2009 NFL Draft Recap - Ten Things I Learned During the NFL Draft
1. Creating a Logical Mock Draft is Futile
I really felt like my 2009 NFL Mock Draft made a lot of sense. I thought every pick through carefully. Excluding the Raiders, I gave every team in the first round the top player at a big position of need. I made sure I maximized the positional value of nearly every squad.
Instead of watching each team make smart decisions, I felt my brain completely melt away on Draft Day.
It started at No. 3, when the Chiefs selected a lesser prospect at a position of equal value. Scott Pioli, in his infinite wisdom, passed on the top defensive prospect in the draft in favor of a guy who was a consensus top 9-12 player. Tyson Jackson wasn't even on the top-five radar until news broke that Pioli was in love with the LSU end. At that point, I felt a small ping in my head.
Two selections later, Eric Mangini moved from No. 5 to 17, receiving a second-round pick and a collection of bargain-basement players who would have been backups on the Jets in 2009. My ping turned into a headache.
At No. 11, the Bills passed on a much-needed left tackle in favor of the ultra-raw Aaron Maybin, who in all likelihood will take a year or two to become productive. This wouldn't be much of a problem, except that Dick Jauron and his staff will be fired if they don't reach the playoffs this season. Rookie defensive ends, much less those who are 20 years old, seldom offer an impact right away. Left tackles, on the other hand, can step in right away (see Jake Long, Ryan Clady, Branden Albert, Sam Baker and Duane Brown last year). So, Jauron basically ensured that he would be fired by using his top pick on a player who won't help him. I'm recalling these events, and my head is now throbbing.
Then, the Broncos took a 4-3 player for their new 3-4 defense at No. 18. Brain shutdown coming.
Buffalo then pass on a left tackle again.
The Vikings too Percy Harvn at No. 22.
Detrt pass on lef tkle 2x. Brian melttting dwn... Drool comig outtt of moth on keybord...spacebarnottworkkkhellp....
2. Character Issues Don't Matter if Your Job is on the Line
Random situation - there's a very talented cornerback available in the middle of the first round of the NFL Draft. You need a corner. This particular corner is 5-10, 187, and runs a low 4.4. He's a dynamic return specialist and has the potential to shut down any receiver in the NFL. Do you draft him?
Of course, right? Well, I forgot to mention that he has a drug and/or drinking problem. He's a horrible guy to have in the locker room. You're pretty sure he's going to be arrested multiple times while under contract. Do you draft him?
Of course not. If you disagree, well, congratulations, you just wasted a first-round pick on Pacman Jones.
Are Andre Smith and Percy Harvin the next Pacman Jones? Not Smith; I view him as the next Derrick Coleman, a talented NBA player who never put forth any effort until he was in his contract year. The fact that Smith was out of shape at the biggest job interview of his life speaks volumes about his work ethic.
The Florida wideout is the bigger concern here. Harvin knew he'd be tested for marijuana at the Combine, yet he smoked up anyway. How soon will it be until Harvin tests positive during the regular season? What if Harvin is suspended for the playoffs?
Harvin's drug problem isn't the only issue. As Matt McGuire reported in his NFL Draft Blog, Harvin has been charged with misdemeanor assault; suspended for an altercation with his high school wrestling coach; and involved in many other fights and altercations.
Once Harvin receives his first huge signing bonus, I'm willing to bet that he gets into trouble months, if not weeks later. That's exactly what happened to Pacman.
The point of all this? I find it very convenient that two of the coaches on the hot seat, Marvin Lewis and Brad Clueless, were the guys to take a shot on these two players. It sort of makes sense. They needed to take the most talented players available. If Smith and Harvin get into trouble, so what? They were probably going to be fired anyway. And if Smith tries hard and Harvin doesn't get arrested and/or suspended, they'll probably get to keep their jobs for another year.
So, with that in mind, I can't blame Lewis and Clueless for taking these poor-character prospects. The people I do blame are the owners for signing off on this. Cincinnati's Mike Brown really doesn't care, so I'll criticize Zygi Wilf, who clearly didn't learn his lesson of four years ago. If there's another boat incident in Minnesota, Wilf should blame himself and issue an apology to the fans. At the very least, he should shave off his cheesy Alex Trebek mustache.
3. ESPN Doesn't Understand Its Audience
Comcast has done a great job hiding the NFL Network from me (they changed the channel from 180 and 733) and now there's a weird 5-second delay every time I turn it on. I'll have the last laugh though; I'm changing to DirecTV once I move in the summer. No one takes away my NFL Network and gets away with it.
At any rate, I was forced to watch ESPN for my draft coverage. I always regarded ESPN's draft coverage as being poor, but it was especially awful this year.
ESPN doesn't understand its draft audience. The people who tune into Day 2 of the draft are hardcore football fans. They're not casual fans who are interested in Bill Cosby, Mel Kiper's hair or Trent Dilfer's corny jokes.
As an NFL Draft fan, I want to know who's left on the board, whom each team is going to pick, and how each player is going to affect his new squad. I don't want ESPN to focus on one team for 20 minutes, show the same stupid commercial about the guy with the steroid biceps, and then come back to Trey Wingo, who goes, "Hey, we had some picks in the past 20 minutes, let's see what they are! Mel, why don't you talk about one of them, and then we can go back to Erin Andrews!"
I don't know about you, but I feel that ESPN insulted my football intelligence this weekend. I want to know about each pick as it happens. I want Kiper and Todd McShay to debate each selection.
Call me crazy, but I don't care about Bill Cosby (even though he went to my high school - and dropped out). I don't want to see Michael Smith play with that stupid, broken iPhone. I don't need Wingo telling me that Kiper is so amazing because he has punter rankings. There are hundreds of punter rankings online! Just Google "punter rankings," for crying out loud! What a disgrace.
If you can't tell, I'm pretty pissed. I'm going to stop writing about this before I suffer a heart attack.
4. For the first time in years, the Rams have a plan. Good for them and their fan base. Bad for St. Louis mini-golf businesses.
5. E-mailer Podvin suggests that I call Jacksonville's new 11-man offensive lineman offense the "Hippo Formation" or the "Sperm Whale." Meanwhile, Vincent G. would like to call it the "Fat Cats" or the "Blubber Boys." I'm also considering the "Mark Mangino," the "Carl Winslow" or the "Andre Smith Man-Boob Formation."
6. I'm willing to bet that Eric Mangini does nothing but shop at flea markets and dollar stores. No one else would have accepted a collection of garbage for the No. 5 pick. No one else would have signed all of the scrubs he obtained this offseason.
7. The teams at the bottom of each round pretty much acquired better talent than the teams atop the draft. There were a few exceptions (Seattle, San Francisco, St. Louis to name a few), but the 2009 NFL Draft was a microcosm of why the same inept teams miss the playoffs each year. I'm looking at you, Lions, Chiefs, Raiders, Browns, Bills and (now) Broncos.
8. The Lions have taught us all that tight ends and free safeties are much more important than left tackles.
9. Matt Cassel. Zach Thomas. Mike Vrabel. No Aaron Curry. I'm convinced that Scott Pioli is avoiding talented players to handicap himself. Winning in the NFL is too easy - let's make things difficult!
10. Bold statement: Josh McDaniels will be the best Denver Broncos head coach since Mike Shanahan. McDaniels is brilliant, getting rid of franchise quarterbacks, drafting players who don't fit his scheme, signing old and/or crappy players, wasting draft picks, surrendering future first-round selections and ignoring the defensive line. Such cunning moves make you wonder why owners passed up on McDaniels as a head-coaching prospect all of these years.