2008 NFL Draft: Six Years Later

2008 NFL Draft: Six Years Later
2008 NFL Draft: Six Years Later
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Tom Gower

As we do every year around this time at Football Outsiders, it is time to step into the time machine and go back to the April of six years ago. 2008 may not seem like that long ago, but looking at the draft those six years seem even longer. Five running backs that year went in the first 24 picks. In the five drafts combined since then, there have been just four running backs chosen in the first 24 picks of the draft. Beyond the backs, there was a quarterback prospect you could love if you could overlook a 59 percent completion percentage as a senior. If that worried you, there was a rock-solid left tackle. If you wanted pass rushers, you could draft the guy who beat the rock-solid left tackle for a couple sacks in their final regular-season collegiate game, or the interior rusher everybody loved.

Looking at the 2008 Report Card Report, the Chiefs were judged to have enjoyed by far the best draft, receiving an average mark of 4.1. Their draft class included that interior rusher, one of the eight offensive tackles that went in the first round, a cornerback some people really liked, and a running back with the potential to be explosive. Everybody hated San Diego's draft, while the reigning AFC wild cards and division mates Jacksonville and Tennessee had drafts some people loved and others hated.

For a look at the best rookie years, see Mike Tanier's 2008 All-Rookie Team. For a reminder of who went where, here is a list of all the picks in the draft.


Conventional Wisdom: Surrounded by a lot of pedestrian talent at Boston College, Matt Ryan put up pedestrian numbers (like that 59.3 percent completion percentage his senior year) but won a lot of games. Was that enough to make him worthy of a high pick? Many people thought so. Brian Brohm was a presumptive high pick entering the season, but his struggles as a senior, under a new coach, would have to factor into your evaluation. Joe Flacco was tall and had a strong arm, if you could overlook that he got beat out by Tyler Palko at Pitt (possible countervailing factor: Dave Wannstedt was their head coach) and had to go to I-AA Delaware. If you were looking for the next Tom Brady at the same school, Chad Henne had a lot of success as a starter at Michigan.

Highest pick: Ryan, third overall to the Atlanta Falcons.

Best player: Flacco, who went 18th overall to the Baltimore Ravens, may have the Super Bowl ring thanks to a postseason run in which he performed at a very high level. By our numbers, though, it is Ryan by a significant margin. How significant? Ryan's worst single season marks by DVOA and DYAR (2009, 701 DYAR, 12.4% DVOA) are better than Flacco's best (574 DYAR in 2011, 9.4% DVOA in 2010). Even if you think that Ryan has had superior talent around him on offense, it is hard to overlook that kind of disparity.

Biggest bust: The Packers chose two quarterbacks in the draft, Brohm out of Louisville with the 56th pick and Matt Flynn from LSU with the 209th pick. By the end of training camp, Flynn had beaten out Brohm for the backup spot behind newly-anointed starter Aaron Rodgers. Brohm would not make the 53-man roster the next season. The Bills picked him up, where he would start two games, one each in 2009 and 2010, both losing efforts.

Best value: Quarterbacks selected after Chad Henne, who went to the Dolphins the pick after Brohm, to attempt a pass in the NFL: Kevin O'Connell (6 ATT), Dennis Dixon (59 ATT), Josh Johnson (177 ATT), and Matt Flynn (341 ATT). While Dixon and Johnson are both still around as backups, Flynn was both a useful backup and provided something of value for his team. To me, that makes him the best value. If you want to argue Ryan was really the best value pick at the position, I will not disagree with you too strongly.

Running backs

Consensus: Want a back? This was the draft for you. The star was Darren McFadden, who was not just a talented rusher but almost a throwback to a single-wing tailback as the triggerman in Arkansas' Wildcat offense. If you loved Razorbacks but were not picking that high, you could instead have Felix Jones, the speedy complement to McFadden (not that McFadden was not fast, and our newly-introduced Speed Score suggested Jones might not really be that fast). If you wanted a really fast back, Chris Johnson posted the best Speed Score and fastest 40, but was inconsistent between the tackles at East Carolina, and had played wideout in 2006. If sustaining an offense was your thing and you did not mind a little tread on the tires, Rashard Mendenhall, Ray Rice, and Kevin Smith were all highly productive college backs.

Highest pick: McFadden, fourth overall to the Oakland Raiders.

Best player: This is one you could have an interesting discussion about. By rushing yards, it is the just-released Johnson (24th overall to the Titans), with almost 8000 yards. On the other hand, 2013 was the first season he had a positive DVOA since his 2,006-yard campaign in 2009, and just barely. He also ranks last in career receiving DYAR among the ten backs drafted in the first three rounds.

Player (pick) Rushing DYAR Receiving DYAR Total DYAR
Darren McFadden (4) -99 214 115
Jonathan Stewart (13) 425 170 595
Felix Jones (22) 330 279 609
Rashard Mendenhall (23) 143 225 368
Chris Johnson (24) 513 104 617
Matt Forte (44) 300 490 790
Ray Rice (55) 505 475 980
Kevin Smith (64) 43 236 279
Jamaal Charles (73) 928 272 1200
Steve Slaton (89) 11 153 164

By rushing DYAR, the answer is Jamaal Charles by a mile. His 928 career DYAR blows away everybody else (Johnson is second with 513). He also has value as a receiver, was the best player in the group in 2013, and his comparatively light workload to date seems to leave him the best positioned for further career success. On the other hand, he ranks significantly behind the most used backs in terms of total touches.

Charles's competition comes from the two second-round picks, Rice (Rutgers, 55th overall to the Ravens) and Matt Forte (Tulane, 44th overall to the Bears). Even after his disastrous 2013, Rice ranks barely behind Johnson in terms of career rushing DYAR (505 to 513) and narrowly behind Forte as the most productive receiving back in the class by DYAR (475 to 490). Forte ranks second behind Johnson in rush yards and carries, but his 300 rushing DYAR ranks only sixth in the class.

It is a bit of a close call, but I would rank Rice for his contributions over the past six years as the best back in the class, though a 10-year retrospective will likely have Charles as the best back. For those who heavily weight Rice's bad 2013 against him, I remind you Charles missed 14-plus games with a torn ACL, so add that into your calculation.

Biggest bust: All ten backs drafted in the first three rounds helped their teams at least somewhat, so there was no real bust like Chris Henry or Kenny Irons from the 2007 draft. The best answer is McFadden, a good player at times but one who lacks top-level vision and has serious durability issues. With the fourth overall pick, the Raiders needed a superstar. They got a good player who couldn't stay on the field.

Best value: Fourth-rounder Tashard Choice (Cowboys), fifth-rounder Tim Hightower (Cardinals), and seventh-rounder Justin Forsett (Seahawks) were all useful players for their drafting teams.

Wide receivers

Conventional wisdom: There was nothing close to a transcendent prospect that met everyone's checklist. What the class lacked in star power, though, it more than made up for in depth and variety. Devin Thomas was a physical marvel, running a 4.32 40 at 215 pounds, but only had one year of production. If you were willing to take a risk on a smaller receiver who may have some off-the-field issues, DeSean Jackson was your pick. If you wanted a bigger receiver who was productive in college, James Hardy, Malcolm Kelly, and Limas Sweed were among your choices. And was Donnie Avery more than just a product of the high-flying offense at the University of Houston?

Highest pick: Avery, 33rd overall to the St. Louis Rams. While no receiver went in the first round, nine more would follow Avery in the second round.

Best player: Jordy Nelson, Kansas State, was a bit of a surprise choice by the Packers when they made him the third receiver off the board with the 36th pick. He has finished second in DYAR two of the past three seasons and has more receiving touchdowns than any player in the class. While Jackson has 54 more receptions and almost 1,500 more receiving yards, I cannot pick the player whose team recently cut him for reasons that went beyond pure value for money.

Biggest bust: Take your pick, as five of the ten receivers chosen in the second round busted pretty hard. The Buccaneers took a big risk on Appalachian State star Dexter Jackson with the 58th overall pick and got precisely zero NFL catches for their troubles. The Steelers took Limas Sweed 53rd, only to see yet another Texas player undone by off-the-field issues. Between Thomas (Michigan State, 34th) and Kelly (Oklahoma, 51st), the Redskins probably thought they had two long-term starters. Instead, they got 71 catches total. Hardy looked like a future star with his work at Indiana, but persistent injuries limited him to only 10 catches in Buffalo after they took him 41st.

Best value: Four receivers in this class have at least 300 catches. Two of those -- Nelson and Jackson -- went in the second round. The other two went in the 200's. The Colts took Pierre Garcon out of Division III powerhouse Mount Union with a sixth-round compensatory pick, 205th overall, while the Bills did even better, finding Kentucky's Stevie Johnson with the 224th pick. Yes, the Bills drafted the best value at a position and one of the biggest busts at the same position. Again. (See 2006, defensive line, John McCargo and Kyle Williams).

Tight ends

Conventional wisdom: Just as there was no standout wide receiver in the class, there was no standout tight end. Dustin Keller was perhaps the best receiving tight end, though many preferred Fred Davis's overall game. John Carlson and Jermichael Finley were productive college receivers with glacial 40 times (over 4.80). Brad Cottam and Craig Stevens were both blocking tight ends who ran better 40 times. Martellus Bennett may have been the best mix of blocker and receiver.

Highest pick: Keller, Purdue, 30th overall to the Jets.

Best player: By conventional receiving stats, Keller has been the most productive player. Unsurprisingly, our advanced stats like Finley, Texas, 91st overall, much better (572 career receiving DYAR v 108). Yes, Mark Sanchez and Aaron Rodgers have something to do with that, as may Green Bay's plethora of pass catchers freeing up space that Keller did not have. I still like Finley better. Bennett did not do enough his first four years in the league to be in the conversation for best career to date.

Biggest bust: While Carlson (Notre Dame, Seahawks, 38th) has never matched the numbers he put up his rookie year, the top four tight ends are all in the league and contributing. Cottam (Tennessee, Chiefs, 76th) only lasted two seasons and 16 catches.

Best value: Without disparaging Kellen Davis' continued existence (Michigan State, Bears, 158th) or Gary Barnidge's continued ability to find an NFL job (Louisville, Panthers, 141st), Jacob Tamme (Kentucky, Colts, 127th) was the last tight end chosen to do anything of note.

Offensive linemen

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Conventional wisdom: If you wanted a tackle, this was your year. If you considered Branden Albert a tackle, at least half a dozen were expected to go in the first round. As noted in the intro, eight were eventually chosen and six of those ended up as left tackles. Jake Long was the clear pick of the litter, but Ryan Clady and Chris Williams both had the athleticism to be top NFL left tackles, while Gosder Cherilus and Jeff Otah may have been better suited to the right side.

Highest pick: Long, Michigan, first overall to the Dolphins.

Best player: Long has been a pretty good player. Clady, Boise State, Broncos, 12th overall, has probably been even better. If you like interior linemen, Carl Nicks, Nebraska, Saints, 164th, was one of the best guards in the league until signing with the Buccaneers last offseason.

Biggest bust: Otah (Pitt, Carolina Panthers, 19th) was a solid starter for a couple seasons before his knees decided he should no longer be an NFL player. The only other lineman drafted in the first three rounds not still in the league is guard Chilo Rachal (USC, 49ers, 39th). The two first-round left tackles chosen after Otah were widely viewed at the time as reaches, but Sam Baker (USC, Falcons, 21st) has been an intermittently acceptable starter, while Duane Brown (Virginia Tech, Texans, 26th) has become a much better player than most analysts expected. Living in the Chicago area, I feel obligated to note Chris Williams never developed into the left tackle the Bears wanted, needed, and expected from the 14th pick and was a guard for the Rams in 2013.

Best value: Nicks, but he was far from the only later-round choice to develop into a good player. The fourth round had Anthony Collins and Josh Sitton, the fifth Breno Giacomini in addition to Nicks, the sixth Barry Richardson and John Sullivan, and the seventh Demetrius Bell, King Dunlap, and Geoff Schwartz. No, those players are not all in Nicks' class or even close to it, but all are or were at least useful starters.

Defensive linemen

Conventional wisdom: Chris Long had the bloodlines and technique to be a top NFL player and was worthy of a high pick. If you were looking for more athletic upside, Vernon Gholston had beaten Jake Long for a couple sacks, though he looked almost undraftable in other games. Continuing with the Ohio State theme, their nemesis in the 2007 BCS title game Derrick Harvey was the consensus pick to be the third end off the board. Glenn Dorsey was everybody's favorite interior penetrator and a top-five pick.

Highest pick: Long, Virginia, second overall to the Rams.

Best player: Probably Long, notwithstanding his current contract and status as the second-best end on his team. He plays a complete game and has the most sacks, 50.5, among all players in the class. Only Long, Cliff Avril (Purdue, Lions, 92nd), and Calais Campbell (Miami, Cardinals, 50th) have more than 20 sacks. If you like Campbell more than Long going forward, I would not disagree with you too strongly.

Biggest bust: Starts laughing When the Jets starts laughing again took Gholston sixth overall starts laughing again...

Okay, let me start that again. The Jets took Gholston sixth overall. Barring a shocking resurgence, he finishes his career with as many NFL sacks as I do. I never played organized football. On the other hand, he got a lot of guaranteed money to get his 0.0 NFL sacks. I got none.

Honorable mention goes to the Jacksonville Jaguars. After their 2007 season, they decided they were one of the NFL's best teams and close to winning a Super Bowl. That decision led to several misguided moves -- including the decision that with a juiced up pass rush coming from rookies, they could dethrone the Colts in the AFC South. They traded up twice for pass rushers, giving up four picks for one to move up to eighth to select Derrick Harvey, then moving up again in the second round, giving up three picks for one, to 52nd to select Quentin Groves. Combined, Harvey and Groves lasted for five seasons in Jacksonville and totaled 10.5 sacks. The Jaguars went 5-11 in 2008 and finished last in the AFC South.

Best value: 2008 ended up not being a good year to need a defensive lineman. Not only was the top of the draft bad (in a non-Gholston year, Kentwan Balmer, UNC, 49ers, 29th would be a solid call as the biggest bust), but the later rounds are also lacking in notable names. Fourth-round pick Red Bryant did not find a good home until Pete Carroll brought a scheme change to the Seahawks defense, while the Browns found Ahtyba Rubin out of Iowa State in the sixth round.


Conventional wisdom: There were two top players in the class, Keith Rivers on the outside and Jerod Mayo on the inside. Some people liked Dan Connor as much as or more than Mayo. On the whole, though, this was not considered a particularly good linebacker class. If you had a need at the position and did not get one of the top couple guys, you were likely waiting until the middle rounds to find your player.

Highest pick: Rivers, USC, ninth overall to the Bengals.

Best player: Fun with trades: back in the 2007 draft, the 49ers gave up a 2007 fourth-round pick and a 2008 first-rounder to move back into the first round. The 49ers got Joe Staley, so they ended up pretty happy. The Patriots traded that fourth-round pick to the Raiders for Randy Moss, and 2007 happened. That 2008 first-rounder ended up as the seventh overall pick. The Patriots sent that and a fifth-rounder to the Saints for the tenth pick and a third-rounder. The Saints chose Sedrick Ellis (yet another highly drafted defensive lineman who is now out of the league) and the aforementioned Carl Nicks. The Patriots drafted Shawn Crable in the third round (a bust out of Michigan who couldn't stay healthy) and the best linebacker in the draft, Jerod Mayo, Tennessee, with that 10th pick.

Honorable mention to Curtis Lofton, who has more than lived up to the billing he had when the Falcons took him out of Oklahoma with the 37th pick.

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Biggest bust: Rivers was a disappointment considering his draft status, but the biggest bust selection brings us to a mainstay of the "biggest bust selection" category, and a person we will no longer have to kick around in future "Six Years Later" draft retrospectives: Detroit Lions general manager Matt Millen. Yes, it is nearly 3,000 words into the column and perhaps the worst long-term general manager in recent NFL history has yet to make an appearance. The Lions actually tried to do the right thing. They wanted and needed a middle linebacker for Rod Marinelli's defense. They wanted Curtis Lofton. With Lofton off the board eight picks before their choice, they chose a middle linebacker anyway. That player was Colorado's Jordon Dizon, an undersized, under-talented, try-hard player who may as well have epitomized the problems of the Marinelli-Millen Lions. Is it worth mentioning he was a consensus fourth- to fifth-round pick? He lasted two years, during which he failed to crack the starting lineup for a team that went 2-30. At least he will always have Eric Cartman calling him "the biggest butt-kisser I know."

Just to twist the knife, Ray Rice also apparently once claimed (some NSFW language at link) that Millen promised he would draft him and told his friends and family he would be Detroit's pick when they were on the clock and selecting Dizon. Oh well.

Best value: It ended up not being a good year for linebackers even in the later rounds. Joe Mays and Andy Studebaker turned into useful players, but not for the Eagles team that drafted them in the sixth round. The best of the last four rounds was probably another sixth rounder, as the Bucs drafted Geno Hayes out of Florida State with the 175th pick. (Though P-F-R lists them as playing linebacker in college, I considered Cliff Avril and Kroy Biermann with the defensive linemen.)

Defensive backs

Conventional wisdom: It was a bad year if you were looking for a surefire shutdown corner or generally elite prospect. On the other hand, if you just needed a serviceable corner, there were plenty to choose from. The consensus top three prospects at the position were all from smaller programs: Troy, Tennessee State, and South Florida (which has been successful recently but was almost entirely unknown in 2008). If you needed a safety instead of a corner, you were better off looking elsewhere, as not many had the makeup of high picks.

Highest pick: Leodis McKelvin, Troy, 11th overall to the Bills.

Best player: A very muddled picture with no clear winner. The contenders include Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Aqib Talib, Brandon Flowers, and Brandon Carr, plus Thomas DeCoud and maybe Tyvon Branch at safety. I would rate Flowers as the best choice among that grouping, but a good argument could probably get me to go a different direction. The FO game charting stats would probably pick a different guy each year, with DRC as the top guy in 2013.

Biggest bust: Kenny Phillips is the highest-drafted defensive back no longer playing, but he was a good player at times before persistent injury issues knocked him out of the league. Instead, take your pick of a number of second- and third-round picks, including small school (Arkansas State) safety Tyrell Johnson to the Vikings, Packers cornerback Patrick Lee, and Patriots corner Terrence Wheatley in the second round, plus Chevis Jackson to the Falcons, Reggie Smith to the 49ers, and safety DaJuan Morgan to the Chiefs in the third. Personally, I will also have a soft spot for Tom Zbikowski -- not a pure bust but a player who was overhyped from the time he was a five-star high school recruit. While playing, he attributed his two best seasons to out of control drinking.

Best value: Carr in the fifth round to the Chiefs is the clear winner here. Seventh-rounder Cary Williams eventually turned into a player, though not Carr's equal and not for the Titans team that drafted him. Branch was a fourth-rounder for the Raiders.

Special teamers

Conventional wisdom: Taylor Mehlhaff was the top kicker. Durant Brooks was the top punter and the better prospect, though neither was in any danger of being picked close to the second round like Mike Nugent.

Highest pick: Brooks, Georgia Tech, 168th to the Redskins.

Best player: Brooks pretty much by default, at least among the drafted players. He punted for the Redskins for six games in 2008. Mehlhaff lasted five games with the Saints, going 3-for-4 on field goals and 9-for-10 on extra points. The other kicker drafted, Brandon Coutu, saw his only NFL action to date in 2011, missing the only field goal he attempted but making three extra points for the Bills. Going to the undrafted free agents, you see more familiar names like Brett Kern, Steven Hauschka, Connor Barth, Dan Carpenter, and Garrett Hartley.

Biggest bust: Picks in the bottom 100 of the draft almost by definition cannot be busts to my way of thinking. On the other hand, they are still draft picks used on a kicker or punter, none of which worked out. So, none of them or all of them, depending on your preference.

Best value: Tie between the 29 teams other than the Redskins, Saints, and Seahawks that did not draft a kicker or punter.

Previous articles in this series:


95 comments, Last at 20 Apr 2020, 2:10am

#1 by Jimmy // Apr 08, 2014 - 1:22pm

Tom, Chris Williams signed with the Bills.

Points: 0

#4 by Shawn // Apr 08, 2014 - 1:50pm

I was about to post the same thing. Maybe this article was partially written before free agency?

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#11 by Jimmy // Apr 08, 2014 - 4:21pm

To not be able to recall such a signing of such grave importance that it will change the way the game is played. Shame on you Tom Gower. Shame!

Points: 0

#2 by Led // Apr 08, 2014 - 1:30pm

There's no disputing Gholston's epic bustitude but I'd be very interested to see anyone at the time saying he "looked almost undraftable in other games." That sounds like hindsight to me.

Points: 0

#5 by nath // Apr 08, 2014 - 2:03pm

It wasn't hindsight, from what I remember. He showed elite flashes but also disappeared for long stretches. Those flashes-- combined with his measurements at the Combine, which suggested he had the natural athleticism to succeed in the NFL-- are what got him drafted.

Points: 0

#37 by bravehoptoad // Apr 09, 2014 - 11:13am

I remember reading at the time about Gholston something like this: "From the tape, he's a low-second, high-third-round pick. Then you look at his combine numbers and he moves up into the first round. Then he takes his shirt off, and he becomes a top-ten pick."

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#76 by Led // Apr 10, 2014 - 12:21pm

Sure, I remember people saying he was inconsistent and may not be worth picking at the top of the first round. (Others disagreed.) But I don't remember anybody suggesting he was "undraftable" or wouldn't make it as an NFL player. That's the hindsight part I was referring to.

Points: 0

#77 by Thomas_beardown // Apr 10, 2014 - 12:45pm

He didn't say Gholston was undraftable. He said he looked undraftable in certain games.

He was definitely a controversial pick at the time, there's no need to pick nits like this.

Points: 0

#84 by Sifter // Apr 10, 2014 - 10:31pm

Looking at my spreadsheet from 2008 which compiled a lot of the major draftnik's big boards, I would disagree with this. He may have been controversial, but almost everyone had Gholston ranked in their top 10. Kiper had him #7, Mayock #4, Rick Gosselin #8, Nawrocki #4, Gil Brandt had him in the top 7, and I could go on. Of the 16 boards I compiled, only two had Gholston outside the top 10: scouts.com (#14) and a board I've labeled 'Warroom' (Russ Lande's I think?) had him at #46. Essentially EVERYONE got sucked into the hype.

Points: 0

#85 by Tom Gower // Apr 10, 2014 - 10:51pm

I think the pre-draft process, plus the games he did play well, cemented Gholston as a high pick. At the same time, his production was very concentrated in a couple games, while in others you'd almost forget he was playing (I saw a lot of Ohio State that year, and I remember noticing that).

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#3 by nath // Apr 08, 2014 - 1:44pm

I expected more of a mention of Sedrick Ellis as another top-ten defensive lineman who busted. Being an afterthought in the acquisition of Carl Nicks is pretty hilarious, though.

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#6 by vherub // Apr 08, 2014 - 2:43pm

Not sure it's fair to equate injury with bust.

And Gholston, I mean, he was Mangini's guy. Ryan didn't care for him, and didn't give him playing time.
He's a bust, but I see that as a failure of the Jets- or maybe one of the several failures of Tannenbaum.

Points: 0

#8 by Tom Gower // Apr 08, 2014 - 3:21pm

Added the RB best value section, which I accidentally left out when I put the article in the system.

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#9 by RolandDeschain // Apr 08, 2014 - 3:48pm

I can't wait for the 2011 and 2012 draft versions, where the Seahawks will have "Best Player" and "Best Value" both in 2011 for Richard Sherman, and again "Best Player" and "Best Value" in 2012 for Russell Wilson. :)


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#12 by dmstorm22 // Apr 08, 2014 - 4:44pm

Considering the 2012 one will come out in ~2018, there's a non-zero chance that Wilson won't be the best player (he's probably locked up best value, deservedly).

Also, don't sleep on Patrick Peterson for corner in the 2011 draft for best player. A lot can change in 3-4 years.

Points: 0

#18 by RolandDeschain // Apr 08, 2014 - 5:31pm

Lol, you make a Field Gulls comment then add cheap shots about PED testing? I guess we all know what site you came from, Karl.

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#22 by Karl Cuba // Apr 08, 2014 - 6:14pm

Been here for nearly a decade, this is my NFL-discussion-site home. Never tested positive for PEDs either ;)

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#78 by Thomas_beardown // Apr 10, 2014 - 12:47pm

Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence. I'm on to you Karl, and your performance enhancing ways.

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#14 by Sixknots // Apr 08, 2014 - 5:01pm

But then the 2009 draft version will have Aaron Curry as sure-fire "Biggest Bust". A pick that was more costly than even the Jets pick of Gholston in 2008.

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#19 by RolandDeschain // Apr 08, 2014 - 5:32pm

Absolutely, without question. Curry was a horrible bust. He was drafted before the Pete Carroll regime, though; and ironically, we managed to flip him to the Raiders for at least a little something.

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#31 by Jimmy Oz // Apr 09, 2014 - 12:24am

It's not completely without merit to suggest that someone using the word 'irony' on the internet doesn't know what it means, however in this instance I think the use is warranted.

"Incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result"

So there's the idea that Curry is a bigger bust than Gholston & the reality that Curry was traded for a 7th while Gholston was released.

The irony comes from the expectation that a bigger bust (if we consider the difference between getting drafted 4th or 6th to be a negligible) is a worse player, and that Seattle unexpectedly got something from drafting a worse player than the Jets, who received nothing.

Seattle used the 7th round pick from the Raiders on starting guard JR Sweezy, but I don't think there's any irony in using a 7th round pick on a defensive lineman, converting him to an offensive guard, and having him start for the worst power blocking and pass protecting o-line in the NFL. It would be ironic if were a ProBowler, however there's still time for that.

Would you say it's ironic that the team with worst power blocking and pass protecting o-line are super bowl champions? It is somewhat expected though, considering the lowly ranking can be attributed to injuries, and can be offset by Seattle's other units:
- Great special teams (top 5 last year, & top 5 in 3 of the last 4 years)
- ProBowl quarterback
- ProBowl running back
- Greatest defence in NFL history

Points: 0

#32 by Karl Cuba // Apr 09, 2014 - 1:01am

But neither of the 85 Bears or the 70s Steelers won the Superbowl last year so I have no idea what on earth you're talking about with that last point.

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#33 by dmstorm22 // Apr 09, 2014 - 1:28am

Please, please let us all know your quantitative reasons that show the Seahawks as the best defense in NFL history.

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#60 by Jimmy Oz // Apr 09, 2014 - 8:05pm

Pretty much an opinion that boils down to me being a Seattle fan.

Do you think they're in the conversation as best defence ever?

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#63 by LionInAZ // Apr 09, 2014 - 9:02pm

No, they're not, by FO standards or otherwise. This has been discussed elsewhere on this site.

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#68 by Jimmy Oz // Apr 09, 2014 - 11:19pm

I disagree. Pre 78 teams could bump WRs anywhere and didn't have to worry about lineman blocking with extended arms. Compared to the NFL from 1980 to mid 2000's, the QB's and WR's are now protected species. It's easy to point to stats that don't take into account how hard it is to be a dominant defence in today's NFL without taking into account handicaps that defences from other eras didn't have to worry about.

Context is important.

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#73 by dmstorm22 // Apr 10, 2014 - 10:35am

Conversation, yes. Are they? No.

They had an incredible Super Bowl performance, but that doesn't trump the fact that other teams had great Super Bowl performances and better play throughout the season (the 2002 Bucs being the most recent example).

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#35 by Tim Wilson // Apr 09, 2014 - 9:08am

At the risk of getting into a language usage debate on an internet message board with someone who I clearly disagree with on numerous topics (e.g. opinion of the 2013 Seattle defense's place in history)...

You seem to be interpreting "irony" as just "Hey, something different happened than what was expected." I would contend that that is a too-literal reading of the definition without a real understanding of common usage.

"Irony: the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really think especially in order to be funny; a situation that is strange or funny because things happen in a way that seems to be the opposite of what you expected"

Points: 0

#38 by bravehoptoad // Apr 09, 2014 - 11:20am

I'm not sure I like your definition, either. The first just makes "irony" a synonym for "sarcasm." The second doesn't sound right--"irony" isn't a situation. "That situation is irony" doesn't work.

I'd think the first question you'd ask about irony is: dramatic irony, or socratic irony? In the first case, you're aware of something that the actor isn't; in the second, the speaker is pretending not to know the answer to a question he in fact knows the answer to.

It's pretty easy to see how either of those could develop into the "sarcasm" synonym we get so often today.

Points: 0

#40 by RolandDeschain // Apr 09, 2014 - 11:34am

Tim, being able to flip a garbage player for a pick is the "unexpected" part in my use of the word "ironically". You would expect that a crap player would get released. Hell, even good players get released regularly; yet we managed to recoup a little something for that epic bust. *shrug*

Also, there is a case to be made for the 2013 Seahawks defense being the best ever. I'm not saying it unequivocally is or anything, but it's not even questionable that they belong in the discussion. Let's look at who the Seahawks defense faced in the Super Bowl compared to the other few teams in that discussion:

1985 Bears: They faced the New England Patriots who ranked 10th on offense in points scored that year featuring a QB mix of Tony Eason and Steve Grogan.

2000 Ravens: They faced the New York Giants who ranked 15th on offense in points scored that year featuring Kerry Collins at QB.

2002 Buccaneers: They faced the Oakland Raiders who ranked 2nd on offense in points scored that year featuring Rich Gannon at QB.

Ok, yeah, that's a real murderer's row of QBs those great defenses faced in the Super Bowl. (Sarcasm off.) The 2013 Seahawks, on the other hand? Peyton f***ing Manning, one of the best to ever play; and as everyone knows, they were the highest scoring offense in NFL history that year. They were held to one TD and no field goals by Seattle in the Super Bowl.

Anybody that says there isn't a strong case to be made for the 2013 Seahawks defense being the best ever is just jealous, irrational, or irrationally jealous. ;)

Points: 0

#41 by Tim Wilson // Apr 09, 2014 - 12:22pm

Irony doesn't equal "unexpected" to me, it equals "almost the exact opposite of expectations, in a funny or interesting way." Anyway...

Why are you focusing on just the Super Bowl match-ups for your Seattle DEF argument? Your argument is more quantitatively stated by Chase here:

...and here:

However, in neither of those posts does Chase indicate that this is the best defense ever. Moreso, ignoring run def as a component of an NFL defense seems short-sighted when making a "best defense ever" claim.

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#49 by RickD // Apr 09, 2014 - 2:38pm

I'm with Tim on the question of irony here.

It's not "irony" to say that a player is a complete bust, but that the team managed to trade him for something.

Nor is rain on a wedding day ironic, even if it's unexpected.

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#61 by thok // Apr 09, 2014 - 8:34pm

Only if they specifically picked the day as the least likely day to rain. Two meteorologists might want a rainy wedding day.

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#62 by Jimmy Oz // Apr 09, 2014 - 9:02pm

"Two meteorologists might want a rainy wedding day."

OMG! A comment on an internet message board that makes no sense. How ironic!

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#69 by Jimmy Oz // Apr 09, 2014 - 11:28pm

So they'd pick a day where it rains and get married outside and have all their family and friends get soaked because they like rain? Makes no sense.

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#81 by thok // Apr 10, 2014 - 7:30pm

Since when are weddings about making sense? You obviously don't want a rainy day wedding, but it's easy to imagine a bride who would want one.

Also, it's easy to hire a tent to cover the guests so that only the bride, groom, and officiator of the wedding are in the rain during the ceremony. Or they could try to hold the ceremony in a relatively light drizzle.

Ironically, your attempts to belittle people's posts make you look foolish.

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#83 by Jimmy Oz // Apr 10, 2014 - 8:03pm

It is not easy to imagine a bride that wants a rainy wedding day, especially if they're getting married outside. That is a foolish thing to say and it makes no sense. Your strawman argument is getting increasingly ridiculous.

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#42 by SandyRiver // Apr 09, 2014 - 12:51pm

The 1985 Pats earn my vote as the most overmatched team in SB history, with Tony Eason getting the individual nod at QB. But we probably should note that the Bears got to big game by notching shutouts against the Giants and Rams, with the latter running Eric Dickerson and the former having nearly all the pieces that produced their championship the following year. The Bear's D was pretty good during the regular season, too.

Re: Run defense - Dickerson and Joe Morris, who each rushed for over 1,200 yards in 1985 and finished 2/1 respectively for rush TDs, gained about 75 yards combined in those two games.

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#44 by Karl Cuba // Apr 09, 2014 - 1:10pm

So your argument for Seattle's defense being the best ever comes down to one cherry picked metric? Damn my irrationally jealous, lying eyes for doubting them.

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#45 by RolandDeschain // Apr 09, 2014 - 1:24pm

All you little Seahawks haters are cute. :) Don't want admit anything. Just like the Broncos fans on the official Broncos forums. "We had an off day", "PEDs" "if only the coin toss hadn't been muffed by Broadway Joe", and all kinds of other ridiculous crap.

I'll be curious to see what the whining will sound like when we repeat.

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#47 by SandyRiver // Apr 09, 2014 - 2:22pm

So "not bowing to the 2013 Seahawks as best defense of all time" equals "little Seattle haters"? Seems a bit - - defensive...

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#51 by Tim Wilson // Apr 09, 2014 - 2:53pm

Yeah, I'm not sure if this is a result of more/louder Seattle fans being created by the recent success or what, but this is significantly below the quality of discourse I usually expect on these boards, in terms of fleshing out and backing up arguments, familiarity with football history and a range of statistical measures, etc.

As I said and linked to above, Chase at Football Perspectives has laid out the case for the Seattle defense with great statistical detail and rigor. Seattle 2013 was an all-time great PASS defense, although not necessarily #1. They certainly were not the #1 all-time OVERALL defense, and citing arguments that revolve around only their one-game Super Bowl performance are not compelling evidence to the contrary.

Points: 0

#53 by RolandDeschain // Apr 09, 2014 - 4:53pm

Tim, you keep referring to that Football Perspective article, (which I read a day or two after it came out and just read again) and even the author of it says he's not sure Z-score is the best way to evaluate greatest defenses of all time. (Read his final bullet point, it's right on there.)

In any case, greatest all time offenses and defenses are judged by winning the Super Bowl more than any other single piece of criteria. We dismantled the best scoring offense ever in the Super Bowl. Also, one thing I don't see that article or any other talking about is the significant amount of playing time that backups receive in real games with the Seahawks. Pete Carroll LOVES to put backups in as soon as he feels a game is locked away. They tend to allow more points; just sayin'.

Look at what the Seahawks defense ranked #1 in the NFL in:
Points allowed per game: 14.4
Yards allowed per game: 273.6
Passer rating allowed: 63.4
Yards allowed per play: 4.42
Big plays (20+ yards) allowed: 36
Takeaways: 39

The NFL has changed a lot in the last decade, especially with the new emphasis in 2004 on illegal contact following the 2003 AFC Championship Game. Throw in things like quarterback mobility WILDLY increasing in just the past few years overall, and it becomes even harder to compare "now" against prior eras.

Points: 0

#55 by Tim Wilson // Apr 09, 2014 - 6:17pm

"In any case, greatest all time offenses and defenses are judged by winning the Super Bowl more than any other single piece of criteria."

What? No. Just...no. No they are not. Perhaps WINNING the SB is a big notch on their belt, but why would their performance in a single-game, albeit an important one, be the MAIN criteria used when evaluating a great defense over an entire season?

Listing the Seahawks' accomplishments relative to the rest of the 2013 league is not particularly useful when we're comparing them to all-time teams, not to other 2013 teams. I agree that the era that defenses play in now is significantly different than that of, for example, the 1970's Steelers, but you have yet to make any mention of why the Seahawks are better than those defenses in an era-adjusted way. My concern is that that is because you are not familiar with the older defenses. This is so far only a "pro-Seahawks" case, not an "anti-Steelers, anti-Bears" etc. one. I am not disagreeing that the Seahawks were a good defense. I am arguing that others were better.

The reason I keep referencing the Football Perspective articles is that they at least make an attempt to compare teams quantitatively across eras. I agree that Z-score is not perfect, but I have not heard you put forth a better measure, or any analytically rigorous comparison.

I'm going to ignore the back-ups point, it is entirely anecdotal and not valuable in any actual analysis unless we quantify it in a way that I imagine would take a very long time.

Points: 0

#48 by Karl Cuba // Apr 09, 2014 - 2:33pm

My original reply to your initial comment was not even about the Seattle defense, it was you believing that Wilson is absolutely better than Andrew Luck. I doubt you could find anyone outside of Washington State who would agree with that.

And it doesn't make me a 'h8er' to not regard Seattle's defense as the greatest ever, I'll happily say they're the best defense right now but to me they're more on the level of those Chicago units around 2005. That's still a very good defense.

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#50 by RickD // Apr 09, 2014 - 2:48pm

The verdict still isn't in on whether Wilson will be considered absolutely better than RG3 over the course of their careers. RG3 had the (slightly) better rookie season and was then injured. He could return to his rookie form. Wilson could have an ACL tear. Lots of things could happen. Two seasons don't make a career.

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#54 by justanothersteve // Apr 09, 2014 - 5:42pm

To use my favorite example (from Con Air): Define irony. Bunch of idiots dancing on a plane to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash.

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#57 by LionInAZ // Apr 09, 2014 - 7:22pm

'Irony' in this instance, would mean that the Seahawks got more in return by flipping Curry to the Raiders than they spent in drafting him... which is entirely not the case. So the argument that you don't understand the meaning of irony is exactly true.

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#67 by Jimmy Oz // Apr 09, 2014 - 10:59pm

You're ignoring the context where Curry was called a bigger bust than Gholston though. Context is important.

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#13 by mehllageman56 // Apr 08, 2014 - 4:57pm

Just wait until 17/18, when you can cheer Sherman and Wilson as best player and best value, and rue that one of them is playing for the Niners. Just look how things worked out with Revis. Perhaps the hawks will keep both of them, but they are going to lose big pieces in the next couple of years.

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#16 by Karl Cuba // Apr 08, 2014 - 5:21pm

I think they've got the cash to keep Wilson, Thomas and Sherman. It will affect their ability to bring in guys like Avril and Bennett but that's life if you have some very good players.

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#39 by bravehoptoad // Apr 09, 2014 - 11:21am

For a variety of reasons, it's hard to imagine either of those players with the 9ers in 3-4 years.

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#17 by James-London // Apr 08, 2014 - 5:27pm

Miami 2008:

Jake Long
Philip Merling
Chad Henne
Kendall Langford
Shawn Murphy
Jalene Parmalee
Donald Thomas
Lex Hilliard
Lionel Dotson

What all these players have in common is that none of them are still on the Dolphins' roster. add that oOnly Brandon Fields (Punter) from 2007 & Brian Hartline from 2009 are still there, and there's most of your reason for Miami's ongoing futility.
Oh and Jeff Ireland...

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

Points: 0

#26 by johonny // Apr 08, 2014 - 7:39pm

Jake Long,Philip Merling, Chad Henne,Kendall Langford, Donald Thomas, Lex Hilliard were all in the league last year. That was a pretty good draft class by Miami when you land that many active NFL players. Not everyone is going to be a star. It also illustrates Jeff Ireland's main weakness. He had no plan for the future and dumps league average guys to chase other league average guys with no thought to the future outcome. Jake Long might not have been worth the money, but he was certainly better than the alternative. Langford was also a very serviceable starter. Hilliard is a good special teams player etc...

Points: 0

#20 by Bright Blue Shorts // Apr 08, 2014 - 5:47pm

Apart from running back (and maybe QB and I'm not even sure about that) it seems like one of the most forgettable drafts I've seen.

Is there a Hall of Famer in there?

Points: 0

#36 by SandyRiver // Apr 09, 2014 - 10:29am

Certainly no slam-dunks. My guesses for best chance are Ryan, Clady, and Mayo, but they each would need many more good years to make it. Charles' rate stats look worthy, but I think injuries will spike his chances.

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#46 by BJR // Apr 09, 2014 - 2:03pm

Any of those sound like a real stretch. Compare that to the previous years' draft (2007) which produced Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Joe Thomas, Patrick Willis and Darrelle Revis, all of whom look like slam-dunks.

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#21 by Vincent Verhei // Apr 08, 2014 - 6:12pm

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think we might need to start an Irrational Seahawks-49ers Debate Thread.

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#23 by Karl Cuba // Apr 08, 2014 - 6:17pm

Niners' Gold is a much nicer colour than the dirty Seahawks green! SeAdderall Sux! etc.

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#24 by dmstorm22 // Apr 08, 2014 - 7:19pm

It's amazing the parallels between this rivalry and the Ravens/Steelers rivalry from 08-11.

Hopefully for the sake of discussion, this one doesn't have a longer shelf life than that, although it doesn't seem that way.

Of course, one or two tweaks from the Cards and Rams and it can be a Seahawk-49ers-Rams-Cardinals irrational Debate thread.

Points: 0

#27 by jonnyblazin // Apr 08, 2014 - 8:24pm

Ravens/Steelers was pretty intense prior to 08, but really ratcheted up then. I don't think any rivalry could match that intensity given the rules changes re: defenseless players.

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#29 by bubqr // Apr 08, 2014 - 10:57pm

Those Steelers-Ravens games, despite being an Eagles fans, were ones that I did always watch on the Gamepass. The intensity, the physicality of those games were amazing. Great, passionate rivalry.

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#30 by Insancipitory // Apr 08, 2014 - 11:09pm

There would be no greater joy in life than to sensually make my way through such a thread, as I languidly sip on a bottle of Old Number 7 with the new 9ers episode of Missing Rings in the background and Catholic Match girl staring disapprovingly at my nakedness.

It would be the kind of day a man can rap about; which means Ice Cube and myself would finally have some common ground.

Points: 0

#74 by bravehoptoad // Apr 10, 2014 - 11:40am

Since that image has been forced into my brain, I'm making it that you're one good-looking guy.

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#82 by Insancipitory // Apr 10, 2014 - 7:57pm

If only any magic that strong were left in the world.... I'm not so monstrous that the only job I could do is acting in Troma movies, but that is one of the jobs I could do.

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#88 by Karl Cuba // Apr 11, 2014 - 10:33am

Plus an irrational rainy-wedding-day versus sunny-wedding-day thread, the need which could be seen as proof positive of the infinite universe theory.

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#89 by TacticalSledgehammer // Apr 11, 2014 - 10:55am

Things like this are what makes FO unique. I love it.


“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”

Points: 0

#91 by Shattenjager // Apr 11, 2014 - 12:32pm

I was hoping for one about the Karl Cuba PED accusations, mostly because I really wondered what counted as a PED for internet commenting. Obviously, Sierra Nevada is, but what else?

Points: 0

#25 by Sixknots // Apr 08, 2014 - 7:31pm

Hey Tom,

Next year include a draft overall "Best Value" and overall "Biggest Bust". Should spice up the arguments in the comments section. At least when there's no Brady/Wilson or Gholston/Curry.

Points: 0

#34 by ammek // Apr 09, 2014 - 3:35am

The draft-day pundits got it right, didn't they? The Chiefs had a great draft, with the three Brandons/Brandens and Jamaal Charles, plus Barry Richardson in the seventh round. The only disappointment was Glenn Dorsey, who has been underwhelming rather than a bust. The Falcons also did well, finding six starting-quality players in Ryan, DeCoud, Lofton, Baker, Biermann and Harry Douglas.

The Chargers only had two of the first 160 picks. That was their own fault, but it makes their draft hard to grade. Those picks — Cason and Hester — have been serviceable, but I guess any draft that yields only a #2 corner and a fullback is best forgotten. Cleveland's feeble haul comes with the same excuse. The worst drafts seem to be those by Jacksonville, Washington and more surprisingly Pittsburgh. Washington had ten picks and ended up with, basically, Fred Davis and a punter. The best player among Pittsburgh's draftees was the sixth-best running back of the class.

Points: 0

#43 by Biebs // Apr 09, 2014 - 1:05pm

I actually think the Keller vs. Finley argument is an interesting one.

THey put up similar numbers, Finley's best season was 770 yards/8TDs, while Keller's was 815/5. There 2nd best seasons are almost identical (676/5 for Finley, 687/5 for Keller), but the difference in offense is monstrous.

Between 2008 and 2012 the Packers averaged 4,200 Yards, 36 TDs, and 360 Completions
Between 2008 and 2012 the Jets averaged 3,000 Yards, 19 TDs, and 285 Completions.

Both were hurt in 2013 (Keller was hurt for part of 2012, as well). I think the difference between Aaron Rodgers and Mark Sanchez was the reason Finley had the better numbers as a TE.

(As an aside, if you want a series of downs that sums up the Jets from 2009 - 2012), this is it

In Football Outsiders, it shows up as 2 targets for Keller (in the red zone, and on 1st/2nd down), for Sanchez it's 2 incompletions and an INT. But, Keller was open on both 1st and 2nd down, and Sanchez missed him. The fact that Keller had the same numbers as Finley is pretty amazing.

Points: 0

#52 by robbbbbb // Apr 09, 2014 - 3:40pm

Oh, this is the infamous "Long Snapper Draft," at least in Seattle.

This was the year the Seahawks drafted Tyler Schmitt to be their "Long Snapper of the Future" in the sixth round. I can see how you might have missed him, as he was classified as a linebacker by PFR.

He was injured, and never played a snap for Seattle. But there was a lot of head-slapping WTF, asking what Tim Ruskell was thinking. A long-snapper? Seriously? That's the best use of a sixth round pick?

Points: 0

#58 by LionInAZ // Apr 09, 2014 - 7:46pm

A good longsnapper is much more valuable than a third-string LB. Don't put down the position just because the Seahawks made one bad choice.

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#66 by Jeff88 // Apr 09, 2014 - 10:53pm

Should Green Bay take a flyer on Keller? Granted he comes back from his injury. I know Finley is in the same boat, though spinal-fusion surgery is much different compared to a knee tear (granted it was gruesome). Wouldn't mind seeing Keller with a better QB.

Points: 0

#71 by BucNasty // Apr 10, 2014 - 1:57am

The Buccaneers took a big risk on Appalachian State star Dexter Jackson with the 58th overall pick and got precisely zero NFL catches for their troubles.

Some receiving value would have been nice, and no doubt the team expected to turn him into a weapon on offense after he caught a bomb in that big upset over Michigan, but the real reason they took him was because they had caught the Devin Hester fever. As I remember it, Jackson had little to no experience as a returner at Appalachian State, but because he was small and shifty they felt he'd be a natural at it (he wasn't). I think most Bucs fans agreed at the time that it was a completely wasted pick, but for me it was doubly frustrating because by trading down to get him we lost our shot at LCF darling Brian Brohm.

Man, I wanted that broom!

Points: 0

#79 by zlionsfan // Apr 10, 2014 - 3:57pm

I'm not sure why you didn't stick with value when comparing Nelson and Jackson. If you'd just said "looking at catch percentage and DYAR, Nelson's clearly outperformed Jackson", you'd have had a pretty good case. Instead, it sounds more like you downgraded Jackson because the Eagles something something something, which AFAICT is either "some people he grew up with did stuff", which is true of basically everyone, or some vague personality thing that suddenly became a problem when the Eagles were called out on the first thing, and anyway, that isn't really a component of value, is it?

Also, for what it's worth, Avril can probably be placed in either category. He was ranked as an OLB by Rivals.com, but made second-team all-state as a DE. He was listed as an LB in his first three years, but as a DE for his senior year, when he started 4 games at LB and 10 games at DE (which is where I remember him having more of an impact).

Points: 0

#86 by Sifter // Apr 10, 2014 - 10:59pm

Yes, I agree. If the article had been published two weeks ago, Jackson wins and no one bats an eye. Impossible to know what his true issues are, and until we do, he's still the best WR from the draft class in my view.

Points: 0

#87 by Tom Gower // Apr 11, 2014 - 12:32am

I was reading into the Eagles release and lack of interest in him in a trade that (a) there was a more serious off the field component than some gang innuendos in a newspaper, which today's report of skipping an exit interview bears out and (b) the elements of value for a pick are (i) what he does on his rookie deal and (ii) what's essentially a team's right of first refusal to offer the player a second deal. The Packers are still getting value out of (ii) on Nelson, the Eagles are not with Jackson.

For positions, I try to go with first NFL position. He's listed as DE in the gamebook from that year's Thanksgiving destruction, so I went with that.

Points: 0

#93 by LionInAZ // Apr 14, 2014 - 7:49pm

Comparing Nelson and Jackson based only on WR output would devolve inevitably into debates about Rodgers vs McNabb/Vick. In addition, Jackson provided value on punt returns that Nelson never had, although that has diminished over the past couple of years. It wouldn't be ridiculous to call it a wash.

Points: 0

#94 by ihavechappedlips // Apr 15, 2014 - 10:57pm

Love this article!

It seems like you cited Athyba Rubin as the best value of the D-Linemen in this draft, but I think it deserves more elaboration.

The Browns didn't have a pick until the 4th round of this draft.. none of them did anything significant in the league. Rucker, and Hubbard hung around for a bit, but barely got on the field. Steptoe seemed to have a chance at being decent, but didn't stand out and had some injuries. Beau Bell plays for the LA Kiss. Haha

Also, Rubin has had 4 (going on 5) coordinators. He's been a 3-4 end, nose tackle, 4-3 DT and a 3-4 end again. Always steady. Huge value pick.

Points: 0

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