Post DRAFT thoughts from Pigskin

May 10, 2017

Nope not doing team Draft grades. Not yet, actually not ever. But if you pay attention over there next month or so you can probably figure who’s work I admire and which fan bases are in for disappointment come next September.

My first kudos go out to the BROWNS organization. I am not saying that they got everything right, but what I am saying is that they held their water, kept things under control and the roster looks stronger once again post-Draft. That would be 2 years in a row. Despite all the speculation, and cheap bar talk, the team took the best player available at Pick 1 and they played around a bit, moving down and then back up, to get additional players who look like keepers to me. Despite jumping around a bit they still ended up with double-digit total picks. Best of all perhaps, is the work they did to get themselves another First Round Pick in 2018. Live for today, and live for tomorrow!
I luv the fact that they pretty quietly drafted one of the top 4 QB way down at Pick 52, and quickly stated that their was no immediate expectation for KIZER capture the starting QB job. As much as how many games the team wins in 2017, HC HUE JACKSON will be judged on what kind of progress he can make with KIZER. Assuming the BROWNS are out of Play-Off contention come December, we should expect to see KIZER get a couple of starts at the end of the season. If not, then let the questioning begin relative to Hue Jackson’s reputation as an Offensive whiz and QB Whisperer.
I also liked the fact that the team did NOT cluster draft at any specific position group like they did last year by drafting what seemed like a WR at every other Pick. I was concerned that perhaps the football version of saber-metrics was to draft volume and hope someone turned out to be an NFL caliber player. In fact they did not draft a single WR this year.
I don’t even have a major issue with their selecting DT/CALEB BRANTLEY who had an off-field incident a couple weeks before the Draft. Once again a woman, in a bar, claims BRANTLEY punched her. If that turns out to be reality then the team has basically already said they will cut BRANTLEY. I’m OK with a risk pick in Round 6 on a player who two months ago was in the Round 2/3 range.
I also like the fact that the team took a stab at fixing their ongoing Kicking situation by drafting ZANE GONZALEZ in Round 7, Pick 224. He’s a record setting kicker, who seemed to have added about 10-yards to his range as a senior last season. He has a solid chance to fix the team’s PK merry-go-round, which might actually be worth a couple of wins right away.
Way to go BROWNIES! BROWNS fans should feel like more solid progress was made two weekends ago in an attempt to create something good along the lakeshore.

Overall 2017 was a solid Draft. The talent ran deep. But once I looked at each team’s drafted player lists I think I would revise some of my enthusiasm and say it was a deep, if not star-studded Draft Class. Lots of guys should make rosters and improve the bottom end of team rosters, but we may not be raving about 1st Rounders who are immediate stars, like we were last season when instant stars emerged like FAK PRESCOTT, CARSON WENTZ, EZEKIEL ELIOTT, JORDAN HOWARD, JALEN RAMSEY and more. In fact, assuming the now customary 100 Underclassmen apply for the Draft in 2018 I would project that group, led by SAM DARNOLD/QB, will be more exciting, and just as deep, as the 2017 group we just witnessed.

Jealousy and envy are two potent and ugly emotions within the human race. And as they pertain to the NFL the PATRIOTS are a target for many whose teams continually fail to catch up with BELICHICK/BRADY and company. So let me pass on to you some important information to temper your recent rants about what a “Nothing Draft” the PATS had. It is true that the team only selected 4 players in the 2017 Draft. But let’s talk about what they got for those missing Picks. The team added BRANDIN COOK/WR/RS, KONY EALY/DE, DWAYNE ALLEN/TE, MIKE GILLISLIE/RB & JAMES O’SHAUNESSEY/TE in return for Picks. Chances are this group will contribute more in the next few years than the drafted Rookies might. And that is important because a guy named BRADY is fast approaching his 40th birthday. So for the PATS winning now means everything.
And to make you haters feel even worse I would contend that the guys they did draft may all be major forces in 2018, after a year of coaching & indoctrination in the Patriot Way of doing business in the NFL. DEREK RIVERS/ER & ANTONIO GARCIA have starter potential for 2018. DEATRICH WISE/DE & CONOR McDERMOTT/OT look to be solid role player, back-ups. Wanna feel even worse haters?! They are likely to find some roster help from an impressive/solid group of URFA they signed after the Draft itself.

In a strange geographical twist an Ohio team had a very Raiders-esque west Coast Draft last month. The BENGALS looked for all the world like the AL DAVIS Raiders of old early on. In Round 1, in true DAVIS tradition, they selected the fastest player in this year’s Draft. The record setting (4.22) JOHN ROSS/WR/Washington. We shall see how he works out for them, but for once the actual fastest guy may be a real football player. He is quick and elusive after using his speed to get open, and will specialize in Cliff Branch’s favorite play call, ‘Go Long’. Then in Round 2 the team selected JOE MIXON/RB/OKLAHOMA. MIXON, IMO, is the best all-around RB to come out of college since a guy named ADRIAN PETERSON. He’s an even better pass receiver than PETERSON or EZEKIEL ELLIOTT. But a video of MIXON punching out a female student as a freshman at Oklahoma was too abhorrent for more than a few folks from multiple NFL organizations to risk public backlash by drafting him. After those 2 Picks the BENGALS Draft got pretty normal, but it was a controversial start. Now we will wait to see how it plays out. I will just say that the players just mentioned fill some serious need areas for the Bengals, who look to be scrambling a bit to avoid a slip from recent perennial Play-Off team to something seriously less.

One upon a time there was a team in Texas whose leadership saw the wisdom on using computers to collect and sort through player information like height, weight, speed, jumping ability, and more, thus generating notebooks of information on Draft eligible players. This was in a time when those computers and their servers took up multiple rooms in the NFL team’s headquarters. It is also believed that despite denials some NFL teams were still using Street & Smiths college annual magazine to help select their players. TEX SCHRAMM, with a big assist from Gil Brandt, led the cutting edge concept that= the Cowboys had a better idea on who to draft than most teams for years. Over time as other teams began to copy their methods and catch up COWBOYS leadership began to get cute and felt they could use their scouting and computer system to unearth “gems” that other teams still couldn’t find. That approach led to too many wasted picks and the COWBOYS slid back to mediocrity until a football genius named JIMMY JOHNSON came along. I like to say that SCHRAMM & BRANDT got too “cute” by thinking they could outsmart their competitors.
Which brings us to 2017 and the recent approach to things as practiced by guys named SCHNEIDER & CARROLL, who have had solid success doing things their collective way in Seattle. But if you look carefully you might notice that not too much has panned out for them since they had a hunch on a smallish QB named RUSSELL WILSON, who is clearly amongst the NFL’s elite. They ended the 2016 season with only one First Round player on their roster, and the current cast failed to carry them very far once the Play-Offs began.
Well, the boys did it again in their execution of the 2017 Draft. They traded away their First Round Pick to gain volume, and then pretty much spent the rest of the Draft weekend selecting players a round or two sooner than their talent warranted, IMO. In Round 2 they selected MALIK McDOWELL/DL/Michigan Sate, who just might have been the biggest underachiever in the Draft. At Pick 58, they selected ETHAN POCIC/OC/LSU, a solid player, then immediately told the world they saw him as a RT. And so it went. Their final 4 Picks in Rounds 6 & 7, featured not one player I saw as draftable. I would have expected all 4 of them to be URFA types. They got some serviceable players who may help the bottom of the roster, but overall not enough to stop their slide in Power Rankings. SEA HAWKS fans gird up your loins and make the 12th Man even more raucous and supportive at home games this coming season. This team is going to need all of your support, and then some, to make a Play-Off run again in 2017. The biggest factor in their favor is that they play in the NFC West, which may be one of the NFC’s weakest divisions.

That’s all for now, but I will have more collective Draft thoughts later in the week.