Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Thoughts on the Draft Part 1 and Why it Doesn't Matter That Much Now.

(This is already the #1 NFL jersey, but will the player that wears that jersey be the best player coming out of the draft in a few years?)

In part two of this post, I will finally get around to writing about the Redskins draft picks and what I think about them. But I want to write about the draft in general first. I love the draft, I really do. It's the build up to and the analysis after that's really amazing. People speculate on what teams will do, what they need to do and what they will do to fit the need. Then after the players are selected, everybody ranks who did well, who sucked and how these moves will affect their teams in the future. I'll be honest, I've been guilty of doing this as well.

The truth is that it takes years......many years in some cases to determine if a player or if a team's draft class was a success or a bust. Take the Redskins draft class of 2005 for example. You couldn't really say it was a bust until after the 2010 draft when Jason Campbell was traded to Oakland for a player to be named in 2012. Now looking back, only Campbell and Carlos Rogers remain in the league and Campbell will never be that franchise quarterback that many hoped would lead Joe Gibbs to his 4th Lombardi trophy. Rogers, while serviceable as a #2 corner and occasionally as the #1, will never be that "shutdown corner" that the fans were hoping they were getting when he was selected (see Champ Bailey).

This year will be a big year for the 2008 class. Devin Thomas, Fred Davis and Malcolm Kelly are entering their third years which is usually the "do or die" year for a WR. Davis has already shown that he can be a dominant player when given the opportunity. Thomas has shown sparks of success which one hopes will lead to a break out season. Kelly has been hindered by injury and lack of use by the previous coaching staff. Mike Shanahan however has plans for Kelly and this should be a big year for him. Other players from this class: Chad Rinehart, Rob Jackson and Colt Brennan will all be fighting to make the roster. Chris Horton is coming off an injury. Justin Tryon will be fighting new corner Phillip Buchanon  for the nickle position and Kareem Moore will be trying to be used more as both a FS and a SS.

So like I've already said, it's ridiculous to give grades to teams after a draft. Most experts who do (or who are paid to do so) even admit this. Kiper and McShay both commented on the First Draft podcast (bottom of that page) that it was a futile attempt and McShay actually said that it was easier to make a 2011 forecast/mock draft than to grade teams on their picks. That said, grades aside, you can determine if a team drafted to fill needs and the drafted players that were considered to be valuable (AKA: Steals) at that spot or did they get desperate and pick a player too early (AKA: Reaches) or pick a player at a position that already has depth, yet fail to address a critical need.

So before I get to the Skins, here's some highlights of the draft that I did and didn't like based on the criteria above.

I Liked the Moves These Teams Made:
-Oakland Raiders: Last Year they had one of the most laughable drafts. This year looks pretty solid. They draft a ILB that many think will be a true stud in the coming years. They drafted two raw, but highly athletic offensive tackles. One of whom many thought the Raiders were going to reach with their 1st round pick (Bruce Campbell- 4th round). They also got a starting QB in this draft (Jason Campbell) for practically nothing. I've been suggesting Campbell being a great fit for Oakland for awhile now and I think I'm going to be right on that prediction.

- Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens traded out of the 1st round and yet wound up with two players that many considered 1st round talents (Sergio Kindle, Terrence Cody), then they gave Joe Flacco some good targets in the middle with Dickson and Pitta. I even like the late pick in Ramon Harewood. Expect to see him in some short yard and unbalanced packages as they develop him,

- Dallas Cowboys: It pains me to say anything good about the Cowboys, but I really liked the move to jump up a few spots and take Dez Bryant. I think he's going to be good with Dallas for years to come (I hope I'm wrong).

I Scratched My Head on These Team Moves:
- Buffalo Bills: Okay, you took CJ Spiller at #9. So, more or less you drafted another Reggie Bush. Sure, you drafted a play maker who can run the ball 10 times a game, make a few nice catches and return punts. Some of those touches will lead to TDs. That said, Spiller isn't an every down back and with such big needs at QB, O-Line and even RB.....was Spiller really the best choice?

-Denver Broncos: So you get rid of divas Cutler and Marshall and then draft two guys that have a world of talent but may never have time to develop it. When you draft players in the 1st round, you expect them to be starting in 1-2 years tops. If they're a project, you normally don't draft that kid in the first round. I want to make this clear, I really like Tim Tebow. Matter of fact, I will go out on a limb and say that if he's given enough time to develop into a starting NFL caliber QB he could easily be the best QB coming out of this draft. That said, there is no way I would have drafted Tebow that high. Josh McDaniels is basically betting his career on what Tebow does. That my friends is risky, because Tebow is no sure bet to be a success in the NFL.

-Jacksonville Jaguars: I like Tyson Alualu, but again much like Denver it just seems a reach to me. Maybe Alualu will be a dominating, multi-year all pro DT or 3-4 DE and almost everybody covering the draft will look like complete fools. I kind of doubt it. I think he'll be a solid starting player who will have a long career in the NFL, but again do you draft that player at #10 or do you go after a player who could be that play maker?

This is getting to be such a long post that I'm going to save my thoughts on the Skins until part 2. But I will leave this post with my final thoughts on this year's draft. It just seemed kind of boring to me this year. Maybe it's because I'm a Skins fan and all of our fun ended after the Trent Williams pick and didn't start back until Saturday afternoon. Maybe it just wasn't that interesting. I mean this draft was chock full of talented offensive and defensive linemen but nobody that had that great "wow" factor. Sure, we had the Tebow hype and the drama of who will draft the falling Jimmy Clausen but there just wasn't that much in shocking surprise to me.

I also still didn't care for the "prime time" draft in a three day format. People have to work the next day (unless you're like me and took the day off) so usually people start to leave midway through the 1st round. Nobody can really celebrate because they have to drive home in a few hours and again work the next day. If the NFL wants to keep the draft in prime time, maybe they should move it to Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Problem is that the draft dominated in the ratings, so expect it to remain where it is. Unfortunately, I just think this format kills the party element that people have when they throw draft day parties. The silver lining was that I got an opportunity to attend the Redskins draft day party at FedEx and that was a blast and well worth the trip.

Next post: a recap of the Redskins draft, I promise.

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