A Recovering Draftnik Looks at the NFL Draft
I am a recovering draftnik. I got hooked during college in 1981. ESPN’s coverage was on in the TV lounge in my dorm at Bradley as I came back in from class one morning in 1981. For the 20 years or so, I paid as much attention as possible to the needs of the football Cardinals (until 1988) and the Kansas City Chiefs and who was going to be available. The late Joel Buchsbaum’s writings in Pro Football Weekly and commentary on KMOX in St. Louis yielded consistent and good to excellent information. When Buchsbaum died in late 2002, the best single source of information vanished. I still haven’t found a decent replacement.
I learned very quickly that it is foolish to form an opinion on where a team is headed based on the first round. It’s also ridiculous to even start grading this draft until around November of 2015.
Same thing applies with those silly college signing day recruiting class grades (wild guess would be a more accurate term…) that ESPN and others spout late in the afternoon of the first Wednesday in February.
The vast majority of players who will shape this draft have not heard their names announced from the podium as I write this at midday on Friday. The guys picked between now and the last pick on Saturday matter and that’s where the good player personnel departments, front offices and ownership shine and the bad ones start moving toward their next job.
Even a good to excellent first round pick doesn’t mean an organization has a clue. During former Chief GM Scott Pioli’s time in Kansas City, he came up with a solid number one choice in safety Eric Berry. Nose tackle Dontari Poe was a great pick. It also wasn’t hard to figure out from easily available video that both could flat out play.. Pioli had trouble after that first round—and trouble with a lot of other things—and he got fired.
I paid more attention to the Cubs-White Sox game last night, but I did notice a few things.
The Johnny Manziel plummeting pick commentary last night was annoying. Seems to me that the same people who were carrying on about Johnny Football were the same people who were kvetching in 2007 as the (sarcasm alert!) Great Brady Quinn of Notre Dame slid all the way to #22. Turns out that the player personnel people knew their stuff. After watching Quinn in the NFL, accurate passes aren’t his thing. If that had been Brady Quinn of Iowa State or Tulsa, the Browns would have been vilified reaching for a guy who would be there in the 3rd or 4th round. It is also noted here that the Cleveland Browns also took Manziel with the 22nd overall pick.
I do think highly of both picks by the Rams. Greg Robinson should take care of an offensive tackle spot for the next decade or so. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald looks like a guy who will fit well in an already solid defensive line.
The Bears need youth and speed on defense. Kyle Fuller is a good start. There is still a lot of work to do.
I thought the Chiefs might go for a defensive back or an offensive lineman capable of being a starting guard, but I have no problem with Dee Ford. The various publicly available scouting reports read a lot like the reports on Tamba Hali. Ford made a general nuisance of himself in the SEC Championship Game. Gets upfield in a hurry and, at minimum disrupts timing on running plays. Ford, Justin Houston and Hali are going to be a handful on passing downs.
I’ll tune in and tune out through the activity today and Saturday. I’ll wait to start forming a solid opinion of this draft class until November of 2015.