Sunday, April 13, 2014

2014 NFL Draft: Offensive Tackles

Behind the quarterback the left tackle is one of the most important positions in modern football. Mainly because they're responsible for protecting the blind side of the most important position in modern football. As such getting the right man at the spot, and indeed at right tackle, can be a huge boost to a franchise.

Will any of this years crop of tackles make the grade? Let's find out. And as always, the players are listed in the order that they are because that's how the list I'm working from is ordered.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

2014 NFL Draft: Tight Ends

So next up in the series is the tight ends.

This year everyone is using a new phrase "the queen of the chess board" to describe the tight end, in reference to their versatility to be moved around all across the field.

The tight end position has certainly moved on from the days when they were effectively a sixth offensive line who occasionally trundled down the middle to catch a few passes. Now tight ends are treated more like wide receivers and as such teams are looking for something a little different.

The likes of Vernon Davis in San Francisco, Antonio Gates in San Diego, Jimmy Graham in New Orelans and Rob Gronkowski in New England have set the new bar for what is expected, that being a tall target man who is almost as fast as a receiver and who can be flexed out away from the offensive line to play in space if needed.

So here we go, and as always remember that these players are listed in the order that they are because that's how the list I'm working from is ordered.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Draft Strategy

So today we'll take a break from sifting through the players themselves to take a look at the actual strategy of drafting. Because the draft is a complicated thing. Getting it right can set a team up for years to come. Getting it wrong can set a team back for years to come.

There's a good reason why teams that consistently draft well such as the Giants, Packers, Patriots, Ravens and Steelers have remained competitive for more than a decade, and why teams that tend to draft poorly such as the Rams, Browns, Jaguars, Redskins and Texans are sitting at the bottom of the pile.

But what does a "good" draft look like versus a "bad" draft, and how do you go about building one?

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

2014 NFL Draft: Wide Receivers

Next up on the draft preparation schedule, it's the wide receivers.

Just before we jump right in I want to make a point. I've been doing some pre-scouting of some of the other positions and while I agree that this draft will probably have some really, really good football players taken in the later rounds, I have to say that a lot of the hype surrounding some of the early round picks looks a little misplaced.

Suffice to say that I've watched some players who are projected as first round picks who absolutely should not be in that discussion. But we'll cross those particular bridges when we come to them.

For now let's look at the wide receiver prospects for this year and again keep in mind that this list is not presented in the order that I personally would rank the players, rather it is the way it is because that's how the list I'm working from is ordered.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Update 04/01/14

Not an April Fools joke, just an update. I'm currently working on my review of the wide receivers for the 2014 draft. Should be up in the coming days.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

2014 NFL Draft: Running Backs

"Momma's don't let your kids grow up to be running backs".

That's the new in vogue phrase for football. But considering even the lowest paid running backs in the NFL make more money in one year than the average American will make in six, I don't think growing up to be a running back is such a bad thing.

They are the unwanted children of football right now though. As the game shifts to an ever more pass orientated format, and with the NFL commissioner and the competition committee doing everything within their power to keep it that way, the value of running backs has declined.

The simple fact is this; player salaries are defined by the rules of economics. Economics is founded on the principle of supply and demand. The demand for running backs is not that high, while the supply of quality running backs is. Such is life.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Johnny Manziel Pro Day

Today the hype machine went into utter overdrive as Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel held his pro day.

There was music. There was a former US President. There was general managers and head coaches galore. There was... a jersey and helmet that looked like it had been saved from the trash. Nike devoted a page of its website to flogging merchandise that was only somewhat related to Manziel ($145 for a pair of "combat tights" anyone?).

Oh, and he threw a few balls around apparently.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

NFL Draft 2014: Quarterbacks

See, I told you I was going to do it again for real this year!

So this is my rundown of most of the main quarterbacks who are eligible for the 2014 draft. If there is anyone missing who you think should be on here then leave a comment and I may come back and do a part 2 at a later point. Chances are though that if they're not on this list then they're unlikely to be drafted at all.

Let's dive right in then. Oh, before that, just remember that this list is not a "Top Ten" etc format. The players are listed in the order that they are because that's how the list I'm working from is organised. You'll have to read my comments about each specific player if you want to know what I think of them.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The return for 2014

It's 2014 and I'm about to jump back on the football saddle. For real this time.

I've already had a wander through the 2014 draft class and plan to start going through them position by position very shortly. Just in case this does unexpectedly become my only post of 2014, I'd just like to say on the record that Blake Bortles is awful, Teddy Bridgewater is kind of ok, that A.J. McCarron from Alabama is the quarterback I would want to take in the first ten picks if I was in desperate need of a quarterback, and that Isaiah Crowell strikes me as the best running back of this draft class.

Considering I called Russell Wilson and Nick Foles back before the 2012 draft, I'm happy to take my own assessment of the quarterback class over most of the mainstream outlets.

Before I go into that though, I just want to get my personal beef with the Raiders staff out of the way. And I don't even like the Raiders.

See free agency is about filling holes. It's about teams that are already pretty good adding additional personnel to their roster, usually at a premium price, in order to make a push for the Superbowl. See the Broncos and their acquisitions, designed to support Peyton Manning and try to win a Superbowl within the narrow window that is left in his career. 

What free agency is not about is rebuilding your football team. Generally free agents only end up as such because 1) their team hasn't got the cap space to keep them, 2) their team isn't prepared to pay the players salary demands or 3) because the team doesn't think the player is that good and as such worth keeping. It should be noted that 1 and 2 are effectively just round about ways of saying 3, because if someone is really that good then you would find the cap space for them.

That's not a huge problem for good teams with established players. They can live with overpaying a free agent a little if it helps them complete the puzzle of winning the big one. But if you're the Raiders, a team that is in catastrophically bad shape at most positions, then you really shouldn't be pouring money down the drain on free agents that are on the tail end of their careers.

Justin Tuck for example.

Now don't get me wrong, Justin Tuck is a good player. He is still playing at a level where he can be a difference maker. The trouble is that by the time the Raiders have rebuilt their franchise Tuck will be probably another 3 years older and will have most definitely reached the cliff of his career. All they're doing is throwing money (and cap space) at a player who is not going to be around when the team has finally gotten back on its feet. 

You're not going to win now by signing Justin Tuck and Matt Schaub. This is not going to bring Oakland a Superbowl. It's just delaying the inevitable moment when they sit down and realise that they need to start completely from scratch. Oakland has a huge amount of cap space, with almost 50% of the entire cap being available at the start of free agency. This was their perfect chance to lock down key young players like Lamarr Houston and Jared Veldheer, while taking the cap hit now to release expensive players who are not going to be of long term use. It was an ideal situation.

And yet the Raiders somehow blew it. In the past we would have blamed it on Al Davis. That is no longer an option. It just seems to be a disease of mediocrity that the Raiders can't seem to cure themselves of. 

Still, they could always improve in the draft if they can just stay away from physically gifted but technically and mentally impoverished prospects...

... Yeah you're right, they're screwed.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

2013 NFL Draft

So it's draft time again. And yes, this blog has been left abandoned and desolate for a while now. I frankly haven't had the time, because of work and other projects. But as the sun finally starts shining again for more than a few hours here in the UK, the buzz of football is luring me back in.

Clearly I don't have the time to assess the 2013 class before the draft happens, but instead I'm thinking I'll go through them over the coming summer. The success of my analysis of last years players, like Russell Wilson (only one person I know of publicly tagged him as a "should have been a first rounder", and that was me) has given me the drive to get back on the horse again.

So far I've only had a look at two players, Geno Smith and Mike Glennon, and even that was just two games each. Smith was not exactly setting the world alight from what I can see, which doesn't bode well for a draft where Smith is considered the top QB prospect. Glennon I was more impressed with, which means this could be another classic draft where all the top touted talents do average in the pros and the players that fall through the cracks (except on blogs like this, see Wilson above) end up going on to have the better careers.

We'll see. Good luck to all the teams, but of course, especiall the 49ers!