Thursday, March 24, 2005

Expanding on the point about drafting for need

The current analysis of the NFL Draft is a classic example of the dangers of drafting for need. The 49ers clearly need just about everything, or else they wouldn't have finished 2-14. So why are they focusing on quarterbacks? Alex Smith has rarely been under center in his college career and he was made to look good by an incredible offensive design that has not yet been figured out by college defensive coordinators. (And thanks to the BCS, we never got to see Pete Carroll against Urban Meyer. At least in basketball, Andrew Bogut will get a chance to show his wares against upper level opposition. I digress.) Moreover, his offensive design didn't require him to make a lot of difficult throws, which is partly why it's such a good scheme. Aaron Rodgers played for a coach whose quarterbacks have uniformly been busts in the NFL, mainly because Jeff Tedford, like Steve Spurrier or Urban Meyer, makes his quarterbacks look better than they are by putting them in a great system where anybody can succeed. Rodgers was also completely ignored coming out of high school, which should worry the 49ers. (How could someone with #1 pick in the Draft talent end up at Butte J.C.? And don't give me Ben Roethlisberger as a parallel. Rodgers wasn't playing tight end in high school like Big Ben was because of his idiotic high school coach.) Nevertheless, the 49ers think to themselves "Peyton Manning is the best player in the league and he went #1, so we'll turn one of these clowns into Peyton Manning by drafting him #1."

There are players who are lead-pipe cinches to be very good NFL players: Braylon Edwards, Mike Williams, Carnell Williams, and Derrick Johnson all come to mind. (Shaun Cody is pretty close, as well.) The 49ers would be far better off taking a player whom they know is going to be very good, rather than reaching for a quarterback just because good quarterbacks are hard to find. The Hawks' potential Andrew Bogut decision is the same. Williams and Paul are virtually certain to be very good players, but NFL teams reach for quarterbacks and NBA teams reach for centers and therein will lie the temptation to take Bogut.


peacedog said...

Quaterbacks are "franchise players". Everyone feels like you need to get a cornerstone with a top pick. Someone should look at the ratio of expensively taken QBs to the number of successful ones.

The niners would probably be best served by trading down and generating more picks. Say, A first this year and next, and a second this year. Something along those lines. Do something that has the chance to generate you more starters over the next two years than just 2 (assuming 1st and 2nd this year).

But then I don't run an NFL franchise, so what do I know (I'm confident I could have out drafted Dan Reeves, I'll note).

peacedog said...
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Michael said...

I doubt that the 49ers will find many teams wanting to give up much to move to the #1 spot. The #1 pick will require the 49ers to shell out an enormous bonus for either a questionable quarterback or a good player at a less important position. No other team is going to want that obligation. The 49ers have realized this and are trying to hype up Smith and Rodgers to increase the trade value of the #1 pick.

peacedog said...

I hadn't considered that angle. I'd trade down for a 2nd and third (split over the next two years) franky (depending on where you trade down to). It should be about getting starters, not getting cornerstones. Those type of guys are rare.

What's worse is how many combine warriors shoot up, QBs inluded. Akili Smith killed it in the combines, and he was a QB whose collegiate success was hardly outstanding (I remember one very good year on a team with a good record, but he was a Tedford system product, if I recall).

Why can't more pro scouts recognize these things? Shouldn't it be more obvious when the system plays a large roll in a guys production?