounds 2-3 goes Friday (3:30-to-5 p.m.) with rounds 4-7 on Saturday (9 a.m.-to-5 p.m.)
BEST OF THE REST: Continue reading