Monday, April 28, 2008

The Draft: Some People Really Should Be Issued Computers Without a Keyboard

It is absolutely mindboggling to read the opinions of the masses when it comes to the NFL Draft. People have such incredibly strong opinions about what is essentially a crap shoot for the people involved.

Let's break down the categories of obnoxious draft watchers:

1. The Homer: He likes his favorite college football team, and all the players on his favorite college football team, all of whom are among the best players available at their positions and are clearly better than other similar players from different schools. Admittedly, I'm the first to say that guys like Early Doucet and Ali Highsmith are gamers who will make whoever drafts them at this point pretty happy, but at least I acknowledge the possibility that this attitude is a result of personal affection for them as a result of their having gone to LSU.

2. The "I've Never Heard of Him and Therefore He Must Be Terrible" Guy: If the player did not play on national television at least 3 times last season and was not incessantly profiled as a "fast riser" in pre-Draft coverage, he is clearly a nobody and deserving of absolutely no attention or goodwill whatsoever. Why pick a player from Indiana when there are all those good Texas players available?

3. The "Blind to All Outside of the SEC" Guy: OK, I acknowledge that I love the SEC, but the idea that USC players are overrated because they play "weak competition" is hogwash. Believe it or not, the bulk of the NFL comes from schools outside of the SEC, including, outrageously, many of the league's best players. Sedrick Ellis is not overrated just because he went to USC. He may end up proving to have been overrated, but you can't say that just because he went to USC.

4. The Groupie. To the groupie, failing to make a splashy pick is like sleeping with the bass player. You do it if it's the only way you get to hang out with the band, but it's a big disappointment, because you really wanted at least the drummer, if not the singer. How many wide receivers does your team have? 7 or 8? It doesn't matter. Get another one. Wide receivers are cool.

One observation is that the cost of moving up in the draft seems to have declined. In years past, it would have taken a 2nd round pick for the Saints to move up 3 spots to take Sedrick Ellis. This year, we only had to move down 2 1/2 rounds from our early 3rd round pick to the back half of the 5th round. It seems that the teams have realized that the draft value chart is hooey.

As for the Saints, I think in order to analyze their first day, you have to assume they were targeting defensive tackle and cornerback with their first two picks. In the first round, if they had not moved up to take Ellis, they would have had their pick of the corners in the draft. Let's assume they would have taken Leodis McKelvin, the guy who was ultimately the first corner picked. As it so happens, McKelvin shares with Tracy Porter the skill set of being fast and being a return-man, so there are parallels there.

In the second round, defensive tackle Trevor Laws was available, though to be fair, the Saints could not have confidently guessed Laws would still be on the board when the #40 pick came up. He could have gone higher. He was ultimately drafted at #47.

My point is, the Saints did well if the combination of Ellis and Tracy Porter is better in a couple of years than the combination of McKelvin and Laws. If McKelvin and Laws is the better combination, we will regret the trade.

Later in the draft, we executed another couple of trades to enable us to pick up the second defensive tackle we wanted, a project of an offensive lineman, a placekicker who specializes in kickoffs, and we traded back into the 7th round to be sure to pick up wide receiver Adrian Arrington.

I liked what Mike Mayock had to say about DeMario Pressley, the defensive tackle the Saints drafted out of NC State. He said Pressley had a questionable motor and took a lot of plays off. However, he said that often with these 300+ pound guys who are asked to play 60-65 plays per game in college and have questionable motors, if you put them in a rotation and ask them to play 25 plays per game, their motor is just fine. In other words, it's a problem of stamina rather than desire. The cure is to limit their playing time.

I have no problem with the Saints picking a kicker in the 6th round. The kid reportedly has a powerful leg. It appears the Saints might be planning to carry two kickers, a field goal guy and a kickoff guy. This would be the kickoff guy. Kickoffs are at least as important as field goals, because most NFL kickers are about equal to each other in field goals, but there is wide variation in kickoff proficiency.

One of the more curious picks, I think, was the Arrington selection in the 7th round. We had traded our 7th rounder to move up two picks to get Pressley. Apparently, we thought the Bengals were going to take him, so they did what they had to do to go get him. I have no problem with that. However, we got a 7th rounder back by trading a 6th rounder next year. Arrington may have ended up being a free agent, and I guess the Saints wanted this kid so badly that they wanted to be sure to get him and not let other teams have a chance to sign him.


Poseur said...

All of these types combined are nowhere near as annoying or obnoxious as the False Expert. The guy who spouts off Combine numbers and pretends he is an actual scout, when all he is really doing is parroting the information in that player's Scouts Inc. profile.

Just because you watched the Combine, it does not make you qualified to judge every single prospect. It's even worse when the guy pretends he knows about trades and the inner workings of a front office of any team.

Anonymous said...

The only thing worse than the people who analyze the draft are the people that analyze the people that analyze the draft!!! Where is this blog going lately?

Richard Pittman said...

You're welcome to suggest another direction if you like. As for the direction it's going, well, I just don't get into a whole lot of self-analysis. This is a pretty slow time of the year for college football news, so I talk about whatever else comes to mind.