Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Revisiting the Draft: Makin' Sense of the Seemingly Senseless

Enough time has passed since the completion of the 2009 NFL Player Draft for me to catch up on some sleep and re-learn my wife's name. Not to mention geek out all over again when undrafted free agents started signing (CHRIS BAKER OMGOMG RULON DAVIS !!)

But you didn't flip on the computer to read about future practice squadders. No, you did so to look at pictures of women with pendulous breasts sitting on sheet cakes, and ended up here when you accidentally typed "house" instead of "blouse" into Google. No worries. Put away the Jergens for a sec and hop past the leap for somethin' jumpin'.

There was a lot of commotion following Denver's trade for Falphonso. To reiterate: they gave up their first rounder next year--which, if my prediction is accurate, will be a pretty high pick--for Seattle's second this year to grab a corner who, if you listen to the slavering apes on denverpost.com, is not only short, but slow, and further, not a defensive lineman.

A few things about this. First, Falphonso was widely projected to be a first-rounder. The Broncos evidently thought better of taking him than they did of, say, grabbing Rey Maualuga or Ron Brace, either one of who would have given me a huge draft day chub. Or at least as huge as it gets.

While I don't necessarily think the secondary was as big a need, I can't fault them for taking a player they had rated higher. Teams that draft solely based on need are reactionary, no matter what John Clayton says. If Falphonso was a first rounder based on their evaluation, then trading a first for him makes sense.

Mike Klis pointed out the other day that the practice of trading a future first for a present second has been recently executed by two teams: the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos. The commonality between them--and good on Klis for noticing this--is that both General Managers were disciples of the Bobby Beathard school of drafting, which holds that that whatever draft you're drafting in is the one you need to concentrate on, and that trading a high future pick for a player that can help you now is the way to go.

Beathard, it should be said, drafted Ryan Leaf. But he also built the Redskins of the '80s.

For a local perspective that is much smarter than mine, here.

If you don't feel clicky, the author--who is actually good with numbers, unlike myself--makes the point that not only is draft value relative, but the value obtained later in the first and through the second beats that at the top by a country mile. Don't how long a country mile is? Best get your irrigation boots on and tromp a spell, friend, because it's a distance.

He also, and I found this very apt, said that, clearly, McDaniels/Xanders felt like they had 4 first round picks in the next two seasons. They had Falphonso rated as a first this year; so, in effect, they took three of the four in one draft. Which dovetails with the Beathardian philosophy of pursuing present value.

I had my concerns that they had failed to obtain enough defensive line help, and still do--but I also realize that this year was a weak class for linemen, and most likely, any young guy isn't going to make a significant impact next year anyway. If we get better on the line, it's going to be because Henry Winkler's character in The Waterboy is no longer our D-coordinator and because Marcus Thomas finally turns the corner. If Ayers can help at all, that's going to be fantastic, but young linemen need time to mature.

Cornerbacks, on the other hand, can play in various packages right away. And in Falphonso's case, as a returner as well. The more I think about the Broncos' recent draft, the more I like it. But then, I'm a homer.