Sacco Sez: A new era, again

190429_Sacco

The 2019 NFL Draft is in the books, and so begins a new era for each of the 32 teams.

It was back in 1935 that the NFL adopted future commissioner Bert Bell’s proposal to hold an annual draft of college players, to begin in 1936, with teams to select in an inverse order of finish.

The draft thus began in 1936 with Philadelphia making the first selection, and University of Chicago halfback and Heisman Trophy winner Jay Berwanger became the first player ever selected.

The Eagles then traded his rights to the Bears, but Berwanger never played pro football.

The first player selected to actually sign was the second-overall pick, Riley Smith of Alabama, who was selected by the Boston Redskins.

This year marks the 84th draft in the 100th year of the NFL.

This is the 60th draft conducted by the Denver Broncos, notable I think not just for the presumed talents of the selected players but for an emphasis on their character.

The Broncos seem to select a lot of guys who are team captains, or who act like they are.

Character seldom fails.

Character with talent always wins.

Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe commented on some comparisons between his own athleticism and that of the Broncos' first-round pick, Noah Fant.

No one is placing that level of expectation on Fant, but it certainly never hurts to have someone like Shannon Sharpe make nice comments.

And fair or not, it is always about the quarterbacks in football, at every level.

Joe Flacco checks off all the boxes of quality and accomplishments for the Broncos, but that does not damper the enthusiasm that fans and media have about Drew Lock of Missouri, one of the Broncos' second-round choices.

His present role will clearly be to study and learn from Flacco while competing for the backup role, but fans love nothing in the personnel world as much as a quarterback, never mind two.

Numerous national experts and pundits have praised John Elway and his entire personnel staff for a great draft.

That's very gratifying to see, but John is always the first to say that the proof is in the performance.

The greatest truism of players and performance is that once they walk inside that locker room, you can throw out the past.

It is a new slate.

Never mind the press clippings, praise from agents, size of contract, wardrobe or car.

The NFL is performance based and is a great meritocracy.

But based on everything we have seen up till now, the growth of the NFL Draft from 1936 has been incredible, and the Broncos are deservedly reaping the praise of what looks like a top-rate one in 2019.

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