I'm just going to stop trying to predict what professional football teams will do past the first 40 picks or so. It is clear that I am no good at predicting how college talent will translate to NFL talent. Or rather, I am not good at predicting how NFL teams will predict how college talent will translate to NFL talent.
I'm thinking of several players here:
Jessie Daniels, SS, LSU
Rory Johnson, LB, Ole Miss
Earl Everette, LB, Florida
Brandon Siler, LB, Florida
At LSU, Laron Landry and Jessie Daniels made up arguably the best safety duo in the country. Landry was a 4 year starter; Daniels was a 3 year starter. One publication said of them at the start of the season, "They're NFL safeties spending time in college." Landry was drafted #6 overall. Daniels wasn't drafted. Most expected he'd be a late round pick.
There was a similar story at Ole Miss. Patrick Willis and Rory Johnson made up arguably the best linebacker duo in the SEC. Together they made just about every tackle. Willis was drafted #11 overall. Rory Johnson was not drafted at all, despite the fact that I have seen mock drafts that had him going in the second round.
Earl Everett and Brandon Siler made up arguably the second best linebacker duo in the SEC last year, and together they led Florida's defensive front seven to the national title. Siler was one of the last picks of the draft, and Everett remained undrafted. I had seen mock drafts with both players going in the first day.
In the SEC, Florida led the way with nine players drafted, but three were picked in the final round, including Deshawn Wynn, who many predicted would be drafted around the 4th round. Dallas Baker was also a last-round pick, and I always thought he was just about as good of a wide receiver as Bowe, Meachem, and Sidney Rice, who went in the first and second rounds.
As for the Saints, most of the people they drafted after Meachem were guys I'd never heard of, with the exception of cousin Antonio from Ohio State in the 4th round. This was also the Saints most notable pick outside of the first round. I would never have predicted the Saints would draft a running back, let alone trade up to draft a running back.
I have to wonder what this signals about Deuce McAllister. Does this mean they've decided they have too much money tied up in running backs and will let McAllister walk after this year, and are preparing for it by grooming Antonio? If so, that runs the risk of angering McAllister, and we'd have a star player sulking for a season.
The Saints drafted a lot of small school type players. We got two MAC players on the first day and two Division II players on the second day. I have no problem with this strategy at all, though a lot of others do not like it. Yes, there are questions about the level of competition these guys have faced, but frankly everyone has to step up several levels from college to pro, and there are lots of guys in the NFL from smaller schools.
It comes down to one simple question, and that question cannot be answered not. Are these guys good NFL players? If so, it does not matter where they went to college, and it matters little who you passed up to get them.
The Saints probably want to pick up another linebacker, a defensive tackle, a tight end, and a quarterback on the free agent market. May I suggest Earl Everett or Rory Johnson as linebackers? Tyler Palko, Jared Zabranski, or Chris Leak as quarterbacks? I have no suggestions for DTs or TEs.
Oh, and finally, congratulations to cousin Chase for getting drafted by the Cleveland Browns. He can relive the old times by chasing Brady Quinn around at practice.
Update: we did indeed sign Palko.