Ordinarily, NFL Draft Day is a purely joyous occasion, a mid-offseason break from the fundamental fact that life is a little less rich without football, as well as a taste of what is to come in four-and-a-half months (which is to say, in about the span of a single football season). This year feels different because of the labor-management battle that threatens to delay things. Still, the draft must go on.
Which means Gabe Carimi, the Jewish left tackle of the Wisconsin Badgers who was named the best lineman in the college football last year, is on the block. Where will he go? The general consensus, as articulated by Football Outsiders’s Aaron Schatz in a January Vox Tablet podcast, is that Carimi—a better run-blocker than pass-protecter—will be thought of as a right rather than a left tackle, and so is therefore slightly less valuable (if you’ve read or seen The Blind Side, you know that left tackle is arguably the most important and best remunerated position after quarterback). Carimi is therefore likely a late first-rounder, and, given the offensive line needs of the teams that will be picking late, your money should be on the New York Jets, the Baltimore Ravens, or especially the Pittsburgh Steelers, last year’s runner-up, selecting him toward the end of the first round.
Unless … are there character issues? The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports (h/t Rabbi Andy Bachman) that while the broad consensus remains—the paper even gets Bill Polian, the Indianapolis Colts general manager who is the ultimate NFL front-office man, to assign Carimi the right tackle position—there are also some complaints. One scout calls him “aloof;” another, “arrogant.” Adds a personnel man, “He thinks he’s a (expletive) Pro Bowler before he gets in the league. It really bothers me. It affects my judgment. For me, he ain’t in the mix. I think he will be a successful left tackle, but I think he will be a diva and a pain in the (expletive).” Hey, buddy, (expletive) you!
But seriously, here is hoping that Carimi gets a nice high pick and a nice fat contract and that he is duly humbled upon entering the NFL, which will be key to future success. Oh, and here’s hoping said NFL starts on-time.
Round 1 of the draft is on ESPN tonight at 8pm.