Saturday, April 18, 2009

Draft Buzz

Contributed by Auggie: Director of Auggie's scouting service.
If you're one of those sick NFL fans who awaits the draft like a 7 year old awaits Christmas, take heart, we're only week away. Here are some tidbits to hold you over while you wait for your "presents" to arrive.

Everyone knows that the draft is not an exact science. There are countless examples low round or undrafted players that thrive (e.g. Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Wes Welker), and high picks who flounder (e.g. Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith, Tony Mandarich, Mike Mamula). But it seems like every year there are players that are obviously overrated and underrated by the pundits. And it's not just the media pundits, real NFL decision makers often make glaring mistakes that seem so obvious to the rest of us experts. Here are two examples to watch for in the upcoming draft.

If Roger Goodell walks to the podium with your favorite team's pick in his hand and announces, "with their first round pick, the [fill in team here] selects Maryland WR Darrius Heyward-Bey", don't get too excited. In fact, be disappointed. He would be a nice 3rd round pick but certainly not a 1st. So why is everyone so enamored with him? He's big and fast. So is Usain Bolt but I don't see him climbing the draft boards. There is always this small matter of actually being able to play football, which goes far beyond the physical measurables. Without thinking about it too much, the name Troy Williamson comes to mind. He was drafted 7th overall by the Vikings in 05 despite the fact he wasn't all that productive in college. He hasn't been all that productive in the pros either, but he is big and fast.

On the other hand, if your team selects CB Alphonso Smith from Wake Forest in the second round they got a steal. Why isn't he a first rounder? The poor guy has the misfortune of being short. So was Darrell Green who keeps tripping over his hall of fame plaque and other awards. And so is Antoine Winfield who made the pro bowl in 08 and is considered one of the more physical corners in the NFL. He and Smith are about the same size. But perhaps the best example is Bob Sanders, the Colt's safety who recently won defensive player of the year. He is 5'-8". He was drafted in the second round of the 04 draft but I remember one scouting report saying "if he was three inches taller he would be a top ten pick". I bet a lot of teams wish they had a do over on that one.

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