Monday, May 01, 2006
DRAFT RECAP: BUSTIN' ON BUSTS
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Draft day is a day more than any other for Ron Jaworski's unmatched (among talking heads) film analysis skills, and he was, as usual, criminally underused. The guy singlehandedly disavowed SMQ's love of Vince Young by convincingly trashing his inability to make simple secondary reads in college and his poor mechanics compared to Carson Palmer, who Jaworski thinks has the best textbook mechanics in the league - er, sorry The National Football League - yet had to spend most of his time deferring to "just hit somebody" airhead Merrill Hodge and borderline-senile punster Chris Berman. At least Stuart Scott, for once, was nowhere to be found.
Otherwise, SMQ continued to be mystified, again, by what Orson Swindle rightly called a "complete inversion of who you considered to be a badass on the college level," as perfectly good, non-slow, non-undersized, major program stars dropped behind Division II fatasses and anonymous cornerbacks with a decent 40 time.
A few of the football players whose football performances on the football fields of The National Football League SMQ predicts will fail to live up to the expectations of the football teams in The National Football League that drafted them play football in The National Football League:
Mario Williams (Round 1, Pick 1, Texans): The one guy here who's not a bust waiting to happen - not a bust, SMQ says! - but pass rushers like Williams come around once every three-four years, and weapons like Reggie Bush more like once a decade, or less, and have more impact on their team. This is like the Rockets taking Hakeem Olajuwon ahead of Michael Jordan - Mario Williams could make the Hall of Fame and never live it down. Bush is too good to pass up.
Donte Whitner (Round 1, Pick 8, Bills): Uh, who is this guy? SMQ watched Ohio State a number of times the past two seasons and surely should have at some point noticed a future No. 8 overall pick doing crazy, top-ten-pick, take-over-the-game kinds of things. A.J. Hawk did these kinds of things. Hell, Whitner's safety mate Nate Salley, fourth round, and end Ryan Kudla, not drafted at all, did more than Whitner any time SMQ was tuned in. Not that Whitner's not a good player, or that SMQ's broken down film on the guy or anything; but No. 8? Really? Over Matt Leinart? No way he was that good in college. ESPN draftniks were right to call this pick a major reach.
Jay Cutler (Round 1, Pick 11, Broncos): One rule SMQ would always stand by when drafting anyone in the first round, but especially a quarterback, who means so much to his team: no matter his arm strength or other tangible factors, if he didn't lead his college team to at least one .500 season - we're talking just 6-5 here - he's not worth going this high. Cutler has always seemed like a quintessential good-in-college-but-not-in-the-pros kind of quarterback, gutsy, smart and a better than adequate scrambler who overcomes average talent by playing balls-out. But Cutler's team lost to Middle Tennessee State and Kentucky last year. He reminds SMQ mostly of Jason Campbell or J.P. Losman, two other guys who never should have gone in the first round. You could add Alex Smith or Patrick Ramsey or Kyle Boller, too - every year, some team reaches for a first round quarterback who's not in the same league as the athletes getting picked around him, and this seems very obvious to all but the official-type talking head scouts. Cutler can be a fringe starter, a very good backup, but not the Pro Bowler a team expects from the eleventh overall pick.
Haloti Ngata (Round 1, Pick 12, Ravens): Ngata was a mega-hyped guy SMQ was actually very unfamiliar with, but his highlight package was a big flashing red sign of doom. The Ravens drafted him to be a "blocker" for Ray Lewis, to just sit there and clog everything up, which apparently was Ngata's role in college, too, because at no point in a dozen or more clips did he show the slightest explosiveness off the ball; rather, the offensive lineman/men almost always got his/their steps in first and neutralized him unless the runner happened to be travelling within his arms' reach. He was strong enough to throw a couple of the college guys to the side in time to make a tackle, but won't do that so easily to NFL linemen. He made one good hustle play to hawk a runner down on the sideline, but also gave up on the pass rush quickly and instead stood and waited to try to bat a ball down on a couple other occasions. Mark Schlereth pointed to several plays from the USC game when the Trojan lineman were the aggressors and Ngata was clearly rolled right out of the middle of the line just in time for LenDale White to come barrelling through.
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Ray Lewis to Ravens: "Get me a player guaranteed to be blocked!"
Two picks later, the Eagles drafted Brodrick Bunkley, an "undersized" defensive tackle who gets off the ball like a madman and penetrates regularly; had a ton more sacks (9 to 3) and tackles for loss (25 to 9) than Ngata last year to show for it. The stats do not take into account the different styles and roles of each player, of course, but SMQ's metaphorical money still is on the aggressive Bunkley becoming the better pro. Ngata=Ellis Johnson, Jonathan Sullivan, Gerard Warren, Luther Elliss, Ryan Pickett, or any other huge defensive tackle not quick enough to justify his high selection.
Manny Lawson (Round 1, Pick 22, 49ers): A good athlete, but just undersized. Doesn't have the speed and is too tall for the leverage that Dwight Freeney uses to beat much bigger tackles.
Johnathan Joseph (Round 1, Pick 24, Bengals ): Another rousing "Who?" pick. Is Johnathan Joseph better than Jimmy Williams, Alan Zemaitis, Kelly Jennings, DeMario Minter, Ashton Youboty and Antonio Cromartie? Based on what? He only earned two letters at South Carolina. According to his highlights, though, he is very good at intercepting passes deflected into his hands by other players.
John McCargo (Round 1, Pick 26, Bills): SMQ has no grudge against NC State D-linemen, really, but McCargo missed half last season and had one sack. Made a few tackles. Came out early. Where's the beef? Well, obviously, but the production! Where's the production? The Bills reach again.
Tony Sheffler (Round 2, Pick 61, Broncos): Ahead of Leonard Pope and Domonique Byrd? Joe Klopfenstein and Anthony Fasano going in round two with big Leonard still sitting there is one thing, but Tony Sheffler? Tony Sheffler is better than Leonard Pope? What? Also - SMQ refuses, absolutely refuses, to believe that a 254-pound white guy from Western Michigan with a history of "durability issues" ran a sub-4.5 40-yard dash at the combine, as Sheffler reportedly did. An out and out lie.
Jerious Norwood (Round 3, Pick 79, Falcons): SMQ has never liked Norwood, not since he saw the top ten recruit, Mississippi player of the year intimidated and 100 percent neutralized in a high school playoff game Norwood's senior season. His impression of him has never been very good since - if you need somebody to run against Tulane, Kentucky and Murray State, he's your man, but Norwood's average the last two years against LSU, Auburn and Alabama? 40 yards. The Falcons would have been better off plucking someone off one of those defenses.
Jahri Evans (Round 4, Pick 108, Saints): Jahri Evans played at Bloomsburg. Bloomsburg is a Division II school Evans helped to an undefeated regular season and a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Eastern Division Championship in 2005. He weighs 340 pounds and has problems in space and finishing second-level blocks. He was taken ahead of Fred Matua, Mark Setterstrom, Tyler Reed, Rob Sims and Tre' Stallings. SMQ does not ever expect to see Jahri Evans in a regular season game.
For the record, here are the bargains - guys who were actually really good for several years at major schools - in SMQ's estimation:
Reggie Bush (Round 1, Pick 2, Saints...Reg-gie! Reg-gie! Reg-gie!...)
Jimmy Williams (Round 2, Pick 37, Falcons)
Winston Justice (Round 2, Pick 39, Eagles)
LenDale White (Round 2, Pick 45, Titans)
Marcus McNeil (Round 2, Pick 50, Chargers...50! This big hoss crushed everybody in the SEC!)
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Who wouldn't want this guy on their team?
Darryl Tapp (Round 2, Pick 63, Seahawks)
Eric Winston (Round 3, Pick 66, Texans)
Abdul Hodge (Round 3, Pick 67, Packers)
Claude Wroten (Round 3, Pick 68, Rams)
Leonard Pope (Round 3, Pick 72, Cardinals)
Max Jean-Giles (Round 4, Pick 99, Eagles)
Darnell Bing (Round 4, Pick 101, Raiders)
Ko Simpson (Round 4, Pick 105, Bills)
Alan Zemaitis (Round 4, Pick 122, Buccaneers)
Jonathan Lewis (Round 6, Pick 177, Cardinals)
Greg Eslinger (Round 6, Pick 198, Broncos...Very good fit here, in the Tom Nalen mode)
Twice - twice! - the Saints passed up much-coveted linemen to trade down, and both times Philly swooped in and picked them up instead, nabbing Winston Justice three picks after New Orleans swapped with Cleveland in the second and Max Jean-Giles as a result of a direct trade in the fourth. The Saints also passed on McNeil, a potential answer to the gaping hole at right tackle, to reach for Roman Harper, the seventh safety on the roster. The trades were good ones in that they picked up center Jeff Faine and defensive tackle Hollis Thomas, two vets who should immediately upgrade two of New Orleans' many trouble spots, but with the exception of quality depth guys Mike Hass in round six and Zach Strief in round seven, SMQ wasn't happy with the players the Saints wound up with after Bush.
But still: Reg-gie! Reg-gie! Reg-gie!...
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I think you missed the boat on Evans...has started every game and playing very well....