Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Too Early To "Grade" NFL Draft, But That Doesn't Stop Folks From Trying

All the rancor about the NFL Draft reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, uttered back in the day, long before the Internets, by a frustrated NFL coach.

Fed up with the supposed expertise of the blabbermouths in the broadcast booth and on talk radio, the coach had himself an idea.

"I'm going to Radio Shack to buy me one of those headset things," the coach said.

Why's that, coach?

"Because as soon as you put them on, you instantly know everything," the coach said.


I'd like to modify that a tad--bring it up to date.

In addition to a headset, the NFL coach of today should also discover the miraculous healing power of tapping onto a keyboard.

That's all you need--a broadcast headset and a laptop by your side.

The blabbermouths on TV and radio and the bottom feeders on the Net know it all.

That's the shortcut; the substitute for months of research and looking at film and conducting interviews and doing due diligence.

Ah, why bother with all that when you can just slip on some cans and pound away viciously on the keyboard?

I must laugh at all the letter grades that are doled out, sometimes within 24 hours of the completion of the draft. I chuckle at the disgusted tones I hear on sports talk radio -- from the hosts and John on his cell phone tooling down I-696.

How can you properly "grade" a draft mere hours and days after it occurs?

You can't.

How can you be 0-16, have as many holes as the Lions have on their roster, and say that you don't "need" certain things, like a quarterback?

You can't.

The Lions need pretty much everything, and last I checked, they were only able to select one player No. 1 overall. It would have been nice if the league had given the Lions an exemption and allowed them to grab as many players as they could in, say, thirty seconds -- like one of those game show shopping sprees. Or the money tank that you step into as the dollar bills swirl all around you.

Snatch as many players as you can!

Doesn't work that way.

The Lions picked QB Matthew Stafford No. 1. Then they selected TE Brandon Pettigrew with their other first round pick. Safety Louis Delmas was the second rounder.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, the headset wearers and keyboard mashers said.

"I'm really disappointed with this draft," one of the WXYT loudmouths said the other day as I tuned in within my car. He said it with the proper tone of morose typically reserved for being told you've been laid off or something of true relevance.

Aww, poor baby. He's disappointed.


These are the players who, after the months of interrogation and watching film until eyes glazed over, are your new Detroit Lions.

But what about the past??

Gone. Water under the bridge. Milk, spilled. Done like dinner.

Look, we won't truly know whether Draft '09 was good or not till a few years down the road.

As usual, it will likely come down to the players picked on Day Two, anyway.

Those are where the gems are found, the so-called diamonds in the rough. The players whose contributions provide depth and football accumen on the cheap. The ones who round out your roster nicely.

All the championship teams have such players. The Day Two guys are often the ones that save your bacon as a GM or personnel guy.

Lions' second round pick, S Louis Delmas from Western Michigan; we won't know if this was a smart pick for several years

The Lions should have picked LB Aaron Curry No. 1 overall. What were they doing drafting a tight end in the first round? Why not grab Rey Maualuga in round two? He was sitting right there! Same with Ohio State's James Laurinitis.

What the hell?

We'll see soon enough.

Charlie Rogers, in his first game as a Lion in 2003, made two spectacular catches for touchdowns against the Cardinals at Ford Field. Matt Millen looked good in drafting Charlie as high as he did. You wouldn't have had any arguments from any of the 60,000+ fans in the stands that September Sunday afternoon.

Great draft pick!

It wasn't until 2006, when Rogers showed his true colors as a football talent, following some injuries and brushes with the rules.

Wasted draft pick!

One of the cell phone dudes called in to WXYT on Sunday.

"Stafford's not going to make it. He'll be a bust!"

Oh, really?

The Lions should have hired that guy. Would have saved them a ton of time on research and interviews and film watching.

He's not going to make it. He'll be a bust.

So says Cell Phone Guy.

No draft can be properly gauged before they pump up one football for the upcoming season. You can't do it when the uniforms these players are wearing are Armani suits.

But Cell Phone Guy and Headset Dude and Keyboard Masher have it all figured out, already.

I wonder how much they'd work for, if hired? Probably could save a bundle of cash.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't take this the wrong way, but maybe less focus on the fans who criticize the draft? As Lions fans, that's about all we have. Some of us are just tired of drinking the Kool-Aid year after year after year. I'd love to be wrong on this current front office, but I wanted to be wrong about the Shoveler also, and Mariucci, and Moronwheg, and Millen. The facts are: In 2001 we hired someone with no GM experience and a head coach in the same boat. In 2006 we hired someone with no head coaching experience. In 2008 we hired two guys with no GM experience and then tried to explain it away with some type of bastardized front office administrative structure that no business school graduate would ever recommend as a model for good organization control. But it got better because they were going to hire someone later with personnel experience. In 2009 we hired someone with no head coaching experience who....kept Stan Kwan???? With all the talk about how hard it is to predict NFL QB drafts and where they great QB's were drafted and how many QB busts there have been, do you really think these guys found the secret to success? I'd say the safe bet is no.

I hope I'm wrong, and I hope Matt Stafford does turn out to be the next Joe Montana, I think we're due as Detroit fans. But excuse me if I'm a little skeptical and I want to tell the front office that I think they suck, they screwed up, and they would lose an ass-kicking contest to a one-legged man. I just don't think you have any credibility when you want to say the average fan wouldn't do a better job than the guys we've had running the show for the past decade. How do you get worse than 0-16? Give up the most points in NFL history for a season, just not the 2nd most?

Enough with the fans. The fans in Detroit aren't the problem. Selling out Ford Field for 50 straight games with the stinking pile of manure teams that have passed for pro football in Detroit since 2000 shows the fans are loyal. They don't need to have any more scorn heaped upon them from fellow fans, we get enough of that from the rest of the NFL.