The NFL's hysteria over marijuana is such that a years-old video could have forced several franchises to settle for inferior players while costing one man millions of dollars. If sabotage is an art, this was an exquisite masterpiece. Laremy Tunsil was shown smoking weed on his own verified Twitter account just minutes before he could finally cash in on years of excellence on the football field. "My Twitter was hacked" is the go-to excuse for any athlete doing dumb things online, though this was clearly the real deal. The culprit may not yet be confirmed, though ultimately that answer is likely to be less instructive than why the hack was so effective in the first place.
In the immediate aftermath of the first round, the NFL's in-house media proclaimed this "the year of the draft slide", which is sort of like saying it's the year of the head injury in professional football. Players draft fortunes dip all the time for various reasons. Part of that is the fault of the draft speculation industrial complex—a prescribed order is created through months of hype and mock drafts that has little bearing in reality. So when several teams don't hold the same opinion as an army of draftniks, it's seen as a devaluation when only the teams themselves ever had an idea of where a player is "supposed" to go. Aaron Rodgers being taken with the 24th overall pick in 2005, among other examples, shows that teams are just as often wrong in their assessments. Ultimately, draft media is a guess at a guess, and that uncertainty gap accommodates an entire industry.
Many other times the draft slide, real or not, occurs for more cynical reasons, whether it's an injury that bodes ill for long-term production, insidiously vague "character concerns", or recreational drug use. Here is where you find Myles Jack, Shaq Lawson, Robert Nkemdiche, and, of course, Tunsil. Before two teams in dire need of quarterbacks made deals to move to the top of the draft, Tunsil was considered a safe choice as the top pick in the draft.
Ravens took Tunsil OFF their board after that video, member of organization tells me. OFF.
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) April 29, 2016
The Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans ended up taking offensive tackles considered less talented than Tunsil with the 6th and 8th picks, respectively. While there's no guarantee that Tunsil will have a better NFL career than Ronnie Stanley or Jack Conklin, there's plenty of reasons to conclude that his being drafted after them was solely because of this video.
And here's where the warped morality of the NFL comes into play. Two years ago, the Titans took offensive lineman Taylor Lewan with the 11th pick despite him having been investigated for an assault and for allegedly threatening to rape a woman who was going to report one of his Michigan teammates for rape. Tennessee received little criticism for drafting him, as it was several months before the NFL's teachable Ray Rice disaster.
Why the Titans would be fine taking Lewan but not Tunsil has a lot to do with their own perverse priorities, but also the NFL's. Lewan was unlikely to face consequences that could endanger his playing career. Tunsil, on the other hand, became a volatile commodity as soon as the video hit social media. The NFL has shown several times in recent years that it is willing to effectively end playing careers because of multiple positive tests for marijuana use. Though Tunsil said after he was taken by Miami with the 13th pick that the video was several years old, the teams drafting before the Dolphins didn't know that. A rookie who could immediately fail a drug test and be suspended is surely of less use to a football team than one who couldn't.
That doesn't take into account that marijuana is a helpful pain remedy for football players who desperately need it—as much as the addictive pain killers that teams liberally dispense to players. One can make a compelling argument that the NFL shouldn't test for weed. But because they do test for weed, this is the cold logic that teams will employ. Tunsil's draft night was crazy for extraordinary circumstances that aren't fully explainable yet, but it was league policy that made it so troubling.
Tunsil's Instagram was also hacked on draft night, revealing that the lineman had accepted money from the assistant athletic director at Ole Miss. This happened too late in the night to affect his draft placement, and let's be thankful for that, as helping to enforce the NCAA's economic exploitation of college athletes might be one of the few things more problematic than derailing a career for weed use.
Madison Treadwell Will Save Us From Despair
The Vikings drafted receiver Laquon Treadwell, another player said to have fallen past where he was "supposed" to be picked, with the 23rd pick. If he was upset for losing out on more money, his daughter, Madison, was there to ease everyone's mind through the sheer force of cuteness. Dang, it worked.
Jon Gruden Puts A Period Before Your @ Handle And Says Delete Your Account
The ESPN screaming head had some life advice for prospective NFL players: never tweet. Even as someone who enjoys an unhealthy relationship with Twitter, I can't say he's entirely wrong, even though his advice is likely to go unheeded. Also, as someone who always needs #content—keep tweeting, players. For the love of God, keep tweeting.
The Ghost Of Draft Busts Past
There just had to be an update on Johnny Manziel this evening, one way or another. Thanks to a report from Will Burge, the world found out that the recently indicted Mr. Fucking Football was watching the draft at a bar in Columbus before heading to a Justin Bieber concert. All told, there are probably worse ways to spend your evening, like watching all of the draft. Best to get all that living in before a potential prison sentence.
The Broncos Have No Need For 18 Quarterbacks
One of the most pressing questions coming into draft night was what would happen with Denver's quarterback situation. Would they be able to pull off the trade for Colin Kaepernick? Announce they had signed Ryan Fitzpatrick? Pump John Elway full of mutagen to make him a renewed centaur quarterback?
None of those those, actually. After trading up to the 26th pick, the Broncos instead drafted Paxton Lynch, instantly giving them the most prep school name of any starting quarterback in the league. For what it's worth, the Broncos immediately released a statement that the team would no longer be pursuing Kaepernick. Most people could have reached that conclusion on their own, though the team doing what it can to quash potential speculative posts about the Broncos inciting a really dumb quarterback controversy is appreciated.
Crop Top, Don't Stop
Before Laremy Tunsil's video blew the lid off the draft, the talk of the night was Ezekiel Elliott's outfit during the NFL Draft red carpet. Apparently this was less an effort to show off his abs and dick bulge than to reference the NCAA banning his crop top jersey in 2015, though judging from the response I saw, he succeeded in both admirably.
Urban Meyer: Sad Man
Hey, there were five Buckeyes taken in the first round last night. Urban can't be expected to high five all of them, can he? Just as disappointed Bears fans will never be the equal of crushed Jets fans when the draft is held in New York, left-hanging Urban Meyer is no match for Roger Goodell being ignored by a draftee, but we'll take what we can get.