April 27, 2009

NFL Draft Recap: Let the Rey Maualuga Era Begin in Cincinnati!! Who Dey!

Just when I'm ready to get out, the Bengals pull me back in!! I don't even need to talk myself into this draft for the Bengals. The Bengals really couldn't have done this draft any better in terms of getting value and addressing needs. They did the OPPOSITE of everything I've come to know about the Bengals in 20+ years of being a fan. It was un-Bengal-like in every way. No head scratchers, no major reaches, no wasted picks, and no passing over obvious needs just to take a skill player that they didn't need. I kept waiting for the Bengals to suck the air out of the weekend with a dumb pick or a guy who made no sense on the roster, and it never happened. They kept doing smart things. I'm looking at all 11 picks, and every one of them actually has a chance to make the roster and make an impact.

Where did this come from?? Are we sure that Mike Brown is still running this franchise?? Did he outsource our draft to the Patriots or some bloggers from a Bengals blog?? Was this the first draft where Marvin actually was allowed to run the draft and make intelligent picks?? This whole weekend was surreal. It was like I was dreaming or something.

Every pick seems to be an impact player, and the Bengals have created a new identity virtually overnight.

Starting with Andre Smith, I know there is a perception that he has character issues or whatever, but look at the guy on film. He was the best lineman in the draft. He's the guy I wanted going into the draft. If they had held the draft the day after the college football regular season ended, he probably would have been the #1 or #2 overall pick. Are there some concerns about him hiring an agent or taking his shirt off at the combine?? I guess, but all I know is that he was one of the most dominant players in college football last year. I'd rather take a guy who dominated ON THE FIELD but didn't do as well at the combine than the other way around. If you google "Andre Smith is a MAN" and watch what he did on the field, he's a dominant player. I watched clips of all the linemen out there (Eugene Monroe, Jason Smith, Andre Smith, Oher, etc), and Andre Smith was the most impressive guy. As for character, Nick Saban has vouched for him. That's good enough for me.

This guy is an absolutely perfect fit for what the Bengals like to do offensively. The best Bengals team of the last 20 years was the 2005 team that won the division, and that team was built around a power running game and play action attack. They had big, physical linemen who could run block and open up holes for Rudi Johnson. Those linemen have steadily gotten older or are no longer with the team, and the Bengals have completely lost their running attack. Instead of 2nd and 5 and 3rd and 2, they are now always in 3rd and 9 with Palmer going back to throw and d-linemen pinning their ears back. That's how your quarterback gets hurt. And with no one afraid of their running game, the Bengals couldn't really run any play action stuff.

The perception of the Bengals from the Kipers and others was that they needed a left tackle who could pass block like Eugene Monroe, but I actually think the real need for this Bengals team was a right tackle who could run block. If the running game gets going, it opens up the pass. Nothing against Eugene Monroe, but he's a finesse lineman who was probably going to get bullied in the AFC North by the James Harrisons and Terrell Suggs of the world. The Bengals needed a physical presence who can start to push back.

Enter Andre Smith. He's a manchild and he was the key guy in that Alabama running attack. Look at what happened to them when Smith had to sit out the bowl game. He played left tackle at Bama, but I'm expecting him to be a right tackle for the Bengals. Suddenly, the Bengals might actually have a running attack this year that can open up the passing game down the field. Great pick. That's the guy I wanted all along, and the Bengals actually figured it out.

Then there's Rey Maulaluga. YES!! I have loved this guy since his freshman year at USC. I remember actually being surprised when he came back for his senior year because I thought he was a top ten player after his JUNIOR year. I can't even begin to count how many times I've watched him play and thought to myself "my god, I would love to have this guy on the Bengals someday." Coming into the draft, I felt like he was one of the five or so biggest impact players out there.

Here's how highly I thought of Maulaluga. If the Bengals had taken him at #6 overall, I would not have been that disappointed. No joke. I would even go so far as to say that I would have been happy to get him at #6.

To get him at #38 when I would have been perfectly happy to have him at #6 is beyond my wildest dreams. I kept seeing his name up there in the "Kiper's best available" list as we got to 15 and then 20 and then 24 and 28 and 30 and 34 and on and on. I saw teams like the Browns and Steelers and Ravens pop up and said "oh god, they are about to get Maualuga, and he's going to terrorize the Bengals for the next ten years." And yet he kept falling farther and farther in this draft.

At our Bengals draft party, we were all kind of watching the picks fall and started whispering "man, could Maualuga really drop to us in the 2nd round??" As we got closer and closer, every pick that didn't involve taking Maualuga was cause for celebration.

Then the Browns came up at #36. Oh no! They are going to grab Rey Rey right here, right?? A few Browns fans were at our draft party and were giddy at the thought of Maualuga as the new face of the Browns defense. The pick comes in, and it's Brian Robiskie!! What?!? Between the Buckeyes fans and Browns fans at this gathering, the pick was met with laughter. Brian Robiskie?? I don't get that pick at all. I've watched Robiskie play many times, and I can tell you with 100% certainty that he is not a #1 WR. You're going to use a top 40 pick on a guy who is AT BEST a #2 WR (and probably more like a #3)?? Robo has decent hands, but zero explosiveness. When you have a chance to take a guy who could be the face of your defense for the next decade and you take a guy like Robo, I think it's a mistake.

As we get to #37, we're one pick away!! And suddenly we see "Seahawks trade pick to Broncos." Say it ain't so! The Broncos probably saw Maualuga still there at #37 and felt like they had to make that move up to get him. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. But wait a minute! The Broncos select..........cornerback Alphonso Smith from Wake Forest! Phew!

The Bengals are now officially on the clock. I'm literally pacing, things are really tense, we're building ourselves up but knowing deep down that "WE'RE THE FREAKING BENGALS! We're not taking Maualuga. That makes too much sense. We're going to blow this pick and take some complete wildcard." I'm already depressed and the pick hasn't even been made yet.


(wild screaming and yelling)
(piling on)
(champagne cork from the second bottle of champagne pops)
(more wild screaming and yelling)
(cell phones ringing off the hook)

As ridiculous as it sounds, it was probably one of the top 5 moments I've had as a Bengal fan. When you've played in a grand total of one playoff game since 1990, there's not much to get excited about.

The Browns fans are in disbelief and saying things like "there's a reason he dropped this far. He's probably going to get arrested before the season starts. He's a thug. His 40 time wasn't that great. Bust."

I could care less what anyone thinks about this pick, and I could care less about his 40 time or his broad jump or any of that nonsense. I know what I saw on the field. Rey Maualuga was the best defensive player in college football last year. Heck, I think he was the best defensive player in college football in each of the last TWO years. He won the Chuck Bednarik Award. He's physical, he's NASTY, he's intimidating, he goes sideline to sideline and makes plays, he hits as hard as anyone in the game, he loves football, and he's a winner. Every time I've watched this guy in a big game, he seems to be at his best. Of all the guys I feared, Rey Rey was at the top of the list. He was the most intimidating player in the country.

Nothing against Brian Cushing or Clay Matthews, but I feel like the Bengals got the best linebacker at USC and they got him in the second round. I've watched all those guys, and Maualuga was always the guy who stood out to me. I really can't think of a draft pick that I've been more excited about in all my years as a Bengal fan.

Here's a spectacular quote on Maualuga that I saw in one of the Bengal blogs.

Pete Arbogast, voice of USC football, on Rey Maualuga
"20 years from now, 31 teams will be wondering what the hell they were doing when they passed on this guy, one team will be shaking and and looking smart. Best LB ever at SC, including Seau. Misses a few plays here and there being overagressive in pursuit. Makes up for it ten other times a game. Stud. Huge and fast. Freak. Quiet, family guy, nice guy, monster on the field, like Polamalu that way"

WOW!! I agree with him. I've watched so many great players at USC through the years, and the two best players I've ever watched at USC on defense were Troy Polamalu and Rey Maualuga. That's my list. Does that mean that Maualuga will be an all-time great in the NFL?? I have no idea, but he's one of the best defensive players I've ever watched in college.

Plus, he's Samoan!! These Samoan guys don't always have the "measureables," but there's just this innate football ability and explosiveness with these guys that you can't measure until they strap the pads on. You can't measure how hard a guy hits at the combine.

As for character, I don't really care about that either. Maybe I've been beaten down by all the arrests and other stuff, but I don't care any more. At this point, the Bengals might as well embrace their bad guy image and go all in. I care about what they do on the field. I think the Bengals have decided to that they don't care either. They tried the "good character" thing for awhile, but apparently that is out the door. The Bengals brought in Tank Johnson, they still have Chris Henry, and now they have Maualuga. Maybe a couple shaky guys there, but the talent is undeniable.

Rey Rey has some background issues, but the Bengals are getting a motivated guy. I couldn't be happier to see this quote from him.

”Yes, I was picked in the second round, but I'm going to prove to everybody that they were wrong,” Maualuga said. “I'm going to show all the people who didn't draft me that they should have.”

If he plays with a chip on his shoulder for the next five years, fine by me.

Bottom line, the Bengals apparently made a decision before this draft that they wanted to get AFC North type football players. Physical guys, run stuffers, run blockers, tough guys, intimidators. If you're going to play four games a year with the Steelers and the Ravens, you cannot afford to be a soft team. If they push you around, you gotta be able to push back. I don't know why it took this long for the Bengals to figure that out, but that's what I've wanted them to do for years. They finally appear to be learning that lesson.

Now suddenly the Bengals have a big physical right tackle who can probably start from day one and a middle linebacker who is going to be the face of the defense from the moment he arrives in training camp. That's the type of guy the Bengals have needed for a long time. Our Ray Lewis. Our Troy Polamalu. Our James Harrison. Someone who gives this defense an identity.

In the last couple drafts, the Bengals have quietly added 4-5 big physical guys to their front seven. Guys like Keith Rivers and Pat Sims and Maualuga and Domata Peko who played in big time college programs. Their defense was actually half decent last year, and I expect to see the defense get better again this year.

As for the rest of the Bengals picks, I really like this 3rd round pick as well. Michael Johnson, a defensive end from Georgia Tech. Seems like a really explosive and athletic guy. Kiper has been saying that he's a top ten talent but has motor issues. Maybe he'll be a bust, but if the Bengals can light a fire under him, that could be a steal. His highlights are impressive. He could be another guy to add to that front seven to boost the pass rush a bit.

And then also in the third round, I think the Bengals stole Chase Coffman, the tight end from Missouri. I don't know why he fell all the way to the 3rd round, but look at his production. He was probably the most productive tight end in the country the last couple years. I don't care what his 40 time is or his "measureables." He's a football player.

I keep using that word with the Bengals draft. They drafted a lot of football players. I know the scouts love to fall in love with workout times and combines and all that (the Bengals have been as guilty as anyone), but I want to know what he did on the field. If you ask a USC fan who the best linebacker on USC was the last couple years, they'll tell you Maualuga. If you ask a Missouri fan if they think Chase Coffman can be a good player, they'll tell you yes. That's good news to me.

If I had to give a grade for the Bengals draft, I'd honestly give it an A. I don't even consider it a homer pick. I feel like the Bengals got two of the top ten players in this draft, and I think they got really good value in the later rounds. They addressed needs, they got tougher and more physical, and they added depth. It's the best Bengals draft since 2003 and maybe will turn out to be one of the best Bengal drafts in the history of the franchise. I feel that strongly about it. You win with impact guys in the NFL. That's what the Bengals accomplished.

Are they a playoff team next year?? No. I'm not going to delude myself into saying that they are. There are still major question marks on this team. Carson Palmer tore his elbow and inexplicably decided not to have surgery to fix it. Now he's proclaiming he's healthy again. I'll believe it when I see it. Chad Johnson is still an issue, and Ced Benson is going to be the feature back. Plus, even if the Bengals were demonstrably better, they're still probably well behind the Ravens and the Steelers. So I have no expectations that they are a playoff team.

But I will say that it's always a good thing when you have a good draft. 2-3 good drafts in a row, and suddenly you can have a really good team. I'd love to see it someday.

1) Read an interesting article on this Freakonomics blog on the New York Times website the other day. Very interesting stuff about the state of the draft, and I agree wholeheartedly with it. How is it a good system when having a top 5 pick is a curse?? Every team in the top 5 would LOVE to trade out of that spot, but no one wants those picks.

Unless there is an absolute can't miss quarterback (Peyton Manning is probably the only guy I would view as can't miss in the last 15 years or so) or some sort of Orlando Pace type linemen or defensive player, why would you want a top 5 pick?? You're handing out a $40-50 milliion contract for a guy who has literally never played a down. The bust rate for top 5 picks is like 50%. Detroit clearly is not in love with Stafford, but they're on the hook for $40 million for this guy. That's a reward for a bad season?? Why not make them play with 10 guys on the field while you're at it?? Meanwhile, a team like New England gets to load up on guys in the last 1st and 2nd rounds who are probably just as good as the top players but cost about 1/10 as much. In a world of salary caps, you want as many affordable young guys on your roster as possible and as few big dollar capeaters as possible.

I'm curious, why don't any teams just pass on their pick and drop down to the 8th/9th pick or something like that. If you were a team like the Lions, why not just pass on your pick and move down to a spot where you can get a good player for a good value. Wouldn't they rather just draft a defensive player or some offensive lineman with the 12th pick and a $10 million deal versus plunking down $50 million on Stafford even though there's probably a 50% chance that he's a bust??

The only solution to this problem is a rookie salary cap with slotted salaries. How has this not happened in the NFL? Suddenly, those top 5 picks become more valuable when you aren't on the hook for those ridiculous salaries. If Stafford was "only" making $3 million a year instead of 8-9 million, he'd be worth the pick at #1.

I feel bad for the Lions. As if they didn't have enough problems, they get saddled with this huge contract for a guy who has been up and down his whole college career. If I had to bet on it, I would bet that Stafford is just an ok quarterback. I know there are some people who view him as an Aikman type with a big arm and all that, but I haven't seen the fire out of this guy or the accuracy. For the Lions' sake, I hope he proves me wrong.

2) As far as Mark Sanchez is concerned, I'm sort of conflicted on how I feel about this Jets trade up to get him. On the one hand, I was shocked at how little they gave up to move all the way to #5 from #17. All they had to do was give up a 2nd round pick and some roster filler to move up 12 spots?? That's crazy! Couldn't the Browns have held out for more than that?? Look at the team they were trading with. The Jets are like the AFC version of the Redskins these days. They are DESPERATE to do anything in the offseason to get some attention on the back pages of the NY papers. They've turned into what the Mets used to be back in the day.

Did the Browns not know that?? Why didn't they use that leverage?? I would have held out for the 2nd rounder AND a 2010 first rounder. Does anyone think the Jets wouldn't have done that?? I think they would have done just about anything to get Vincent Chase...errr...Mark Sanchez. Sanchez is Mr. Hollywood, and it seems like the Jets were in love with him.

So in that respect, I think the Jets really didn't give up all that much to get into the top 10 to take a "franchise" quarterback. If Sanchez pans out, that trade will look like a steal in retrospect.

On the other hand, why didn't anyone at ESPN have the guts to throw caution to the wind on Sanchez?? ESPN was practically popping the champagne when this trade happened, and I don't think I heard a guy all weekend who wasn't singing the praises of Sanchez.

Am I missing something on this guy?? He played in 16 games, and looked mediocre at best in at least half of those games. I love the "highlights" that ESPN showed for Sanchez. They went something like this:

-Sanchez goes back to pass with no one even remotely near him on a pass rush
-he flings it down field to a wide open receiver who has to slow down to catch the ball
-Sanchez celebrates and points to the crowd

What a player!! No one underthrows to a wide open receiver in the face of zero pass rush like Mark Sanchez!! Those skills will easily transfer over to the NFL. Because NFL quarterbacks always have wide open receivers and no one in their face all game, right?? And NFL quarterbacks always play in perfect climates in Southern California instead of howling winds and sub zero temperatures, right??

I watched probably 10 or so Mark Sanchez performances, and at no point did I watch the guy and say "man, Sanchez is carrying USC right now. They'd have no chance in this game if he wasn't on the USC roster." I mean, come on. When you have the best defense in the nation giving you great field position, a stable of stud WRs and RBs, a great line, and a great coach, aren't there a lot of quarterbacks out there who could have done what Sanchez did last year at USC???

If I had to make a comparison for Sanchez, I'd say he can maybe be a Jeff Garcia/Rich Gannon type player. A fairly mobile quarterback who can be productive in the right offense but isn't an elite quarterback. Are those guys bad quarterbacks?? No, not at all. But Sanchez is no superstar.

3) Speaking of ESPN's draft coverage, I figured I would chime in on the most annoying new trend of their draft coverage.

Why do they insist on showing the guy talking on his cell phone right before the pick?? Does ESPN realize that they kill all suspense when they show the guy on the cell phone talking to the team?? Isn't that half the fun in the draft??

It completely sucked the fun out of the draft. Goodell announcing the name at the podium was just a formality because we already saw the guy talking on his cell phone to the team two minutes earlier.

What is the point of the cell phone thing?? Is this just ESPN's way of bragging that they can get a camera in about fifty different living rooms?? I have yet to figure out one good reason why they show the pick talking on his cell phone right before he's taken.

Does the NFL Network's draft coverage do the same thing?? I still don't get that channel because of Time Warner. Ugh. If they don't do the cell phone thing, I'm going to have to go to a bar next year to watch it.

As for the 4 pm start, I'm a huge fan of that move by the NFL. The move to the ten minute picks was a great move, and I like that you have the whole day to do something else before the draft starts. Then again, if we have any female readers, I feel your pain. The NFL somehow managed to sneak another event into the sports calendar for males to get together and watch sports during the evening on a weekend. As if there aren't already enough of those weekends on the sports calendar. The NFL is doing everything it can to make you a slave to the league. Oh well, I don't mind it.

4) Speaking of the sports calendar, how long before one of these college football programs pulls a Jackie Robinson and hosts the first spring game "under the lights"?? Isn't a night spring game inevitable?? You could even turn it into an impromptu pep rally before the game with an introduction ceremony for all the players and a spotlight and all that. I think there are a lot of things that these schools could do to make these spring games as entertaining as possible. Maybe have the coach speak, more player intros, 40 yard dash contests, end zone celebration contests. It's already an exhibition event, so why not go all out to do fun stuff like that to make it a big time event?? Wouldn't it be a fun atmosphere for recruits??

It is amazing how much these spring games have exploded in the last five or so years. I went to the Ohio State spring game on Saturday, and they had 95,000 people there! 95,000 for a spring game!! That's INSANE!! The entire Horseshoe was completely full, and there were only a smattering of empty seats in the south stands. It basically looked like a regular season crowd. The $5 tickets and the perfect weather probably helped, but that's still an amazing feat.

As for the game, Terrelle Pryor started out really slow, but really came on in the 2nd quarter. He looked pretty good, and he's throwing the ball better this year. He still has a long way to go and probably is going to still rely on the legs more than his arm, but I think the Buckeye Nation saw what they needed to see out of him. He hit a perfect deep ball on a touchdown and had some real nice passes down the field. Guess we'll see what he looks like against USC.

A name to keep an eye on: Sophomore WR Devier Posey. Just mark it down that he'll be the next 1st round draft pick in a long line of first rounders at WR for Ohio State. He's going to be a big time player starting this year.

5) This might be blasphemy to say it, but am I the only one who likes Todd McShay more than Mel Kiper these days?? I love Mel, but he's basically turned into a vehicle for the "conventional wisdom" these days. He gives you the info on the players, but I'm looking for a little more opinion from him besides the obvious. McShay has really turned into a force in the last couple years, and I'm more interested in what he has to say than Kiper these days. McShay just calls it like it is. He's turned into the Keith Law of the NFL Draft, but I kind of like that.

Speaking of Keith Law, I might write him a letter of apology for ever doubting his opinion on Edinson Volquez. When the Reds traded for Volquez, Law said he had a chance to be a #5 starter but probably would end up as a dominant reliever. He was saying this stuff even when Volquez was dominating in the first half on the way to a spot on the All-Star team. He became Public Enemy #1 among Reds fans for most of last year.

But now?? He's right!! Volquez has looked HORRIBLE through his first few starts. The guy has no command!!! He'll cruise along for a few innings and the wheels fall off. The other night, he walked five batters in a row, including the pitcher. He didn't give up a hit, but only made it through 4 1/3 innings. When he loses it, forget it. Might as well take him out of the game.

Anyway, I was nervous about Volquez going into the season, and he's done nothing to dispel that fear. I would not be shocked to see him in AAA at some point this year. If you can't get the ball over the plate, you can't be a starter in the big leagues. You can't afford to have a guy in your rotation who can't get through 5 innings. He's the fifth best starter on the Reds right now, and Homer Bailey might replace him if he keeps struggling.

Keith Law deserves an apology letter from me. For now, he is looking like a wise sage on Volquez. Amazingly, that blockbuster Volquez-Hamilton trade that looked like a monster one for one swap last year as both of them got off to hot starts is starting to look like a possible bust for both teams. Hamilton has regressed significantly this year as well. That didn't surprise me either.

6) Some drafts I liked:

New England - How is New England the only team that has figured out this "trade down" thing?? Why aren't more teams doing this stuff?? New England has like 5 second round picks every year. Second round players are usually very good prospects, and they get them for half the money that you pay a first round pick.

No one manages the draft better than Belichick. The guy is amazing, and he somehow managed to finagle about five more second rounders for next year. Every year, they can basically stockpile their roster with cheap young players.

Pittsburgh - Noticing a familiar pattern here?? The Steelers draft doesn't look like anything special on paper, but why would I doubt that these guys aren't all great picks??

I watched the highlights of this Ziggy Hood guy, and he looks like a beast to me. Great "need" pick for the Steel. They get a young d-linemen just as their d-line is starting to get a little bit older. They can plug him into the rotation and groom him to be a starter at defensive end someday.

Then they pick up two corners, a downfield WR to replace Nate Washington, and two big uglies to replenish that o-line.

Is that a classic Steeler draft or what?? Four linemen overall, a WR sleeper in the middle rounds, and some secondary help. Death, taxes, and a solid Steeler draft from top to bottom.

Philadelphia - I know it's easy to say you liked a draft when the team drafts two skill guys, but I think the Eagles got great value. Besides, they seem to always draft a million linemen, so they probably could afford to take a couple skill guys in the first two rounds.

I am a HUGE fan of that LeSean McCoy pick. I'm just a huge fan of LeSean McCoy in general. Honestly, I think he has a chance to be the best back of this draft class, and I think he's a perfect fit in that Philly offense. With his pass catching skills and versatility, I think he's got the potential to be a star in Philly. They can groom him for a year or two behind Westbrook and then hand him the job. I would not be shocked if he was the starting running back in Philly by 2010.

I like Maclin, but that pick seems a little redundant with DeSean Jackson already on board. Either way, it's a good value.

Plus, they also got this Jason Peters guy in a trade from Buffalo to be a starting offensive tackle. That's three impact players to their offense.

That offense is suddenly loaded with players. The Eagles are going to be right back in the mix to go to the Super Bowl.

7) Some drafts that are getting decent grades but I'm not sure about:

Minnesota - I don't have a problem with where they took Percy Harvin considering his value, but I'm not that high on him as an NFL player. What position is he going to play?? Can he stay healthy?? Just too many question marks about him. He's an amazing athlete and one of the best college football players in recent memory, but he's not a pure WR. Those "athlete" types never work out in the NFL. Ted Ginn, Desmond Howard, Rocket Ismail, Reggie Bush. If you can't stay healthy and you don't have a natural position, you're probably not going to work out.

If anything, I almost think Harvin should just try to become a Charles Woodson type and be a DB who can occasionally play offense and special teams. He's so athletic that he could be a good DB I would imagine.

I just don't see how Harvin makes Minnesota that much better. Don't they still have the same issues at QB?? Why not just keep adding to your defense and hope that you can build a championship defense?? Or better yet, why not just go all in and try to get Jay Cutler??

Denver - On paper, these Denver moves don't look so bad. Moreno could be a huge stud, Ayers is an SEC guy with big time ability, and Alphonso Smith was a solid player at Wake.

But look at what they gave up to get these guys!! Denver had a boatload of #1 picks after the Cutler trade, and now they're basically cashed out. It was the equivalent of saving up a bunch of money to buy a house and then blowing it all on a giant boat instead. I thought the whole point of the Cutler trade was that the Broncos could position themselves to be another New England with all kinds of picks and leverage, and they went out and just blew all the picks in one draft.

Now, not only do they not have Cutler, they don't have any more picks next year than any other team because they already used those picks to get Alphonso Smith. It just seems like they are going to be in a huge rebuild for the next few years for no reason.

Miami - I know everyone is all excited about this Pat White pick, but I don't get it. A second rounder for a Wildcat guy?? What happens when the NFL adjusts and shuts that down?? Is that still going to look like a great pick?? And why do you need Pat White to run it?? What was wrong with Ronnie Brown running it?? It's not like Pat White is ever going to throw out of the Wildcat formation.

This pick strikes me as Miami trying to be too cute. A second round pick is a valuable pick. To use that pick on a part time player (at best) is a waste of a pick if you ask me.

I don't like Miami's draft at all. Patrick Turner is a bust. He never impressed me at USC. And Brian Hartline in the fourth round?? Are you kidding me?? I don't think he would have even started at Ohio State this year. That's a laughable pick.

Honestly, I think I'd give Miami an F for draft day. I think they did a terrible job. It was the complete opposite of what I would expect a Bill Parcells draft to look like. A bunch of corners and WRs and a Wildcat QB?? That's insane. Get back to the old days of big linemen and defensive players.

St. Louis - Another team that seems to be getting some praise for making "smart" picks, but I don't see a lot of impact guys. That's the second year in a row where St. Louis drafted really high, and last year they took Howie Long's kid. I don't know what he did last year, but I don't remember hearing his name much.

This year, they go for Jason Smith and Laurinaitis. Nothing against Laurinaitis, but how could anyone watch Laurinaitis and Rey Maualuga and think that Laurinaitis was a better pick?? I think the Rams will regret passing over Rey Rey.

Cleveland - Finally, I'll end with the Brownies. We had a few Browns fans at the draft party, and it was a highly-entertaining day for the Browns. I love the concept of what the Browns did, but I am scratching my head over the results. I'm a huge fan of trading down to get more picks. In the NFL Draft, you are going to always have some busts, so you might as well get as many picks as possible as "insurance" against some of your bad picks. Strength in numbers. So when the Browns kept trading down, we were firing off "MANGENIUS!" lines left and right. This was right out of the Belichick playbook.

But then the results of these trades started trickling in. First, they only get one second rounder from Jets, and then they only get a couple 6th rounders to move down twice from 17 to 21. They moved 16 spots for a second rounder and a couple late round guys. Why couldn't they get more for any of those trade downs??

And then we see their pick. Alex Mack..center. Not a bad pick, but the Browns already have a decent center. Browns fans are wondering what the point of moving down was.

Then we get to the second round. Maualuga is there, and it's looking like Rey Rey is going to be the man on that defense. Instead, they go with Brian Robiskie. With their other second rounder, they go with that Massaquoi guy from Georgia.

I don't get it. I don't think either of those guys has the ability to be a #1 WR in the NFL, but you're using two second rounders on them?? And you also have Braylon Edwards?? How did those picks make their team any better?? If anything, all they did was tread water. If they get rid of Braylon, it's a net downgrade at WR.

Very puzzling draft for the Browns. They did all the right things, but I'm not in love with any of their picks and they didn't get enough in return for trading down all those spots. Instead of getting a big time impact player at #5, they end up with a center and Massaquoi. That's not a lot of value for the #5 pick overall.

The other thing is that they have completely jerked around Brady Quinn. What was the point of including him in all those trade rumors if you didn't intend to trade him?? What were they trying to accomplish there?? That made absolutely no sense to me. Instead of embracing him and showing some confidence in him, they completely alienated him.

The more I see out of these Belichick disciples, the more it becomes apparent that I wouldn't touch any of these guys. His coaching tree is becoming a litany of busts and guys who are completely in over their head. And with McDaniels doing all kinds of wacky things in Denver, the tree keeps growing.

I almost get the impression that these Belichick guys are so intent on doing things "the Belichick way" that they lose all common sense. Belichick doesn't have a "Belichick way." The Belichick way is doing intelligent things. It's not about being a grouch or trying to alienate your players in the media or trading down just so that you can say that you traded down even if you aren't getting enough value in return.

Finally, I'll end with Notre Dame. Congrats to David Bruton for being the only ND football player to get drafted, but doesn't that sum up the state of Notre Dame football these days?? When you are only getting one player drafted, you probably didn't have a very good football team the year before. You win in college football with your upperclassmen, and the reality is that ND hasn't had good upperclassmen in either of the last two years.

UConn had four first and second round picks!! My god! Maybe Kevin White was right about them. UConn the heavyweight! I think Cincinnati had like five players drafted, and Pitt and BC had multiple draft picks. The reality is that our talent hasn't even matched up to the Big East type teams in the last couple years.

It'll be interesting to see what the ND draft class looks like in 2010. While there certainly will be more than one ND player drafted next year, we still probably are not going to have a bunch of first day draft picks. That doesn't appear to be on the way until 2011 or even 2012. As far as I'm concerned, that's reason enough to still hold back expectations a bit for the 2009 season.


Matt said...

Couldnn't agree more about what a sham the draft has become. Nobody wants to be in the Top 10 because it is a punishment. Matthew freaking Stafford will get more guaranteed money than Tom Brady or Peyton Manning makes.

I just saw something about Roger Goodell wanting to move the first round of the draft to Thursday night, the second and third rounds to Friday night and the rest to Saturday. Ummm, please don't do that. And the whole thing with expanding the regular season by two games is crazy too. I'm not a diehard NFL fan or anything, but I guess I would say I'm not that impressed with the Roger Goodell era. Add in the fact that all signs now are pointing to a lockout after next year.

Anonymous said...

The UC Bearcats' spring game was at night.

Anonymous said...

Great post; just awesome, I might not agree 100% but thats only b/c there is a ton of information

again, great job