Stephen White is very, very good at breaking down and explaining a draft prospect. He can draw on a wealth of experience as a player to point out strengths and weaknesses you wouldn't be able to see as the casual observer. And his pieces explain these strengths and weaknesses in a way that's easy to understand, even if you're not particularly steeped in the details of football.
I was on the tennis team in high school. So keep that in mind.
OAKLAND - 5th pick
Have the Raiders ever picked here? They have not, and the last time they had a selection this early was in 2008, when they took Darren McFadden. It's OK to admit that you don't know if McFadden's a bust and that you fear that, the second you write him off, he'll explode for one of the most amazing seasons in NFL history and make you look so dumb. We all feel that way.
Who's typically taken fifth? Ten of the last th30 irty draft picks here have been defensive backs, and only nine have been on offense at all. Those nine include Mark Sanchez, Kerry Collins, Justin Blackmon, Curtis Enis, and Cadillac Williams. OK, that's unfair. Kerry Collins was a lot better quarterback than Mark Sanchez is. Curtis Enis might have been, too.
The Class of 2014 spent the summer of 1996 like the rest of us, enthralled by the Summer Olympics. Which nation finished fifth in the medal count in Atlanta? France, which won 37 total medals and 15 golds. Almost half of the French medals were in cycling and fencing, because France is a backwards country that refuses to embrace modern conveniences like the automobile and lasers.
What does Bruce Boxleitner of television's Babylon 5 think of this number?
KANSAS CITY - 23rd pick
Has Kansas City had this pick before? A whopping five times, four in the first round. Most recently, they took Dwayne Bowe with the 23rd pick in 2007, but the real gem was 1979, when they picked future Grammy nominee Steve Fuller. Where is your gold record, Joe Flacco? Where is it?!?!?
What position usually gets drafted here? Over a third of the picks at this spot since 1984 have been spent on offensive linemen, including four of the last five. Go back a bit further, though, and you'll see the greatest first round pick in NFL history — Ray Guy, the only punter in the Hall of Fame. (Reggie Roby should be next, Hall of Fame voters. We will take this all the way to the Supreme Court if we have to.)
Who was 23rd in the '96 Olympics medal count? Japan, winner of three gold medals and 14 overall. The Japanese baseball team took home a silver medal after beating the U.S. 11-2 to advance to the final. This is one of many, many reasons why nobody is sad that baseball is no longer an Olympic event.
What does a blackjack dealer on a cruise ship think of 23?
"I can't tell you how generous and funny Mr. Jordan is when he travels with us. He'll stay at the table for hours, buying drinks for everyone, even if he's on a losing streak. Though you'd think someone who chose a bust hand for his jersey number would stick to a different game."
SAN DIEGO - 25th pick
Who have the Chargers taken at 25 previously? The only other San Diego pick here came in 1973, when they picked Nebraska wide receiver Johnny Rodgers because he could do crazy shit like this:
Unfortunately for the Chargers, Rodgers decided to play for the Montreal Alouettes instead, not entering the NFL until 1977. I can't imagine how people would freak out if a first round pick in 2014 just said "nah, I'm going CFL." Please let it happen so we can find out and laugh at the team left burned by it.
What positions regularly get picked here? Defensive back is the most frequent choice, but three of the last 30 drafts have seen a quarterback taken at 25. Take a look at their anonymized career statistics and decide which one you think is the best:
Quarterback A - 60.3% of passes completed, 2.4% of passes intercepted, 6.7 yards per passing attempt, sacked on 6.3% of his dropbacks.
Quarterback B - 57.2% of passes completed, 4.5% of passes intercepted, 6.7 yards per passing attempt, sacked on 7.3% of his dropbacks.
Quarterback C - 47.9% of passes completed, 2.5% of passes intercepted, 6.7 yards per passing attempt, sacked on 10.2% of his dropbacks.
Quarterback A is Jason Campbell. Quarterback B is Tommy Maddox. And Quarterback C is Tim Tebow. So next time you decide to write an angry comment about how Tim Tebow can't get a shot because the NFL hates nice guys, remember -— any job he gets should actually go to Jason Campbell.
What country wound up 25th in the final 1996 Olympic medal count? Brazil, which set a national record by winning 15 medals. The final match of Women's Beach Volleyball featured two Brazilian teams, a circumstance which should not be allowed. If one country gets two teams into the final game of an Olympic event, the winner must go on to face a team of international all-stars. The Olympics are the one sporting event where we're not trying to watch fellow countrymen whoop on each other.
What does a high school debater think about 25?
"The negative case for the number 25 amounts to a slippery slope argument that ignores the socioeconomic ramifications of a world without mathematics. Without reliable evidence, the negative argues that 25 has become an arbitrary marker limiting the rights of those who wish to rent cars and reserve hotel rooms. The affirmative, on the other hand, can cite several facts in support of 25, which I will now do by reading them as fast as possible."
DENVER - 31st pick
Have the Broncos picked in this spot before? Four times, though only one of those, Al Wilson in 1999, was a first rounder. Good news for Denver fans is they've also used this pick to select a future Hall of Famer, Curley Culp. Bad news is he never played a snap for the Broncos because they traded him during training camp. That's some amazing impatience.
Who's usually taken with the penultimate first round pick? An unusual number of running backs (seven in the last 30 drafts) including Dalton Hilliard, Ickey Woods, Trung Canidate, Beanie Wells, and Doug Martin. These players vary in ability, but they all have one thing in common — they weren't traded in their rookie training camp.
Who was 31st in the '96 medal count? Belgium, winner of two gold, two silver and two bronze medals. Four of those six medals were in judo, which, wait, why are the Belgians so good at judo? What are they planning? And what are we doing to stop it?
What does one of those old Halloween buckets from McDonald's think about 31?
"Do you even realize how many Smarties you've eaten in your lifetime?"
"If you put them all together, it'd be a Smartie the size of a tire."
"And not one of those small spare tires, either. We're talking 20s, man."