Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

29 Apr 2013

Mandatory Monday: Loose Lips Tip Picks

Tippin' and pickin' and trippin'. Look for the link in the article to my Tailgater "first impressions" article about all 32 draft classes, which has gone over ever-so-well among Patriots and Eagles fans.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 29 Apr 2013

23 comments, Last at 02 May 2013, 6:29pm by LionInAZ


by Purds :: Mon, 04/29/2013 - 8:03am

"Three Rutgers players, where Bill Belichick’s son is a coaching assistant, eh? It’s hard to escape the impression of the gentlemen enjoying the best cognac while the Titanic sinks. No other team would get the benefit of the doubt for a draft class like this than the Patriots."

Wow. A bit harsh?

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 04/29/2013 - 8:16am

The 'first impressions' was about as brilliant a thing I've read of Tanier's in some time, and because it is him, that is saying a lot.

It was short and concise, but informative and humorous enough to make it extremely worthwhile.

Oh, and yeah, I'm glad someone's calling it like it is about the Pats. If any other team drafts the Rutgers safety, it becomes Mike Mitchell 2.0.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 04/29/2013 - 9:56am

The problem with this thought process is that the Patriots have picked guys like Harmon, where everyone say "what the hell?" almost every year.

And a bunch of them have been good. Sebastian Vollmer was a (according to the pundits) 7th rounder picked in the 2nd. Surprise, hes an elite tackle from a draft class that doesn't seem to have a ton of good tackles in it.

The Patriots have their own scoutine bureau, so their results are going to be very different than teams that use the pooled scouting bureaus.

Honestly, with the comments BB has made recently, it sounds like he thinks that once guys have a baseline physical ability, communication and coachability are more important than other things. That, and Rutgers' defense was really good last year.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 04/29/2013 - 10:09am

Was the criticism that of "Vollmer", or "Vollmer in the 2nd round"?

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 04/29/2013 - 1:10pm

There's no meaningful difference between arguing that a guy with a 7th round grade is drafted in the 2nd round, vs a guy with a UDFA grade being drafted at the end of the 3rd.

The point is the pundits lambasted the Patriots for that pick, and they were very wrong.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 04/29/2013 - 2:21pm

That's a nice strawman you've constructed, but back to my original reply:

Did they criticize drafting Vollmer, or drafting him so early when there was no real risk of another team taking him that they sacrificed an opportunity at a better player somewhere else?

Could you use Glover Quin? Lardarious Webb? Louis Vasquez? Mike Wallace? Maybe trade up for LeSean McCoy? This is what you give up by reaching for a 7 in the 2nd, even if he's actually mid-first in potential.

by dryheat :: Mon, 04/29/2013 - 3:18pm

I think the point is, and if it's not it should be, that the Kipers of the world, to a man, had him as a Day 3 pick. I'm willing to bet that 12-20 GMs had him rated much higher, so while in theory you're 100% correct, in practice one never knows if the player will last as long as the media projects. If NE had Vollmer rated higher than Wallace of McCoy, they would have been fools to pass him up without hard intel that he would be available later.

by Sifter :: Mon, 04/29/2013 - 4:42pm

To get some facts into the conversation...Looking up my draft boards from 2009, I see that Rick Gosselin had Vollmer as #76 on his final big board. So nowhere close to 7th round! At the beginning of the draft process, sure, he was rated as 7th round, but anyone who actually updated their rankings in the 2 months of poking and prodding knows that Vollmer kept rising as teams saw more of him. Gosselin was the king of mock drafts and top 100 competitions for a few years there, so it's not some random website - it's Gosselin! Rob Rang and NFL Draft Scout had him #98 as well. If the Pats liked him, taking him 1 round earlier than another team might have taken him is not a massive reach. Compare that to Harmon - he was #413 at CBS Sports/NFL Draft Scout on their last update. And I couldn't find him ranked in any of the other draft boards I normally look at. THAT is a reach...

In saying all that, you only need one other team to be interested and you'll lose out on 'your guy'. That was the story that came out with Mike Mitchell to the Raiders a few years back. Apparently another team was interested so they pulled the trigger in round 2. Cue the massive backlash from draftniks.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 04/29/2013 - 4:38pm

"Did they criticize drafting Vollmer, or drafting him so early when there was no real risk of another team taking him that they sacrificed an opportunity at a better player somewhere else?"


How exactly do you determine what a "reach" is though. What Mel Kiper thinks doesn't mean shit. If Team X picks a guy at 3.2, we never know whether there was another team going to pick him at 3.10.

I'm just more likely to think that Belichick said "We have this kid highly rated, and I don't think he'll be around in 32 picks" than he said "Lets take this kid here, 4 rounds ahead of where anyone else is going to take him"

by theslothook :: Tue, 04/30/2013 - 4:09am

Could it just be that BB lucked out with Volmer? I think there's enough evidence that BB the draft pick whisperer isn't real. Just as BB got lucky(probably) with volmer, he also got massively unlucky with the likes of crable, butler, wheatly, cunningham, brace, dowling, etc. All of those 2nd rounders he recouped through savvy trades turned into nothing. The draft is a complete crapshoot...the numbers back it up btw.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Tue, 04/30/2013 - 8:57am

Its possible he got lucky. Its also possible that the draft is a lot flatter than we think.Or that Mel Kiper's draft rankings are shitty.

2nd rounders USUALLY turn into nothing. Thats why they're not first rounders. (And way to ignore all the guys he has hit on in the 2nd)

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 04/29/2013 - 9:35pm

As someone noted below, pre-draft Vollmer was seen as far better than a 7th round prospect. Probably a 3rd, or 4th at worst.

Harmon, and Tavon Wilson, last year were really, really overdrafted. And it isn't about getting a player, it is getting a player at a good value. BB could have easily picked up Harmon far later in the draft.

I realize that they have their own scouting bureau. Most teams grade prospects on their own systems. We'll see if he's proven right, But unless he's so horrified by the thought of having passed on Tom Brady 5 times before taking him and having him open to the rest of the league, he's overdrafting these guys.

by dryheat :: Tue, 04/30/2013 - 7:57am

Harmon, and Tavon Wilson, last year were really, really overdrafted. And it isn't about getting a player, it is getting a player at a good value. BB could have easily picked up Harmon far later in the draft.

According to Kiper, McShay, Mayock, et all Harmon and Wilson were overdrafted, and Belichick could have easily picked up Harmon far later in the draft. Nobody will ever know if that's true or not. I look at all the players who fell to day 3 and undrafted who every mediot agreed would go much higher. I suspect that yes, BB could have drafted Harmon in the 4th - 12 picks later if I remember correctly, but without a fifth or sixth rounder couldn't really be sure he'd be there until the late seventh without a trade up. Personally, I think it was a terrible pick, but I'm not a scout.

Tavon Wilson, on the other hand, I suspect was on several teams' list much higher than Kiper and company would lead you to believe.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 04/30/2013 - 8:47am

I guess you're right. We'll never know. Similarly, the Bears were supposed to be wanting to take Mike Mitchell in the 2nd round in 2009 as well.

by Jimmy :: Wed, 05/01/2013 - 12:57pm

The story I heard was that the Bears had indeed been on the phone with Mitchell. They had been checking that they had his contact information correct because he was on their board and they might have drafted him. In the fourth or fifth or similar. They weren't about to take him in the second.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Tue, 04/30/2013 - 8:58am

"BB could have easily picked up Harmon far later in the draft."

People keep saying things like this, and there's absolutely no reason to think its true.

by dryheat :: Mon, 04/29/2013 - 10:02am

I haven't heard one Patriot fan justify the Harmon pick even slightly, but there is certainly nothing wrong with the other two Rutgers guys. Ryan went about where he was supposed to to a team with CB issues, and the seventh rounder is your typical raw lottery ticket type.

I think Harmon is the single worst draft pick in the Belichick era, but I wonder if he were an unheralded safety out of Kansas he would be getting as much grief. Belichick likes to draft players who played for coaches he trusts. Historically, this team has a disproportional number of Saban, Meyer, and Schiano guys. Belichick sees these guys several times a year at practices and has been known to run part of practice at those schools in the summer.

Now, maybe it gets him in trouble some day. You could say it already has, with the drafting of Chad Jackson a few years ago. But for he most part, those guys (McCourty, Spikes, Hernandez, Hightower, to a lesser extent Cunningham, Mincey) has proven to be quality NFL players. He's not drafting busts out of these schools, at least not disproportionately.

I love the fact that Belichick doesn't subscribe to a scouting service, and instead has his scouts build profiles from scratch with the Patriots in mind. Sometimes that leads to drafting a guy in the third who could have been gotten in the 7th, or at the very least 12 picks later in the 4th, at which spot he drafted a WR after 2 WRs went off the board in between the two picks.

I guess my prevailing thought is that the draft prognostication business is as best an exercise in Group Think, and at worst a self-congratulatory exercise of group masturbation, and it's remarkable how much impact the first mock drafts by the Kipers of the world have. None of the "experts" had Nassib, Barkley, Damontre Moore, Barrett Jones, Eddie Lacy, etc. going so low. Therefore when the GM who has more information than all the Kipers makes a pick that doesn't represent the consensus, the GM made a bad pick? Bullshit. The prognosticators made a bad prognostication/evaluation.

by DavidL :: Mon, 04/29/2013 - 8:48am

Regarding the Barkley pick, if Kelly really was hired to take his "system" and run it in the NFL, no matter what, he might as well just quit now and save us all some frustration (except Giants/Cowboys/Redskins fans, I guess). At least he's trying.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 04/29/2013 - 10:04am

"When you flip the script, you may discover that the moves you are vehemently endorsing are the ones you would be ridiculing if the jersey colors were different. "

The point is, the jersey colors aren't different. I think the team that has won more than any other team over the last decade deserves a whole lot more benefit of the doubt than the Cowboys do.

by countertorque :: Tue, 04/30/2013 - 7:17pm

"My team's better than yours," is one form of analysis.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Wed, 05/01/2013 - 8:58am

A front office that has been consistently good should be given more benefit of the doubt than a front office that has been consistently terrible.

The fact that the Patriots have been much better than the Cowboys is completely relevant.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 04/29/2013 - 10:07am

Meh. The last time the Lions took a kicker was 1992. Jason Hansen worked out pretty well.

by LionInAZ :: Thu, 05/02/2013 - 6:29pm

I must have missed the part about why taking a pass-rusher, a corner, an OL, and a punter -- all positions of need for the Lions -- can be considered 'noodling around'.