Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Four Downs: AFC North

While the Steelers need pass-rushers, everyone else in this division needs more blockers. The Browns in particular face the difficult task of replacing a Hall of Fame left tackle in Joe Thomas.

27 Apr 2018

Audibles at the Line: 2018 NFL Draft Day One

compiled by Andrew Potter

For this special NFL draft edition of Audibles, as with our regular Audibles feature, the FO staff sends around e-mail comments about the draft. We share information, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed as we watch. We then compile a digest of those emails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

While these e-mails are written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of the draft. That means we aren't going to discuss every pick, or every talking point. We watch the draft as fans as well as analysts, so the discussion may be colored by our rooting interests and aspects of the draft may not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all.

2018 NFL Draft: Round 1

Vince Verhei: Before Football Outsiders I rarely watched the draft. Once I started working here I would watch it, but usually out of the corner of my eye, with something else going on. The last three or four years I really started getting into it. But this year, when it seems like every trade and every pick could be a complete shocker, I am totally jazzed for this. Just giddy to see how it works out.

Dave Bernreuther: I'm with Vince. Other than the drafts I got to watch from inside an actual war room, I've never found the draft to be all that exciting live; In fact, I thought putting it in prime time was a stupid idea, and I was perfectly content to just read a list of players afterwards, similar to when I was a kid and didn't have cable and just checked the box scores in the paper the next day.

But this year is different. I think we owe a lot of that to the fact that the Browns have two premium picks, which gave John Dorsey extra incentive not to let anything about No. 1 leak. Obviously, there's lots of extra intrigue because of all the quarterbacks and the trades. I'm in the camp that thinks it's possible that none of these guys is really worth the resources required to get him, but I also think that in the right situation, five of the six possible first-rounders could succeed. But I think it's also likely that general managers will demonstrate that they're not that great at reading people and situations, and so it will be thrilling to see what fun and clever ways these guys -- including quite possibly all three non-Belichicks in the AFC East -- find to screw this all up.

It's also different because I tend to enjoy being the stubborn pessimist about college quarterbacks (which doesn't even make me a contrarian or smart, as obviously they're much more likely to fail than to become a superstar) who also roots for being right. I know, how nice of me. But oddly I find myself hoping for the best for all of the quarterbacks.

Sadly, though, one of them is likely to end up in Cleveland. And after months of wondering, we will finally get to find out who. And then what will happen at No. 2. Man this is going to be an interesting first round.

Tom Gower: We're eight minutes, 20 seconds to the draft according to the clock on ESPN, and we're still not sure who's going No. 1. We think we know who's probably going No. 2, but we're not sure of that either. No. 3 depends on No. 1 and maybe No. 2. No. 4 is a trade candidate. Ditto No. 5. And No. 6. Weird feeling. Then again, there seemed to be a broad consensus for the top picks last year, and that broke down a lot at No. 2, so maybe this won't be as exciting as we're hoping it will be.

Rivers McCown: Hello, I too am here to point and laugh at whoever picks Josh Allen.

Bryan Knowles: And the ceremonial booing of the commissioner kicks off one of the most unpredictable drafts we've seen in years. A real chance we could see it open QB-QB-QB-QB. Like, only a 10 percent chance or so, but that would be something.

Vince Verhei: Some thoughts on the pre-draft rumors that the Broncos might trade up to No. 2 for Josh Allen: John Elway was, at best, a scatter-armed quarterback. He was below league average in completion percentage seven times, above average nine times. (At Stanford, weirdly, he twice led the Pac-10 in completion percentage.) But he won in the NFL as a guy who could avoid turnovers and make big plays with his arms and legs. That sounds like Josh Allen's ceiling, honestly -- a lot of clunky performances that turn into late victories on a small number of big plays. I can see Elway seeing himself in Allen, and it makes sense he'd look at him with a glass-half-full view.

Scott Kacsmar: Wait, which channel should I watch? FOX seems to be showing the same NFL Network broadcast while ESPN is doing its own thing. I don't really care for Mel Kiper though.

Vince Verhei: I am all NFL Network, all the time.

Dave Bernreuther: We're now starting to hear rumors that the Broncos want to trade up to No. 2. Because John Elway is good at choosing quarterbacks.

Is anyone else depressed by the fact that someone in in this league is making a million or more dollars this year to make decisions as smart as drafting Josh Allen?

I will laugh for the next several hours if it ends up being Allen that Elway covets.

Just look at this first play. That ball should be thrown when the slot guy is at the 40. It's an easy touchdown. Forget his accuracy; it's his decision-making and processing that are the reasons he will never succeed. If he runs himself out of touchdowns and into sacks against Eastern Michigan, he's not going to suddenly become more composed against NFL defenses. Ever.

Vince Verhei: BAKER MAYFIELD GOES FIRST OVERALL. ANALYTICS LIVE IN CLEVELAND!

Rob Weintraub: Well I gotta root against Baker now....

Carl Yedor: As the guys on NFL Network are saying now, Scot McCloughan (serving as a consultant for the Browns) was high on Mayfield as well. But it's more fun to think that QBASE was the driving force. Maybe the fact that the model agreed with McCloughan will lend it more credibility in league circles. Not saying that's how it should be, but it can't hurt.

Rob Weintraub: First walk-on ever to go No. 1 overall. Incredible journey; gotta give him credit.

     

Tom Gower: So Baker did go No. 1. Kudos to him. Like Doug Farrar mentioned on Twitter today, getting him to perform at his best is probably more about putting him into the right scheme than it would be for Darnold or Rosen, which is why I thought his fate depended on his destination more than theirs did. And Hue Jackson's the guy who basically said quarterbacks under 6-foot-2 can't play. It's hard to see it taking long for him to join the very long list of incumbent (non-new) head coaches who were quickly fired after their team selected a quarterback in the first round.

Bryan Knowles: And Saquon Barkley goes two.

In a world where all positions were equally valuable and equally scarce, Barkley's an easy choice for the top pick in the draft. This, uh, isn't that world.

I think Barkley's going to be a great player, but I don't think a running back is what the Giants need to get back over the hump. Is Davis Webb really the future at quarterback for the Giants? It's too bad the Giants weren't really bad last year and couldn't see what Webb had under center...

Aaron Schatz: So the defense against the Giants this year is two guys on Odell Beckham, one on Evan Engram, and the other eight in the box?

Rob Weintraub: Saquon to NYG, no surprise. Now the Jets -- I'm sitting next to a huge Jets fan who can't decide between Rosen and Darnold. For me the choice is clear -- Jewish Jesus!

Vince Verhei: (Wasn't Jesus the Jewish Jesus?)

Rivers McCown: The defense against the Giants this year is "Eli Manning is 37."

Tom Gower: Saquon Barkley goes No. 2. That was expected. Here's the thing: with draft picks, you get (1) the rights to a player of your choice at a pre-determined contract for a set length of time (four years, plus the one-year option for first-round picks) and (2) right of first refusal to pay that player "market" value after the expiration of his rookie contract. By spending the No. 2 pick on him, you're not getting any value from (1) because you're paying Barkley at a top-five value for entirety of his rookie deal or from (2) because running backs are hardly ever great on second contracts. Yeah, he's great. He should've gone seventh to the Bucs.

Ben Muth: The Giants offensive line was bad last year. Adding Nate Solder (who is OK but not a stud) probably won't help it as much as the price tag would lead you to believe. They will also have a new center and Ereck Flowers changing sides, so continuity will be rotten. I just don't see this as a great situation for a back to step into and make a huge difference.

     

Dave Bernreuther: I'm watching ESPN, not so much by choice but because it's convenient. I'm already annoyed by Mel Kiper, but am impressed by Kirk Herbstreit. He's doing a great job, and I really enjoy that he used college-era tape of Brett Favre and Drew Brees. That's one thing that quarterback cynic me wants to take a closer look at some day: film of stars and how they looked in college. I set a really high bar for quarterbacks, but that's based on the time I have spent watching Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Brees, Tom Brady, etc., as stars in the NFL. I'd love to go back in hindsight and see what the holes in their game were in college.

I feel bad for Tyrod Taylor. Not that I thought he'd have been destined for success or a fair shake under Haley and Hue, but what a raw deal. Now he'll be 30 and thrice discarded. I could've said that weeks or months ago too, of course. But now it's official.

The more I've watched of Mayfield, the more my opinion lines up with the numbers. I really do think he has a great chance to succeed. Even with Hue Jackson and in Cleveland.

Bryan Knowles: Jets take Sam Darnold, who they'll claim was the guy they wanted when they traded up weeks ago.

Christian Hackenberg, 2016 Jets second-round pick: zero career pass attempts.

I might be alone here but ... Darnold might be the third-best quarterback on the Jets in 2018, behind Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater. I get that they needed to get a quarterback because they had no long-term plan at the position, but I don't think they needed to give up a trio of second-rounders to make the pick.

Scott Kacsmar: It's a huge night for Cleveland, but I think we could be spending years talking about what the New York teams just did. I think the Jets can feel very good about getting a guy a lot of people had going first overall, and Darnold should have been the pick for the Giants. It makes no sense to think you still have a contender here with Old Eli. This was the draft and opportunity to get a quarterback and they went with the easiest position to find with a No. 2 pick.

Dave Bernreuther: If the Giants didn't love any of the non-Baker QBs, I agree with David Gettleman's "gold jacket" logic. Nothing wrong with taking a sure thing.

But Scott's right. Expecting to be any better than 8-8 next year is ridiculous, and by the time that team is any good again, they'll be at the end of Barkley's shelf life.

Vince Verhei: I get all the criticism about the Giants passing on a quarterback. I wrote in the ESPN draft guide that it would be the wise thing to do. But their whole focus this offseason has been to cash in on whatever Eli has left. They have gone all in on winning now. Taking a quarterback would have put that all to waste. So as much as I disagree with their choice, I do credit them for having a plan and sticking to it.

Rob Weintraub: Here's what being a Jets fan means: my buddy figures they screwed up the Darnold pick, just because they're the Jets. Of course we all favor Rosen, for several reasons.

Carl Yedor: Denzel Ward at No. 4? I'm a little surprised. I hadn't seen any mocks that had him going that high. Whether that helps Gregg Williams put together a pass defense is a whole different question.

Aaron Schatz: The Browns have turned over so much of the secondary this offseason, but if you think the guy can be a No. 1 corner, you don't pass on him just because you signed a bunch of free agent No. 2 and 3s. So if they think he's that good, I understand the pick.

Dave Bernreuther: At No. 5 Elway grabs Bradley Chubb. I'm stunned. After the Browns passed on him I was almost certain he'd fall to the Colts. Damn. Now I can't make fun of Elway for screwing up a quarterback pick again. I was really looking forward to that.

Vince Verhei: Hey, Allen's starting to slide. There's still time for Elway to trade back into the first.

Bryan Knowles: Quenton Nelson to the Colts feels like such a no-brainer, like you could have penciled it in months ago. Worst pass protection in the league last season, and they need to try to keep Andrew Luck healthy, assuming he's not currently held together by duct tape and hope.

It's a bit too bad for them that there's no elite tackles this year, but I think they'll be very happy with Nelson.

Dave Bernreuther: Similar to the Barkley argument, it's hard to fault a team for taking a sure thing. (If Nelson is, in fact, a sure thing.) That's a guy you can keep for over a decade, though, as opposed to one contract.

Still, I hate what taking a guard at No. 6 says, and I don't think it helps them nearly as much as the gushing analysts do. The Colts were last in sacks last year because Jacoby Brissett took too many sacks. Andrew Luck takes too many sacks because he's Andrew Luck, not because the interior line is terrible. And having a mauler in the run game isn't what wins games. For six years smart Colts fans rolled our eyes at the "run the ball and stop the run" mantra. It's upsetting to think that this indicates perhaps more of the same. And need-wise, it doesn't help them stop a good quarterback, which is far and away the most important (non-Luck) thing that'd help get that team back to the playoffs.

That said, dominant players are nice. And once the Broncos took their guy, the demand for the sixth pick ahead of Tampa Bay probably disappeared too, trade-wise.

Bryan Knowles: We've got a trade! Buffalo's jumping up to No. 7, presumably for one of the Joshes.

Considering their past handling of the quarterback position, I'm guessing it's for Allen. That may be me being overly cynical though.

It is indeed Allen. Two second-round picks to move up and take QBASE's worst quarterback. Analytics are for chumps!

Vince Verhei: The Bills got rid of Tyrod Taylor and traded up for Josh Allen.

...

Heh.

Tee-hee.

Uh-heheh-heh-haha-ha-BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!

Tom Gower: No words. No words.

Vince Verhei: The Bills gave up the 12th and two second-rounders for a below-average quarterback in the Mountain West (and a seventh). I frown on this move. I frown on this move sternly.

Rivers McCown: Given that Buffalo is basically implementing the entire Carolina blueprint and Carolina loved Derek Anderson I'm not surprised by this at all. We're about to see just how bad the Panthers would be on offense without Cam Newton.

Dave Bernreuther: Sadly, the Bills out-stupid everyone.

How can you give all that up to draft a terrible quarterback when other NFL-ready QBs are still on the board? How do you run Tyrod Taylor out of town so you can bring in the next Jake Locker? (And why jump up ahead of a team that's not going to draft a quarterback?)

I am so, so, so sad for my Buffalo fan friends.

Bryan Knowles: As a 49ers fan, my reaction to the Bears drafting Roquan Smith one slot before San Francisco gets on the clock is a series of expletives.

Huh. The 49ers take tackle Mike McGlinchey. I'm pretty sure no one on Earth had that one penciled in.

Earlier today, there were rumors that the Broncos were looking to trade a second-round pick for 49ers right tackle Trent Brown, which were promptly denied. Maybe there's some truth to the story.

And here come the Cardinals, presumably for Josh Rosen.

Rob Weintraub: Let's not forget the Bills also gave up Cordy Glenn to get to 12 in the first place.

As for Roquan to Chicago, great place for him there. If Mitchell Trubisky gives them anything they are my dark horse to come from the depths and contend a la the Rams.

McGlinchey at No. 9 strikes me as awful high for a right tackle.

Now the Jew goes to the shiksa retirement community and not Miami? Oy.

Ben Muth: I think Nelson is going to be a really good player. He is the only Notre Dame offensive lineman I would've taken in the top 25. I think McGlinchey could struggle. Stops his feet when he punches and doesn't play with a ton of natural strength.

Tom Gower: McGlinchey to the 49ers was one of the picks that really stood out to me in Daniel Jeremiah's mock drafts. He has nailed a few in the mid-teens the last couple years, so I pay attention to his unusual choices. McGlinchey and Roquan to the Bears were perfectly sensible picks, unlike a talent-deprived team spending their second first-round pick in three years on an interior offensive lineman and the Bills trading up to take a bad Mountain West quarterback.

Scott Kacsmar: The New York teams are controlling this draft and taking us into some dark places in the process. I can't imagine Allen is the long-awaited successor to Jim Kelly. He shouldn't even outdo Tyrod on a roster that has been so stripped down in the last two years.

Dave Bernreuther: Honest question: How much of McGlinchey's performance was because he played next to Nelson? Is it possible for a guard to elevate a tackle the way double-team-eating defensive tackles open things up for other edge guys on their team?

Reading through Nate Dunlevy's timeline, which has the response I expected: despair. I can't be quite that negative. Like I said ... a sure thing is a sure thing.

But this is a damn good point:

There's no downside to Nelson if he stays healthy and meets expectations. But there's pretty much no upside either.

Derrik Klassen: The Cardinals just stole a quarterback. Only moving a third- and fifth-round pick to go get a franchise quarterback (hopefully, anyway) is incredible value. I was a fan of Jackson, Mayfield, Darnold, and Rosen quite equally, so I like this pick for Arizona. Believe my comparison for him in the Optimum Scouting draft guide was even Carson Palmer.

Vince Verhei: Cardinals trade up for a quarterback, but it's Josh Rosen, not Lamar Jackson. That's ... well, boring. Not good, not bad. Just boring.

As for the 49ers, Joe Staley will be 34 this season and his contract is up in two years. If they have faith in McGlinchey to be a good player, I have no problem with that pick in that slot.

Carl Yedor: Seems like Miami would have picked Rosen had he gotten to them. Otherwise, not sure why Arizona moved up ahead of them, but then again who were the Bills competing with for Allen?

Bryan Knowles: Rosen, Russell Wilson, Jared Goff, and Jimmy Garoppolo make the NFC West a very interesting place at the moment. And the Cardinals didn't even have to trade up too much to go get him!

The last time the Cardinals took a shot at an early-round quarterback was Matt Leinart in 2006. They were slightly overdue.

Dave Bernreuther: I like Rosen. A lot. I was really kind of hoping he'd end up in New York. Being sort of anonymous in Arizona might not be a bad thing, however.

What a missed opportunity to see him paired with Bruce Arians, though. That would've been fun.

Vince Verhei: Our old buddy Bill Barnwell has a fun note about Sam Bradford:

Aaron Schatz: Vita Vea's flowers were a big hit over here.

Vince Verhei: Vita Vea was a running back in high school. He ran a 5.1 forty at 347 pounds -- that's a Speed Score of 102.6.

Buccaneers now have Vea, Gerald McCoy, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Vinny Curry. Best defensive front in the division?

Derrik Klassen: Man, Vita Vea just does not make sense for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bolstering the defensive line is a safe bet, sure, but that team does not have a secondary *at all*. Taking someone like Derwin James would have been more appealing.

Bryan Knowles: Saints moving up to 14, and I'd guess it's NOT for a quarterback this time? Derwin James is still hanging around...

Rob Weintraub: All of us in Georgia recall the Notre Dame-Georgia game, when McGlinchey was grinched by pro-level players like Roquan Smith and Carter. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Rob didn't specify which Carter he was talking about. Georgia had three defenders named Carter last year: Lorenzo, Reggie, and Michail. Take your pick.) Just one game, sure, but telling I thought.

Vince Verhei: Washington's biggest need was defensive line, so they take the best interior lineman available in Da'Ron Payne. Might have preferred Vea, who looks like a rare kind of nose tackle, but still a smart pick.

Rivers McCown: I thought Washington's selection of Da'Ron Payne was quietly kinda silly. Their front was already pretty good last year, now they add a non-pass rusher with a high pick?

Vince Verhei: Their pass-rush was very good last year. Their interior line was a horror show.

Rivers McCown: My disagreement with it is more about how easy it should be to fix an interior defensive line in today's NFL. It can be a need and still not be a need you spend a first on.

Vince Verhei: That is certainly a fair argument.

Rob Weintraub: And the Saints move up to 14 for ... Lamar Jackson?!?!?

(Probably defense like Derwin James, but...)

Carl Yedor: Packers get a ton of value for No. 14. Ted Thompson may be gone, but Green Bay is still trading down

Aaron Schatz: Remember the rumors before the draft that the Packers wanted to trade up? That was fun.

Vince Verhei: Saints give up this year's first, next year's first, and another late-round pick for the Packers' pick. NFL Network set spends five minutes talking about how great it's going to be to watch Lamar Jackson in New Orleans. Saints take Marcus Davenport. Laughter erupts on the set and in my living room.

Aaron Schatz: I realize that SackSEER really liked Marcus Davenport, but how do the Saints trade NEXT YEAR'S first-rounder to move up 13 spots for an edge rusher when there are going to be lots of other edge rushers available?

Rob Weintraub: Vea and Payne gone, does that make the Falcons more urgent to move up for Taven Bryan?

Davenport! Not James or Lamar. Couldn't really picture them giving up next year's No. 1 for a quarterback who is not likely to see the field until 2020.

Bryan Knowles: If the Saints had just been at No. 14 and grabbed Davenport? Fine and dandy. Sliding up so far to get him and handicapping your draft next year? I don't really understand that at all.

Derrik Klassen: I was so certain that New Orleans Saints trade was for Lamar Jackson.

Charles McDonald: Yea … didn't get that one at all. Davenport is a fine player, but that's a lot of draft capital. I was CERTAIN Lamar Jackson was going to be the pick.

Tom Gower: There are enough teams between now and 27 the Saints needed to move up if they wanted to get a top pass rusher because depth of the class falls off quickly, but that's a lot to give up. With an old quarterback, mortgaging the future somewhat makes sense from an organizational perspective, but it's hard not to see this crashing and burning eventually. Taking Lamar Jackson would have been a lot more fun.

Bryan Knowles: Oakland takes offensive tackle Kolton Miller at No. 15, and that feels like a reach for me. Tremaine Edmunds is on the board still, and there are other linebackers and corners available, too. I get that they traded back to get here, but they probably could have opted to go back even further if they wanted Miller.

Carl Yedor: Glad to see Tom Cable is still doing his thing with the Miller pick.

Aaron Schatz: Wait, I thought Cable's thing was trying to turn defensive linemen into offensive linemen? Shoot, at least Miller's actually a tackle.

Vince Verhei: No, Cable's thing was to take college basketball players and turn them into offensive linemen.

Tom Gower: Cable loves super-athletic players at offensive line, and he can teach them how to block well. That's Miller.

Vince Verhei: He can? Do you have evidence of this?

Tom Gower: That's what Cable thinks. NFL coaches think they can teach players how to play better, because that's their job, regardless of what other people think of their results.

Dave Bernreuther: The Bills trade up to No. 16. One can only hope it is to draft Lamar Jackson and give themselves some hope at the quarterback position...

Vince Verhei: The Bills have traded up for the biggest risk at quarterback, and because of that, they have to trade up for a linebacker. I do not like their draft.

Bryan Knowles: Mike Silver has said that the Raiders would have taken Miller at No. 10 (and would have taken McGlinchey if the 49ers hadn't grabbed him). They must love the guy.

Carl Yedor: Cable was also the coach in Seattle when they drafted James Carpenter well in advance of when anyone (including Nick Saban) expected Carpenter to get drafted.

Rob Weintraub: Saints big move up for Davenport followed by Raiders taking Miller made for 10 head-scratching minutes.

Then the Bills kinda make up for the Allen move by trading up for Edmunds. Secretly hoped Cincy would sneak in there for him.

Bryan Knowles: And Derwin James' slide is over, as the Chargers take him at No. 17. Not their biggest need, but James is a top-10 player in this draft. Really surprised he lasted this long.

And the Seahawks are on the clock. I can't imagine they actually use this pick, considering they have no other picks until the fourth.

Carl Yedor: From the Seahawks' perspective, the question for me was always how far they were going to trade down, not if they were going to at all. Seahawks trade back with Packers, picking up the No. 27 pick that New Orleans had sent to Green Bay.

Vince Verhei: This is just guessing, but I think the Seahawks were hoping Derwin James would fall to them as a replacement for Earl Thomas. When the Chargers took James one pick earlier, they did the obvious thing and traded down. Now they still have a first-round pick, and pick up a third. With no picks in the second or third coming in, they desperately need more picks.

Bryan Knowles: Jaire Alexander is a great fit for the Packers. I'm not sure if I'm buying the Deion Sanders (or "Deion-Lite") comparisons ESPN is going on about, but if Alexander can stay healthy, he's a shutdown corner and a weapon as a punt returner. Nice pickup.

Bryan Knowles: Trade news:

Oakland has sent a third-round pick (I think it's not the one that they got from the Cardinals, but it's not clear) to Pittsburgh for Martavis Bryant.

I'm surprised the Steelers got that much value out of him, frankly.

Rob Weintraub: OK, there have been lots of rumors the Panthers would slide into Detroit's spot to swipe Frank Ragnow but if Cincy has to settle for James Daniels I'm good with it.

Meanwhile Oakland trades a third-rounder to take Martavis Bryant and his fine brand of crazy out of Pittsburgh.

Scott Kacsmar: Wow, not sure what to think of the Bryant trade for Oakland. Obviously nice value for Pittsburgh, which has the receiver talent still there and wasn't looking to keep him long-term anyway. But with Michael Crabtree gone, there's a real opportunity there for Bryant to do something big in Oakland. At his peak, he's an absolute freak, but we're talking 2015 as the last time we really saw him at that level with any consistency. Still, probably worth the gamble for Oakland's 75th pick.

Vince Verhei: I think it's a win-win for both teams. In Pittsburgh, Bryant was, at best, a third receiver with no long-term value. In Oakland, it's a bit of a gamble, but if he hits he's their best wideout.

Aaron Schatz: Everyone who needs a center gets a center! Detroit gets a center! Cincinnati gets a center! Yay centers!

Rob Weintraub: Of course the Bengals lose out on Ragnow and take Billy Price over Daniels. Not sure I agree with that -- yet another injury risk player with far less athleticism.

Rivers McCown: I'm with Rob. I think that's an overreaction to seeing their guy go off the board one pick ahead of them.

Rob Weintraub: Would've preferred Isaiah Wynn or Will Hernandez to Price. Natch we go with the less athletic injury risk.

Cincy will be in good shape if (Tyler Eifert/Cordy Glenn/John Ross/Billy Price/Vontaze Burfict) can stay healthy and play...

Derrik Klassen: Kind of surprised about how many teams are moving up for linebackers. Could be that the wave of RPOs and need for versatility is forcing teams to get high-quality players at linebacker.

Aaron Schatz: As a Patriots fan, I am sad. Harold Landry is still available. Calvin Ridley and D.J. Moore are still there. A couple of good cornerbacks are there. Lamar Jackson. I know they need a left tackle but they took ... Isaiah Wynn, a guy who most scouts think needs to play guard? In Belichick we trust, I guess.

Bryan Knowles: Yeah, if Wynn is a tackle (as announced), it's a better pick than if he's a guard (as scouts seem to think). Maybe I'm just down on this year's offensive line class in general, but that feels like a reach.

Tom Gower: I would have more faith in the NFL if it turns out that there's some reason other than an evaluation of his play on the field and his potential to be an excellent NFL player that Harold Landry has not yet been selected, because I don't see a logical reason a player with elite demonstrated on-field production AND elite athletic ability as demonstrated at the combine to still be available.

Charles McDonald: Love the D.J. Moore pick to the Panthers. Norv Turner was all over him at the Maryland Pro Day, so this isn't too surprising.

Derrik Klassen: I like the D.J. Moore pick for the Carolina Panthers. It seemed as though Hayden Hurst was going to be the pick, and I'm not sure I could have stomached Cam Newton being "gifted" a 25-year-old, three-career-touchdown tight end.

Rob Weintraub: D.J. Moore has a lot of Steve Smith in him, so nice he went to Carolina.

Hope Baltimore doesn't pick Lamar...

Phew, Hayden Hurst.

Dave Bernreuther: Well now we all get to experience the joy of Joe Flacco and a three-career-touchdown tight end.

That'll be exciting!

Rob Weintraub: Falcons have been mocked to Taven Bryan forever, and he falls to them. Typical.

Aaron Schatz: And they don't take him! They get Calvin Ridley to stick opposite Julio Jones.

Rob Weintraub: So instead they take Ridley. Shows what the mocks know. Ridley means they can get rid of Mohamed Sanu sooner rather than later.

Vince Verhei: Step 1: Julio Jones deletes all Falcons references from social media.
Step 2: Atlanta drafts Calvin Ridley in the first round.
Step 3: ???

Rob Weintraub: Step 3: Atlanta replaces Steve Sarkisian at offensive coordinator with Lane Kiffin...

Bryan Knowles: Rashaad Penny?! With no offensive line to speak of, and no pick in the second round, the Seahawks take Rashaad Penny in the first round? Did Chris Carson explode last week when I wasn't looking? Yeah, Seattle needed someone else in the backfield, but that's something they could have taken care of on Day 3. Rashaad Penny over Will Hernandez, or Connor Williams, or Harold Landry or Mike Hughes? I'm very confused.

Aaron Schatz: On the FOX/NFLN broadcast, they were talking about how Rashaad Penny is one of the best kick returners in the country. Sure, that will be occasionally useful for another year or two. Maybe.

Vince Verhei: When the chips are down, the Seahawks are going to take defensive linemen or running backs. Been that way for years.

There was a point last offseason where they literally had more running backs than offensive linemen under contract. They just LOVE running backs, I tell ya.

Carl Yedor: Honestly surprised they didn't trade down again. Don't know their board, but it seems like there are several guys out there that would still make sense for them in this range.

Rivers McCown: Boy, this Seattle offseason has been completely uninspiring.

Aaron Schatz: Actually, Carl's right. Teams are trying to trade back into the first round. Seattle could have easily dealt down and gotten either Penny or Sony Michel somewhere near the top of the second.

Bryan Knowles: Or Nick Chubb, who basically is the exact type of back the Seahawks have drafted over and over in recent years (in terms of size, athletic benchmarks at the combine, etc.)

Tom Gower: Somebody reported the Browns LOVED Penny, so he probably wouldn't have been there had they moved back. And when you want a player, you want a player. The weird thing about the pick is there was zero first-round buzz that I saw on him. It's not a worse pick than Allen in any way, just more unexpected.

Rob Weintraub: Back to the N.Y./N.Y. thing for a second -- many eons ago the Giants passed on a quarterback named Namath to take a running back named Tucker Frederickson. Just sayin'...

Vince Verhei: Jacksonville takes ... Taven Bryan?! Was this any kind of need for them? At all?

The end of this first round is just ... go home, NFL. You're drunk.

Rashaad Penny is the ninth running back the Seahawks have drafted since Pete Carroll and John Schneider took over in 2010.

In that same timeframe, the Patriots have drafted three running backs.

Ahem. Four running backs.

Aaron Schatz: The Patriots take Sony Michel at No. 31. This is a bad pick. Stop taking running backs in the first round, people. Do the Patriots think that they get great running back production because they're drafting guys in the first round? Guys, you took Dion Lewis off the scrap heap. You spent money on Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee. You've still got James White to be the James White in this offense. What are you doing?

Harold Landry's injury issues must be really serious. I can't believe he's still on the damn board.

Dave Bernreuther: I'm pretty surprised by both New England picks. Neither one makes much sense to me. Michel especially. Not that he's not good, but as Aaron pointed out, they've been among the most successful teams at plugging in cheap discarded running-back talent.

Derrik Klassen: If you told me there would be three running backs selected in the first round, but that Derrius Guice would not be one of them, there is a 0 percent chance I would have believed you.

Rob Weintraub: Hey I made it all the way through the first round without bitching about the A.J. McCarron trade screw-up costing Cincy 35 and 65.

Ooops, I guess I didn't.

And now the Ravens trade back in for Lamar?

Bryan Knowles: Ayyyy! Finally, FINALLY, Lamar Jackson comes off the board.

The long national Flacco nightmare may be coming to a close. Maybe not in 2018, per se -- but someday soon.

Rob Weintraub: Well now it's guaranteed: Lamar will be awesome, and will torture my life for the next decade.

Vince Verhei: Wellllllllll then. Baltimore just got intriguing. For a long time.

Charles McDonald: Glad the Ravens are finally getting a good quarterback.

Scott Kacsmar: A beautiful ending to the night. Let the reign of terror of failed completions in Baltimore come to a swift end.

Bryan Knowles: Plenty of talent on the board headed into Day 2. Not just Landry, but James Daniels, Will Hernandez, Josh Jackson ... Pretty good spot to be in for the Browns and Colts and their pair of picks in the first five tomorrow.

Tom Gower: Getting Lamar Jackson with the 32nd pick, and that fifth-year option to cut down on the cost, was a nice move by Baltimore. I still don't get why they took a 25-year-old tight end with three career touchdown catches earlier, but at least they got a bunch of extra picks instead of taking him at No. 16.

The thing I don't get about the Bryan selection is I'm not sure how much it improves the Jaguars in either the short term or the long term. They had a need at defensive line, because they won't be able to keep everybody and they'll need him. But I don't think it makes them better this year and it would have made more sense to me to act aggressively to win as many games as possible this year. Houston needs more talent. Indy is probably down again. Tennessee is your competition for the division and maybe the third spot in the AFC beyond Pittsburgh and New England. I think they could have done more for 2018.

Vince Verhei: Winners of the night:

Cleveland gets their latest new franchise quarterback and a starter at cornerback and still has three picks in Round 2, including two of the top three.

Arizona, for getting their quarterback without giving up too much in the deal.

Baltimore, for finally signaling an end to the Flacco era and getting their quarterback at great value, but let's not let them totally off the hook -- they took a tight end seven picks earlier.

Losers of the night:

Buffalo, obviously.

Most of the teams at the back end of the round. Seattle, New England, and Jacksonville especially left me scratching my head.

Derrik Klassen: Lamar Jackson to Baltimore is a perfect pick. Can sit him if they want, has a good coach in John Harbaugh. Probably one of the best picks of the night.

Tom Gower: A lot of second-guessing is second-guessing evaluations of players, by NFL teams who may know more and better about various things (like Harold Landry's potential knee/back/ankle issues that may have him medically red-flagged or Maurice Hurst's heart condition), and if we know what they did we wouldn't have taken them in the first round either. If we want to be circumspect about those kinds of decisions:

Winners:

  • Cleveland, spending premium picks on premium positions. They got their choice of the quarterbacks and the cornerbacks, both hard-to-find positions where top players get paid well.
  • Denver, getting a consensus top pass-rusher without trading back.
  • Arizona, paying a relatively modest price (compared to other trades) to move up and secure a quarterback.
  • Green Bay, for getting a first-round pick and still getting the player they wanted.
  • Baltimore, for trading back repeatedly and still getting the player they wanted, and also securing a quarterback at No. 32.

Losers:

  • New York Giants, for taking a running back at No. 2, as I noted.
  • Indianapolis, for taking a guard at No. 6
  • Buffalo, for trading up twice.
  • Seattle, for taking a running back in a deep running back draft when they have many holes and few draft picks.
  • New England, for taking a running back in a deep running back draft when they've shown they can find running backs for much smaller investments.

Also a loser: New Orleans for giving up next year's first-round pick, as previously noted.

Also a winner: Ryan Shazier. Ovation from my couch for that one.

Rivers McCown: To respond to Tom's list, here's where I'd differ.

  • I like Chubb, but agree with SackSEER and a few other people I've read that he's not your traditional "must-draft EDGE." I'd have preferred to see Denver take a quarterback because I don't believe Case Keenum is going to bring much of it back.
  • I would add the Chargers as winners because I think they got the best defensive player in the draft at 17.
  • -While I normally would agree about No. 6, I think Nelson truly was the best player available at that point and if I get struck down by that, I'll take it. The Colts can't take a quarterback so long as they believe Luck is coming back.
  • -The Raiders are another draft I didn't get. Kolton Miller is an all-athleticism lineman who needs to develop power and I don't trust Gruden to find it. Nor do I trust Martavis Bryant to adequately replace Michael Crabtree.

Posted by: Andrew Potter on 27 Apr 2018

118 comments, Last at 08 May 2018, 9:19am by jtr

Comments

1
by Cogitus :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 9:41am

Stole this from a Buffalo message board:

D-Coordinators will quickly figure out Baker Mayfield, and B-May will spend more time making cardboard signs and grabbing his crotch than he does adjusting his game.

Darnold’s turnover problems will only increase facing NFL defensemen. Bills fans will join the "everyone likes Sam" club quickly, as he throws 6 INTs and coughs up 2 fumbles in his first two games against Buffalo.

Rosen will be blasted onto IR before you know it, and his tragic head injury story will become his new passion. He will be remembered for being the man who took on the NFL over CTE more than he will be remembered for winning games.

Allen, meanwhile, will perform like a muscular Yeti who harnessed the power of fire in Western New York. His raw physical talents will quickly develop into a unique and highly-effective playing style on his way to bringing Buffalo it’s first Lombardi Trophy. During a pregame handshake, his massive paws will pulverize the puny manicured mitts of Tom Brady, turning bone into chalk and forcing Tom Brady to tearfully retire. Pats fans will cower and shiver at the very sight of Allen. Bills fans will get so used to Allen’s booming deep shots and shedding of would-be sackers, that our memories of EJ, Losman, Edwards, and Brian Bohm, will be erased like we were given the Men In Black treatment.

Mark my words.

3
by jtr :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 10:08am

>Darnold’s turnover problems will only increase facing NFL defensemen

>NFL defensemen

>defensemen

This whole post is what happens when the only things you know about football come from overhearing what people say about the Bills when you're drunk at the Sabers game.

10
by Cogitus :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 10:57am

I thought he was being intentionally sarcastic and droll, but I suppose I may be giving too much credit to your average Joe football fan

77
by Independent George :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 9:14pm

I'm with you - I think this post is the spellcheck-equipped east coast version of Raider Joe.

31
by Noah Arkadia :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 1:02pm

Defensemen linemen? Still, though, great post.

35
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 1:06pm

Maybe he calls edge rushers and offensive tackles "wingers".

2
by johonny :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 10:07am

Loser Miami-Miami really could have used a LB or TE but there simply wasn't one that justified being drafted at 11. Instead they get a nice player at a position of semi-need, but still have HUGE holes at TE, LB, and RB. Oh, and they still have no QB in a QB driven league.

6
by Guido Merkens :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 10:46am

Agree about the QB, but TE, LB, and RB are positions that can be adequately filled in the middle rounds.

If we're looking through the lens of value-based drafting, it's a stretch to fill any of those needs with a first-round pick. All three of those positions can be filled with good free agents for $5-7M per year, so a high draft pick barely provides any cost savings. That's in contrast to Fitzpatrick, who plays a position where good players go for $10M/year and very good ones push $15M.

13
by mehllageman56 :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 11:37am

The Dolphins got a guy who takes interceptions and fumbles to the house. The other teams in the division drafted Mr. 13 interceptions, 8 fumbles lost, Mr. 6 ints because he scatters the ball every which way but the receiver, and Mr. 12 fumbles (career). Fitzpatrick definitely fills a need for the Dolphins.

33
by Noah Arkadia :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 1:05pm

Yeah, many fans didn't want DBs, but it was definitely a need and they took a good player. Still, you didn't like Darnold?

38
by mehllageman56 :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 1:22pm

Not as much as Rosen. Only thing about Rosen I worry about is injuries, and Darnold is built like a tank. Honestly I liked all three of those guys, was intrigued by Lamar Jackson, and hated Josh Allen as a prospect even before the tweets came out. I'm still worried Josh Rosen is going to turn into Marino and have his vengeance upon the NFL.

52
by Led :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 2:29pm

I preferred Rosen too. But it strikes me that Rosen is much more like O'Brien and Darnold like Marino, in terms of style and skill set. O'Brien was a pinpoint accurate stone-footed statue in the pocket that took way too many hits and sacks. And although we (or at least I) most vividly remember the late career gimpy Marino, he was a big, strapping kid and a good athlete who underperformed in his last year of college. Obviously, we'll have to see how they both turn out in terms of results, although it's unlikely either will be a first ballot HOFer!

4
by Hoodie_Sleeves :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 10:12am

I'm not a fan of the Michel pick, but "You've been able to get decent performance out of non-talents" isn't really a good reason to avoid acquiring actual talent. Having a high floor doesn't make a high ceiling worthless.

If anyone is going to spend a first round pick on a RB - its those last 5 teams in the first round - the teams that are already very good. Those are the teams that can actually get some positive value out of a RB that is really good.

As to other RBs - holy crap, what are the Giants doing? Eli has been terrible for at least 3 years now. Draft a QB, draft a tackle, or a guard - hell - draft anything but a RB at 2 overall.

43
by BJR :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 1:45pm

Yes, I don't have a problem with the Patriots selection of Michel at #31. At that spot you aren't getting a premium defensive prospect, and they actually have a need since Dion Lewis left. They can plug him in and get immediate production, which is important given Brady's age.

54
by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 3:03pm

It's not non-talent vs. talent. It's more like one kind of talent vs. a different kind.

62
by RickD :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 4:11pm

I'm good with the Wynn pick and "meh" with the Michel pick. He had better be the #1 back on 3 days very quick to justify using a 1st round pick on him.

Wynn will be a good starter either at tackle or guard. Given that they just also acquired Trent Brown, guard looks reasonably likely. I suspect he'd be better than Thuney pretty quickly.

I just wish there'd been a good LB available for them to take.

5
by Lebo :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 10:44am

I think the Colts were right to take Nelson. Yes, he's a guard, but he also protects the Colt's most valuable (and fragile) asset: Andrew Luck. (But, I'm a homer, so I would say that. I used to defend Grigson, too.)

I'm also not too down on the Saquon Barkley pick. Yes, Eli Manning isn't great (arguably bad), but I can see the rationale in giving him one more year. Plus, if he stinks up the joint this year, NYG will surely be the destination of choice for free agent QBs next year (see: OBJ, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and Barkley).

Lastly, wtf is Belichick doing? I mean, it worked out so well the last time he took a RB in the first round..

7
by Guido Merkens :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 10:48am

Being the destination of choice for free agent QBs is irrelevant, since good ones virtually never hit the market. Before Cousins this year, the last time a Pro Bowl-level QB was available via free agency was probably Drew Brees.

If you want a good QB, you either have to find and develop a diamond in the rough or draft one.

11
by Shattenjager :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 11:30am

There was some guy who left Indianapolis and signed in Denver in March of 2012. He had made 11 Pro Bowls and then made another three afterward.

14
by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 11:38am

Well, yeah, but Peyton's neck was, to put it mildly, kind of a concern. So, I guess for Cousins "free agent and healthy QB" is more accurate, but I recall a lot of talk where people were basically worried Peyton's neck was one big hit away from basically snapping off.

88
by Shattenjager :: Sat, 04/28/2018 - 12:24pm

Yes, that is all true. I have a friend who kept insisting that it was a guarantee that Manning would die on the field if he came back.

And if you say "free agent and healthy," Brees doesn't count either. He had a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder during the last game he played before his free agency.

8
by jtr :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 10:57am

>Lastly, wtf is Belichick doing? I mean, it worked out so well the last time he took a RB in the first round..

Yeah I don't quite get it. He's always excelled at mixing and matching a bunch of spare parts at tailback, and the current roster already had his preferred mix of a couple shotgun specialists and one big bruiser.

63
by RickD :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 4:14pm

One thing about Belichick is that he can develop strong preferences based on connections with certain coaches and/or visits to campuses. This year he visited UGA and has ended up taking two Bulldogs in the first round. In the past he's had this kind of narrow focus on Florida and Rutgers. I think it introduces some biases into his thinking. While he's usually gotten good players with this approach, I worry that it's not as comprehensive as it could be.

9
by Todd S. :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 10:57am

Indy homer here as well, and I like the Nelson pick. Should shore up an area of need and give plenty of chances for Luck to step up and make throws.

I'll also note that as a Colts fan, I stopped paying any attention to Nate Dunlevy years ago. My 2nd-favorite team is Cleveland, and calling out the Joe Thomas pick is borderline insane. Look at all of the front office dysfunction that had to happen to prevent him from playing in a playoff game in his great career. The only position where you can truly move the needle with one draft pick is QB, and the Colts weren't going to take one this year.

I'm happy with day one for both of those teams, and looking forward to day two!

15
by Dave Bernreuther :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 11:51am

He's generally the smartest and most right Colts fan (with an audience, anyway) there is. People don't like that he's pessimistic now, but it's not as if there aren't legitimate reasons to be.

I would hardly call that "calling out the Joe Thomas pick." The point was simply that a top 10 selection of a once in a generation lineman is still not necessarily going to help the team take a leap, and may not be the best use of resources. There's nothing insane about that statement. Joe Thomas's greatness was not enough to overcome other gaps in the roster. Nelson's greatness will not be enough to overcome other gaps in the Colts' roster.

I stop short of being terribly upset with the pick, and as a Colts fan I absolutely LOVE that he's on the team. How could I not? The dude is a badass. And he was the best player available and a "sure thing." I'll enjoy watching him.

But the OL problem is HUGELY overstated. The only recent weakness in the run game has been that it got so predictable last year. The sack problem is a quarterback problem, not an O Line problem. And it has been years since they were truly terrible and just flat out getting beat (in pass protection or the run game) with regularity; Most of the problem they've had is just lack of continuity and injuries/depth. Which is a problem that more than 20 of the other teams in the league have as well. (College lack of coaching/offenses, less practice time, less hitting, etc... many things contribute to this, that's another discussion of course.) And even if Castonzo plays like a star and Nelson and Kelly both maul people... Andrew Luck - if he plays - is still going to take sacks that are his fault. And while I expect the sack numbers to go down, I believe that would've been the case anyway, simply due to the scheme and the release times. Guarantee you see a lot more quick releases out of Luck this coming season (if he plays).

After Tarik Glenn retired the Colts had an OL that was as bad as everyone acts like it is now. As bad as we act like the Seahawks OL was last year. Charlie Johnson played Left Tackle. The middle of the line was a revolving door of no-names when Saturday was hurt (and then retired). Yet somehow Peyton Manning, who runs like he has ankle weights attached, took very few sacks.

And that's all he was saying. Even if he's a certain hall of famer, he's not a difference maker. So at 6, that's questionable value. I'm not a scout, and really only have strong opinions of quarterback play and coaching, so I can't say there was a better pick they could've made. (Once Chubb was off the board I personally think it would've been nice to get two more 2nds from Buffalo and then maybe grab Davenport or that guy the Chargers got at 12, but what do I know.) I just totally understand the idea that even the best guard in the world isn't going to make a ton of difference. That shouldn't be a controversial statement.

20
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 12:29pm

I would hardly call that "calling out the Joe Thomas pick." The point was simply that a top 10 selection of a once in a generation lineman is still not necessarily going to help the team take a leap, and may not be the best use of resources. There's nothing insane about that statement. Joe Thomas's greatness was not enough to overcome other gaps in the roster. Nelson's greatness will not be enough to overcome other gaps in the Colts' roster.

That's an unfair standard.

No one player, regardless of position, can single-handedly elevate a franchise that has weaponized incompetence.

Tarkenton, Kelly, Aikman, and Namath were bad on bad teams.
Warren Moon lost 10+ games in his first three seasons.
Steve Young was 3-16 in Tampa.
Archie Manning never broke .500

21
by jtr :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 12:32pm

Right. I think everyone here can agree that QB WINZ is a silly statistic, why should we waste our time talking about OT WINZ?

29
by Dave Bernreuther :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 12:54pm

No one player, regardless of position, can single-handedly elevate a franchise that has weaponized incompetence.

I don't know... Peyton Manning did it. Polian wasn't all that competent in his last five years. The 2-14 2011 team had an absurd number of starters in common with the 2009 team that chose not to go undefeated. Luck went 11-5 three times...

Look, I'm not trying to say that there was even a better player there (I don't know). But I'm not going to sit here and pretend that there aren't some positions that make more of an impact than others.

The Colts need to fix their pass defense. If they don't do that, they'll be terrible, no matter how good the left side of their line is. If they do, that plus Luck makes them a playoff contender (but still not yet a SB contender... Which they weren't in 2014 either, despite what they decided to believe).

That sounds a lot like advocating drafting for need, but I'm not. Just finding the logic in both sides.

36
by Lebo :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 1:19pm

Yeah, your last point.

If Nelson is the top guy on the board, then he's the top guy. So, you draft him. Roster needs be damned. Position be damned. (Although, this raises an interesting question about how to structure a board: how to evaluate one position against another?)

I also think that drafting a player that will help your team the most *this* year is also dumb (unless you have an ageing QB and a Super Bowl window that is almost closed). I think you should draft the player that helps your team the most over the next, say, five years.

According to my theory, you should not only weigh the value of a specific player against players of the same position later in the draft; you should also weigh them against the quality of players at that position who are typically available in drafts. That's the way to maximise talent on your team in the long term.

That's why I think it was dumb that Sashi Brown gets roasted for passing on Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson. Firstly, that's cherry picking success stories while ignoring the other non-stud QBs that the Browns also didn't select. Secondly, those two probably aren't (or, at least, weren't obviously) generational talents. In other words, by not selecting those players, the Browns would likely have the opportunity to select players of similar quality in subsequent years. And, lo and behold, the Browns have ended up with a QB who is probably equally as good (if not better) than those, two plus a CB1 and whatever else they got in those trades.

40
by theslothook :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 1:27pm

I agree with a lot of that, but no gm says - take best available be damned. That's why you won't see a fullback, special teams ace, or kicker/punter going top 5.

So once you are deciding that some positions are truly off the table, then you need to ask yourself - if you've gone this far, why stop at guard? What makes guard acceptable?

In my opinion, I don't find justification for a guard taken that high. I can understand left tackle because an edge defender can complete ruin a game, but interior has a lot more in terms of collectives. You can swing help inside with running backs and centers.

95
by Lebo :: Sun, 04/29/2018 - 10:07am

Yeah, there's definitely a question about how you compare players of different positions. I alluded to this question in my earlier post but, the more I think about it, the more I think it's the central question to be answered.

Determining how to compare players of different positions (or, how to evaluate players in general), you really need to understand how the team will use those players. People like to say that Guards aren't that valuable. And, in most schemes, that's probably true. But, perhaps the Colts plan to use a scheme that places more value on the quality of the interior line play than the Tackles? I remember when the Saints signed Drew Brees, they paid a lot of money for two free agent Guards. The talking heads found it strange to invest so much in Guards and not Tackles, but it clearly worked for them.

I suspect that, based on the RBs that they have drafted over the past two drafts, that the Colts will aim to create large running lanes in the middle of the line. Marlon Mack doesn't get hard yards up the middle like Frank Gore does, and it doesn't sound like Nyheim Hines will, either. If that's true, I can see more justification for spending a high first round pick on Quenton Nelson.

49
by Dave Bernreuther :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 2:14pm

In theory, "helps your team over the next five years" is always the consideration in the first round. Six years, really, if you account for the franchise tag (PFT would argue 7, but dual franchise tagging is not suddenly en vogue because the Kirk Cousins situation got awkward).

You could look at it in probabilities too. Like you want 90%+ on a guard to equate to a 65% chance of an edge rusher being great or a 40% shot that a QB would be great. Or something like that. Who knows where we'd put Chubb (the preferred pick at 6 once Cleveland passed on him), but I think we probably all agree that his chance of being a bust is higher than Nelson's, but that Chubb would still have been a better pick.

I think it's dumb that Sashi Brown gets roasted for passing on Wentz and Watson for other reasons too, namely that Wentz's competition level WAS a valid concern at the time. There was still a pretty big risk of his obvious talents still not translating well to the NFL, especially if not well coached. And also, at least in my eyes, we still don't yet know what Watson is. I'm not yet sold that he's going to remain a game changer. I'm not going to judge him for his imperfections in that four game sample, because he was a rookie and that was an astounding first four games... but he still has flaws that might persist and become easier to defend once people get familiar with him and that offense. And again, who's to say he'd have been any good with Hue Jackson anyway?

(This conversation is pointless, of course, because Hue Jackson is bad and Sashi Brown is gone. But yeah, in general I don't fault Sashi for any of his logic used in making those decisions. And it annoys me to no end that we know those were all still decisions also supported by DePodesta and others, and that so much good was done by Brown, and yet still he goes and Hue stayed...)

53
by theslothook :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 2:35pm

I don't think we can do the probability stuff because we still aren't able to quantify a player's value in a vacuum, let alone what win share they would have on a team.

You have to kind of look at the surface level statistics on this to make inferences. How many teams win perennially with guard play? How often does guard play necessarily translate into good offense? Yes its simplistic to say a guard (or a tackle) isn't going to move the needle much when surrounded by dreck, but still...we have lots of evidence that qb led teams can compensate for lousy line play. We also have less evidence but still compelling evidence that wide receivers can enhance an offense considerably. Guards? I don't know of any evidence that suggests guards are great.

Anyways - I also agree, people are dumb for ripping Sashi Brown. That said, I think passing on Wentz was a bad idea. Wentz had questions, but nearly every qb in the nfl draft has questions. The browns passed on Wentz and then next year found another crop of qbs with even more questions. Who knows if Sashi brown was still the gm, he might again pass on qbs because he found this crop similarly unlikeable. Are Darnold, Baker, and Rosen any more sure things than Wentz and Goff were? I doubt it.

I think the lesson is - if theres a top graded qb there - take him and live with the results.

60
by Dave Bernreuther :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 3:57pm

I can't fault that logic. I guess with Wentz, I recall liking him a lot, but still having to talk myself into him because of the level of competition. You don't want to have to talk yourself into the guy you're looking at at #2.

And so if you maybe say that he was comparable to (take your pick of Mayfield, Rosen, Darnold) as a prospect then, all of whom are decent but flawed prospects... and say that you're a fan but not overwhelmingly convinced of success... and then say that someone throws a ton of picks at you... is it still an easy decision to turn those picks down?

I mean, hell. It's not that hard to make an argument that the Browns could contend for that division NOW with Tyrod Taylor and two premium non-QB picks or one plus another couple of 1s and an extra 2 or 3 from trading down again. Meaning that 2019 with even more picks and studs is the year you really make a run...

(Seriously. It's not that hard. Say they added Chubb to Garrett and still got a premium DB and maybe a decent LB somehow, ran a smartly designed offense - OK maybe that's a leap with Haley and Hue - and went 10-6 in a division where Dalton doesn't improve on last year, Flacco is still horrendous, and Ben continues his descent... That'd make their own pick one in the 20s next year, but maybe they traded with a bad team and still had a top 10 in their pockets for 2019. That hypothetical 2019 Browns team could be the equivalent of the 2017 Jaguars, except with a better quarterback. That's NOT much of a reach.)

39
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 1:25pm

No, Peyton did not.

Here's Cleveland from 2007-2017, sorted by cumulative AV.
http://pfref.com/tiny/hWSeC

Here's Indianapolis in the same period.
http://pfref.com/tiny/aFiuO

Indy had 9 guys better than Cleveland's next best guy.

Cleveland is actually worse than Indy was from 1989-1999 (when Peyton became PEYTON).
http://pfref.com/tiny/rVfxN

They are arguably worse than the 1971-1981 (Manning) Saints.
http://pfref.com/tiny/ZE7Xp

God would not have made these Browns a perennial playoff team.

46
by Dave Bernreuther :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 2:05pm

Ha, my bad, I was actually specifically thinking of the Luck-era Colts when you said "weaponized incompetence," not the Thomas Browns.

Which reminds me of another point: Three times in the last decade everyone has celebrated and given the Browns high marks for trading back into the first round to grab a QB that ended up being an unquestioned bust. But they were As at the time...

Which just goes to show that maybe none of us know what we're talking about.

26
by theslothook :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 12:48pm

I find myself in the Nate camp. Talent is important, but the positional value just doesn't make any sense. I'd rather have a B+ pass rushers than an A+ guard.

Offensive line is so misunderstood and I think GM's like drafting them high because it's perceived as safe and if they are so so players, people don't tend to notice. It may make sense from a cover your ass perspective.

48
by Todd S. :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 2:14pm

I would hardly call that "calling out the Joe Thomas pick." The point was simply that a top 10 selection of a once in a generation lineman is still not necessarily going to help the team take a leap, and may not be the best use of resources. There's nothing insane about that statement. Joe Thomas's greatness was not enough to overcome other gaps in the roster. Nelson's greatness will not be enough to overcome other gaps in the Colts' roster.

Before I get to the ranting, I have a question: Dave, do you live in the Indy area? Because if so, I'll offer to buy the beers and we can sit at the bar and argue for awhile. Good-naturedly, of course-it should be a good time. (Serious offer.)

OK, so the disagreement here seems to be in how to interpret that tweet. "Insane" was probably a poor choice on my part. Can I change it to "dumb?" "Super-dumb?" I'm probably biased since I didn't care for Dunlevy, so that's on me. But what point is he trying to make? That making a great pick at a premium position is a poor draft strategy? Is LT NOT a premium position? Because it sure was in 2007 when that pick was made. Or maybe I'm still thinking about this incorrectly...what position, other than QB, can overcome the other gaps in the roster with one draft pick?

Is this an offense vs. defense call? That's a fair criticism, but I fail to see how it relates to Joe Thomas. For fun, here's the next 10 picks from the 2007 draft. Who should the Browns have picked instead to cover up the other holes in their roster? (Sadly, JeMarcus Russell was already off the board, so they couldn't pick him):

DE Gaines Adams, T Levi Brown, S LaRon Landry, RB Adrian Peterson, DE Jamaal Anderson, WR Ted Ginn (& family), DT Omobi Akoye, LB Patrick Willis, RB Marshawn Lynch, DE Adam Carriker. [Selective endpoint warning: 11th player is CB Darelle Revis.] Eyeballing that list...looks like a pretty solid pick by the Browns. Are there any other historical cases where a great player couldn't overcome the other holes in the roster? If only there were a well-researched article on just that topic...where would one find one of those?

Dave, I don't even disagree with your analysis of the current Colts offensive line. But this isn't some theoretical exercise on positional value...you have to go with what's on the board. If Nelson was the highest-rated player, I see nothing wrong with that pick. I would have been happy with Nelson, Roquan Smith, or Derwin James. I can accept that they should have gone defense instead of offense as a valid opinion. Dragging Joe Thomas into that discussion is just...a red herring?

50
by Dave Bernreuther :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 2:19pm

I don't anymore, no. I once did.

I think dumb and super dumb still show bias.

But that's why this is a tough conversation. I don't disagree with you. I agree with your final paragraph entirely.

I just see the argument. And even using Thomas as that one example wasn't meant to be the one single book-closing argument... just an example that hey, they could have just gotten a hall of famer right there, but it might also still not make much difference, so let's not get too excited.

It's only worth actually hating if there's an obvious better pick there. I'm not saying I agree with the vehemence with which he disagrees. Just that I understand why that disagreement exists.

73
by Todd S. :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 7:31pm

Somebody else is going to have to defend the Colts pick at #37. I'm out...

74
by ssereb :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 7:41pm

Someone needs to tell them that they're not drafting a basketball team.

65
by RickD :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 4:21pm

It's ridiculous to criticize the Joe Thomas pick as somehow indicative that tackles are not useful, implying that a left tackle alone cannot win a Super Bowl. There are so many problems with this attitude, starting with the fact that other teams have won a lot of games with elite tackle play (Joe Thomas isn't the only elite LT in the league) and also the dreadful management of the Browns in every other respect. OK, maybe that's a bit hyperbolic, but it's just a bit stupid to look at a game where 11 men are on each side all the time, isolate one player on a losing team, and say that his position isn't important because his team has lost a lot.

If you want to appreciate the importance of line play, just look at the Super Bowl this year. Both offenses ran roughshod over the defenses in no small part because their lines did great jobs protecting their QB (Philly better than NE). And then there was Philly's rushing game.

67
by Dave Bernreuther :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 4:29pm

I feel like this is more a semantic argument. Nobody is criticizing the Joe Thomas pick. (And also let's not forget that LT > LG in importance too.)

He's saying that picking even a sure fire HOF LG isn't any kind of guarantee of success.

Which it's not.

Citing Thomas as an example isn't criticizing the choice of Thomas, it's using it as an example that you can get everything 100% right and get a generational player... and still suck.

Which you can.

69
by ssereb :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 5:04pm

Well, but the Browns didn't get everything 100% right. They got Joe Thomas and then missed on damn near every other pick they made for a decade except Alex Mack, Joe Haden, and maybe two others. The Browns were closer to getting 10% right than 100%. In fact, they shot themselves in the foot immediately after drafting Thomas by giving up their 2008 first rounder to go get Brady Quinn. If they hadn't done that and had instead gotten, say, Joe Flacco the next year, or picked Ryan Tannehill instead of Trent Richardson a couple years later, we'd be talking about how smart it was to have a line in place behind which they could develop QBs instead of lamenting that the top-tier offensive line talent they developed was incapable of putting them over the top.

EDIT: I think the way to view the Thomas pick (as well as Mack, Haden, Joel Bitonio, and to some extent Josh Gordon) is that even teams that are world-historically bad at picking football players will occasionally pick generational talents and solid value picks. That doesn't mean that positional values are so disparate that it's a bad idea to draft a sure-thing guard over a more dicey CB/edge guy/WR.

83
by Will Allen :: Sat, 04/28/2018 - 9:55am

After he engineered a WMD attack in Indy, Charlie Johnson, committed qb terrorist, descended on Minneapolis, to commit his war crimes at left tackle. The Vikings went 10-6, with The Ponderous One at QB, and no defensive backs to speak of.

Running backs don't last long enough, and there salary range is too limited, to warrant a number 1 pick, but don't let anybody tell you that a running back can't carry a team for a season.

90
by Theo :: Sat, 04/28/2018 - 1:55pm

I made the same Joe Thomas argument,but I was joking at the time. It's a stupid argument on many levels.
1 of course tackles are important.
2 you could make the same argument about many players of many other positions. We recently haf a Joe Thomas all stars of great players who never went to the playoffs.
3 Thomas played on the Browns.

12
by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 11:30am

Vea looks like a pretty great prospect at DT, and the concept of him actually eating up some double-teams and giving Gerald McCoy something resembling help is appealing and all, but, man, I'm not sure I've ever seen "best player available" and "need" meet so perfectly at Derwin James. SS has been a sucky hole of sucking suck for years, and I'd have been perfectly fine with James at #7.

Still, it's a solid draft for the secondary, and two bonus second-rounders for moving down five spots? Most of the trades last night involved flipping around 3rd rounders and swapping spots in the 5th, and I felt like the Bucs and Packers made an absolute and utter killing compared to the other teams.

The "Vea is Ngata" thing is obviously likely not going to happen, but NT's been pretty awful, and it feels like the Bucs have been cycling through a series of Clinton McDonald/Chris Baker veteran FAs who are invariably better somewhere else.

18
by garion333 :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 12:19pm

When you're always behind because your QB throws to the wrong team all the time then you need presence up the middle as teams run the ball on you to preserve the lead and drain the clock.

Simple! ;)

16
by mehllageman56 :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 11:52am

Have to disagree about drafting offensive linemen having no effect on a team. Just because Cleveland has been a sinkhole doesn't disprove what the Jets did with D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Mangold, and what the Cowboys did with all the guys they drafted. The thing is, you can't just draft one guy, but several, to build an offensive line that crushes opponents into submission. You also need an organization that knows what it's doing and will stick to the plan.

17
by garion333 :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 12:18pm

Chad Kelly is the future starter for Denver.

That's the only logical conclusion I can come to.

19
by jtr :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 12:21pm

I guess they're just really big on Case Keenum. I thought Elway was smarter than that, but apparently not. They also have Paxton Lynch around, should there ever be a situation where that's useful.

42
by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 1:38pm

Maybe they have some things on very high shelves and Paxton can reach them? You can't teach height, you know.

44
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 1:48pm

Having a guy around with stupid-looking facial hair surely must have some use.

45
by jtr :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 1:55pm

If the Jets and Broncos both struggle this year, they can orchestrate a Lynch-Hackenberg trade to try to convince the fans that they're doing something.

51
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 2:20pm

That would be the perfect quarterback version of the AJ Jenkins/Jon Baldwin trade between the 49ers and Chiefs in 2012.

56
by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 3:13pm

or the rashaun woods to san deigo for someone trade

abnd
the Jason smith for wayne hunter rams0jets trade . remember descrivbing that trade here on fotobal outsiders as deal like two guys comparing frsshly made turds in restroom.

68
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 4:49pm

As the father of two boys who went through potty training at roughly the same time, the scenario of "two guys comparing freshly made turds" is a one that I have lived multiple times.

23
by mehllageman56 :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 12:35pm

Honestly, Matt Waldman made comments about Chad Kelly in Denver suggesting the Broncos are high on him. Matt Waldman is a big Chad Kelly fan, so confirmation bias, but he heard rumors.

22
by Led :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 12:33pm

"John Elway was, at best, a scatter-armed quarterback. He was below league average in completion percentage seven times, above average nine times. (At Stanford, weirdly, he twice led the Pac-10 in completion percentage.)"

It's funny that the counter evidence is sitting right there but it's viewed as a "weird" anomaly rather a reason to reconsider the opinion. There is way too little attention paid to team effects, even as to QBs. My recollection is that Elway carried mostly bad teams as a pro until the end of his career. I can't think of a single legitimately good WR that Elway played with until Rod Smith came along towards the end.

98
by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 04/30/2018 - 9:13am

The Smith/McCafferey pair was pretty good, but up until that point no one was afraid of their WRs at all. A pile of mediocrity.

Then again, Reeves and that offense, ugh.

24
by ChrisS :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 12:41pm

I still can't watch the draft. To me it's like preseason football, which I also don't watch, where 95% of what happens does not really matter.

37
by jtr :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 1:20pm

I really don't understand watching the draft or award shows. What's the point of watching a 3 hour TV program that gives you the same amount of information as spending 10 minutes checking the results the next morning? I checked the draft results a couple times on my phone over the course of the night, that keeps me just as clued in without having to waste my night listening to Mel Kiper.

41
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 1:29pm

I usually tune in when my team is picking, because I enjoy Mike Mayock's analysis (I can't stand Kiper). Otherwise I follow it on my phone. In the old days when the draft ran all day Saturday/Sunday, I would have it on in the background while I was doing laundry, studying, etc.

25
by justanothersteve :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 12:47pm

The Packers essentially traded a third and sixth this year for the Saints #1 next year which will likely be towards the end of the round. I agree this is a good trade on paper. The problem was that Davenport and James were considered the last of the first tier players still on the board. That is why I don't really care for this trade.

The Packers draft will be judged on whether Davenport fulfills his potential. Alexander might be good, but Packers fans will be comparing his career to Davenport. The team also desperately needs a pass rusher and they only have one pick - their own second round pick - today. This draft is not helping Aaron Rodgers now and he only has a few good years left.

27
by theslothook :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 12:50pm

I think the Giants aren't being ripped enough. I can't justify this decision in any way. As others have mentioned, the Giants have holes everywhere, including qb. Just awful.

34
by Boots Day :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 1:05pm

It's amazing to me that the Giants don't recognize they have a big, flaming pile of nothing at quarterback. I think Barkley is going to be every bit as good as people expect - which means the Giants will go 6-10 rather than 4-12 or 5-11.

59
by Dave Bernreuther :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 3:47pm

I'm not amazed. Most people don't realize that. And actually he's at least still competent, makes decent decisions, and is a known quantity.

But hell, there are people who call him a sure-fire hall of famer. Eli. The Profoundly Mediocre One.

82
by Lebo :: Sat, 04/28/2018 - 7:01am

He's got two ringz; he's going to the hall.

28
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 12:51pm

I'm still stunned that Harold Landry is still on the board. Anybody hear any rumors about his supposed "medical issue"?

I was all excited for the Lions to take him at 20.....only for them to take a center. Not that Frank Ragnow is a terrible pick. 20 is a bit high for interior o-line, but it was a glaring need, and Ragnow was fantastic the past two seasons, against some pretty good competition.

I guess I should be happy that the Lions' front office is now consistently taking the boring, sensible route, instead of being distracted by shiny objects.

55
by ChrisS :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 3:04pm

I am not super impressed with the Ragnow pick hopefully it works out and they did need a center with Swanson gone. Landry still being around is a real head scratcher, he really would fill a big need, and the injury "reports" I see on the Webs seem pretty nebulous. Of the other players taken after Ragnow I like Billy Price, Rashaan Evans, and Taven Bryan. Glad they did not take a RB even as bad as the running game is.

58
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 3:23pm

"Glad they did not take a RB even as bad as the running game is."

Agreed...I'm relieved that they were smart enough to not do that, despite how much the fans were clamoring for Derrius Guice. Once you get past Barkley, everyone else seems mostly interchangeable. I hope they'll go defense-heavy in the rounds 2-4, and at most take a flyer on a late-round RB.

30
by Boots Day :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 1:01pm

Just wanted to say this was really great, the best draft wrapup I've seen anywhere. Thanks for doing this.

32
by mehllageman56 :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 1:03pm

There are a number of guys left I like. I feel Orlando Brown is going to be a better left tackle than McGlinchey. Ok, that's a hot take, but watch the tape and you'll end up agreeing with me. Georgia destroyed McGlinchey, while Brown held his own in the playoff game. The Dawgs did get two sacks off him, but one was with Mayfield leaving the pocket; the other was one of the few times all season bull rushing worked against Brown, and even then Mayfield didn't go down until he moved too much. Landry would be a great pick now if nothing's wrong with him. Same with Hurst. Hernandez should have gone by now (wouldn't it be hilarious if he's available for the Colts?), and a bunch of other linemen. I would think Rudolph and Lauretta go in the second. It would be fun for a Jets fan to watch the second round if the Jets hadn't traded up to take Darnold instead of Rosen.

47
by theslothook :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 2:12pm

Lamar Jackson's career will be interesting. Since he's been mostly compared to Mike Vick, I'll assume he's that kind of player. Vick at his best was still a high floor low ceiling kind of player. He could never operate an efficient pass game and was constantly battling injuries due to his running style. But he did make the run game look better and his run ability brought a lot of offense on his own. Makes sense for Baltimore, where they just need to week out enough offense to win games 23-17. Oh and this also ends the pretense that Flacco was anything other than awful for the last few years.

64
by Noah Arkadia :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 4:19pm

I'm not an expert, but it seems to me Jackson's ceiling is pretty high. Just off the little I've watched he looks like a much superior version of Vick -or not like Vick at all, since he can run as well as Vick but appears to be a much better passer. Maybe not the better passer arm-wise, but mentally has a much better grasp of what being a QB entails.

75
by theslothook :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 8:53pm

But I read Vick was the superior runner and physical talent. I'll be curious to see if he successfully balances the two in a way like Russell Wilson does. And even then, Wilson is not a down to down efficient thrower. Sea offense is still primarily a run focused system.

85
by Noah Arkadia :: Sat, 04/28/2018 - 11:59am

Oh. Then that might be so. But I think that yes, Jackson is more like Wilson than Vick. If you see the writeup here in this site about him, it's amazing how calm his feet are in the pocket. The complete opposite of antsy. He seems to run only after exhausting the possibilities in the pocket. I'm very excited to see him play.

87
by jtr :: Sat, 04/28/2018 - 12:11pm

Don't just read other people's opinions of a guy, form your own! Watch a couple of games of his and see what you think. The way second- and third-hand perceptions of a player get passed around as gospel is one of my least favorite things about draft season. Draft Breakdown cutups are an awesome resource to get a feel for your own team's draftees and anybody else you're curious about.

http://draftbreakdown.com/category/quarterback-2018/lamar-jackson/

108
by The Ninjalectual :: Sat, 05/05/2018 - 12:13pm

This is good advice. Youtube has videos edited for every passing play in a game, so it's not just highlights, and it's easy to optimize your time spent. Watching Kirk Cousins at MSU this way made me wonder how he lasted until the 4th round in 2012, for example.

110
by Will Allen :: Sun, 05/06/2018 - 9:30am

There was no deficiency of Michael Vick's, as an NFL QB, that would not have been easily fixable if Michael Vick had the normal professional work ethic of a top 5 NFL qb. Michael Vick, by his own admission, never prepared. If Jackson works his ass off, and doesn't get hurt, I suspect the Ravens will be thrilled with this pick. I wished he'd have lasted two more picks, because it would have been fun to see what Shurmur would have done with him and Barkley.

111
by theslothook :: Sun, 05/06/2018 - 6:51pm

I don't deny that Vick never took the mental parts seriously. But I have my doubts that hard work and dedication is sufficient to picking that up. Brady Quinn's work ethic was incredible, but he still couldn't put it together. Ron Jaworski mentioned how in pre games, joey Harrington explained the film so well, but in game time he simply couldn't apply what he'd seen.

Game intelligence strikes me as a combination of study but also application in an extremely chaotic environment. That skill is much much harder and since the NFL doesn't give you a lot of time to pick it up, it strikes me that you need some innate talent to begin with or it won't happen.

In any case, even if Jackson never picks that up, he has enough talent to be good even without it.

112
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 05/07/2018 - 12:31pm

Being a tech geek, I've been following the rise of VR training in soccer and football. The claim is that players can now get lots and lots of repetition for mental skills happening at game pace, and with the quality of modern VR/AR it translates very well. You aren't doing this with a controller, you are moving at full speed in physical space. Actual game situations can be used, even to the point where players can relive a game they played and make a different decision to see how that would have played out. Case Keenum reportedly starting heavily working with the technology in 2016. That's a single data point and there are a lot of other factors, but I've got a feeling it had an impact. Some of the European soccer leagues that have been using it have seen younger players ready to go much sooner than expected. I'll be curious to watch German in the world cup as they are all in on the tech for the last few years too.

If it works even partially it's potentially a big change, especially for a back up QB who doesn't get practice reps or game time at all. Being able to get thousands of reps that you couldn't have in the past to help train mental abilities is a big deal. There is even haptic feedback that can be used, so that a QB that doesn't get the ball off before the pass rush gets to him actually physically feels the feedback suit apply pressure on his body where he would have been hit. You don't run the risk of injury, but you do still get that additional physical feedback. The more it's used the better it will get too. So guys with great work ethics that just needed more practice to pick things up, and we know those people exist, could suddenly become much more viable. A back-up quarterback could get as many virtual reps as a starter if not as many real snaps. That could have a profound impact too even if it's only 75% as effective at teaching as getting real snaps, it's a big deal.

It's still very possible that Brady Quinn wouldn't be able to put it together even with all the extra virtual snaps, not everyone will be able to process things fast enough even with additional practice. But there are going to be some guys where this is a big deal, and QB is one of the easiest positions to leverage the tech for because most of the physical stuff that they need to do is not directly impacted by another person. A lineman might still benefit, some, but they won't be dealing with that other 300 pound person who is trying to stop them. But they can be put in a situation where JJ Watt is bearing down on them and Earl Thomas is lurking back there and you have an in prime Revis at one corner and this poor QB has the Seattle offensive line in front of him, or whatever else in a pure simulation. Or they are put in the game from last week and now Brett Hundley gets to play the same game Aaron Rodgers did just before he got hurt. That's not only potentially helpful for the player but a good coach can get a crap load of info from watching that too.

I don't disagree with your assessment. I just think that this is one area where an emerging technology could change the way things work, and since I work with databases all day long my geeky side gets really excited about it too.

113
by Will Allen :: Mon, 05/07/2018 - 2:55pm

I have been eagerly awaiting this development for about 20 years now. Great to read of it finally come to fruition.

114
by Will Allen :: Mon, 05/07/2018 - 3:00pm

Neither Quinn or Harrington were nearly as far out on the right trail of the athleticism curve as Vick. It's possible that Vick would not have been substantially better if he had worked like Manning or Brady (and Vick did have years which were better than any years of Quinn or Harrington), but that isn't the way to bet.

115
by theslothook :: Mon, 05/07/2018 - 6:12pm

I just don't think Vick was going to be able to pick up the mental parts of the game. His running ability was so good, it literally became a crutch. Part of why Manning, Brady, and others are so good at reading defenses is because they know they can't just hit the ejector seat when your first read is gone.

I guess we'll never know. In general, only a few qbs have been able to master the deeper elements of the game while still having the ability to scramble. Young, Rodgers, etc - but its very rare.

Will jackson? I suspect not, but again, he's so talented that I think a smart scheme will mitigate that hole in his game. He does have accuracy issues apparently, so we will see if he can sort those out. But again, a smart scheme of running and deep throws can do wonders, especially of a defense led team that just needs enough offense every week to win.

116
by gomer_rs :: Mon, 05/07/2018 - 11:22pm

Or you could do what Harbaugh did with Kaepernick, worst comes to worse, push the recievers down field such as to create a 1st down out of the ejector seat. With a more capable QB than Kaep it puts the middle of the pass D in a signifigant bind. Heck it put defenses in a heck of a bind with Keap, he almost took San Fran to the SB against peak Seattle in Seattle.
_______

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

117
by MC2 :: Tue, 05/08/2018 - 3:00am

Vick was actually showing some signs of growth as a passer under Dan Reeves, who, while obviously not an offensive mastermind, at least demanded Vick put some effort into getting better. Unfortunately, Vick got hurt in 2003, and the team went 2-10 without him; as a result, Reeves was fired, and replaced by Jim Mora.

That was the worst thing that could have happened to Vick, as Mora, unlike Reeves, was extremely reluctant to criticize Vick. Instead, he constantly kissed Vick's ass, giving him all the credit for wins, and none of the blame for losses. This had the effect of making the naturally lazy Vick even lazier. After all, why put in the effort to get better at your job, when your boss is constantly telling you how great you already are?

Ironically, going to jail may have been the best thing (career-wise, at least) that ever happened to Vick, as it humbled him, and made him listen to Andy Reid, resulting in those two years in Philadelphia, which were better than anything that he ever managed to accomplish in Atlanta.

118
by jtr :: Tue, 05/08/2018 - 9:19am

On the flip side, Vick's season as the Jets backup was post-jail, and he was obviously just totally mailing it in for them. There was a game where Geno Smith managed to throw 3 picks in 8 attempts (seriously), and Vick was completely unprepared for a relief stint. It was a caricature of the rest of his career; he obviously didn't know where to throw the ball, so he ended up mostly running around aimlessly to the tune of 69 rushing yards and four fumbles. It reminded me of the backup quarterback character on Blue Mountain State, who's determined to reap the benefits of being a football player without any of the work or responsibility.

57
by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 3:16pm

not sure why any Pates getting lamar Jackson rumors came abnout. Soft Balls wants to play another five year. s Unless h e is full of it or just suffers inevitable qujick and sudden fall or career ending iknjury, Pates don't have need for new starting quartevback.

a now team going to spend 1st round pick on a quaryterback, when alrerady havbe one made no sense to me. turns out proof in pudding. Pates passed on him.

am fan of Jackson so am hoping andf thinking he will start some games tjhis season

66
by ssereb :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 4:27pm

I think he will probably start playing as soon as the Ravens are eliminated from the playoffs, which means he might get four games or none at all.

61
by JMM :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 3:57pm

RE: Edmunds to the Steelers....

I noticed that Colbert and Tomlin spoke at length at the lead into draft press conference about sub package football and repeatedly made the point that many of the picks, particularly when asked about inside linebackers, had skills in one area and not necessarily across the board.

When watching the video of Edmunds walking to the podium, I thought he looked more like a linebacker, wide shoulders and a heaver frame than a D-back. Sure enough, he weighs in at 217 while running a 4.47 40. Then I read that he plays linebacker in some sub packages in school.

I guess he is one of the new "tweeners" between inside linebacker and safety. Shazier was one from the LB side, he looks like one from the safety side. I hope he can play.

84
by jtr :: Sat, 04/28/2018 - 10:15am

I'd initially thought they were looking at a linebacker role for him, in the dime and maybe even in the base. But I watched the film I could find on him online, and now I just don't see it. In two games worth of film cutups, I never once saw him get off a block. Wide receivers always push him a few yards away from the play, and tight ends swallow him up entirely. He can't play linebacker like that, even if Pittsburgh tries to bulk him up a bit. I can't see him at free safety either, since he was almost always late to the ball when he played centerfield or deep-half coverage. The only thing I saw him do well was man coverage. I guess they're grooming him to match up on tight ends, as Sean Davis got so badly exposed by Gronk last year. It looks to me like he's going to have to really develop the rest of his game if they're going to use him any other way than that.

70
by Dan :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 5:45pm

Which would you rather have?

1. Saquon Barkley
2. Picks 37, 49, 52, 53, 56, 2019 1st, 2019 2nd, 2019 2nd

Option 2 could've been the Giants' haul if they'd managed to be involved in all 4 major tradedowns (3-->6, 7-->12, 14-->27, 32-->52).

79
by The Ninjalectual :: Sat, 04/28/2018 - 1:41am

That's some really interesting analysis! I hadn't thought about it that way, but it really illustrates how much NFL teams overrate their own abilities to identify college talent.

86
by Noah Arkadia :: Sat, 04/28/2018 - 12:02pm

Wow. That's seven 2nds and one 1st. It brings to mind the fact that if you keep trading down, you'll end up with 32 7ths and 32 6ths (non-scientific approximation). At what point is it wise to stop?

89
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Sat, 04/28/2018 - 1:20pm

One of my favorite old-school Tanier jokes was that Bill Belichick's goal was to keep trading down over and over again until he had 7 billion late-round draft picks, allowing him to draft every man, woman, and child on the planet...thus completing his ultimate evil plan to take over the world.

91
by mehllageman56 :: Sat, 04/28/2018 - 4:41pm

But then he might have to pay all of them. Not a great plan, as Iron Man says.

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by jtr :: Sat, 04/28/2018 - 10:21pm

Only the 51 highest paid players on the team count against the cap, so as long as Kraft can come up with the cash, Belichick can sign everyone.

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by Dan :: Sun, 04/29/2018 - 12:46am

Round 2 or 3 seems like a good place to stop.

For one thing, the biggest overpays mostly happen in rd 1, especially with teams trading up for QBs (3 of the 4 trades that I included were for QBs). Though there are occasional big overpays later, typically involving future draft picks (like the Bears' Anthony Miller trade this year and the Dolphins' Carroo trade a couple years ago).

For another thing, the old Massey-Thaler analysis (and updated versions of it) shows that round 2-3 picks are especially valuable. Pretty good prospects on very cheap contracts.

Also, there is limited roster space. If you stop in rounds 2-3 then you shouldn't have trouble finding room to roster these guys as they develop. It also helps that the picks are spread across 2 years.

Although in the Giants' case I might've stopped at pick 27 (foregoing pick 52 and a 2019 2nd) in order to take Lamar Jackson in the late first round. That still would've left them with 7 picks (rd 2 or earlier) in exchange for Barkley.

And if they'd gotten in on the Bears' trade they could've given pick 49 for Chicago's 2019 2nd plus pick 105.

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by Pat :: Mon, 04/30/2018 - 11:49am

"For another thing, the old Massey-Thaler analysis (and updated versions of it) shows that round 2-3 picks are especially valuable. Pretty good prospects on very cheap contracts."

The problem with the Massey-Thaler analysis (and *all* of its updates) is that they ignore roster space limitations and the overall player market.

That is, if you can find a 2nd round quality player in free agency, but *can't* find a 1st round quality player, you *have* to overpay for a first round player during the draft. It's the only way you get one.

The idea that you should just go out and draft like, 20 mid-round people always seems to come up every year. It just doesn't make sense as a strategy. On average, the *best* performing players are the highest drafted ones. Yes, there are great players that you can get later. But most of those players aren't great, and you'd have to draft a lot of them to find them.

And because your *positional* space is extremely limited and the draft *stock* is also limited, you can't do that. You can't go out and draft 5 mid-2nd round QBs because each one's got a 15% chance of being a Pro Bowl player, whereas the top overall player has a 65% chance. There aren't necessarily 4 mid-2nd round QBs available, and you probably can't play them all enough to figure out which one is the right one.

"Although in the Giants' case I might've stopped at pick 27 (foregoing pick 52 and a 2019 2nd) in order to take Lamar Jackson in the late first round."

It's really a question of whether or not you think there's someone available who can contribute in a way that you *can't get* in free agency (or would be a huge bargain on a rookie salary). Obviously Barkley's not a great pick here by that reasoning - not a *bad* one, mind you, but not a great one (he's not a huge bargain, and you can find players *close enough*). But trading out all the way down to 27 also isn't a great option - you can find players like that on the free agency market pretty often, so it's a big opportunity that you're losing.

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by Dan :: Tue, 05/01/2018 - 2:03am

I'm talking about getting 8 2nd rounders (or better), and those guys aren't dart throws. More than 1/8 of them turn out to be Pro Bowlers. Look at RBs, for example: Le'Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, Ray Rice, Maurice Jones-Drew. Those 5 guys are among the past 32 2nd round RBs, so there was more than a 1/8 chance of getting a RB of that caliber if you took one in the second round over the past dozen drafts.

Of course the Giants would spread those picks across different positions rather than taking 8 RBs. So maybe they would hit big on the next Demarcus Lawrence, or the next Bobby Wagner, or whatever. That does not seem like a major problem.

Meanwhile, they could also take the savings from having a few more starters on rookie contracts and use that to splurge on an extra big name FA like Suh, Allen Robinson, or Norwell. That is a better use of money, IMO, than paying solid contracts to mediocre players like Paul Richardson or Beau Allen.

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by Steve in WI :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 6:17pm

The problem I have with Dunlevy's tweet is it's such a straw man argument. I agree with him that Nelson is not going to singlehandedly vault the Colts to a championship contender. The problem with that statement is that no position in the NFL except for QB has that kind of power, and even really good QBs sometimes can't drag a bad team to the playoffs.

I think a team picking at 6, who does not need a starting QB, should almost always take the best player available. Chubb was already gone and I did not hear anyone say they thought another edge rusher (which I would concede is probably the most important position after QB) was worth picking at 6 or was better than Nelson. I would be curious to know who Dunlevy thinks was sitting there at 6 who provided better impact/value than a potential All-Pro guard.

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by jgibson_hmc95 :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 6:40pm

It was funny reading this first and then reading Pete Prisco's draft grades at CBS. He gave Buffalo an A+ for getting the best QB in the draft.

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by Independent George :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 9:12pm

Caveat: I know nothing about college football or who would be a good pick for the Giants.

That said, while I think spending the #2 overall pick on a RB is stupid when you're bad enough to get the #2 overall pick, I am ok with them not taking a QB if they weren't happy with their available choices. I'll defer to everyone who says that this was an unusually deep QB class - but we've seen supposedly deep QB classes fall apart before, too. If you're not hot on any of the QBs, the best reason to pick one is to avoid getting crucified by the press.

The reason I don't like Barkley isn't so much that RBs are fungible, but that RBs have a limited shelf life and even if he turns out to be a hall of famer, they will most likely still be wasting his prime.

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by gomer_rs :: Sun, 04/29/2018 - 7:11pm

QB is so important, I am of the firm opinion that if you do not have a franchise performer at QB... Take early and often. In the Giants case... trading down for Jackson would have been brilliant.

But yeah, taking a RB, shortest career life span in the NFL when you finished with the #2 despite having a supposedly franchise calliber QB.
_______

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

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by Pat :: Mon, 04/30/2018 - 11:18am

"The reason I don't like Barkley isn't so much that RBs are fungible, but that RBs have a limited shelf life and even if he turns out to be a hall of famer, they will most likely still be wasting his prime."

The only reason I don't like them drafting Barkley is because you almost never get the 2nd overall pick, and so you might as well spend it on a pick that has the most potential to get you a bargain.

But I really disagree with people who think it's a *bad* pick. There's a good chance Barkley ends up being worth the 2nd overall pick on performance alone. He's not going to drag the team down or anything. I mean, top-10 RB picks have a really good track record - the only real total outright bust is Richardson by the Browns, which, honestly, should shock no one.

Put another way: if this was free agency and not the draft, I'd say the Giants did a pretty good job. Barkley at $7.5M/year or so is decent value. The only downside to it is that the draft allows you to get so much more.

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by theslothook :: Mon, 04/30/2018 - 3:46pm

Its about opportunity cost. The giants have major holes, including qb. Even if you think the rb prospect is A+ and the qb is B+, the qb has to be the pick if the goal is to be a good consistent team for a long time. Is it a sufficient condition? No, but it is a necessary condition. No other position offers that kind of value.

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by Pat :: Mon, 04/30/2018 - 7:19pm

That's only true to a degree. If you don't think any of the QB prospects are ones you couldn't pick up in free agency, signing one just because it's a stronger position is a mistake. It's about getting a player you think you can only get at the top of the draft.

Picking a player you have strong reservations about is more dangerous than picking Barkley second. That's the point. Taking Barkley isn't a *good* pick, but it isn't a *bad* pick, either. It's still probably going to make them a better team. It's just a lost opportunity for them to become a *much* better team.

Contrast this with Allen, for instance, which has the possibility to make Buffalo a *worse* team.

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by Will Allen :: Mon, 04/30/2018 - 8:00pm

It would not be a shocking development if Barkley ends up top 5 all time in yards from line of scrimmage. That isn't the likely outcome of course, but it isn't likely, either, that any of the QBs in this draft will be a HOFer. If the Giants have Barkley graded much better at his position, than they had the QBs graded at theirs, then it's a decent, if imperfect pick. Too bad Lamar Jackson couldn't last two more picks. It would have been fun to see Shurmur develop some packages with Barkley and Jackson on the field with Eli and Beckham. I think Barkley, like Walter Payton, can pass decently as well. Woulda' had some d coordinators bamboozled.

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by Subrata Sircar :: Fri, 04/27/2018 - 11:54pm

It seems pretty clear that none of the QBs is Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning, and none of the OL look like Joe Thomas redux. So who should the Giants have taken? I think they took the player who had the best chance of being an elite player (certainly they took the player they think has the best chance there). I mean, if they take a shot at Rosen with a 70% failure rate, isn't that worse? It's much worse if they pick someone who ends up taking four years to figure things out i.e. they "hit" on the pick but most/all the value provided goes to some other team, at a much higher price tag.

There's certainly a point at which Barkley is the best pick, positional value be damned.

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by MC2 :: Sat, 04/28/2018 - 2:53am

Sure, none of the QBs are sure things, but neither is Barkley. When Reggie Bush came out, most of the talking heads were even more eager to proclaim him a HOFer than they are for Barkley. But instead of turning out to be "the next Marshall Faulk" (as many people predicted), Bush instead turned out to be the next Kevin Faulk -- a very solid player, but nothing special. Barkley could easily turn out the same way. There is simply no such thing as the "can't miss" prospect.

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by Pat :: Mon, 04/30/2018 - 10:59am

This seems like a real misunderstanding about how good a player has to be at the top of the draft to be a decent pick.

Reggie Bush's problem was rookie salaries at the time: he signed for ~$10M/year, which was about ~10% of the salary cap at the time. Barkley will get less than *half* that (~4.2% of the cap).

A first round pick turning into a solid player isn't a "miss," regardless of what talking heads would have you think. It's what normally happens. Reggie Bush earned 39 AV in his first 5 years. The average 2nd overall pick earns 30.2 AV. In other words, Bush performed a fair bit *better* than the average 2nd overall pick. If you look from 2000-2010, the 5-year AV of the second overall picks were: 44, 31, 60, 4, 31, 36, 39, 48, 34, 9, 65.

The problem in the 2000s was that rookie salaries were so high that the *salary cost* of the pick came into play. So even if the player didn't completely wash out like Charles Rogers or Jason Smith, they still could end up being a drag on the team because of their salary.

With the rookie wage scale, really, that's not true anymore. If Barkley ends up as Reggie Bush, the only way it hurts the Giants is the opportunity cost. Which isn't insignificant, of course, but it's like saying "man, I didn't win the lottery, I only won $3 on a $2 ticket." You still won, stop complaining.

Bush's 7.8 AV/year is worth about ~5.3% of the salary cap (from Chase Stuart's "approximate value salary cap values for veterans"), but cost 10%. If Barkley ends up at that level, he's producing positive value: 5.3% value, on 4.2% cost.

Yes, things are probably different for running backs, in that you can find good bargains easily. But again, that's an opportunity cost thing. If Barkley ends up just being a solid RB, that's not the end of the world.

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by MC2 :: Mon, 04/30/2018 - 8:08pm

You seem to be missing my point. I'm not saying that Barkley won't be a "decent" pick (though I'm a little unclear how one could assess that, without regard to opportunity cost). In fact, on another thread here recently, I said I think Barkley has about a 75% chance of being as good as Curt Warner (who was certainly a "decent" player), and about a 25% chance of being as good as Roger Craig (who was much more than a "decent" player).

So, I would say that Barkley is more than a "decent" prospect; he's an excellent prospect. But he's not a lock, and the comment I was replying to (as well as almost every argument I've seen for drafting Barkley instead of a QB) seems to be predicated on the idea that he is a lock, as in, "Yeah, a great QB is worth a lot more than a great RB, but there's no guarantee that any of these QBs will be great, while we know Barkley will be great." I'm simply using Bush as an example to point out that, no, we don't "know" that any prospect will turn out to be great, no matter how highly touted they are. So, yeah, Bush may have been "worth" the 2nd pick (although, again, I think evaluating "worth" in a vacuum is problematic), but he still fell way short of what was expected him, and it's entirely possible that Barkley may do the same.

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by Pat :: Thu, 05/03/2018 - 3:21pm

"I'm not saying that Barkley won't be a "decent" pick (though I'm a little unclear how one could assess that, without regard to opportunity cost)."

Just think about it in terms of free agency. If the Giants signed Barkley for $7.5M/year in free agency, it's not a bad deal. He's got a really high chance of being worth that. If Barkley had been picked at 16, I'd say it was a fantastic pick, because you pretty much get a mid-first round pick every year.

In fact, I would be so crazy as to say that if the *Browns* had taken Barkley first overall, and then an OL at 4, I'd say that's not a terrible idea either - because for the Browns, high first round picks *do* happen pretty much every year, and there'd be a good chance in a year or two they're back up there and can get a QB, too (this is of course assuming they didn't like any of the QBs this year, obviously). *Definitely* if Barkley had fallen to the Browns at 4, that would've been a great pick.

The thing is, people always treat the draft as though you have to swing for the fences and get these awesome mind-blowing players at the top of the first round. You really don't. Rookie salaries are so cheap now that getting a good starter is still a positive for your team.

"So, yeah, Bush may have been "worth" the 2nd pick (although, again, I think evaluating "worth" in a vacuum is problematic), but he still fell way short of what was expected him, and it's entirely possible that Barkley may do the same."

I'm saying he fell way short of what *talking heads* predicted he would be, but I seriously, seriously doubt that coaches have the same opinions as the talking heads. I have to imagine that the *minimum* thing that coaches want from top draft picks is that they turn into a quality (not top-tier) starting player, and Bush was pretty close to that.

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by Dan :: Sat, 04/28/2018 - 3:22am

Instead of Barkley & G Will Hernandez, they could've gone with something like G Quenton Nelson & RB Nick Chubb & OLB Harold Landry & CB Isaiah Oliver & NYJ 2019 2nd round pick.

In other words, if you don't like the QBs then trade down with someone who does.

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by Dan :: Sun, 04/29/2018 - 12:51am

Reports are that Gettleman didn't even listen to trade offers. Reminds me of Ditka trading away the entire draft to take Ricky Williams, except with opportunity costs (foregone gains from trade) instead of out-of-pocket costs.

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by The Ninjalectual :: Sat, 05/05/2018 - 12:31pm

Didn't listen to trade offers? So he's not doing his job, essentially?

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by Aaron Schatz :: Sun, 04/29/2018 - 10:30am

Please note that we've deleted a political comment above made by a FO staffer, and he will be appropriately admonished. Thank you to everyone else for keeping to the "No Politics" rule.