Draft Pet Peeves
Every year I swear I just want to do a Rip Van Winkle and sleep for the 40 days prior to the draft and wake up when the draft is over so I can then race to the sports page to read the full list of the Cardinals’ selections.
The draft is such a tantalizing event…especially when you spend the three months leading up to it combing through scouting reports, breaking down game footage, reading and reacting to thousands of Mock Drafts, watching every minute of the East West Shrine Game, the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine.
You see---the problem is---when you study the draft closely, you fall in love with a number of players---and in our case you dream of what they would look like in Cardinal red.
And then the draft comes and you watch the vast majority of your favorites players get swooshed away by other teams (down they fall like dominos)…and while you are intrigued by the players the Cardinals select, you look at other teams’ draft hauls with green eyes, a sense of desperation and the old pestering “what ifs.”
Yes---as much as I love and look forward to the NFL Draft, it provides both hope and heartbreak.
And now over the years---it provides an intense yearly dose of frustration vis-à-vis what I call my “draft pet peeves”:
- So called “value picks.”
So a player slides in the draft for whatever reason and your team picks him up later than what over a thousand mocks predicted and suddenly your team is a genius for making such a “value pick.”
For example, last year 1st team All-American guard Dorian Johnson of Pittsburgh fell to the Cardinals in round 4. Many Cardinals’ fans, including myself, were elated with the pick. The pundits raved about the pick---and I will never forget hearing the excitement in Johnson’s voice when he was interviewed by Gambo and Burns---Johnson said that he has never sat on the sidelines in his life and he would do everything he could to win the starting right guard job---but Gambo right then on the air informed Johnson that Bruce Arians had already proclaimed Evan Boehm as the starter at RG and that Johnson and his fellow rookies would be relegated to a second practice field during training camp---and that Arians’ offense was so complex that it takes rookies at least a year or two to learn it before they can legitimately challenge for a starting job.
Well, as we know, Johnson did not even make the opening day roster. Not only that---the coaches barely played him at all during a whopping 5 pre-season games. After cuts, he spent 5 weeks on the Cardinals’ practice squad and then was signed by the Texans to their roster. The Texans waived him three weeks later and then re-signed him to their practice squad, until he was released two days after Christmas. On January 2nd the Panthers signed him to their practice squad and he is now with them on a future’s contract.
Dorian Johnson was 115th player taken in the 2017 NFL Draft.
2. “It’s better to take the #1 ranked tackle than the #5 ranked QB.”
Really? First of all, even though we know year after year that the so-called “rankings” are subjective, biased and frequently incorrect, the pundits on TV still swear by them as if they are carved by God and given to Moses, Mike Mayock and Mel Kiper Jr. on stone tablets.
Moreover…which position is more important, tackle or QB? Last year the majority of draft pundits had QB Deshaun Watson ranked as the #4 or #5 QB…many of the pundits had him projected as a 2nd rounder.
So let me ask you this---who would you rather have today, T Garret Bolles (#1 rated tackle in 2017 taken by the Broncos) or QB Deshaun Watson? As rookie starters, Bolles earned a 68.8 grade (per PFF) and Watson earned a 75.1.
The Texans have their franchise QB. The Broncos are still searching for one.
3. “You can’t take him at #15, that’s too high for him.”
I call BS. Look---so often in the draft a team has one chance to draft a player. If a player is projected by the pundits to be a late 1st rounder or early 2nd rounder, there are no guarantees that at #15 you can trade down and still take that player, or that you can try to trade back up to get him. If you love the player, for crying out loud, TAKE HIM! It is your one sure chance. Who cares what the rankings or the pundits say. Take the player you love, period.
4. “You don’t take guards in the top ten or running backs in the 1st round.”
I call BS on this one too. If you have Donald and Suh in your own division and there is a stud guard in the draft like Quenton Nelson who can block them, go for it.
If the Saints were redrafting their 2017 draft, would they use one of their two first rounder’s on RB Alvin Kamara? Sure, T Ryan Ramczyk was a very good pick late in round one…but…let’s be real…. Alvin Kamara is a game changer. Yes, they got a total steal in Kamara in the 3rd round (#67 pick). But, players like Alvin Kamara do not grow on trees, although some seem to think they do.
In the 2015 NFL Draft…if the Cardinals were to redo it…would they still take T D.J. Humphries over RB David Johnson?
5. “You don’t draft slot WRs or TEs in the 1st round.”
Slot WRs and TEs are now more important to the success of offenses than wideouts. The best way to win in the NFL today is to attack the middle of defenses, which is why slot WRs and TEs are the clutch chain movers that keep scoring drives alive. This has been the yearly key to the Patriots’ offensive success---they repeatedly attack the middle in three waves (TE up the seam, slot WR over the middle, RB on a circle route---a linebacker’s nightmare). Yes, it helps to have QB Tom Brady, but let’s not forget that the easiest passes to complete are the most direct ones (the shortest distance between two points). Plus, when you threaten the pass over the middle---what does it do? It opens up the running game. And by occupying the attention of the safeties, it opens up the deep thirds for home run balls.
6. “You can’t take a 2-3 year developmental QB in the 1st round.”
When you draft a QB you like, if you cater your offense to his strengths the way Bill O’Brien did with Deshsaun Watson, you can play your QB sooner than you think. Look at what the Seahawks did with Russell Wilson. If you like the young QB you commit to him and you make it happen. No QB benefits from sitting fro 2-3 years. Some will say --what about Aaron Rodgers? Aaron Rodgers could have played earlier. It’s just that he had a HOF QB in front of him.
7. “He won’t make it in the NFL because he’s a system QB.”
To one degree or another, all college QBs are system QBs . Today, NFL coaches are taking aspects of those systems and integrating them into their own offenses…why? Because there are plays that can work on every level (RPOs), so why not run plays your QB is confident in and highly familiar with.
- Have Rounds 1-2 on Friday evening and Rounds 3-7 on Saturday.
- Have designated team appointees announce the picks---get Goodell and all the understandable booing of him out of there---it is taking away fro the joy of the moment. Take photos of the draftees with team reps not Goodell.
- No more compensatory picks---they aid and reward the more successful teams. All teams have to work the salary cap. A team should not be rewarded for deciding not to re-sign some of their own free agents. Plus, the comp pick system is hurting veterans who would otherwise be signed before the draft by new teams. It is totally unfair that Super Bowl winners are getting extra 3rd, 4th and 5th rounders a mere 2 1/2 months after winning the Super Bowl.
- The draft is not the time or place for military parades and recognitions. The draft should be about the players who are drafted. Not about Goodell and not about the military.
- Stop “The Arizona Cardinals are now on the clock” from being a yearly network tradition for heading into a commercial break. C’MON MAN!