I’ve been meaning to post for awhile about the baseball team, and I swear I will get to it. I’ve been busy with the big move to Dallas and I’m swamped at the new job. The long and short of it is this: the offense is still bad but it’s no longer historically awful. The team is inconsistent, as one would expect with a lot of freshmen and sophomores. And, finally, sweeps are killer. LSU has had two series in which they didn’t win a game, and that can’t happen if you want to make the postseason. But more on that later. I want to follow up on Richard’s thoughts on the draft and add my two cents.
I hate the draft. Hate it, hate it, hate it. Actually, I love prospects and I’m a big dork about GM moves. But the cottage industry surrounding the draft has gone from kind of cool to absolutely obnoxious. All of these mock drafts? Worthless. The draft grades on Monday? Even more worthless. Two to three months of hype over 40 times, body types, and “triangle stats”? It’s just creepy.
Everyone is expert. But the draft is like recruiting, it’s all a numbers game. Most first round picks do pan out, though few will become true franchise players. Middle round players will typically be roster filler, but a few guys will be better and a few worse than expected. Know how you can tell? You can’t. Because if you could, I guarantee an NFL front office can.
That said, I do have some general draft guidelines which I think I’ve picked up over the year. It’s more my general guideline, and I freely admit I could be wrong. Here’s my draft rules:
ONE. Draft linemen. I love linemen. Good teams are built from the inside out, and given the state of quarterbacks in the NFL, you’re almost better off letting someone else develop a guy for few years and then poaching him (SEE Favre, Brett; Anderson, Derek; Brees, Drew). Also, linemen have a low bust ratio. Even the “busts” have turned out to be serviceable players.
TWO. Everyone is an injury risk. I’m going to disagree with Richard on Glen Dorsey. Any team that passes on Dorsey because of his injury is stupid. Over fifty percent of NFL players will miss a game due to injury in any given season. Which means every single player is an injury risk.
THREE. Top picks are overrated. I agree with Richard that the draft trading chart should be ignored. And those top five picks can absolutely sink a team. Seriously, check out the top five picks from the last five drafts:
2007: Jamarcus Russell, Calvin Johnson, Joe Thomas, Gaines Adams, Levi Brown
2006: Mario Williams, Reggie Bush, Vince Young, D’Brickshaw Ferguson, AJ Hawk
2005: Alex Smith, Ronnie Brown, Braylon Edwards, Cedric Benson, Cadillac Williams
2004: Eli Manning, Robert Gallery, Larry Fitzgerald, Philip Rivers, Sean Taylor
2003: Carson Palmer, Charles Rogers, Andre Johnson, Dewayne Robertson, Terrence Newman
How many of those guys are absolutely dominant players? Heck, how many are Pro Bowlers? Of those 25 players, they have a grand total of 13 Pro Bowl appearances between them from 9 players, and no one has made more than 2. And remember, these guys get huge salaries.
FOUR. Take the best player available. If you are plugging a hole, grab a free agent. If you’re building a foundation, unless you have a guy who is the top three at his position signed to a good contract for the next few years, you should just take the best player. Because going back to Point Two: everyone is an injury risk. You might need a running back sooner than you think.
FIVE. Always be guided be one simple premise: can this guy play football? Often teams outthink themselves and get caught up in a guy’s “triangle stats” or whatever and forget to just see how the guy plays. While plenty of college stars can’t make the transition to the NFL, GM’s should be advised that if the guy wasn’t good in college, he probably won’t be good in the pros. Guess what? Everyone in the draft is athletic. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying or has such a narrow view of athleticism as to render their opinion worthless. Peyton Manning’s “measurable” stink. He’s also a great quarterback. Your goal isn’t to win a relay of 40 yard dashes, it’s to win football games. Get guys who can play.
Finally, don’t watch the draft. Go outside. Just read about it later. Because let’s face it, 24 hours of watching Chris Berman is too much for any rational person to take.