Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Monday Morning Quarterback...Draft Edition

by Jason Jones

Now that I have had time to let the results of the recent NFL draft fester…I decided to do what all disgruntled NFL fans/draft nuts do. I re-drafted the whole thing for my team. Conventional wisdom dictates that no matter what, “we” cannot possibly know more than the people in the war room. I protest that the people in the war room either over-think it, or are quite frankly ill-equipped to handle the task. There are a few points I would like to bring up that are just opinions, but for me, are considered rules when drafting.

1. Bill Walsh. Using the Bill Walsh model of trading back (trade back in increments of 2-10 picks at a time picking up extra draft picks while still maintaining as much value as possible) is a great angle to take, especially when the new regime believes the entire team needs to be torn down. It is a great philosophy to have…in order to acquire impact “skill position” players in the first and second round. YOU DON’T DO THAT TO PICK UP A CENTER!!!!!!

2. Interior Lineman. Offensive Centers, Guards, and Fullbacks are not worthy of the first round unless you have multiple first round picks…and have a limited number of glaring needs. For example, if a team goes into the draft with…say…clear needs at WR, OLB, S, RB, CB, YOU DON’T TAKE AND INTERIOR LINEMAN IN THE FIRST ROUND. I don’t care if God himself called the war room and said this guy will go down as the greatest interior lineman of all time.

3. Why Trade. The fundamental directive of the Bill Walsh philosophy on draft trades was clearly intended to address needs when the team is bad and to build depth when the team is good. The team in question is not good. Clearly, without divulging the identity of the team in question, take my word for it that the starting center is more than adequate.

4. Needs. Two wide receivers that have some sort of “issue”. Call it legal or administrative for now. No certainty that either the #1 or #2 WR will be on the field for that team in 2009. There is a Pro Bowl RB on the roster who has seen his fair share of carries and who’s future is uncertain. A serious QB controversy of the three-headed variety. A linebacker core who ranges from old but adequate to in their prime and adequate to the jury still out. The only reason to draft a LB in this draft would be if a stellar athlete is available early or one might want to “take a flier” on a player late. This team has two young but relatively small CBs and not much in the way depth there. The best safety on this team left in free agency. The second best safety probably would not start for half of the teams in the NFL. So by my count…#1 WR (maybe even twice over the weekend), #2 RB, #3 Safety, #4 ILB, #5 QB, #6 NT, #7 OLB.

5. The Formula. Most people believe there are two schools of thought when drafting. A team either drafts by “team need” or “best player available”. I contest that it is more complex than that, and furthermore, it's not one or the other but both plus more. I would go with something more like…Talent vs. Team Need vs. Value vs. Position of Strength Relative to This Draft Class vs. Intangibles. Basically to make this simpler, take the best player available as it pertains to your team needs. If that doesn’t make the decision clear, then move value…(if you’re picking 15th overall and the biggest need is RB then ILB then CB, 4 first round value RBs, 2 first round ILBs, and 5 first round CBs…you should lean toward the ILB. Is the #1 ILB better than the #1 RB or CB? If not, put the ILB on back burner. Looking at the top RB or CB on the board, which one has the better work ethic, more positive attitude, football’s #1 in his life, etc? Finally, which player regardless of position will most immediately -- and more importantly long-term -- affect your team?

If you have not been able to conclude, I’m referring to the Cleveland Browns. Now I will proceed to show the players that were drafted, and more importantly, redrafting the entire weekend according to players as they come off the board and include the trades that were executed. But before I do that, take a look at the relevant depth chart…(as I see it).

QB Brady Quinn, Brett Ratliff, Derek Anderson
FB Lawrence Vickers, Charles Ali
RB Jamal Lewis, James Davis, Jerome Harrison
TE Steve Heiden, Martin Rucker, Robert Royal
WR1 Braylon Edwards, David Patten, Syndric Steptoe
WR2 Donte Stallworth, Josh Cribbs, Paul Hubbard
LT Joe Thomas, Isaac Sowells
LG Eric Steinbach, Kurt Quarterman
C Hank Fraley, Dustin Fry
RG Floyd Womack, Rex Hadnot
RT John St. Clair, Ryan Tucker

DE Corey Williams, Shaun Smith
NT Shaun Rogers, Ahtyba Rubin
DE Kenyon Coleman, C.J. Mosley
OLB Kamerion WImbley, David Holloway
ILB D’Qwell Jackson, Titus Brown
ILB Eric Barton, Beau Bell, Leon WIlliams
OLB David Bowens, Alex Hall
SS Brodney Pool, Nick Sorensen
FS Abram Elam, Mike Adams
CB Eric Wright, Hank Poteat
CB Brandon McDonald, Corey Ivy

After letting that soak in, now apply the 2009 Cleveland Browns actual draft class (as you do, ask yourself…"how many of these draft picks will even contribute or even eventually become starters?”)

Rd1-21 (21) Alex Mack C 6’4 311 Cal
Rd2-4 (36) Brian Robiskie WR 6’3 210 Ohio St
Rd2-18 (50) Mohamed Massaquoi WR 6’2 210 Georgia
Rd2-20 (52) David Veikune DE 6’2 257 Hawaii
Rd4-4 (104) Kaluka Maiava ILB 5’11 229 USC
Rd6-4 (177) Don Carey CB 5’11 192 Norfolk St
Rd6-18 (191) Coye Francies CB 6’0 185 San Jose St
Rd6-22 (195) James Davis RB 5’11 218 Clemson

Alex Mack could and probably will start almost immediately. If Stallworth and/or Edwards are gone, Robiskie will start…and that will be an indictment on just how bad the receiver core is comparatively speaking to the rest of the NFL. Massaquoi will probably be on the outside of the top 2 regardless of what happens with Stallworth/Edwards. A key NFL scout said that on the very high side potential, Massaquoi is going to be no better than Reggie Brown from the Eagles. Veikune has a motor that doesn’t stop, but so does Anderson Varejao…doesn’t mean he could play OLB in a 3-4. Kaluka Maiava (Little Rock) is a career special teamer. Don Carey and Coye Francies may test well, but will probably never start, including injuries to the starters. James Davis is the only pick that I unconditionally like. Go YouTube that kid. It seems to me that for every run he has over 5 yds, he gets an additional 3-5 yds after contact. He has a decent burst and utilizes the cutback pretty well. This guy is a 4th round talent at worst. I also think short of Alex Mack, he is the only guy drafted by the Browns that even has the potential to start in the NFL.

Now, let’s take a gander at what I would’ve done had I been in control of the war room in Berea…

Rd1-21 (21) Hakeem Nicks WR 6’1 212 UNC
Rd2-4 (36) Rey Maualuga ILB 6’2 249 USC
Rd2-18 (50) Sean Smith CB/S 6’4 214 Utah
Rd2-20 (52) Derrick Williams WR 6’0 194 Penn St
Rd4-4 (104) Gartrell Johnson RB 5’10 219 Colorado St
Rd6-4 (177) Willie VanDeSteeg DE/OLB 6’4 256 Minnesota
Rd6-18 (191) Chris Baker NT 6’2 326 Hampton
Rd6-22 (195) Willie Tuitama QB 6’3 234 Arizona

1. Hakeem Nicks is starter material. He doesn’t have great speed (4.49) but he catches absolutely everything. Which is something we a cannot say about Mr. Edwards.
2. Rey Maualuga. Bottom line, YOU DO NOT PASS ON A GUY LIKE THIS WITH THIS KIND OF VALUE! I had Maualuga as a top 10-15 talent. He is a beast. I also do not think it is far fetched to say that he may be the best ILB in the last 5 years, and yes I would take him ahead of Patrick Willis.
3. Sean Smith. Many publications had Smith as the #1 Safety in the draft with the cover skills to play CB, not just in case but fulltime.
4. Derrick Williams. Look, I am not going to try to tell you that Williams is an automatic starter, however, there is no doubt he has talent to play at the next level. He is six feet tall and runs a sub 4.4 40, and simply dangerous with intermediate routes.
5. Gartrell Johnson. WHO? That’s right GAR-trell Johnson. Just look at his measurables and then take a quick glance at his performance in the 2008 New Mexico Bowl. 5’10 219 lbs, 4.6 40, 20 reps at 225, 34 inch vertical, 9’6” broad jump. Now I hope you’re sitting down. New Mexico Bowl…27 carries, 285 yards rushing, 10.6 yds per carry, 5 receptions, 89 yards receiving, 18.0 yds per reception, 2 TDs, a long run of 77 yds.
6. Willie VanDeSteeg. This guy is a coaches dream. He is built to play a 3-4 OLB. 10 sacks over 50 tackles and a forced fumble as a 4-3 defensive end with his hand in the ground. He might be a slight project, but the learning curve would be dramatically shorter than most.
7. Chris Baker. Let’s be perfectly honest here. Baker is a run-stuffing fatty. On draft day he was listed at 6’2 298. His true playing weight is closer to 325-330, and once he gets into the NFL weight program, we could even get up to 340-350. Also, don’t discredit the fact that he was a top high school prospect who played at Penn St until he 'allegedly' beat the crap out of someone off the field. I like my defensive lineman to have some anger issues.
8. Willie Tuitama. No he’s not related to Marques Tuiasasopo. This guy physically looks like the real deal. He is NFL-starter size. To watch the guy play, you are reminded of a lot of different players. He is very nimble in the pocket and sidesteps defenders effortlessly. He fits the ball in tight spots and in stride which is something Derek Anderson could never do. He is a project, but once Anderson gets traded or released, it would be nice to have a guy like this as the #3 QB.

And the new Cleveland Browns Depth Chart:
QB Brady Quinn, Brett Ratliff, Willie Tuitama
FB Lawrence Vickers, Charles Ali
RB Jamal Lewis, Gartrell Johnson, Jerome Harrison
TE Steve Heiden, Martin Rucker, Robert Royal
WR1 Braylon Edwards, Josh Cribbs, Paul Hubbard
WR2 Hakeem Nicks, Derrick Williams, David Patten
LT Joe Thomas, Isaac Sowells
LG Eric Steinbach, Kurt Quarterman
C Hank Fraley, Dustin Fry
RG Floyd Womack, Rex Hadnot
RT John St. Clair, Ryan Tucker

DE Corey Williams, Shaun Smith
NT Shaun Rogers, Chris Baker, Ahtyba Rubin
DE Kenyon Coleman, C.J. Mosley
OLB Kamerion WImbley, Willie VanDeSteeg
ILB D’Qwell Jackson, Leon Williams
ILB Rey Maualuga, Eric Barton
OLB David Bowens, Alex Hall
SS Brodney Pool, Mike Adams
FS Sean Smith, Abram Elam
CB Eric Wright, Corey Ivy
CB Brandon McDonald, Hank Poteat

Now, not to sound arrogant, but which one do you like better?

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