Saturday, April 28, 2007

Draft Verbal Diarrhea

Brady Quinn

I am loving watching Brady Quinn sit by himself in the Green Room. OK, I'm a bad person for feeling this way, but after a summer of Quinn staring back at me from every single college football preview and a fall of Quinn getting hyped into the Heisman race despite mediocre performances, a little schadenfreude is in order. The Sugar Bowl was fun and all, but it's nice to see the people who are actually paid to know which players are good reflect that Quinn just isn't that good. And the dumbfounded reactions from ESPN's arsenal of talking heads is hilarious. They're just shocked that golden boy isn't in huge demand, even by teams starting Charlie Frye, Tarvaris Jackson, and the corpse formerly known as Daunte Culpepper under center. I'm especially disappointed in Ron Jaworski, who is normally the one rational voice in a sea of cliches. He conceded that Quinn's accuracy is inconsistent and that his deep ball flutters (not that these are important for an NFL quarterback or anything), but then babbled on about how Quinn has moxie and intangibles and blah blah blah. I expect this from Steve Young, who prattled on about Quinn being able to say nasty things to Dan Marino's statue, but not from Jaws.

Has anyone else noticed that Quinn's highlights all seem to come against Purdue and BYU?

And now, Suzy Kolber breaks in to say that Quinn has been ushered into a private room, like his relatives were on a downed airliner. Let's infantilize him a little more. This is unprecedented. This is why I watch the Draft.

Incidentally, I'm not totally sold on Ted Ginn as a pick for the Dolphins, given his route-running (or lack thereof), but at a minimum, he'll be valuable as a returner. I'd be leery of taking a guy who wasn't even the best receiver on his own college team.

Update - Cleveland works its way back to take Quinn. This is a terrible move on their part. Their #1 pick next year is almost certain to be better than #22 and trhey threw a #2 pick in to boot. They had better be right that Quinn is going to be an above-average starter. He does have a fair amount of talent around him, with Cleveland having upgraded the offensive line and Jamal Lewis, Braylon Edwards, and Kellen Winslow as skill position players. (Do I have to root for Quinn now that he's throwing to Braylon?) Romeo Crennel is going to have to earn his money by coaching the defense up because the Browns have spent their top picks on offense and they just mortgaged future picks.

And a Moment of Self-Deprecation

Michigan's streak of not placing a defensive lineman in the first round since April 1985 continues. They managed to continue the streak despite having a senior defensive end who was a top 25 recruit who produced for three years in college and a junior defensive tackle who was seen as a top ten pick when he declared early for the Draft. What the hell did Alan Branch do to fall that far? Did he push four bills at Michigan's pro day? Did he attack John Clayton with a machete? Did he announce that he would donate his bonus to the Sadr Brigade? Michigan allowed 1.8 yards per carry last year and no one from their front seven made the first round. Outstanding.


I'm quite happy with Jamaal Anderson. Assuming that LaRon Landry wasn't available, the Falcons needed to grab one of the two top defensive ends or offensive tackles. Landry, Gaines Adams, and the tackles were gone, so Anderson was the obvious pick. He's an athletic freak and was productive on the top level of college football (13.5 sacks last year). I noticed him on a regular basis when I watched Arkansas, which I could not say about Amobi Okoye. Given the unhealthy amounts of college football I watch, I'm always leery of players I never noticed. I watched Louisville several times last year and don't remember Okoye ever standing out. Let's just call this the Dwayne Robertson phenomenon. Also, what does it say that the Falcons have a need at defensive tackle in light of the fact that Grady Jackson is currently suing the team, but Okoye's college coach didn't see fit to draft him.

On other thought on Anderson: he's a good run-stopping defensive end. With John Abraham on the other side of the line and Rod Coleman as an undersized defensive tackle, upgrading the run-stopping quality of the defensive line is nice.

If I was sitting in Rich McKay's shoes, I would have taken Patrick Willis because he's more certain to be excellent at his position than Anderson. He would have made the Falcons better at two positions because they could have moved Keith Brooking to outside linebacker, which is a better spot for him. That said, Anderson is good and answers a major need, so I'm happy.

I love the Justin Blalock pick. There aren't too many four-year starters at major programs who were three-time all conference. And he also plays two positions and fits the need for bigger Petrino linemen. Say hello to a starting guard.

I also love the Chris Houston pick. The Falcons will have the fastest tandem of corners in the league when they pair Houston with DeAngelo Hall, although they also have two corners who could use improvement in their technique. This also indicates that Jimmy Williams is headed to free safety. If these guys pan out, then the Falcons are going to have an ability to match up with opposing three-wide offenses in man-to-man coverage.

Now honestly, Mr. Blank, aren't you happier to have Jamaal Anderson, Justin Blalock, and Chris Houston as opposed to Calvin Johnson? You have three starters for the same cap figure that Johnson would have merited by himself.

Random Stuff

There's little that's more amusing than mentally addled Jets fans on national TV trying to process a trade in which their team trades up and swaps picks later in the Draft.

Watching the Draft is much better now that I have the NFL Network. For one thing, their film breakdowns are half positive and half negative, so you don't get the sense that they are hyping every player who gets taken. Mike Mayock provides more substantive analysis than anyone else now that Jaws has been dumbed down ESPN Sportetainment. Rich Eisen is also a major upgrade over Chris Berman, although Joan Rivers would also be an upgrade, so what does that mean? Oh, and have I mentioned that they have Alex Flanagan?

She's not the one with the sunglasses.

Every time I see Roger Goodell, I get mad that Tagliabue wasn't replaced by a Member of the Tribe so we could have a clean sweep of the commissioner positions in the four major sports.

Dammit, I'm going to have to agree with Peter King when he fellates Scott Pioli on Monday. Brandon Meriweather is a helluva safety and will be a significant upgrade over what the Patriots have at safety right now. Of course, the pick is inconsistent with King's BS line about how the Pats only draft guys without character questions. I'd pay good money to watch the clip of Meriweather swinging his helmet at various FIU players with Peter King 12-15 times. There can be no criticism of the Patriots trading for the 49ers #1 next year, which will likely be significantly higher than the #28 pick the Pats gave up. The late first round picks are a good value because the players taken in those spots don't command huge salaries and are often only marginally less promising than the players taken earlier in the Draft, but the Cowboys and Patriots have illustrated that those picks are also valuable because they can be leveraged into even better picks as players fall down the chart and bad teams pay too much to get the falling stars.

If I'm a Saints fan, I'm not happy with the Robert Meachem pick for two reasons. First, the secondary is in desperate need of assistance. Second, I'm a little leery of Meachem because he was a factor in the Tennessee offensive implosion in 2005. Yes, the quarterback situation was terrible and Randy Sanders was having a hard time drawing up plays with fingerpaint, but the receiver corps (Meachem included) dropped everything under the sun. I'd worry about a guy who was terrible in 2005 before looking so much better in 2006. I'm on record as saying that Sidney Rice was the best receiver in the SEC for the past two years, better than Meachem or Dwayne Bowe.


Grandy said...

The WR probably won't ever amount to anything but I think it makes sense (it's just a matter of getting the right guy).

Of course I wanted Rice, but I can't fault the slight move up to get Houston. I just wonder if it was absolutely necessary, but we can really consider moving Jimmy Williams to Safety now. Houston was a man to man guy but I have to think he can make the adjustment.

Peter Bean said...

Two (related!) thoughts:

(1) I absolutely agree with your general sentiment that players who you don't wind up noticing are ones teams should be leery of drafting near the top. With that said, if there's one exception to that rule, it's in the middle of the defensive line, where a tackle's primary responsibility on many occasions is eating blockers.

(2) With that said, it's positively criminal that Okoye went in the top ten of the draft and Alan Branch drifted down to the top of the second round. Even IF Okoye is worth the high pick (which is questionable), at the very least that should mean Branch is, too. Utterly ridiculous that he fell that far, and I have no horse in that race.

Ed said...

"It's nice to see the people who are actually paid to know which players are good reflect that Quinn just isn't that good."

And, as the logic goes, if Quinn isn't that good, the qb you were drooling about from September to December last year must be worse. A lot worse.

LD said...

"If I was sitting in Rich McKay's shoes, I would have taken Patrick Willis because he's more certain to be excellent at his position than Anderson. He would have made the Falcons better at two positions because they could have moved Keith Brooking to outside linebacker, which is a better spot for him."

Nice jinx... Demorrio Williams is out with a torn pectoral and now we'll be starting a 4th round rookie at will.

If the Falcons knew about this (it happened last week sometime), Willis probably should've been the pick.

Michael said...

Grandy, I'm so fatigued from the Falcons taking receivers that I'm OK with them passing on Rice. I only hope that Tarvaris Jackson doesn't ruin Rice.

PB, I generally agree that it can be hard to spot an excellent defensive tackle. I never thought that Seymour and Stroud were that good at Georgia and they've both turned out to be great NFL players. That said, Branch was quite clearly an excellent player when I watched him. I'd like to think that I've gotten better at watching plays and understanding whether DTs are doing their job, i.e. collapsing the pocket, forcing backs to change direction, and keeping OLs off of the LBs. By the way, there's a Nike ad in this week's SI with Okoye and a bunch of other high draft prospects (Quinn, Peterson, Leon Hall, Marshawn Lynch, etc.) and Okoye is no bigger than any of them. That's either a comment on modern computer graphics or Okoye isn't very big.

Ed, I thought about your point before you wrote it. There is some merit to criticizing my lavish praise of Smith during the season, but I'm comfortable with the notion that he might have just been a great college QB. He isn't very tall and he played in a shotgun spread offense that is dissimilar to what NFL teams run. There are reasons why scouts might not love him that do not puncture the notion that he was fantastic in college. Quinn has no such excuses. I also think that the scouts might be overreacting a little to the Title Game. Smith did play badly, but OSU's pass protection was non-existent.

Anyway, I don't have nearly the schadenfreude with Smith that I do with Quinn, despite the fact that Smith absolutely murdered Michigan three times, whereas Quinn never did much against UM. I think that's for two reasons. First, Smith wasn't on the cover of every magazine before the year, nor was his smiling face on the banner ads for ESPN all weekend (and hawking Humnmer, my least favorite product in the market, no less). There's less of a hype bubble to pierce with Smith. Second, Charlie Weis's image is built up primarily as an offensive genius and developer of quarterbacks. Last season damaged the former (nine returning starters, but the offense struggled against almost every good defense they played) and the Draft damaged the latter. I can now shift my ill-will to the emu.

LD, I was unaware of this, but the Falcons currently have Brooking listed at Will, which is his best position, and Jordan Beck listed as the starting MLB. The rookie from S. Fla. will likely back Brooking up, so the pick might have been done to replace Williams.

I'll be interested to see how the Falcons line up the DL and linebackers now that one DE is so much bigger than the other one. I assume that Boley will line up at Sam behind Abraham to get a bigger linebacker over a smaller DE, but the Sam usually lines up over the TE, so does that mean that Abraham always lines up on the strong side, even if that compromises his pass rushing ability?

LD said...

The D. Williams story hit late yesterday (long after your post). So, y'know, I wasn't calling into question your analysis.

The AJC site suggested that in camp and the preseason, they weren't planning on moving Brooking, but that may have been speculation.

I don't know how much of a difference these two formations are:

Boley - Brooking - Nicholas

Boley - Beck - Brooking

In either event, what probably could've been the best lineup would've been:

Boley - P. Willis - Brooking

Here's the paragraph from the AJC:

"The Falcons, for now, have chosen to keep Keith Brooking at middle linebacker instead of moving him back to his familiar spot at weakside outside linebacker and inserting third-year player Jordan Beck at middle linebacker. Atlanta waived middle linebacker Ed Hartwell at the beginning of free agency, which prompted the move of Brooking."