Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features

RiversPhi04.jpg

» Film Room: Philip Rivers

The "blueprint" the Chargers used to beat the Seahawks? It starts with a Pro Bowl quarterback playing at the absolute top of his game.

27 Apr 2009

Audibles at the 2009 NFL Draft, Part II

compiled by Bill Barnwell

On Saturday, we at Football Outsiders conducted a six-hour live chat that featured about 1000 comments from FO writers and readers alike. At the same time, Mike Tanier went to New York and live-blogged the draft, its picks, and his thoughts on each of the 64 Day One selections on behalf of the New York Times. On Sunday, myself, Aaron Schatz, and Doug Farrar chatted with ESPN.com readers as Day Two wound up about guys who didn't make the cut and what we thought about seemingly every team's draft.

We've gone through, pared down a lot of the commentary, mashed up all these different sources, and created a special version of our "Audibles at the Line" column featuring both writers and readers discussing the NFL Draft.

The second part of our three-part series looks at the latter half of the first round.

No. 16 San Diego: Larry English, DE-OLB, Northern Illinois

Mike Tanier: While he lists at 275 pounds in some sources, English will probably be at his best playing in the 260-pound range. He can play with his hand in the dirt as the outside defender in the Chargers' 3-4 scheme, which is really a 50 front that requires linebackers to play like defensive ends. English needs refinement, but the Chargers will only need him for about 20 snaps per game, and he'll provide insurance as defenders like Shawne Merriman get older and more expensive.

Doug Farrar: Whoa.

Vince Verhei: I'm going to refer to him as English Larry.

AlanSP: I like English a lot, but I don't see where he plays with Phillips and Merriman already in place...

Peter: When Goodell said "Larry" I couldn't think of a single player that it could be.

jackgibbs: A.J. Smith is a genius. Ours is not to wonder why.

ineedawittyname: Now who will Cleveland take? Maclin? Matthews? Wells?

Bill Barnwell: Could maybe even trade down again.

That's exactly what happens, as the Bucs trade up...

Vince Verhei: Not ... Freeman, would they?

Bill Barnwell: Wow. That seems ... unnecessary.

Vince Verhei: Jon Gruden: "Hey, don't ask me what they're doing!"

No. 17. Tampa Bay: Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State

Mike Tanier: No wonder Freeman has scouts divided. Some think Freeman has the potential to be an all-time bust. Others point to his measurables -- his 6-foot-6 height, an arm strong enough to throw NFL out routes and comebacks -- and see a player who will thrive once he escapes a K-State program that lacked the talent to compete in the Big 12. Still others point to his rushing totals -- 412 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2008 -- and hang the dreaded "Athlete Playing Quarterback" label on Freeman.

Freeman supporters bristle at the APQ label. "In Josh's case, he's a quarterback playing quarterback who happens to be an athlete. That's the subtle difference between Josh and someone else," said Terry Shea, a former NFL coach who has been training with Freeman. Freeman demurs when writers pin his poor stats on his not-ready-for-prime-time teammates -- "Those are my guys, dude," he told The Sporting News on March 17, "You want to blame someone, blame me." -- but the fact remains that he didn't have the supporting cast that Matt Stafford or Marc Sanchez enjoyed. "He definitely could be better than what we saw at Kansas State," quarterback expert Dave Lewin told me.

TomC: Mayock says the only thing Freeman needs is to speed up his delivery. Good thing they've got Leftwich to tutor him.

MilkmanDanima: I stepped away to hang myself, but, even in death, I hate the Freeman pick.

Peter: Michael Oher last in the green room? Who could've predicted that?

Vince Verhei: It BLIND SIDED me.

KenO: Bill -- can you take away Vince's posting privileges until he apologizes for that pun?

Bill Barnwell: I am disappointed in you, Vince.

Vince Verhei: I entertain me, that's all that matters.

No. 18 Denver: Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee

Mike Tanier: Ayers really stood out on game film when playing against Michael Oher and Andre Smith. He's a defender who can seal the edge, hold the point of attack, shed his blocker and make plays against the exterior run. The Broncos need Ayers to solidify a run defense that fell apart too often last season. This is the first logical move Josh McDaniels has made since he left New England. Let's bask in the moment, because the Eagles are about to pick, and this theater is going to explode in cheers or boos. Probably boos.

Bill Barnwell: Really, really dislike the Ayers pick. Think he's going to bust. Seven sacks in two years. Yeesh.

SGreenwell: Listen, when a guy gets seven sacks in two years, and comes from a program fraught with character issues, you NEED to get him.

Andrew: But look at him take out that tackling pylon!

Cleveland trades down again, this time with Philly...

Vince Verhei: Cleveland HATES THIS DRAFT.

Rocco: Man, Cleveland is going to own the sixth round of the draft.

No. 19 Philadelphia: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri

Mike Tanier: Booooooooooooooo.

Sorry, I am from Philly. It's a reflex. Maclin turns 21 on May 11th. As the 20th pick in the draft, he's due to earn millions of dollars in guaranteed money. So Maclin earned more before his 21st birthday than I will make in my entire career, and he'll be living within 10 miles of me to rub it in. At least I can buy a beer legally. I may have to drown my sorrows.

Vince Verhei: Mayock: "I completely forgot he was still on the board."

Rocco: Don't the Eagles have DeSean Jackson? What does Maclin do that Jackson doesn't?

Bill Barnwell: I agree with Rocco 100 percent. They must LOVE Maclin.

Doug Farrar: I really like the way Maclin cuts inside -- he's got really nice ability to sell routes. Isn't Jackson more the straight-line guy?

Bill Barnwell: I guess. Mayock's saying he can't run intermediate routes, though. Seems like Pettigrew would've made more sense.

No. 20: Detroit: (From Cowboys) Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State

Mike Tanier: Pettigrew loves to block, and he's great at it. He has a mauler's mentality when run blocking, and he can stay in as a pass protector and handle speed rushers. He has fine hands and will break a few tackles when catching a short pass, but don't expect him to beat anybody on a seam route: Pettigrew posted a ssssllllooowww 4.8 40-time at the Combine.

Bill Barnwell: Backus, Cherilus, and Pettigrew > Backus, Oher, and [TE]

Mac: Oher blindsided!

Drunkmonkey: But Oher is still there. How come they didn't take Oher? Millen is gone, you don't have to keep screwing up anymore!

Bill Barnwell: They are actually KINDA set with Backus and Cherilus. For this year, at least.

Vince Verhei: Can't talk myself into liking this. Your team sucks and needs building blocks. How do you build around a tight end?

SGreenwell: But Oher has a book about him! That worked out great for Jeremy Brown!

Doug Farrar: That shot of Pettigrew beating the crap out Orakpo must make Redskins fans feel good.

No. 21: Cleveland: (From Eagles), Alex Mack, C, California

Mike Tanier: Mack has the intelligence to play center and the quickness to be effective in pass protection and on the second level. He's a hard worker who finishes his blocks, and while he's not a super athlete, he moves well enough to play in a zone-blocking system.

So why is he always lying around on the field?

Watch a Cal game, and you'll see Mack flop to the ground at least half a dozen times. Sometimes he's on top of a defender (not a bad thing), but often he's lying on the backside of a play, scrambling to get back on his feet. The problem was far worse in 2007 than it was last year, but it's still a problem: you can't simultaneously block a linebacker and sunbathe.

Mack's problem is his technique: He's a lunger. He bends his waist, leans forward, and tries to throw his body at defenders. That's no way to block: Lungers lose balance easily, and good defenders simply toss them to the turf. Mack improved his technique in 2008, but old habits die hard, particularly late in the game. When players tire, their fundamentals slip, and many of Mack's belly-flops occurred late in Oregon games.

Bill Barnwell: Wow. Mack goes WAY higher than I expected.

Doug Farrar: Whoa -- Mangini pisses off the Steelers. Big, tough guy. I think they need that kind of root toughness when Thomas and Steinbach are a little more finnesse-y.

Matt: I don't have any idea of "value" when it comes to centers but I think that's a good pick for Cleveland. He seemed to be the consensus best center.

Bill Barnwell: Absolutely not, Matt. Plenty of people had other guys ahead of Mack. Oher very well may not have been the best lineman available on their board.

Vince Verhei: Surprising, and maybe a reach, but taking the best lineman available is never a bad idea. And apparently they thought he was the best lineman available.

Andrew: If the Vikings take Harvin over Oher...

Drunkmonkey: Oher is going to blindside everybody who passed on him.

No. 22: Minnesota: Percy Harvin, WR, Florida

Bill Barnwell: Vikings SPRINT the pick in.

Mike Tanier: Harvin has a history of judgment lapses, dating back to high school: He was suspended for bumping an official and spitting on an opponent, among other acts of congeniality.

A poor Wonderlic school alone wouldn't torpedo a receiver with Harvin's gifts, nor would marijuana allegations or a few conduct flags. Put them all together, and here we are: Harvin joins the receiver-starved Vikings, whose head coach, Brad Childress, comes from the Andy Reid family tree. The Vikings pass offense is complicated. Harvin will have to prove he can learn it.

Harvin's role in the Florida offense raises one more concern. Like many top receiver prospects, he played in a gadget-heavy offense. Harvin didn't need perfect routes or precise footwork to get open in Urban Meyer's offense: All of the play-fakes, reverses, and threatened acts of Tim Tebow had defenders' heads spinning. Harvin could just drift into the middle of the field, catch the ball, and work his magic. With his exceptional athleticism, he could learn NFL route running and become an Anquan Boldin-type playmaker. That's where the Wonderlic scores and character issues come in: The Vikings will learn this year if Harvin is a willing or able learner.

Tim: I HATE YOU BRAD CLUELESS.

terrapin: WOW. Horrible pick. Harvin is going to suck.

Doug Farrar: Oh my goodness. Can he play quarterback?

Bill Barnwell: HE'S A WIDE RECEIVER FROM FLORIDA.

Grothe Investor: There are few better big game players this decade than Harvin. Problem was the not-so-big games and his injuries.

Bill Barnwell: Ike Hilliard was a great big game player too.

Vince Verhei: Wow, that was dumb. Best-case scenario, he's a project he has to learn how to run routes, and this team is Super Bowl ready. Dumb dumb dumb.

After the Ravens trade up...

No. 23 Baltimore: (From Patriots), Michael Oher, OL, Mississippi

Mike Tanier: Take it from a 15-year classroom vet: Oher isn't the only learning-disabled kid on the gridiron. Or, keep in mind that Ole Miss changed offensive schemes every year, yet Oher managed to learn the new plays and terminology well enough to line up on Saturday. "In learning football, he's ahead of the curve because of the merry-go-round of coaches (at Ole Miss)," Neal McReady of Rivals.com told me in March. "He's very coachable. He's proven that."

Oher was too good to pass up at this pick, and he improves the depth on a young Ravens offensive line. He's a run blocker, and that's what the Ravens need most in their back-to-the-1960s offense.

SGreenwell: "Take me in the seventh round, I don't care." -- Oher. Good times.

DJ Any Reason: When did Maria Sharapova become a stylist instead of a tennis player?

Josh: Sharapova can help Stafford make every shot a power shot.

No. 24 Atlanta: Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi

Mike Tanier: Jerry's age brings another problem. He's three years older than the typical prospect, meaning that he's as good as he'll ever get. The Falcons are getting a solid player, a one-gap, 3-technique tackle who will hustle and disrupt plays in the backfield. They aren't getting a guy who will register 12 sacks two years from now. Still, you can understand why the Falcons would prefer high-character guys, and they need to bolster their defensive line to keep pace with the hard-running Panthers and high-flying Saints. Jerry's a safe pick for a team that earned some draft-day benefit of the doubt with their exceptional performance last April.

No. 25 Dolphins: Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois

Mike Tanier: While a few of my Big Ten sources say Davis' attitude problem is overblown, tape shows him making mental errors in coverage and missing arm tackles when he has a clear shot at his receiver. Coach Ron Zook had to discipline him twice, and Pro Football Weekly Draft Preview says that Davis has a habit of exaggerating injuries and avoiding practice. PFW compares him to DeAngelo Hall: A great talent who will bounce around the league because he causes coaching migraines.

Of course, Bill Parcells knows what he's doing. The Dolphins were thin in the secondary, Davis is the best athlete on the board, and Tony Sparano's staff can provide the structure to keep a troubled player in line (see Ricky Williams). Eagles coach said once that when covering receivers, you have to "put big on big." When covering Randy Moss, you have to put troubled talent on troubled talent.

Bill Barnwell: "Inconsistent on and off the field." Does that mean he only smokes weed some days?

The Pats trade down again and the Packers grab...

No. 26 Packers: Clay Matthews, LB, USC

Mike Tanier: While cooling heels on the bench, Matthews proved he had the mettle to serve as a special-teams ace. He worked his way into the lineup as a strongside linebacker, then shifted to the defensive line in 2008. No one doubted his effort, athleticism, or intelligence, but Matthews couldn't stay healthy. He sustained several broken fingers and elbow sprains during his career, a sign that Matthews must perfect his hand technique and learn to protect himself better.

The Trojans used Matthews as a pass rusher, but I think he's a better player in space. He has the quickness and awareness to drop into coverage, and he'll be a better run defender when chasing and taking away cutback lanes than he would be battling tight ends on every snap. The new-look Packers defense is taking shape, with B.J. Raji clogging the lanes while Matthews helps Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk form what could be a dominating linebacking corps. This defense is built with Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte in mind. The Packers have really helped themselves in the last two hours.

Silentlaw: Did they just draft Triple H?

Bill Barnwell: That would explain the Muscle Milk t-shirt.

johonny: You draft Clay Matthews you get a player for the next 100 years.

No. 27 Colts: Donald Brown, RB, UConn

Mac: So, only the teams that already have running backs are taking running backs?

Tom: I love how (just because Berman knows that Brown is the pick over Wells) that he authoritatively tells us that Wells "doesn't fit the Colts' style" and that at some point the team needs to run to ball. What a soothsayer.

Mike Tanier: Don't let Brown's size fool you: The 5-foot-10 waterbug can squat over 600 pounds. Watch him play, and you'll have Brian Westbrook flashbacks: quick cuts, smart decisions in the open field, and surprising power at the ends of runs.

(If you are a Giants fan and you are experiencing Brian Westbrook flashbacks, lie on the floor with a damp cloth over your head. If symptoms persist, contact a Patriots fan having David Tyree flashbacks. It will make you feel better.)

No. 28 Buffalo: Eric Wood, C, Louisville

Mike Tanier: The Bills need an upgrade on the offensive line; too often, backs Marshawn Lynch and Freddie Jackson did their best work just getting back to the line of scrimmage. Wood is a ready-to-play talent, but like top pick Aaron Maybin, he's not a difference maker on a team that needs a jolt of pure athleticism. This is a skimpy haul for a team with two No. 1 picks.

Paul: Steve Young just called Wood a great player. That makes 28 for 28 on great players in the first round, according to him.

Insancipitory: How many toughtest players in this year's draft can there be?

Mac: Wood looks like a five-year-old. A huge five-year-old.

Zach: Where do the Giants go here? Nicks? Britt? Britton? Maualuga?

Bill Barnwell: If it were up to me, I'd take Louis Delmas.

No. 29 Giants: Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina

Mike Tanier: Nicks was the right pick here: He's more ready to contribute than Kenny Britt. The Giants don't need a developmental receiver; instead, they need a big short-route specialist who can work underneath and crack block. Nicks may only have 30 to 35 catches as a rookie, but he'll be a stick-mover, which is what the Giants needed the most.

Bill Barnwell: Fourth year in a row the Giants take a wide receiver in the first three rounds. Giants offense was not any worse without Plax, of course. But no one remembers that.

Matt: Herm says big receivers can get up and "get the jump ball." Is there any evidence for this, I mean it seems plausible to say that a big receiver can get balls that are thrown higher, but who cares how tall a guy is if he isn't a good enough athlete to actually jump high enough to get it, or react quick enough.

Bill Barnwell: I dunno. Chambers, for all I lambaste him for, is awesome on jump balls.

terrapin: Merril Hodge from twitter "Wood center brings lunch pal smart and uses hands well" HUH?

SGreenwell: Terrapin: I think he's saying that he's a lunch pail player, smart, and uses hands well. Sounds like a prom date, hi-oh!

buzzorhowl: Why am I the only person who remembers all the passes Braylon dropped last year?

Vince Verhei: You may be the only person with a big enough brain. He dropped a LOT of passes last year. Nobody could possibly remember ALL of them.

Philly Homer: God, watching Gruden speak without expletives is disconcerting, it's like watching a one-legged man run.

Bill Barnwell: Every time they show one of the college prospects on TV, it feels like the commercials they show on late night TV for phone sex lines.

SGreenwell: What do you think Roger does in the back between picks? I like to imagine that he's drinking martinis and playing million dollar poker hands.

Drunkmonkey: Goodell finds new girls for the guys at the draft.

Bill Barnwell: Suspends people for random reasons.

No. 30 Tennessee: Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers

Mike Tanier: There aren't many secrets about Britt's character. He was suspended against mighty Morgan State for violating a team rule, and Rutgers coaches often needed to take Britt down a notch. If quarterback Mike Teel didn't get Britt the ball when he was open, Britt let him know. Britt has Michael Irvin confidence, which could lapse into Keyshawn Johnson arrogance or Chad Johnson eccentricity if unchecked. For his part, Britt has been saying the right things in offseason interviews. "People have been saying a lot of things about my game, especially about my attitude which we know is not true," he told the Newark Star-Ledger. "Let them keep saying what they're saying. I've got to prove them wrong."

Vince Verhei: In all fairness, it's only been 11 years since Tennessee took a wide receiver in round one (Kevin Dyson, 1998). Of course, it's also been a NEED for 11 years...

No. 31 Arizona: Beanie Wells, RB, Ohio State

Mike Tanier: This was a predictable pick. Edgerrin James had a late-season Renaissance, but he's nearing the end of the line. Tim Hightower had everyone excited for a few weeks early in the year, but he averaged under three yards per carry by season's end. The Cardinals finished 30th in the NFL in offensive line yards, and they needed a back who could generate yardage on his own. Wells is just that kind of power back. He won't make a major contribution to the Cardinals' passing game, but Edge is still available for third down duties, and since Anquan Boldin is apparently staying put, the Cardinals won't have enough balls to go around to the running backs, anyway.

Mac: Beanie, running backwards might work against Northwestern, but I don't advise it in the NFL. Or even the NFC West.

Vince Verhei: If ever a team should have drafted a running back, it was Arizona there.

No. 32 Pittsburgh: Ziggy Hood, DT, Missouri

Mike Tanier: "Beanie" followed by "Ziggy." It's funny how these things work out. Hood got the nickname "Ziggy" from his grandmother, who luckily didn't read Doonesbury. He has better pass-rush technique than the other top tackles in the draft class, though his sack totals (13 in four years) don't reflect it. Hood can spin, stunt, and disengage from blockers, only to arrive late to the quarterback. At the NFL level, that will make him a role player, not a star. Luckily, the Steelers know just what to do with a player like Hood. He'll spend a year or two on the bench, slowly developing into a clearly specified role.

Doug Farrar: I interviewed Ziggy for the Washington Post. Nice kid, but I wasn't aware that he had ankle flexion issues...

Bill Barnwell: Hood's probably an end for the Steelers, not a tackle, right?

KJT: Ziggy, I think, is better as an end for the Steelers. Not nearly big enough for the nose.

Karl Cuba: Maybe Pittsburgh are going to feed him one of those infinite pizzas.

(Coming tomorrow... Part III.)

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 27 Apr 2009

68 comments, Last at 29 Apr 2009, 6:06pm by tuluse

Comments

1
by Bobman :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 3:42pm

mmmm, infinite pizza for Ziggy.....

2
by JasonK :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 4:06pm

From Tanier: "Hood got the nickname 'Ziggy' from his grandmother, who luckily didn't read Doonesbury."

I, for one, would much rather be a "Zonker" than a "Ziggy."

6
by masoch (not verified) :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 5:58pm

True... but she might have went with Zipper. In which case, Ziggy wins.

9
by justanothersteve :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 6:57pm

Maybe she's a David Bowie fan.

3
by Bjorn Nittmo (not verified) :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 4:19pm

"Giants offense was not any worse without Plax, of course. But no one remembers that."

I read BB's piece in 4Downs trying to make this case, but this statement just doesn't pass the smell test for anyone who watched the Giants offense struggle at the end of the season. I suspect that the numbers are driven largely by the offense's big game v. Seattle in week 5 when Plax was suspended. I buy into DVOA analysis as much as the next FO reader, but this is one case where I don't think it's leading to an accurate or believable conclusion. (None of this is to say that drafting Nicks was the right or wrong move.)

4
by bubqr :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 4:49pm

Completely agree. Against the Eagles, no Burress meant no double team, more disguised coverage, and more 8 men front.

I don't know about other teams, but I don't really care what DVOA says : without Burress, the Giants were not the same team when facing the Eagles.

12
by Roscoe :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 8:32pm

I second this. I think the numbers are also skewed by the big days the Giant's offense had against Arizona and Carolina.

My take on things is that when the Giants take on a team (like Arizona or Carolina) where the corners can't cover Hixon one on one, they have to pull the safety out of the box and the Giants' run game opens up. Or they don't pull the safety out of the box, and Eli has a good day.

But when the Giants play a team with good cover corners (like Phily), the safety never has to come out of the box.

The thing about Plax, as we saw from the 07 season is that even a real good corner has problems covering him one on one (see the Green Bay game).

19
by EaglesFan (not verified) :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 10:12pm

Allow me to be the third. I believe Plaxico probably cost the Giants the Super Bowl last year. Too bad the Eagles couldn't fully capitalize....

48
by markshcepp23 (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 11:40am

Yeah, I think you nailed it. The struggles were masked in DVOA by the ARI, CAR, and SEA game. Against the teams with good corners, the Giants need the big play threat that commands safety attention - which is why Edwards was a better fit than Boldin when they were shopping.

They also do need to utilize the short passing game better. Draftees Nicks and Beckum may be able to help with that, but I think it'll be on Hixon and Manningham to develop into the deep threat they really need.

5
by Birdman (not verified) :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 5:18pm

As a Vikings fan, I was so hoping that some team would pick Harvin before Minnesota could. Why draft a great tackle prospect (Oher) when you could have an injury-prone, pothead receiver who hasn't ever run real routes. Now, if Harvin went to a team with creative offensive minds, then perhaps he would have value. But Childress's offense has 5 plays: run inside, run off tackle, play action rollout, dump off to FB Tahi for 2 yards on 3rd and 5, and the occasional deep toss to Berrian.

http://pacifistviking.blogspot.com/2008/10/why-i.html

7
by JIMM (not verified) :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 6:46pm

I like the Harvin pick. Of course I don't know anything about judging football talent so perhaps it was smarter to take Oher.

Harvin strikes me from the little tape I've seen of him as uniquely gifted. I wanted the Vikings to take D. Jackson last year because I love having the explosive quick guys as the 2nd fiddle.

Can anyone tell me how Harvin compares to D. Jackson?

17
by AlanSP :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 9:31pm

I follow both the Eagles and Florida, and I think there are some similarities, both good and bad. Both are small explosive players with great speed (Harvin's a little bigger, but still on the small side). Jackson also was utilized a decent amount as a runner, whether on reverses or in on wildcat-like plays, ranking second in rushing DYAR among receivers. Harvin was used quite frequently as a runner (more than as a receiver in fact), so he could play a similar role.

They also both have some question marks as far as the mental aspects of the game. Jackson had a great rookie season, but he was also good for about one boneheaded play a game, whether it was the infamous play where he dropped the ball before crossing the goal line, running the wrong route, or trying to dive on a punt that nobody had touched. It wouldn't surprise me to see Harvin have similar issues early in his career.

There are some differences though. Harvin had far more injury problems in college, for one thing. In addition, Cal's offense is a lot closer to what pro teams run than Urban Meyer's, so he might have a harder time transitioning to the NFL. Also, despite his athletic ability, Harvin was never used to return kicks or punts, where Jackson was an exceptional punt returner in college, and that was an important part of his value as a rookie. Harvin was also used a lot more as a runner than any early round (1st 3 rounds) receiver in recent years. Since 2003, the early round receiver with the most carries was Devery Henderson with 70 in his college career. Harvin had 194 in 3 years. I'm still gathering data on college receiving stats from earlier years, but I doubt anyone else comes close to that. Hard to say if/how any of that translates to the NFL.

27
by peachy (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 12:47am

That seems like a pretty fair analysis - guys like Jackson or Bush are obvious points of reference, but it's tough to compare Harvin to any current player because he was used in a fairly unusual fashion in college (perhaps even a unique fashion.) He was a true hybrid in terms of touches, which is really rare (I think most UF fans would say that he was our best runner and our best receiver the last two years. And, as you note, he had more carries than receptions each year.) On the other hand, players of his general type are frequently employed as returners, and Harvin wasn't (ever, that I can remember) - he was too valuable to the offense to risk, especially since UF has one of the best semi-specialised returners around in Brandon James. He has all the physical attributes to be excellent in the return game, but you never know...

8
by JIMM (not verified) :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 6:47pm

I read that NE was looking to take him in the 1st round. If that was true I would take that as a very positive view of his potential to succeed in the NFL.

32
by Jimmy :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 7:23am

The Harvin to NE rumour makes a lot of sense to me. Belichick and Meyer are good friends so BB would have gotten a good idea of how Harvin might fit into a Pro locker room. NE have also used a good deal of spread packages and plays over the last two years and BB has always been willing to use a guy in packages that will make him successful rather than demanding a fully rounded player at their position (ie Welker, Faulk). If Harvin had gone to NE they would probably have used him at first in exactly the way he had shown he can play at Florida and it would have worked with Moss scaring safeties off deep.

I am pretty sure that Childress doesn't plan on being as flexible in how he tries to use Harvin (when has Chilly ever been flexible?) which might make it tougher to get production from him earlier in his career. Having another playmaker on the field with AP can't hurt though and Harvin and Berrian provide an awful lot of speed outside.

43
by hwc (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 10:31am

Harvin to the Patriots in round one would have made absolutely zero sense.

Receiver isn't a pressing need for the Pats. Welker has led the league in receptions two years in a row, the Moss kid is pretty good, and it's easy enough to find decent veterans to be the #3 guy for a year.

The notion of "developing a guy" to replace Moss is antiquated. NFL contracts and roster limits make that idea a fiction. You have to draft a guy, get 3-5 years out of him, and then move on to the next one.

And finally, after the Chad Jackson experience, I don't think Belichick is going to be shopping more Florida receivers anytime soon, especially if they have character issues.

Belichick all but announced his intention to move out of the first round on his NFL Network interview prior to the start of the draft.

46
by Jimmy :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 11:34am

I didn't say that they would have drafted Harvin to develop into Moss. I said if they had taken him they would have used him like Meyer did at Florida, which his production would indicate he is already very good at.

Try as hard as you might you have no way of disproving my theory that NE might have been interested in Harvin. Besides which it was just a theory, chill out.

55
by Aerogopher (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 3:52pm

You certainly have to take Bill at his word don't you; Spygate, until death do we part, Brady has a bad shoulder.

The Pats are so loaded at all the positions, they can draft strictly for ability. The WR they selected in the 3rd is not an angel I've read either (Tate). Do you think they drafted Brace because they had needs along the line. The Pats will need receivers before they need defensive line positions. How old are they at wide receiver?

10
by MC2 :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 7:28pm

Count me among the group that thinks Freeman will be a huge bust. In fact, I thought Tampa's entire draft was pretty weak.

11
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 8:24pm

Really, the Freeman picture on the front page of FO is just mean. A year and a half from now when he's 1-4 as a starter with a 53% completion rate and a 2/7 TD/INT ratio, just think of me crying in some corner.

13
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 8:35pm

The Giants offense was NOT as good without Plax (which doesn't mean it couldn't have been), but it wasn't. DVOA is a guide, but it isn't the law and we've already seen DVOA way wrong on the Giants (2007) of all teams.

Instead of trading say a 1st and a 3rd for a Braylon Edwards or Anquan Boldin who would have booth wanted fat new contracts, the Giants draft Nix, and Barden in round 3. The thing I haven't heard many people talk about is that I really feel they are using both guys to try and replace Plax. Nix is more NFL ready almost all of the other receivers and should be effective between the 20's, and Barden should most likely be used as that tall goal line threat that draws attention ( like Plax did). You want height in the redzone, and Barden at 6'6 is obviously that.

The Giants also grab a backup offensive tackle that some felt graded at the bottom of the 1st round.

14
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 8:52pm

Look, I really don't like what the Broncos did in gutting Shannihan ( a top 5 coach) and Cutler ( a top young qb) and all that, but I don't like what Tampa Bay did either.

Which teams might be looking at lottery picks next year?

There are always some teams that get devistated by injury, but who else? Raiders, Lions, possible Bucs?

16
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 9:17pm

Raiders, Lions, Bucs, Chiefs, Rams, and Bengals seem like relatively safe guesses for top 10 picks next year.

22
by Eddo :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 11:18pm

I honestly wouldn't be surprised to see neither the Bengals nor Chiefs in the top ten next year.

The Bengals already have a franchise QB, at least, and had a decent draft. They also drafted a couple players that could contribute right away (Smith, Rey M).

The Chiefs play in a weak division, and as much as I think Cassel was overvalued, he's still a solid starter. I could see a weak 7-9 year, which would put them around the 10-12 range.

28
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 3:47am

I'd include Denver in that list as well. First-time, offensive-oriented head coach, younger than half his team (see; Kiffin, Lane) from the Belichek tree, with a brad-new front office.

Someone explain to me what, in that list above, yells 'success!'. San Diego should have an easy path to the playoffs.

15
by Benjamin Light (not verified) :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 9:15pm

"But Oher has a book about him! That worked out great for Jeremy Brown!"

It worked out okay for Youkilis, Swisher and Blanton.

18
by Harris :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 9:42pm

Maclin is 25-30 pounds heavier than Jackson and two inches taller. He's the exact same size as Reggie Wayne and because he's only 20, could equal Boldin's 6-foot-1, 217lbs. before he's done. Even if he is a Jackson clone, Jackson was no worse than the second best rookie in the league last year. If Maclin puts up a 900 yard season like Jackson did, I will be pleased as punch.

Hail Hydra!

26
by AlanSP :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 12:30am

I just remembered that back on the FO mock draft thread, we were talking about what the Eagles would do if Maclin was still on the board when they picked (and if they'd traded for Jason Peters, which hadn't happened yet). I didn't think either of those things would happen, let alone both. It's kind of cool to go back and look at that discussion though.

39
by deep64blue :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 10:10am

Here's a prophetic comment from that thread:-

"Agreed. Maclin > Heyward-Bey, but if a team overvalues speed, it could happen. Just because something seems stupid to you (and may very well be) doesn't mean a team won't do it. Sometimes teams are stupider than us intermets dwellers, or sometimes they know something we don't."

It's the Raiders so I guess the former is more likely ....

20
by DavidL :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 10:58pm

Regarding Maclin, even if he's DeSean Jackson with fewer capitals in his name, WR is one of the positions where you really want the two most talented people you can find, not just one really good guy and his backup. The alternative is the Panthers' passing offense.

21
by Anonymous (not verified) (not verified) :: Mon, 04/27/2009 - 11:09pm

Which has been magnificent compared to the Bears passing offense over the past...well, longer than I've been alive...

24
by AlanSP :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 12:12am

I think the argument that they were getting at was that it's better to have two receivers with different styles, e.g. a speed guy and a possession guy (e.g. Randy Moss and Chris Carter, or Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad), the thinking being that they compliment each other.

As I said in the chat, though, I have no problem whatsoever with having another DeSean Jackson-type of player. Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce were both similar types of players and that worked out pretty well. I really like the Maclin pick

23
by TruFalcon (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 12:08am

You know who's a great playmaker who's not a great route runner?
Devin Hester. Harvin brings a similar kind of gamebreaking ability.

25
by AlanSP :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 12:14am

except that Harvin didn't return punts or kicks at all in college, and Hester didn't do much else for the first few years of his career. I understand what you're trying to get at, but I don't think it's a great comparison

29
by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 3:52am

(sigh) How much do I need to drink to forget that I'm a Vikings fan?

It's okay, guys - we didn't need a new center to replace Birk. And of course, we don't need to worry about how many pound-years are being carried on Pat Williams' knees. Or about the pending 4-game suspensions, for that matter.

64
by tuluse :: Wed, 04/29/2009 - 12:39am

Devin Hester couldn't run routes coming out of college because he didn't play receiver at Miami. Which was because he didn't want to. Deion Sanders was his hero, and he wanted to play corner like him. He was such an incredible athlete college coaches would bend over backwards to make him happy.

Lovie Smith showed why he is an NFL coach convincing Hester to switch to receiver, and he has progressed very nicely ever since.

30
by Xeynon (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 5:17am

I think the argument that they were getting at was that it's better to have two receivers with different styles, e.g. a speed guy and a possession guy (e.g. Randy Moss and Chris Carter, or Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad), the thinking being that they compliment each other.

Admittedly, I haven't watched much of Maclin, but I don't see why everyone's reflexively comparing him to Jackson - other than the fact that he's fast and returns kicks, I don't see how they have all that much in common as prospects. In addition to the fact that Maclin is 6'0 1/2" and 200 lbs. whereas Jackson is 5'10", 175, Jackson came out of a program with a pro-style offense and was fairly experienced at running NFL routes, whereas Maclin played in a spread offense in college and will likely need a lot of work on that aspect of his game. From what the scouts say Maclin has good hands and, and with a Wonderlic score of 25 he was the smartest WR in the draft, so I don't doubt that he'll adapt. He might take longer than Jackson to become a productive NFL player but I have to say that as an Eagles' fan, I love the pick - he was considered the best WR in the draft by more than half the teams in the league and a surefire top 10 pick, so getting him at 19 is a steal. A lot of Eagles' fans who don't like it seem hung up on the fact that he's not a "big" receiver and ostensibly won't help as much in the red zone, but there were no "big" receivers on the board worthy of the #21 pick, and with the upgrades at OT and FB I don't think red zone offense is going to be as much of a problem anyway.

The idea that you need to have a slow possession-type receiver with good hands to compliment your deep threat is, quite frankly, absurd. As you point out, having two fast receivers with good hands seemed to work out okay for the Rams. Besides, the team already has Curtis, Baskett, and Avant to play the possession WR role.

As for Pettigrew, I liked him as well, but star WRs are much harder to come by than good blocking TEs, so I'd rather take a chance on getting the former. If Maclin pans out, the Eagles have their starting WRs for the next decade with he and Jackson, and when it's time for Kolb to take over at QB, he'll do it with a top-notch pair of young receivers to throw the ball to. And I don't at all see why anybody would think Pettigrew would be a great red zone target, considering that he caught ZERO TD passes in his senior season despite being the top receiving talent on his team.

Add in the fact that they got a top 5 RB prospect in round two in McCoy, and I agree with the pundits that the Eagles had a very strong draft.

31
by Jimmy :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 7:12am

If I were to compare Maclin to anyone in the NFL at the moment I would say Reggie Bush but with the advantage of being put at receiver rather than trying to make a RB out of him. Both similar sizes and both freakishly athletic. Maclin will need to learn a full route tree but should have the skills to do it.

33
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 9:06am

I am not so sure KC & St Louis will be lottery picks either. KC because Matt Casell might be continue to be good ( and they play the Raiders twice) and Denver twice and having a good QB even on a bad roster is worth a few wins. KC also has one of the best home field advantages in the NFL.

St Louis I have a feeling might try and start playing some more conservative run the ball play defense/martyball forumula to manufacture some wins. They actually have some ballers in their front 7 now with Long, Little, Carriker, Larrinutis and Weatherspoon.

Cincinatti could actually be a surprise team in the NFL, getting back Carson Palmer and the defense actually showed some signs of life last year and their coach is on the hot seat. They looked to have had a decent draft too.

Denver might be a good bet for a lottery pick. Kyle Orton, new coach, new QB/system, and a horrible defense. That team has so much pressure on them too.

34
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 9:09am

So why is Dave Lewin a *QB Expert*?

Because he noticed some trends in drafting quarterbacks? If I noticed that West Coast teams traveling East for 1 PM starts have horrible ATS records, does that make me an NFL expert?

If I noticed that underdogs that win outright, that are favored in their next game have horrible ATS records, does that make me an expert?

Has Dave Lewin ever played or coached quarterbacks? What qualifies him as an expert, that his *system* that mixes starts, completion percentage, and scouting grades has been a good general guide in the past?

35
by Temo :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 9:52am

I want to know where the words "QB Expert" and Dave Lewin have appeared together. But to answer your question, he does I think play QB at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Also, his "system" has been wrong before and probably will be wrong again the future. It's at best a guide or a way to raise red flags when scouts get carried away with workout warrior QBs. It's not a fail-safe evaluation tool.

"Then again, I'm a Bobby Carpenter believer." -- Barnwell

41
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 10:15am

I had no idea. Macalester? Wow, right up the road. It's a legendarily bad football team, have a friend who went there and I think he said they won one game during his undergraduate years. Hey, look, I found Lewin's 2005 stats:

http://athletics.macalester.edu/custompages/football_stats/stats05/teamc...

41/79 for 422 yards, 1 TD, 10 INT.

OK, no disrespect to Mr. Lewin and I really do appreciate his analysis, but I do find the humor in that stat line.

42
by Temo :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 10:19am

Stats that show why he crossed over to the spreadsheet-ed ones.

"Then again, I'm a Bobby Carpenter believer." -- Barnwell

36
by Chip :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 9:58am

speaking of which, did he ever publish his take on this year's QB class?

37
by AlanSP :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 10:04am

Has Mel Kiper ever played or coached QBs? Todd McShay? Mike Mayock? For that matter, most NFL GMs haven't played or coached QBs. That's not really the sort of thing that makes you an expert.

Since you asked, though, Lewin has in fact played QB in college. He also apparently spends a lot of time watching and scouting quarterbacks, not just plugging in their numbers into a spreadsheet, which is part of why he's higher on, say, Sanchez, than his system suggests he should be. And yes, actually doing the research to see how QBs project to the NFL gets you some credibility on the subject of how quarterbacks will project to the NFL.

53
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 3:14pm

"If I noticed that West Coast teams traveling East for 1 PM starts have horrible ATS records, does that make me an NFL expert?"

If you were the first person in the world to notice that, yes, it would.

But you're not. Plus not every football fan cares about gambling.

38
by parker (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 10:07am

Chris
re: dvoa wrong on Giants(07),

I don't see that as the case. Before you blow a gasket consider something pretty major:

Eli Manning had the worst season overall of any full time starting qb that year. Granted, he got it together late in the season. Or, to put it another way the Giants receivers and Eli got it together late in the season. To be rated as high as they were with that bad of a passing attack meant that they were probably the best in the league in a few other aspects of the game which they got even better at once the passing game pull its head out of its own ass.

You were correct at pointing out that the Gmen were capable of being much better than dvoa said, but its not like they performed at some level that dvoa couldn't comprehend all season. IMO dvoa was saying this team is going to kill everyone if they ever get their passing game together. There is a team down in Washington that you might want to look out for who is having a similar issue.

40
by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 10:13am

Brian Westbrook is having London Fletcher flashbacks.

"Just look at that pumpkin."
-John Madden, looking at the moon.

44
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 10:41am

I wasn't trying to be rude, I was honestly asking if he ever played QB, looks like he did. Congrats. 410 yards and a touchdown pass is more than most here would ever throw and I honestly respect him for suiting up and know that he would have certain insights others couldn't possess.

AlanSP- I might call Mel Kiper Jr. a draft expert, but is he a QB expert? Look, I'm not saying you have to play/coach QB's to be an expert, but I was looking for what made D-Lew an expert besides "the system". If I bet on West Coast teams traveling East for 1pm starts and go 8-2 against the number, am I some sort of an expert tout? I was looking for what made him an expert besides the system.

Has he posted his outlook for the players this year?

Parker - The 2007 Giants have been beaten like a dead horse. Either DVOA grossly underestimated the Giants (likely), or DVOA didn't underestimate the Giants and they were a .00001 ananomly (unlikely). Considering the Giants 2008 encore and #1 seed in the NFC, I'd side with the earlier.

Eli had good games, and a few awful games. Sometimes you could blame the cold windy weather, sometimes you could blame his WR's that led the league in drops that year, sometimes you could blame the game planning, sometimes Eli was just off ( it happens), he Eli did also show very good upside flashes as well. He has proven that he can beat you with his arm, that he can run the 2 min drill, and that he can successfuly audible in and out of plays. He gets it. Yes, he has made mistakes, but most young players do. Eli has matured as he has aged, as you would expect.

For the Redskins to start passing and to win the whole thing as you (obviously hope), they are going to have to shift the paradigm of their offense from ball control, run first, smoke screens, to having Jason Campbell drop back and beat you making quick accurate reads, and delivering quick accurate throws. It is possible, but a <50% chance in my opinion based on his skillset, how management has used him, and how management explored multiple routes of finding a new quarterback this year. They might just be better off running the ultra-conservative offense as is, and trying to stack the defense and win like Baltimore last year.

For the record, for all the bashing I think your skins should be alright next year. ( I had them 6-10, 7-9 last year). You have a talented roster, brought in much needed D-Line help ( that you've needed for this entire decade), and have a very favorable schedule. I still think you have the weakest team in the NFC East, but you might not finish in last place due to (other teams) injuries, and your favorable schedule. In another division your team should challenge for a playoff spot, but in the NFC, I still don't see you guys as good as the Eagles, Giants and Dallas.

45
by Temo :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 10:56am

No one said you were rude, and I just explained that no one thinks he's a "QB Expert". Stop propping up agruments that don't need to exist.

People respect his opinion as much as any football writer because he's been right before (and wrong as well), but you're saying we're giving him too much credit when I'm saying that we're not really giving him all that much credit.

Non-issue, really.

"Then again, I'm a Bobby Carpenter believer." -- Barnwell

50
by MC2 :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 1:05pm

Actually, Tanier's second paragraph on Josh Freeman refers to Lewin as a "QB expert".

47
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 11:34am

I felt like I was a little rude but I didn't mean to be ( and my comment was previously deleted) but I was honestly trying to ask. I don't know much about D-Lew so thank you for the information.

Mike Tanier called him a QB expert.

Look, I love football outsiders as much as the next guy, the thing I value about them is that they have independent analysis and are not afraid of forming a different opinion of the conventional media. It isn't like they just have "hunches" either, they can back up their assertations with their own independent stats. That's great.

Tanier didn't get into it here, but Aaron Schatz did in 2007 right before he predicted the New York Giants to Giants to be the 32nd best team in the NFL that year. Right after he made his fearless prediction, he said we are the best in the business and that's a pretty bold thing to say. A lot of Giants and non-giants fans disagreed and provided the exact logic as to why they Giants wouldn't be destroyed post-tiki barber, and were 100% correct ( and ignored).

Making fun of other people's horrible predictions is fine, but make sure you are able to take it if you are able to dish it. Deleting comments and trying to cover up the past isn't very transparent. Even the best in the business will be wrong and unlucky sometimes.

Sometimes those crazy readers have good points to add and can point out the FO flaws, and sometimes FO predictions that don't pass the eye test do in fact turn out to be correct.

54
by Temo :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 3:46pm

It wasn't Schatz who predicted that the Giants would have the #1 pick, though I do remember some Outsiders doing so.

I do remember that DVOA did not thing this was the case. The actual DVOA predictions had the Giants as a good team, if I remember correctly... though not a Super-Bowl winning one.

49
by Aerogopher (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 12:49pm

1-Ike Hilliard didn't get to play with Adrian Peterson.

2-I would like to hear about Harvin's ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

3-As far as why the Patriot's would want Harvin - the bubble screen. It seems that 1 out of 3 passes the Patriots throw is a bubble screen. Moss is fast but the Pats hardly run bubble screens to him.

62
by Jimmy :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 7:48pm

As far as why the Patriot's would want Harvin - the bubble screen. It seems that 1 out of 3 passes the Patriots throw is a bubble screen. Moss is fast but the Pats hardly run bubble screens to him.

Very true. If the Pats had drafted Harvin they would have used him on the same plays he had dominated on in college.

51
by parker (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 1:48pm

Chris,
I guess we'll just have to wait and see when the season starts. One thing I'm pretty sure about is Eli regressing from the outstanding performance he posted last year. I think that puts the Giants back in the 10 win and under category.

52
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 2:46pm

Eli is regressing since last off season or he will be regressing next year? Just to clear it up, Eli is going to regress in what respect? Less passing yards, less TD passes, a lower completion percentage.

Will the Giants #3 scoring offense rank lower
Will the Giants #2 TOP offense at 32:56 min per game rank lower?

Why is Eli going to regress? His physical skills are going to deteriorate at 28 years old than they were at 27 years old? His mind is going to get slower at 28? Less talent around him? Harder 1st place schedule? He played better than he was?

It seemed like in 2007 he had a number of "unlucky" interceptions, with catchable balls bouncing off his receivers hands and intercepted, or Plax quitting on a route and having an interception, or Plax complaining he needed the ball and forcing a throw to him that was intercepted.

If you think Eli is going to regress, that's fine, but do you have any logic as to why, or you just don't like the guy? Did he date your little sister or something?

56
by Temo :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 4:01pm

1. Loss of Plaxico Burress
2. An abnormal decrease in interception rate (2.1% vs. career 3.4% not including rookie year and 3.8% the year prior).
3. Ridiculously healthy offensive line that won't stay ridiculously healthy.

57
by parker (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 4:55pm

Chris,
Go to dyar year by year. Everytime a top 10 guy had less than 10 interceptions his team got worse the next year. Some off the top of my head are Garrard last year...Brees before that and Brunell a couple of years before that.

58
by parker (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 4:56pm

Chris,
Go to dyar year by year. Everytime a top 10 guy had less than 10 interceptions his team got worse the next year. Some off the top of my head are Garrard last year...Brees before that and Brunell a couple of years before that.

I think Manning has bucked this trend before.

59
by parker (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 4:57pm

Peyton Manning

60
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 5:03pm

54- In 2007 Schatz and a few others had the Giants picking #1 in 2008 as the worst team in the NFL. Whoops.

1. Yes, the Giants cut Plaxico, but they also performed better than expected when they released Tiki Barber. People were saying, where would the Giants pick up those 2000 yards offense they lost from their elite RB? Just like when Edge James left Indy, both teams were fine and won the Lombardi trohpy the following year.

2. Eli had a lower interception rate but he also threw less passes in 2008 than any of his previous seasons and the Giants played more conservative and with more leads. Do you feel they will become more aggressive throwing the ball next year? Do you think they will move away from the smash mouth football they played with Brandon Jacobs and those 5 yard runs he was ripping off?

Call me crazy, but I felt like in 2007 especially, but 2006 as well, that Eli had a lot of "unlucky" interceptions. It wasn't like he really made the wrong read, but he didn't make an accurate throw and his WR didn't help him out much. The ball might have hit a WR in the hands, but was deflected and intercepted. It might not have been 100% the WR's fault ( as the pass wasn't perfect), but the ball should have been probably been caught, and certainly didn't deserve an interception. If you throw a crossing route, hit the WR in the hands and the ball bounces back to a DB, it isn't like making the wrong read and throwing the ball to zone without an offensive player and only a defensive player. He had some "jump ball" picks to Plax, and some where the frustrated WR quit on the route and failed to play DB. Also, I believe he had a few hail mary/end of half/end of game type hurry up/pressure INTs.

I felt like Eli had much less of these "unlucky" interceptions in 2008. Maybe they were "unlucky" things that happened previously in his career, maybe they were "who Eli is" and he was lucky last year for them NOT to happen ( as parker could be arguing). I just don't usually watch a QB play a season and have 5 or so fluke INTS... or Hail Mary INTS at the end of a half/game... Maybe 1-2, but if you removed those from his stats they are better. 24 TDs and 12 ints looks a lot better than 24 tds and 17 ints.

3. So how many guys are going to get hurt and how will that effect Eli's play?

As I say over and over, I think the traditional stats underrate Eli for a couple reasons...
1. It doesn't take into consideration his low sack rate ( which has value)
2. It doesn't take into consideration his impact on the run game ( which has value)

Eli is an excellent audible-er, he's a football geek, he gets it, and his high football IQ would explain the low sack rate and impact on the run game. People look at how often a QB is sacked and automatically assume the QB's that are sacked a lot have crappy lines, and the QB's who aren't sacked a lot have great lines.

The QB is a living breathing impact to his line. He has the ability to slide protection, to keep a RB back to block, or to throw the hot read when he feels preassure. QB's that do that better, will be sacked less. QB's with faster releases will be sacked less...

People use high sack totals as an excuse, when they are very often a flaw of a QB. Michael Vick was very mobile, but he was horrible at all of the above things. David Carr was a human pinata, but would have been in teams other than Houston as well because he can't read a defense.... It's not rocket science. The smartest QB's are the ones that get sacked the least... not always the most mobile like most people automatically assume.

61
by Temo :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 5:50pm

1. They replaced those 2000 yards with a superior offensive line and running back trio. Who's replacing Burress in this offense-- Hixon? Maybe he's that good-- but I don't think so.

2. INT rates can improve by large amounts, but usually don't. Has he become less turnover prone? Maybe, there is some evidence that his INT rates actually started coming down when Jeremy Shockey went down in their Super Bowl season.

3. Decreased offensive line health will lead to a less effective running game and more pressure on the QB (more so the former than the latter). I don't think they can continue the extent to which they've enjoyed continuity in that unit.

I think Eli audibles a lot... I'm not sure that's he's tremendously good at it. If anything, he has a habit of over thinking while audibling.

Otherwise, I don't think Eli is a bad QB. But I don't think he's as good as he performed last year.

63
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 04/28/2009 - 7:50pm

1. Luke P. left the Giants that year as well and that was who Aaron Schatz and company had the Giants selecting with the #1 pick, a left tackle... It wasn't just that the Giants lost Tiki, they lost the 1st round draft pick left tackle as well.

Was it that the 2007 Giants O-Line was a lot better than the 2006 one, or was Brandon Jacobs a hell of a lot better than people gave him credit for ( Ward too). The guy I want to say averaged 4.6 per carry in 2006, and ran well in 2007.

Was the O-line dramatically better, or was Eli also a good audibler that helped?

2. As younger quarterbacks mature, you'd tend to see that INT rate drop as they woudl age, assuming that they actually are good. A smarter player would make less mistakes right? Unless you are asking a guy to change roles and move from the game manager hat to the gun slinger hat... but that isn't the case with Eli, if anything, he was more conservative last year... ( and had less picks, what a coincidence!)

3. So how many guys are going to get hurt? Is health a skill? Your idea also makes the asumption that there is a drop off with backup lineman which is usually but not always true.

You think Eli audibles a lot or he audibles a lot? He audibles more than almost any QB in the NFL and he's good at is, by the fact that he doesn't get sacked a lot, and I'd say that he audibles well on run plays as well.

You might say Eli "over thinks", but I'd rather have a brainiac like Peyton Manning back there, then a moron like Michael Vick that never does much thinking back there.

Look, I was pounding the "Eli is better than you think" drum for long enough and I think it's safe to say that I was right, but now that people realize he actually has value, I am just trying to point out that Eli is very very good at areas that you don't usually see QB's get a lot of credit for.

Now what do people talk about more TEMO, in the national media or here at FO...

Do you hear people talk about QB's rushing yards more, or how infrequently smart quarterbacks are sacked?

If you fliped on a Falcons game with Vick or a Vikings game with T.Jack, you hear a whole hell of a lot how the quarterbacks rushing yards, but you usually don't hear a whole lot about how Brady/Peyton/Eli aren't sacked very often in their games. There is such a fascination with a quarterback ripping off a 7 yard run to pick up yards, but a QB checking in and out of plays and making quick reads gets no love.

Make no mistake, it is a whole heck of a lot harder to sack Peyton Manning, than it was to sack Michael Vick.

65
by AlanSP :: Wed, 04/29/2009 - 8:21am

Nobody talks about Eli's ability to avoid sacks because Eli's not exceptionally good at avoiding sacks (even with a stellar offensive line). He got sacked on 5.3% of his pass attempts this year, good for 14th in the league (league average was 5.9%). He's hovered around 5% for his entire career, which is above average, but not great.

With Peyton and Brady, people talk about their ability to avoid sacks a lot. It's nearly impossible to watch a Patriots game without some announcer talking about how Brady doesn't run very well, but is great at moving around within the pocket to buy time

66
by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 04/29/2009 - 9:30am

Eli is good at avoiding sacks. He wasn't playing in a west coast offense or an offense designed on a lot of short passes or dump offs. He was a Quarterback who throws the ball downfield more and is in more traditional passing situations.

If Johnny West coast quarterback is going to drop back and throw quick slants, he will get sacked on a lower percentage of his throws compared to a guy in the shotgun, throwing on 3rd and 9 when everybody in the stadium knows he is throwing.

You think the announcers go on and on about Brady/Mannings low sack rate? I see announcers go on and on about mobility. Soloman Wilcotts is the worst for that. He could be doing a Colts/Vikings game, and rather than talking about how great Peyton Manning is, he could just go on and on about how Tavaras Jackson can throw and run, and how running the ball adds another dimension and is harder to defend than quarterbacks who can only throw blah blah blah. He is so penny wise pound foolish it's comical. The guy has a sick fetish about mobility.

Sometimes you will see announcers talk about how Brady/Manning aren't mobile, but have good pocket awareness, but I really don't see them talking about their low sack rates specifically very often and that's what I'm talking about. It's auxillary value that people often ignore. These guys could break passing records, but it's not like they are getting sacked a lot to go along with that.

68
by tuluse :: Wed, 04/29/2009 - 6:06pm

Eli was 20th in the league in yards per attempt, so he doesn't appear to be throwing much deeper than anyone else. He was in fact below average in how deep he was throwing he ball. So, I would agree with AlanSP, he isn't very good at avoiding sacks.

67
by Wanker79 :: Wed, 04/29/2009 - 10:11am

I will never understand why people here continually insist on feeding the troll.