Saturday, February 27, 2010

On the Trading floor

As the draft looms ever closer and we get stuck into the combine, I want to briefly (he says) touch on the subject of trading up and down in the draft. Currently I'm reading "The Genius: How Bill Walsh Reinvented Football and Created an NFL Dynasty" by David Harris (highly recommend it for football fans). One of the things he hits on is how Walsh used to trade down, looking more often than not for multiple picks of solid starters as opposed to a few big names. At the time he was seen as being nuts to want to give away such valuable high picks. Then in the last decade we saw Bill Belichick do exactly the same thing with the Patriots, trading down to get more picks for solid players who could be worked into the line up. And now? Everyone's at it. By all accounts the Lions and Rams are struggling to offload their top picks. They don't want them and nor does anyone else. And thus I think their is a huge opportunity in this years draft. After the crazy contracts dished out for Stafford and co. last year, the mood is certainly against paying out the big dollars for the high draft picks. And herein lies the opportunity. The value of those top picks are reduced. The Rams and the Lions (who should really get together and start a superbly named pub) are in the perfect position to be robbed blind. Last year we saw the Jets make a bold move up in the draft to get Sanchez. For the rights to pick 5th overall, the Jets gave up their first round pick (17th overall), their second round pick (52nd overall) and three players; Brett Ratliff, Kenyon Coleman and Abram Elam. This kind of trade is also known by another name: "Daylight robbery". And this year the scene is set for some ripe pickings. As mentioned, both the Rams and the Lions have expressed an interest (with varying levels of desperation being reported) to ditch their picks. The Buccaneers at three are unlikely to go quietly, but the Redskins are definite suitors. They need a QB and they probably don't fancy paying Bradford, or anyone for that matter, 4th pick money. Their interest would be further peaked if the Rams took Bradford at number 1. Picking fifth is the Chiefs and GM Scott Pioli is from the Patriots stable. He understands the value of a good trade down. At 6 is the Seahawks and their head coach Pete Carroll who, other than looking disturbingly similar to Bill Walsh from the side, is likely keen to get extra picks in order to start rebuilding a team in dire need. The Browns might be a tougher nut to crack at 7 with Holmgren at the helm, but a former Walsh assistant himself, their is likely a little voice in the back of his head that is tempted to trade down. The Raiders pick at 8 and can either be bribed with a track star turned football player, or else be left to their own devices, which means picking the fastest player of whatever group they feel is most needed. At 9 it's the Bills, who basically need new talent at pretty much every position and would probably do a deal that somehow involved a QB and an O-lineman. Picking tenth is the Jaguars, who have needs at receiver and all across the D. Put together a tempting package along those lines and they're yours. So in summation, the top picks are up for grabs. Anyone with enough guts and the savvy to put together a tempting group of unwanteds can jump in their and snatch themselves some pretty nice prizes. I certainly would. -- Some random notes now, starting with WR prospect Dez Bryant. There are a lot of questions that hang over him coming into the Combine, mainly related to his connection to the Harbinger of Doom for young players, otherwise known as Deion Sanders. But my biggest concern is not off the field but on it. Watching the scarce film of him that I can find, I question his ability to make fast breaks on his routes and get separation. The reality is that at the NFL level he will be surrounded by some of the fastest defensive players he's ever seen and his seemingly casual breaks, where he often decelerates dramatically, will not cut it. Maybe I just happen to have seen the worse of him, but alarm bells are ringing for me. -- Bench press. Ugh. I hate this drill. First, I'd like to see the weight upped to around the 270-300 pound mark, really sort the men from the boys. Secondly, I don't get it. The theory is that you can tell how much time a kid has spent in the weight room using this drill. Not really. What you can tell is how much time the kid has spent in the last year pounding the bench press to artificially enhance his draft stock. And worse, it misleads people into thinking a good press tally will equate to good blocking, which is simply not true. Blocking skill is the cohesion of good footwork, good arm technique, leverage, posture, leg drive and determination. In other words, the bench press is a non-factor for me. Apologies then to Mitch Petrus who benched 45 reps, setting a new record (since 2000). -- Mike Iupati. Can't begin to give this guy enough praise. His college stats are pretty darn good, he has quick feet, great hands and never seems to give up. Whoever snaps him up has got themselves a hell of an O-lineman. Can't wait to see him in action. Remember the name (that's Iupati, I-U-P-A-T-I). And of course, don't forget that if you enjoy reading the blog, please tell all who will listen about this mad bloke who hates the Bench press, thinks teams should take more risks in the draft, hates the Panthers, thinks the Superbowl winning Saints are over rated and who managed to go a miserable 0-7 in his picks from the divisional round onwards this year. Have a nice day everyone.

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