Alright, let’s admit some hard truths. The first one of those being that the movie Draft Day, starring Kevin Costner, is really a terrible movie. There isn’t anything that makes you say this is a great football movie, that being said, I love it. I watch it every year in April, and I always enjoy it, which, in the end, is the point of a movie.
So know that as I eviscerate poor Sonny Weaver (Costner’s character) with the decisions he made, know that I do it from a place of love. I mean, I bought the movie for my personal collection. Now, if somehow you’ve never seen Draft Day and plan to, stop reading, there are spoilers galore in here, if you have, enjoy.
This movie focuses on the 2014 draft, not the 1998 draft. Plenty of knowledge was readily known about position value and the best way to utilize top-end picks in round one. The Cleveland Browns sat with the seventh overall pick and under pressure to move up from the owner, Weaver pulls the trigger and sends his future firsts in 2015 and 2016 to Seattle for the top pick to take a quarterback who’s considered the next great star.
Weaver is fried for the trade by his head coach (Dennis Leary) and front office, but the fact is, that trade isn’t awful. Think about it, the Chicago Bears just received a current two, a future one, another future two and DJ Moore to move up from 2 further spots back. It was also reported that the Panthers offered the 2025 first instead of DJ Moore and Poles declined. So the Panthers offered the two future ones that Weaver received, plus a current second. Does the math check out? Yes it does.
The movie makes it out like Seattle destroyed Cleveland in this trade, when, in fact, Weaver makes a sound trade. He’s set to get his future QB and rebuild his team.
But Weaver is stuck in 1998. He doesn’t understand value. He doesn’t understand how to build a modern day NFL franchise. He likes defense and he wants a middle linebacker. He wants Vontae Mack no matter what. So after he finds out that a franchise-altering quarterback isn’t liked by his teammates (because nobody went to his birthday party), he decides that with the first overall pick, he’s taking a middle linebacker. Not an edge. A middle linebacker. Does Weaver pick up the phone and try to trade back down? Nope. He takes Mack, who would have been a questionable pick at seven, with the first pick.
Weaver has a chance to redeem himself when Jacksonville makes the worst trade in NFL history, receiving three second round picks from Cleveland for the 6th overall pick. We know what happens from there, Weaver calls Seattle, holds them hostage, gets his first round picks back and drops back to seven where he was originally.
Trading three second rounders for the sixth overall pick is why Jacksonville has been a basement dweller for most of their existence. The value is awful. We applaud Weaver for getting such a ridiculous haul of six overall and even a more ridiculous haul of two future ones to move from 6 to 7, but what he did with it, was just stupid.
The only person who’s stuck in the NFL stone ages more than Weaver is Coach Penn (Leary) who immediately jumps in when the Browns are on the clock at seven and wants Ray Jennings, a running back. Penn famously says that he comes from Dallas where they win and flashes a Super Bowl ring. Perhaps he was on the staff as a young lad in 1992 when the Cowboys ran the ball with Emmitt Smith, told Troy Aikman not to turn the ball over and played good defense because that’s the formula he wants to use in 2014. No wonder he was fired from his previous coaching gig.
But Weaver listens to Penn and they take the running back, but don’t worry, they also got punt returner David Putney because Weaver felt like it.
So the dust settles, Rich Eisen is talking about how Weaver took a chance, stuck to his guns, yada yada yada. Here’s what Sonny Weaver did. He passed on a potential franchise-altering quarterback to stick with an injury-prone, limited QB that has a good attitude and used two top ten picks on an off ball linebacker and a running back.
If you forget the process and just look at the results, what did Sonny Weaver do? He took Mack who he would have had at seven anyway, so in essence, he traded three second round picks for a rookie running back and a punt returner, so while Jacksonville’s trade was ridiculous, what Weaver did with it was almost as stupid.
Would Bo Callahan, the franchise-altering QB, have been a bust because of his attitude? Perhaps. But perhaps he’s just 21-years old and could have developed into the next Peyton Manning as he matures. Weaver passed on an opportunity to alter the direction of the Browns franchise. Callahan might have been a dud and the Browns would have been terrible, but all Weaver did is commit the Browns to NFL purgatory. Even if Mack and Jennings both panned out, with a limited game manager at quarterback, they were never going to truly become Super Bowl contenders.
Sonny Weaver had a chance to do something great, but he blew it. That being all said, let me pop some popcorn, it’s time to watch Draft Day.