Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

02 May 2006

TMQ: Messing Up Your Daggone Top 10

In his latest, Easterbrook takes a look back at the weekend that was. Maybe it's just me, but the fact that he found ESPN's coverage "light years better" than the NFL Network's is a little troubling. I do agree that ESPN had much "better visual variety" -- showing which teams were on the clock and in the hole, for example -- but to say ESPN had, "... more personality, more insight" is hard to take seriously when Michael Irvin has a seat at the table. Well, at least the insight part.

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 02 May 2006

79 comments, Last at 05 May 2006, 4:55pm by Tom


by dryheat (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 4:44pm

For such a self-advertised fan of the NFL, TMQ seems to be lacking in some basic understandings:

1) Teams cannot name stadia that they do not own (Sun Devil Stadium, The Meadowlands)

2) In his first season as a head coach anywhere, and with a new team, it is highly unlikely Eric Mangini is running the Jets draft.

3) The salary cap pretty much prevents using a top 10 pick on a quarterback in consecutive years.

by kevin (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 4:46pm

ESPN had better graphics, but NFL network had MUCH better analysis with Chavous and Mayock . . . it depends on what you value most . . . I preferred the coaching tape breakdowns, so I was glued to 212 . . .

by Crushinator (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 4:55pm


Your point 3 doesn't make sense, as players are paid on the position they're chosen in the draft and not on the position they play. If a kicker was drafted 5th overall, he'd be being paid more than a QB taken 6th overall. Unless that Kicker had an awful agent or the QB had a terrific one.

by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 4:57pm

Ralph Wilson's family has no intention of keeping the Bills in the family after Ralph dies - see the article linked under my name.

by turbohappy (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 5:04pm


On point #2, I agree that Mangini isn't running their draft, but I would assume he had at least SOME input.

by kevin (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 5:12pm

re #3 - referring to post 1, his POINT was that you can't have all that money tied up at a position when you have many other needs to address; that is what he was saying . . . look at the Saints . . . they have all that money tied up at RB . . . that situation won't last . . . I give it a year, and then Deuce is traded . . .

by Ferg (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 5:12pm

Re 3: Fair enough (although I thought first-round QBs sometimes get slightly larger contracts than their slot indicates; not sure), but I think his point was that a team can't afford to spend two large contracts on QBs because only one will actually play.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 5:15pm

I like how San Fran goes from Glamorous (discussing Matt Leinhart's descision to stay another year) to able to bring a grown man to tears (Vernon Davis getting drafted by SF). I guess Alex Smith really makes that much of a difference.

by Michael David Smith :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 5:19pm

I'd be interested in hearing what everyone thought about the ESPN vs. NFL Network draft coverage. I had two TVs going simultaneously, but the volume was on NFL Network a lot more than on ESPN. To me, it's an easy call: I'd much rather listen to Rich Eisen than to Chris Berman and I'd much rather listen to Corey Chavous than to Michael Irvin. Mike Mayock vs. Mel Kiper is a wash. Ron Jaworski was the only ESPN analyst I'd consistently change the volume to hear.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 5:19pm

Why does TMQ even talk about science? Ever? Please, please stop. Earth didn't start as a frozen snowball. It started as a molten hell, then it oscillated between a liquid planet and a frozen snowball as the atmosphere developed. Mars likely had the same thing going on, though it probably didn't go through as many cycles before the volcanos stopped and the volatiles bled away. Even today, without an atmosphere, the Sun's not hot enough to keep water liquid. It's always been about the atmosphere.

I love how TMQ can act smarter than scientists who have spent their lives studying this stuff. "Scientists say this. But I was told this in a simplified, dumbed-down presentation meant for children. Clearly, the scientists must be wrong!"


On an actual football note, why does TMQ and everyone else use the Gale Sayers/Bruce Smith/Julius Peppers/whatever analogy? Eric Moneypenny had a great point on foxsports.com: we've already had a very similar situation before.

Reggie White entered professional football in 1984 (the USFL). A DE. The previous year's Heisman winner (a RB) entered the NFL as well - Mike Rozier. The situations were strikingly familiar.

You would've had to have been nuts to take Rozier over White.

It's a good analogy. Sure, this could backfire on them. Williams could be a bust. So could Bush, though. Or neither of them could be a bust, and in the end, the Texans and the Saints end up having great players.

(If neither of them are busts, though, I'd take the DE. At least I'd be able to keep him longer without overpaying him.)

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 5:22pm

Re 3: Fair enough (although I thought first-round QBs sometimes get slightly larger contracts than their slot indicates; not sure),

Nah. The base contracts are pretty much independent of position.

What they do have are incentives tacked on to the skill positions which can dramatically up the money (see Chad Pennington).

However, if you grab a second first-round QB a year after the previous one, chances are, one of them isn't going to hit their incentives. :)

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 5:29pm

Question (I may look myself), but what #1 overall pick came from the college team with the worst W/L record that season? Williams has to be close.

by Israel (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 5:32pm

Houston, Jersey/B, Philadelphia and Tampa were the teams that emphasized offensive line in this year's draft. Prediction: Houston, Jersey/B, Philadelphia and Tampa will improve their records.

I don't know about Tampa Bay, but Houston, Philadelphia and the Jets seemd to have bottomed out last year, so are very good candidates to omprove regardless of the specific draft picks.

by Ilanin (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 5:33pm

I really don't understand the Gale Sayers comparison. I'd have thought that the team that drafted Bush woulf probably not consider it good value if they only got four and a half seasons out of their star tailback due to injuries, 5.0 ypc career average or no.

I'm also highly confused as to why TMQ believes he's qualified to rate ESPN's coverage versus NFL Network's when he was in Radio City Music Hall and therefore, presumably, not actually watching either set of coverage (yes, he can see it being filmed; no, this is not really the same thing).

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 5:33pm

"Thus Thaler's and Massey's paper seem to me another instance of abstract academic theory that ignores how people and organizations behave in the real world. Presumably most NFL teams are what economists call 'rational actors,' and would get rid of high picks if such selections actually were worth less than low picks."

You could apply this same analysis to half the arguments he makes every column. You can assume most coaches are "rational actors" and would never pass on 4th and inches/throw the ball 70% of the time/play for overtime if such moves actually were less effective.

He assumes that NFL owners know what's best for them. They may think they're thinking rationally, but that doesn't mean they are. These analysts aren't ignoring how people "behave"; they're showing that people do not behave as well as they could if they really took all information into account. TMQ seems to have forgotten for a second that people in the sports world are often pretty conservative in their decision-making, which allows people like Billy Beane to use a little economic sense and have great success.
His point about PR is valid. It all really depends on how much you're able to get people to believe that a radical decision is a good one (e.g. the A's trading away their two best pitchers last offseason, which continues to look like a great move, even though most baseball commentators got in high dudgeon over it).

by GlennW (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 5:34pm

> I’d be interested in hearing what everyone thought about the ESPN vs. NFL Network draft coverage.

I had already made this comment elsewhere:

The on-the-clock tracker is a simple but useful device, and I have to admit that after the first round was over, and both networks were spending much more time yammering over the Bush/Williams "controversy" and the like instead of on the current picks, I found myself using ESPN to keep up. On Day 2, ESPN also did a better job of summarizing the picks, giving us the last five selections made and telling us something about each player. NFL Network was running a lot of features (including the amusing one on Art Rooney Jr) and often was ignoring the draft altogether, updating it only on the bottom-line ticker.

So, in summary, after the hype had died down and the runway models had left the building, I liked ESPN's format (if not the on-air content) more than the NFL Network's.

by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 5:35pm

Re: 12

Notre Dame was 2-8 in Paul Hornung's senior season in 1956. I don't know if any other player was on a worse team.

by Ryan (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 5:45pm

Anyone else notice that Gregg's old columns are now ''ESPN Insider'' material?

by GlennW (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 5:45pm

> You could apply this same analysis to half the arguments he makes every column. You can assume most coaches are “rational actors� and would never pass on 4th and inches/throw the ball 70% of the time/play for overtime if such moves actually were less effective.

Exactly, and Thaler-Massey are a hell of a lot more scientific in this analysis than TMQ typically is.

Of course public relations has a lot to do with the the way teams use draft picks. But TMQ takes Thaler-Massey to task for not considering that, when theirs is not an economic or business thesis (e.g. what should we do to sell more luxury boxes, pick Reggie Bush or trade down?), rather purely a football operations one. The best argument in response though is that winning has always proved to be the best PR of all.

by MRH (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 5:58pm

Kansas City: Remember that huge push the Chiefs made last year to improve their defense? Well, Kansas City was 31st in defense in 2004 and 25th in 2005. The huge push didn't amount to much. This is still a team that must outscore you because it can't stop you.

Just to set the record straight, the KC defense, although it had some problems last year especially against the pass and tackling Tiki Barber, was much improved. FO stats:

Year: 2004/2005
overall rank: 28/13
overall dvoa: 16.20%/-6.60%
wtd rank: 31/4
wtd dvoa: 25.80%/-15.10%
pass rank: 26/20
pass dvoa: 20.60%/1.00%
run rank: 27/4
run dvoa: 10.50%/-17.40%

Improvement in every category. The 2005 weighted numbers might be skewed by the finale against a not-trying CIN team but this was a much improved defense.

by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 6:02pm

Reggie White entered professional football in 1984 (the USFL). A DE. The previous year’s Heisman winner (a RB) entered the NFL as well - Mike Rozier. The situations were strikingly familiar.

You would’ve had to have been nuts to take Rozier over White.

The 1984 NFL supplemental draft of USFL players was held on June 5, 1984. In that draft, Rozier was taken 2nd (by the Oilers) and White was taken 4th (by the Eagles).

At the time, Rozier's USFL team, the Pittsburgh Maulers, was 3-12, with 3 games remaining. Rozier, for the entire season, rushed for 792 yards (3.6 ypc) and 3 TD. Shouldn't that have been a warning to the Oilers that Rozier wasn't really that good?

by Crushinator (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 6:12pm

On NFL Network vs ESPN

I found NFL Network's coverage to be a lot more interesting and informative. I liked the interviews with coaches and GMs talking about draft strategies. I liked the combine footage. I didn't like how NFL Network didn't have a ticker - It made it a bit annoying.

ESPN's broadcast seemed more geared to the casual fan, which would make sense. They told me a lot of stuff I already knew. I didn't like Mel Kiper's "I predicted that" everytime after a pick. It was almost as annoying as Chris Bermans "Here comes a pick, I bet it'll be a safety" 15 seconds before the Commish announced each pick.

Overall, I found ESPN had more polish but less substance, where the opposite was true of NFL Network. Both networks had a share of gaffs throughout the broadcast.

by mattman (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 6:12pm

ESPN vs. NFL Network - I found NFL Network's content to be much, much better. More football talk, fewer interviews, no Irvin, Hoge, or Schlereth. But ESPN's production values were significantly better, and useful to boot. I liked being able to glance at the screen and immediately know who was on the clock with which pick, and how much time was left. Also much more information available on their crawl. Both networks more or less completely ignored the actual draft shortly after the first round, but with ESPN, at least that information was available peripherally.

The biggest advantage for ESPN, though, was that the NFL Network had NO SELECTION SOUNDER. You had no idea when picks were made. That was an horrendous oversight.

Of course, production values are easy to improve, content much less so. I think by the 2008 draft NFL Network will have ESPN on the run.

Oh, I also miss Chris Berman's hilarious attempts to awkwardly 'predict' a pick that's clearly just been fed to him by the producer as Tags walks to the podium. That's golden television.

by GlennW (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 6:13pm

> Ralph Wilson’s family has no intention of keeping the Bills in the family after Ralph dies - see the article linked under my name.

I found it highly unconvincing that having dear old Dad's name on the stadium could help keep the team in Buffalo anyway-- even if Wilson himself had intended this.

by usedbread (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 6:21pm

#18- its like that with all old espn articles, which is why i hate it when simmons' links to an old article rather than explaining the concept(ive been reading for a long tme, but im also a smoker).

by Shalimar (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 6:21pm

I liked NFL Network better for commentary, they need to work on graphics to summarize the picks more often. I was forced to watch ESPN Sunday because I was at a different house, and didn't have too much trouble. Both could improve, ESPN by toning it down a few notches (which they will never do) and NFL Network by converting some of the massive research Chavous and the other guy have done into graphics. They also constantly commit the worst sin you possibly can on a show like that, not keeping up to date, but that is easily fixable next year.

The problem I have with ESPN is that their people tend to be annoying caricatures. For example, Irvin is the loudmouth who overvalues receivers, Hoge overvalues running backs, Schlereth (who I mostly like) overvalues linemen. I feel most of the time like I'm watching bad actors trying to play poorly-written roles. I don't think they have any chance of changing though, this is what ESPN has intentionally chosen as their brand and they will stick with it until it isn't profitable anymore.

by GlennW (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 6:28pm

> ESPN vs. NFL Network - I found NFL Network’s content to be much, much better. More football talk, fewer interviews, no Irvin, Hoge, or Schlereth.

Forget about Irvin, but I'm mostly fine with Jaworski, Schlereth and Hoge within their respective disciplines. I think these three guys represent a compromise between hard X's and O's and pure polished presentation. When Schlereth says he has serious problems with Winston Justice's technique (I think it was Justice) I think that means something. At least he's taking a stance, stating outright he doesn't like a selection, and isn't just dropping superlatives on every pick.

by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 6:32pm

Shouldn’t that have been a warning to the Oilers that Rozier wasn’t really that good?

Heh. It should've.

But in any case, that's just more fuel for the fire - if Rozier hadn't played for the USFL, he'd look even better to the Oilers, giving them even less chance that they'd draft White.

I can't argue with Houston's selection. It's fine. If Williams and Bush both work out, Williams is the better choice, since you'd be extremely overpaying for Bush. The only argument is whether or not Williams has a higher bust potential than Bush does, and that I don't know.

by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 7:00pm

From a May 2, 1984 (the day after that year's NFL draft) New York Times column by Dave Anderson, positing what would have happened had USFL players been eligible:

"Notice, too, that Gil Brandt believed another celebrated USFL player would have been ignored through the top 10 choices of this mythical draft - Mike Rozier, last year's Heisman Trophy running back from Nebraska who joined the Pittsburgh Maulers for a three-year $3 million contract.

"'Rozier's not that big, 5-9 1/2,' he said. 'In recent years, other Nebraska running backs have had great college seasons but didn't do much in the NFL - I.M. Hipp, Jarvis Redwine. Rozier might be another back who's more the product of the system.'

"Sometime next month, the NFL will hold its first supplemental draft to determine negotiation rights to current USFL players. Asked for his thoughts on the top 10 in that draft, Gil Brandt predicted that the Tampa Bay Bucs, with the first choice, would name Herschel Walker and the Oilers would take Reggie White."

by BHW (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 7:46pm

For ESPN vs. NFL Network, I would generally watch the picks on ESPN and flip over to the NFL Network for the summary of the player. I'd then flip back and forth depending on who was being interviewed and who was at commercial.

I agree with those that say the NFL Network had much better substance.

I'd also be a happy man if the NFL Network were in HD ...

by cd6 (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 7:55pm

Avoiding Berman's "predictions" drove me to NFL network. During commercials I flipped back and forth. (ESPN's ticker running during ads was extremely helpful)

But if there was about to be a pick, I was on 212.

by HLF (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 8:00pm

re #29 -- "I.M.Hipp"?? Someone named him that??

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 8:55pm

I'd rather listen to Mayock anytime instead of Kiper; it sounds as if Mayock has much better grasp of the techniques required at various positions. Irvin and Hoge are annoying gasbags, Jaworski is good, especially with QBs, and Schlereth is ok when he sticks to breaking down line technique. Chavous is good. Eisen is much preferred over Berman. ESPN has better production values, but as was noted, that is an area where NFL net could easily close the gap. On the whole, NFL Network is better.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 10:00pm

Oh, and the only running back who has broken into the league since Sayers did who even is worth mentioning as maybe, just maybe, a possibly superior pick to Reggie White, is Walter Payton. I rather doubt that either Reggie Bush or Mario Williams will match their predecessors, but if I had to wager money on one of them doing so, I guess I'd reluctantly pull the lever for Bush.

by Mentos (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 10:25pm

I liked the NFLN coverage more than ESPN's coverage. The difference was Mike Mayock and Michael Irvin.

by Ruben (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 10:54pm

If on dedication day its name is not Pat Tillman Field, the Cardinals franchise, and the whole National Football League, should be ashamed.

The new stadium is already going to feature a Pat Tillman Freedom Plaza, I believe with a statue of the man, or at least a #40 prominently displayed. The Cheap-wills are keeping it as Cardinals Stadium, in the hopes of attracting naming rights. In light of the recent developments in Arizona's economy, stay tuned for SRP Stadium or Intel Field.

Tennessee: Norm Chow throws out his famous 300-play playbook and installs the new Vince Young offense. In the new offense, "Spread 26 motion shallow Y-curl X-dig blast" is replaced by "Pass right." Yahtzee!

It'll be interesting to see whether Chow really does dumb-down the offense for Young, or if they try an extension of the Ron Mexico Experience, placing a super-complex offense in the hands of a QB whose ability to read defenses scores somewhere in the realm of Highlights magazine.

by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 10:56pm

Re: 34
There are very few players at any non-QB position in the past 40 years could be thought of as "superior to Reggie White." The only three that come to my mind are Payton, Lawrence Taylor, and Jerry Rice.

Does anyone really think that Mario Williams is the next Reggie White, or that Reggie Bush is the next Mike Rozier? Bush seems like the antithesis of a "system RB" to me.

by mikeabbott (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 11:08pm

travis: 4,29 . interesting stuff , thank you. I now know more than I will ever need to about estate taxes. I like the 1984 quotes as well - where do you dig that kind of stuff up? .

re:9, MDS. I had the TV on but was just glancing over occasionally to see if something had happened like it was out of town scores.
TSN, here in Canada, dropped the ESPN coverage after a while and I switched to NFL network at that time.
Either way it was mostly muted.
I was reading online commentary and info from here and other places. I can read about 10 X faster than I can listen plus skim and skip ahead so I much prefer text for commentary.
T.V. highlight films I would 'rewind' the PVR a few times for, or if I noticed Jaws I would skip back. Mostly text beats audio.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 05/02/2006 - 11:54pm

Travis, I definitely would not pick Rice or Taylor over White, as great as they were. I know there has been some analysis done to indicate the importance of a dominant wr, but the fundamental fact is that a wr can only be dominant after two other elements, qb and offensive line, have done their job. White could dominate another team's running and passing attack even when other players on defense were playing sub-standard. Taylor, as great as he was, was such a free-lancer that he really was more dependent on his teammates than White.

Payton I at least have to consider, because he was dominant in all phases of the game, and mostly with substandard teammates; just go and look at who Payton had blocking for him for most of his career, as opposed to Emmitt Smith, whom I also consider a great player.

Payton ran with extreme power, while also being able to make people miss. He was the best blocking rb in the league for most of his career, and he was a terrific receiver. Hell, until McMahon came along, he was probably his team's best passer as well; just terrific when running the option pass!

Add to it his freakish durability for a rb, and I really have to think about it, although I would still lean towards White. Like I said, though, I very much doubt either Bush or Williams will be as dominant as their counterparts, but I'd give a better chance to Bush. Unlike Williams, I don't think there was any commentary on draft day when Payton or White were selected which indicated concerns about those two guys' ability to maintain their intensity at a high level on every snap.

by Travis (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 12:18am

Re: 39

I was hedging my bets by writing "could be argued," and tried to pick only unique players far greater than their positional peers. I really don't have a strong opinion one way or another on that topic, but I do regarding Bush vs. Williams.

by Smeghead (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 12:24am

I actually find the economics jag rather more complex than some of the replies here are allowing, although I don't think TMQ himself acknowledges the complexity.

The NFL, IIRC from the top of last year's draft where the talent wasn't seen as worthy of the picks, has sent signals that sliding back a la the Vikings a couple of years ago will be frowned upon greatly (do the Vikings have a special talent for setting bad precedent for league management? the next Steve Hutchinson wants to know ...). The fact is that the draft is manifestly anti-competitive; if sliding back by skipping picks or trading #5 straight-up for #12 were countenanced, it wouldn't take many instances to send a shrapnel storm of lawsuits to shred some fundamental architecture of the league's existing CBA. I'm confident in asserting that if any teams have reached agreement to trade picks straight-up that way, the league has put the kibosh on it; establishing a marketplace where player salary slots can be passed around between owners is asking for legal trouble. Meanwhile, imagine the PR debacle if team after team failed to exercise pick #6, each waiting for the other to pass -- then the counterclaims if multiple teams who had passed then tried to establish precedence when actually submitting a pick -- then the suit of the player arguing he should be compensated like the sixth pick even though he was "actually" taken #9 because his employer gamed the system in order to compensate him below his value, a suit which could easily extend to challenging the draft itself -- then the potential of the NFLPA being stirred into behavior unbecoming a well-tamed house union -- then the ire of the other billionaire boys clubbers at the doofus/doofi who killed the golden goose in order to pinch enough salary cap space to sign a special teamer.

Whether it's a collective illusion, some theological allegiance to the draft value chart, or a more hard-headed understanding of where everyone's bread is buttered, teams in ignoring the Thaler-Massey research are acting in their "enlightened self-interest" even if not in their immediate competitive interest.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 12:33am

Re 41:
This works similarly with free-agents. Players will often say it's all about winning a championship, yet they go for huge contracts that limit their team's ability to make that happen. If a few top players (not just washed up guys) wanted to give themselves an outstanding chance at a championship, they could just sign for minimal money with the same team. This could screw over the balance of the league, perhaps leading to extreme measures like Smeghead suggests.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 1:09am

The problem is that Bush needs to become a super-ultra-mega-god RB in order to justify that price tag. That is, he needs to be the absolute best RB in the league.

Keep in mind: If Reggie Bush had had Williams's contract, he would've had a contract about the size of Shaun Alexander with 3/4ths of the length. And Alexander's was the largest RB contract in history.

Williams just needs to be in the top 5 of the current NFL DEs. John Abraham's contract was only about 10% smaller than Williams's. Jevon Kearse's contract was about the same (for 3/4 of the length, but that was in 2004).

It doesn't matter if Bush is the best back in the league if the Texans can't afford to build a quality NFL team around him because of him.

by Jason (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 1:15am

"Oh, and the only running back who has broken into the league since Sayers did who even is worth mentioning as maybe, just maybe, a possibly superior pick to Reggie White, is Walter Payton."

I beg to differ. Give me a Marshall Faulk or Barry Sanders over White. I'd also take Deion Sanders and LT over White (For modern day defenders I'd go 1. LT 2. Deion 3. White)

by SJM (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 1:30am

Re: Jerry F.

This doesn't always work, at least not in hockey. In 2003, both Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya signed for cheap with the Colorado Avalanche (already a loaded playoff team) on the theory that they could win a championship. Admittedly, this was before the NHL salary cap, but the Aves still could not have afforded their full market value as free agents. Instead of a championship, both players had horrible years and the team lost in the second round. They have each moved on to new teams and bounced back performance-wise.

Now, your point might still apply for free agents taking less money to STAY with a good team rather than bolt for more money with a lousy team (e.g. Edge). But you can't just throw good players together and expect results, even if they came at a discount.

by Travis (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 1:44am

Re: 42, 45

Don't forget the 2004 Lakers, who signed Karl Malone and Gary Payton to below-market contracts. They wound up in the NBA finals, and might have won had Malone not gotten hurt and Payton not fallen off a cliff.

Re: 43

True enough. However, if I'm locked into giving $26 million of guaranteed money to a rookie, I'd rather give it to a "sure thing" than a project.

by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 3:00am

ESPN's commentators were pretty bad.

And ESPN.com is so obsessed with filling your computer with their junk that they don't have a printable version. :( Looks like another manual copy and paste job.

by Bright Blue Shorts (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 6:05am

Is there a printer-friendly method from ESPN Page 2? I can't see one, but perhaps I'm missing it.

How else will I read this at my next team meeting ?!?

BBS :)

by Bright Blue Shorts (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 6:07am

And of course I've now found it ... the big "PRINT" button at the bottom. It was sort of signposted there for me ...

BBS :)

by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 6:12am

I ended up watching more of ESPN's broadcast for a few reasons. Their graphics were much better, for one. If I'm watching the middle rounds of the draft, I like to know, say, when a player gets drafted. That strikes me as rather important information. I also watched ESPN because I spent a lot more time in the buildup to the draft watching the NFL channel, so I felt like I had a good read on what Mayock (and Chavous, for that matter) had to say about a lot of the prospects. I would still flip back and forth, and I'd definitely be sure to catch at least some of Mayock's film breakdown for each selection, but I used ESPN as home base.

by Ryan (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 10:18am

A couple of points regarding Green Bay that he's wrong on:

The new CBA may not lend Green Bay, Jacksonville and other small-market teams as much financial help as might have been ideal. But -- compared to what? The wealthy teams might have insisted on giving small-market teams nothing, or might have torpedoed any CBA in order to have uncapped years that would have clobbered the small-market bloc. Instead the wealthy teams agreed to share more with the little guys -- quite statesmanlike on the part of Dallas, Denver, Houston, New England, Washington and other high-revenue franchises.

Green Bay is actually one of the high-revenue franchises that will contribute money, despite being located in a city of 100,000 people.

Green Bay: The Packers have the most cap space in the league, yet have done little in free agency. Green Bay is also the NFL's sole publicly owned team, meaning management has fiduciary responsibility to stockholders. Can it be that Pack management has concluded its fiduciary duty is to cut costs and maximize profit? Lambeau Field will sell out every game even if the Packers go 0-16.

The Packers are publicly owned, but the stock cannot be sold (except back to the team for virtually nothing) and no dividends are paid. And the most recent stock offering was in 1997, which is done now. There is no way to buy Packers stock now. It is impossible for the shareholders to realize ANY profit from their "investment", so management does not have a fiduciary responsibility to stockholders.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 10:27am

I'm somewhat happy that someone else is annoyed with ESPN.com's Insider thing, especially as it pertains to old articles.

It's not like the Mouse doesn't have enough money already, and I thought that the spirit of the internet was not about petty profits like that.

by giving him the business (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 10:37am

Didn't anyone have a Draft Day party? I'm proud to say I was far too busy discussing the picks and enjoying food and beverage to be bothered with the between picks banter. I will agree that ESPN was better suited to our purpose. The clock stopping when the pick was in was a helpful cue to quiet the room to hear the pick. I will say I did notice Berman has completely lost his ability to mask the fact that someone is talking in his ear. In general I'd also have to agree that Mayock blows away the competition.

by Falco (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 10:56am

I found TMQ's frequent comments about drafting offensive linemen as a bit amusing, for the following reasons:

- He focuses against Oakland and Buffalo for drafting too many little guys. Prior to the Jets, these happen to be the last two teams to draft an offensive tackle in the first 5 picks, Mike Williams and Robert Gallery.

--He lauds Mangini for learning "the right way" from Belichek. However, New England has never drafted an offensive lineman in the first round under Belichek.

--As Israel points out, it is not a stretch to predict improvement for Houston (2 wins), New York (4 wins), and Philadelphia (6 wins), even if those teams had picked kickers in the early rounds this year.

--Going back to 1994 draft (haven't had time to go further), Teams drafting O-Line in the top 10 of a draft have performed worse than Teams drafting any other position, in the 5 years following the draft the player was selected (Of course, Williams and Gallery have contributed to this).

Offensive Line Teams have finished .500 or better 29 of 62 seasons (better than only QB in this category, by 1%), and have made the playoffs a paltry 15 of 62 seasons (24%), which ranks dead last. To be fair, teams drafting the big guys on the other side of the ball have fared the best, with DT teams finishing .500 or better 65% of the time in the 5 years after the draft, and making the playoffs 41%.

by dfarrar777 (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 11:12am

NFLNet vs. ESPN - If NFLNet has simply had the clock and selection tracker - spent a few bucks on timely graphics - this would have been no contest. The only time I watched ESPN over the weekend was the first two hours of Sunday, and that's only because NFL Europe forced me to. ESPN's coverage is what it is, and if you like that...well, go to town. I can't stand the network anymore.

I thought Mayock acquitted himself very well, and Corey Chavous kind of re-set the bar for athlete analysts, especially for athletes still playing. Not a big fan of Derrin Horton's "happy clown" demeanor, and NFLNet HAS to do better with field reporters. Kara Henderson is just vacant.

I stuck with NFLNet most of the time, and I'm happy I did. From what friends tell me, I didn't miss much on the other side.

by Crushinator (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 11:18am


I'm pretty sure the Patriots drafted a guard last year at 32, but still, pretty good points.

by MJK (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 11:30am

Re Reggie White
I know I'm in the minority here, but I don't even think Reggie White was the best player at his position in his day. As amazing as he was, I always thought Bruce Smith was the best DE at the time both were playing.

Re Passing in the Draft
Smeghead raises some interesting points. Of course, I never quite understood why rookie contracts have to be tied to draft position, at least within the same round. If team A desparately needs a DE, and team B desparately needs an LT, and there is a clear elite player at both positions in the draft, why should which player gets a bigger contract depend on whether team A or team B sucked more the previous season? Is there actually a rule in the CBA that ties rookie contracts to draft position, or is it an unwritten thing where the #3 overall pick will hold out if he gets offered a smaller contract than the #4 pick?

And not to nitpick, but Belichick DID pick an OL in the first round, once. Last year, when Mangini was the D-coordinator for the Pats, Belichick picked OG Logan Mankins with the 32nd pick in the 1st round. Still, your point about TMQ being a little off on that mark is good. IF anything, Mangini should have learned "draft tight ends and defensive linemen in round 1".

by Hutz (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 11:51am

I thought the NFL Network, despite the lower production values was much better than ESPN on draft day.
I cannot stand the vast majority of the talking heads that populate ESPN and unless Chris Berman is dressing down a 15 year old kid that asks him if he reads Deadspin, then well, I don't want to ever hear his voice. (check the link)

by giving him the business (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 12:09pm

Hutz- that link is priceless. I had to dig a bit to get the reference, but it was well worth it. Required reading.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 12:27pm

True enough. However, if I’m locked into giving $26 million of guaranteed money to a rookie, I’d rather give it to a “sure thing� than a project.

Let's assume that Williams isn't going to be a total bust - and the question is just how good he'll actually be.

You can build a team with a $9-10M/year defensive end. A good number of teams in the NFL already do that. Defensive ends are expensive.

You can't easily build a team with a $9-10M/year running back. It hasn't been done before. It's too much money to a position where production is too fungible. The only teams that come close are Seattle, and maybe Indianapolis last year.

Suppose Williams isn't the next Reggie White. Let's just say he's somewhere around Jevon Kearse, Michael Strahan, John Abraham, or Grant Wistrom. That's a much lower bar to hit, but it would still justify his price tag.

In fact, given that I (and a lot of people at FO) think that the high-level running backs (Alexander, James, etc.) are overpaid for their relative contribution to winning, I don't actually think it is possible for Bush to justify that price tag.

Maybe if he had laserbeams for eyes and could vaporize opposing defensive linemen, he'd be worth it. But as it is: he's just a running back. And when you spend $9M/year on a running back, you're simply not going to have as good a team.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 12:50pm

Did anyone else catch William Henderson stand up for Favre and blast the ESPN talking heads on Sunday?

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 12:51pm

I agree that the money given out to a first pick isn't really justified for a running back, even one that is potentially as game changing as Bush.

However, there are other things that have to be considered - namely, by passing him up, regardless of fiduciary concerns, they've painted themselves into a corner unless Williams turns out to be one of the best players ever at his position.

The very first time Bush has some amazing, eye-popping play for the Saints (and what will that take - maybe one, two games?), the Texans are going to hear, constantly, and without pause, about how that could have been their eye-popping player. It won't even matter, really, if in the end, Bush only turns out to be an average player - people will ignore that and focus on the Sportscenter plays. If Bush is even average, the management will never be forgiven for making the Williams pick, unless Williams really does become one of the best players ever.

Bush's new jersey shot up to #1 in sales almost instantly. The Williams jersey...didn't.


by Tarrant (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 12:57pm

Additionally, the very first time there's any indication that Williams took even a fraction of a play off, or didn't put 100% effort into a tackle, or something like that, imagine the howling. "The scouts said he had a propensity for doing this!"

The Texans really can't win here unless Williams turns out to be perfect.


by Hutz (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 1:04pm

#59 - Glad you enjoyed the link. I hope that infamous line hounds Berman forever.

by Thok (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 1:13pm

I'm surprised nobody has made the obvious criticism of Easterbrook's "rational actor" comment; the teams that generally pick early are bad teams, and they're generally bad precisely because they aren't (or weren't) rational actors for a reasonable period of time. Seriously, does anybody believe that Detroit drafted rationally when they took 3 WR in a row?

by Tom (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 1:20pm

Re #61
I was actually pleasantly surprised by them asking that of Henderson. ESPN doesn't seem to normally like questions that make athletes uncomfortable, and Henderson was. I think he was as diplomatic as he could be, and didn't refute Jaworski's key point, that Favre's interceptions came from him making the same mistakes over and over and over again (The Brett Favre Dying Quail Special(tm), in particular).

Agreed on the above points about the relative values of ESPN and NFLNet, particularly the latter's need to show who's on the clock and who the picks are. I ended up grabbing my laptop so I could see who was being selected, and that shouldn't have to happen.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 2:09pm

regardless of fiduciary concerns, they’ve painted themselves into a corner unless Williams turns out to be one of the best players ever at his position.

Well, that's the public relations problem: but I'm not a fan of that argument, as fans have ridiculously short memories.

Bush, on the Texans, even if he was pulling Michael Vick plays every few weeks, wouldn't be helping them win as much as Williams as a top-5 defensive end. So in the end, they'd be a team with a flashy player... that's losing.

Winning cures all ills.

by GlennW (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 2:38pm

> Well, that’s the public relations problem: but I’m not a fan of that argument, as fans have ridiculously short memories.

Yesterday evening Trey Wingo dropped some choice ESPN reader e-mail excerpts on Charlie Casserly regarding the Mario Williams pick (including an over-the-top rant that read: "Bob (McNair) is dumber than Bud (Adams)! Bob is dumber than Bud!"), asked for his response and Charlie was PISSED. After answering this PR question about a thousand times, apparently Casserly has had enough. Truth be told though, I thought that Wingo's manner of posing this question was juvenile, and he got what was coming to him.

by Craig (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 4:30pm

I reviewed a bunch of old Raiders' picks.... they did a stretch from '97-2004 where they had 12 first round picks, and 6 of them were linemen (though one (Bender) died before ever playing, and another). None of their three offensive linemen (Stinchcomb and Mo Collins being the two that preceded Gallery) ended up being that great.

Things like that make me wonder if the problem Oakland may have might be coaching as much as player grades... whether the problem with their picks is bad scouting, or a lack of people in place that can ensure that good prospects develop into good players.

by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 7:19pm

RE: 3

That's not true. QBs will tend to get more than a player of a different position would get. Small difference, but one that usually does exist.

by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 8:08pm

RE: 16

Well, the Day 2 coverage was certainly better on ESPN. The NFL Network inexplicably skipped the 4th round in order to air a NFL Europe game that no one cared about. Were they obligated to air it?

by Richie (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 8:57pm

How about instead of the worst team getting the first pick in the draft that instead, the worst team gets first choice at whatever draft position they want to have?

by Richie (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 9:14pm

It won’t even matter, really, if in the end, Bush only turns out to be an average player - people will ignore that and focus on the Sportscenter plays.

Kind of like Brian Bosworth getting run over by Bo Jackson. Bosworth could have gone on to a HOF career, and still always be considered the inferior player to Bo Jackson.

by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 10:09pm

RE: 22

What Kiper didn't mention was that while he may have predicted a few picks correctly in a few of his mocks, he was wrong in most mocks about most picks.
Kiper is a bit of a joke, because he'll submit a bunch of vastly different mocks so he can claim "I called it!"
He should stick with his final mock.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 05/03/2006 - 11:00pm

That’s not true. QBs will tend to get more than a player of a different position would get. Small difference, but one that usually does exist.

Not exactly. The QBs tend to get more, but they tend to get it in terms of incentives rather than in the base contract.

Many of the incentives will be dirt-easy to reach, but the original question was whether or not you could afford two first round QBs. You can - because once you get the second, one of the two ain't hitting the incentives.

by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 05/04/2006 - 12:17pm

If Gregg was right about Mangini learning from Belichick, I don't see why the Jets passed on Vernon Davis and other TEs in the 1st, not to mention all the DLs. I mean, New England's first rounders have been guys like Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, Richard Seymour, Ben Watson, and Daniel Graham (these are the first guys that come to mind).

by emcee fleshy (atl) (not verified) :: Fri, 05/05/2006 - 3:02am

Kansas City: . . . This is still a team that must outscore you because it can’t stop you.

I weigh 160 lbs and run a 6.5 40. I'm pretty sure they could stop me.

by Ben (not verified) :: Fri, 05/05/2006 - 12:47pm

Re: 71
Does anyone in the U.S. actualy watch NFL Europe? Does anyone in Europe?
In a similar but far more annoying turn of events, ESPN radio 860 Phoenix cut out of the draft in the middle of the second round for "Rattlers Roundtable" followed by the Arizona Rattlers arena football game.

by Tom (not verified) :: Fri, 05/05/2006 - 4:55pm

When we live in the world of 50,000 television channels, there will exist an NFL Draft Channel. And there will be people like MDS and myself who will watch it to see for ourselves just how good the 2032 version of Danieal Manning will be.