The Outsider has finished its review of the teams around the league. Now let’s poke through this year’s draft class — not to hand out grades, but to assess what impact the drafted players might likely have on their respective teams this year. Some guys will be good picks, but more for the future of the franchise than immediate gratification. Some guys might even be bad picks, but more likely to get on the field and lend a hand now.
Perhaps you are wondering, “How could anyone discuss this intelligently, especially the woeful staff at the Outsider?”
The answer is obvious. If no one can discuss this matter intelligently, then the Outsider is most qualified to discuss it unintelligently. Plus, who cares? For four months this year, the blogosphere reverberated with the names of a couple hundred college fellows who will now disappear into the NFL forest to grunt and sweat under a heavy load and never be heard from, or about, again. Heck, some of these guys have been forgotten about already in a mere two and a half months! So before they evaporate further, it seems only fitting to revisit their trot across the stage and give them a proper send off to the oblivion that awaits far too many of them.
First up, the number one pick of the St. Louis Rams, QB Sam Bradford. Oblivion is never the fate of number one picks, though some of these unfortunate specimens might surely wish it were so. And QBs are the least forgotten group of them all.
Bradford is a necessary pick, but a bad one for this year. Three years from now, he’ll probably be a great pick, but not this year. He won’t help the Rams win any games this year. He might cost them a couple while he’s at it, but the Rams are capable of losing games right and left all by themselves, so it will be hard to notice if he bombs a few on his own. And another year will tick off on the Steven Jackson RB meter.
Ndamukong Suh was picked #2 by the Lions, and this is a so-so pick. These “can’t miss” lard buckets are a dangerous $50 million choice in the first round. Very few make any impact their first year, and far too many, for the money, make no impact ever. Last year, DE Tyson Jackson got picked #3 and didn’t do squat all year to prevent the Chiefs from getting ground into and over the sod. By next year, Suh had better be dominant or the Lions might get the chance to try their luck at #2 again.
I could just say “Ditto” for the Buccaneers and their #3 choice, DT Gerald McCoy, but that wouldn’t be much fun. It was supposedly almost a toss up who was the better man between McCoy and Suh, so there will be some interest in which franchise threw up most correctly. McCoy probably won’t be much help this year, either. For the inaugural year, both these Dline guys would be doing well if they can just manage to not look like complete horse crap,
Washington selected Trent Williams with pick #4 and this is a good pick, though some would have preferred Russell Okung here. Williams will play in 2010 and play well. He’ll provide a big boost to the Skins Oline and help Shanahan keep McNabb upright long enough to run his offense. He’ll even help them win a game or two extra this year, though most of the credit will go to Shanahan and McNabb. Interestingly, all four of these picks played in the Big 12, which I gather has shrunk in size this off season.
Here’s Kansas City, again picking in the top five, proving that last year’s grab of Jackson didn’t help them improve at all, and now they select safety Eric Berry, who won’t help them, either. Just a bad pick. Four years from now, maybe Berry will be getting raves for anchoring the amazing secondary of the Chiefs, but the Chiefs might as well have told their fans they don’t plan on being any better this year than last. You can walk into the league and play CB right off the bat, but not safety. For every flashy play he makes, he’ll make three rookie F-bombers. F-bombers in the secondary cost points on the board. He will cost more than he saves.
The other value for first round picks, which no team will admit to, is how many butts the guy will put in the seats and how many fans will be happy campers over the selection. The NFL is a business, a very large one. In this regard, all five picks are winners. They were all draftnik droolers, universally conceded can’t miss players. Fans are therefore happy their team got one of these guys, GMs get good marks, owners get ticket sales. And unless you are Matt Millen or Al Davis, it’s pretty hard to completely screw up all factors in the first five picks. Even Tony Mandarich was worth a lot of tickets his first year in the league. Well, long enough to sell some season tickets, anyway.
Tomorrow we’ll look at the next five picks, where much better value is often located. Picking in the top five means your team is a real junk yard. No one player can clean up a junk yard. Few can even lift a hubcap and heave it over onto the neighbor’s property. The best you can do within those picks is get a long term winner and put some butt crack in the seats in year one.