NFL Draft Quickie Analysis: Which Top Picks Drove Their Message Best?

I am in sensory overload mode – flipping back and forth between Mavericks-Spurs Game 4 on TNT and NFL

Draft coverage on ESPN…while also monitoring NFL Network coverage on NFL.com… all this after seeing Monsters vs. Aliens 3D for the second time earlier in the day.

NFL.com is making lots of video available from its NFL Network coverage, including player interviews in the “Ready for Primetime Presented by KFC” segment in which Deion Sanders chats up the newly minted NFL draftees who are on site in New York.

Here are my quick observations regarding the very favorable impression made by the top picks in their first interviews as NFL players and how effectively they drove a message or told a personal story:

Humility & Gratitude // Stafford Quick on His Feet

The themes are clearly humility and gratitude, which is nice to see. New Lions QB Matthew Stafford struck the right tone as the No. 1 overall pick. Sanders, who has improved as an interviewer, asked him if he had talked to last season’s standout rookie QBs Matt Ryan (Falcons) and Joe Flacco (Ravens) about handling the pressure. Stafford admitted he had not consulted those players, but quickly pivoted, saying, “They earned the respect of their teammates and that is something I’m going to work hard to do. They definitely set the bar high for us rookies.” The Lions hope Stafford is as quick on his feet in the pocket next fall.

When Sanders asked what he plans to say to his new teammates when he gets to Detroit, Stafford scored again by saying he was going to “put my nose to the ground and work.”

Smith’s Personal Story Comes Through

Jason Smith, the OT out of Baylor chosen by the Rams with the No. 2 pick, also expressed humility, which always goes over well with the fans - especially during tough economic times. “I feel very privileged,” Smith began. “Number one, God be the glory – I’m not taking any credit. My main focus is to wake up and do what I’m supposed to do as a person.” He came across as very intense – and sincere. I didn’t know much about Smith before today and now I would put him firmly in the category of “high character guy.”

Curry Expresses Joy

Aaron Curry, the Wake Forest LB taken with the 4th overall pick by Seattle, matched Stafford and Smith’s humility and added a dose of joy. He flashed a nice smile when telling Sanders, he wants to “get into that defense and fly around and have some fun.”

I winced a bit when Sanders asked a couple of the players how they were going to spend their money. Young athletes talking about their new-found millions during a recession is always a high-wire act. But Smith and Curry answered wisely, both saying they would buy houses for their mothers. “I’m going to make sure she never has to worry about another bill the rest of her life,” said Curry. Good for him and nice job by the top picks in their coming-out party.