Daily Archives: March 28, 2012

REALLY Mocking the NFL Draft: We Have No Idea Who Will Pan Out


I ran across an interesting statement in one of the innumerable draft articles I’ve viewed in the past few months. I can’t for the life of me remember where I saw it, nor the exact wording. But the essence of it was this: the writer indicated his preference for the draft and all the activity surrounding it to actual football.

It’s easy to make the assumption the speaker must have been a “fan” of one of the teams generally considered to win their Super Bowl in March and April. In other words, if, despite generally having high draft picks and the money to sign exciting free agents, one’s team doesn’t actually perform particularly well as a rule, one might just as well get excited about free agency and the draft and not worry too much about the season.

But I don’t think this was the case. I think the writer was writing for a Steelers blog, and would therefore be presumed to be interested in Steeler football.

The irony to me is how often the highly touted players everyone gets so worked up about don’t pan out. In the first round, they generally do, to one extent or another. But I suspect the folks who prefer the draft to actual football are more interested in finding the “gems” in later rounds. They are also presumably the people who write rapturous articles two days after the draft is over, praising how well their team did, or bemoaning the fabulous players they left on the board for the not-terribly-impressive list of who they actually picked.

You would think we would learn. The Cold Hard Football Facts article assessing the past decade of drafting began with this statement:

We’ve come far enough along as a collective group of football observers to know that hasty post-draft grades are about as useful as a $ 5 coupon toward a new BMW. Yes, even our own.

The final sentence was linked to this article. In it, Sports Illustrated writer Kerry Byrne explains the following:

You know how most analysts do it: They pretend they watched every college football game of the past three seasons, toss out clichés about various schemes, or which players “set the edge” and have “good motors” and then try to guess which will succeed or fail at the next level.

Good luck with that.

The truth is that nobody knows who’s going to succeed or fail — not us, not the draft “experts” on TV and certainly not the GMs making the decisions on draft day.

As an example, he went on to say “History proves that first-round wideouts have a huge rate of failure in the NFL and that the position is incredibly overvalued by teams, fans and analysts.”

No matter how well a player played in college, no matter how ready their game seems to be to translate smoothly to the NFL, focusing on individual players is more or less of a risky proposition. Any number of things can interfere with any given player succeeding in the NFL—injuries, unforeseen “character issues,” for lack of a better term, psychological issues, and so on.

On the other hand, signing proven veterans isn’t a panacea, either. Just ask the teams who signed Albert Haynesworth. For every vet who goes to a new system and excels there is one who goes to a new team and doesn’t impress.

These failures can be traced to multiple possible causes. A new system may not be optimal for the playing style in which a given player excels. This is probably as good an explanation as any for why Nnadami Asomugha seemed rather ordinary on the Philadelphia defense. A player may have already peaked by the time he leaves a team and moves to another. This was probably the case with a number of former Steelers who never seemed to play as well again after leaving the team.

A player may just be lazy enough to figure he has nothing left to prove when the money is guaranteed, like Haynesworth, apparently. Or it may be more random—the amazing season which jacks up the free agency price may be the result of a combination of fortuitous factors which will never be repeated.

So why is it the draft and free agency so exciting to so many of us? I think it is for reasons having less to do with football than one would think.

When I was in elementary school I found the first week or two of each school year to be a time filled with promise. I had not yet besmirched my clean new notebooks with messy writing or ill-conceived and hasty calculations. I had not yet fallen behind in a class through not properly assimilating the foundational material. In short, there was still the chance I would excel in that grade and get straight A’s, something I almost never actually managed.

A fan of a team with a losing record in 2011 has the chance to see the team turn around in 2012. Although some of the greedier owners would like to change it, parity still holds sway in the NFL. As a result, every team, at least in theory, begins the season with the chance to win the Super Bowl that year. And maybe, just maybe, this is the year the ownership and management gets it right. They pick the right players, sign the right free agents, shake up the coaching staff, and the combination spits out a championship team. Or at least one who ends the season at better than .500.

And then there is the bargain hunting factor. Who among us would not prefer a genuine Ming vase we found in a thrift store for $ 2 over one for which we paid $ 20 million? After all, anyone with enough money and a trustworthy dealer can buy the latter. It takes persistence and knowledge as well as a lot of luck to happen upon the former.

In the same way, we assume our first-round draft picks will excel, and moan when they don’t produce as much or as quickly as we expect. But to find a Brett Keisel or Antonio Brown in the last rounds of the draft, or to pick up a Defensive Player of the Year in the undrafted players like James Harrison—that REALLY feels good.

Isaac Redman is another example of this phenomenon. He may actually turn out to be as good as people thought all along (although possibly no one could be that good,) but had the coaching staff listened to the moaning fans and started him a few years ago it would likely not have ended well. If he does well this season in Mendenhall’s absence, though, it will be even more exciting, because we “discovered” him and believed in him. In the same way, it was all the sweeter to go 3-1 for the four games Ben was suspended, because no one expected it.

And let’s not forget veteran free agency. If you can pick up a bargain, all the better. James Farrior had not produced like a #5 overall pick for the Jets when the Steelers signed him in 2002. For him to rapidly improve, develop into the leader of the defense, and just miss being made Defensive Player of the Year a few years later was great. It was especially great because the Steelers took someone the Jets didn’t value and turned him into a great player for the next 10 years.

Anybody can pick up the year’s hottest free agent if they are willing to spend enough money. For some teams, that’s their Super Bowl. For the Steelers, slow and patient generally wins the race. The team may not boast the “best” player at any given position, although a reasonable argument can be made for a few, but they compete, year after year, with solid but unglamorous draft picks and small, careful forays into free agency.

But the real proof of the pudding is in the football games. So, to those of you who might find yourself agreeing with whoever said he preferred the draft to the games, I say “chacun à son gout.” I appreciate all of the great information you put out there, but as much as I enjoy the draft, I only enjoy it because love football. Come next fall I’ll be jumping up and down and twirling my Terrible Towel. You should consider joining me.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Report: Mike Tomlin Worried About Ability Of Emmanuel Sanders & Willie Colon To Stay Healthy

If you have read this site for a while or are a long time listener of the podcast, you know that I have long been worried about the feet of Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders ever since his second surgery. As I have stated before, you never like to hear about young player having problems with their feet early on in their careers, especially if they play a skill position like running back or wide receiver.

Head Coach Mike Tomlin announced on Tuesday from the NFL owners meetings that he too has fears similar to mine when it comes to Sanders and his ability to stay healthy. Ed Bouchette Read more […]

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

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Tomlin has concerns with Sanders & Colon for 2012

The annual offseason owners meetings that happen in the spring are always great to get some information from coaches and owners about how things are going. We get tidbits here and there before then but other than the combine this is the first time that coaches will generally talk with the media for a significant amount of time; this is especially true for Mike Tomlin.
Coach Tomlin has been quiet since his season ending presser, only addressing the media briefly at the Todd Haley press conference and a few quotes at the combine. He met up with members of the local media on Tuesday morning and touched on multiple topics about his team and what we can expect heading into the draft and beyond this offseason. You can listen to the entire interview audio by clicking here, it’s about 52 minutes in length but it’s worth the listen if you have the time.
Anyways, one of the many things I took from it was a question that Tomlin was asked concerning the long term health of Emmanuel …

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

“Strong chance” that Peyton will make his Denver debut in prime time

Last week’s events undoubtedly threw a monkey wrench into the gears of the schedule machine over which Howard Katz presides.  And the arrival of Peyton Manning in Denver already has adjusted the league’s plans for 2012. Apparently.  Reportedly. According to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, there’s a “strong chance” the Broncos will appear in…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

Bob Pompeani Previews His Interview With Mike Tomlin

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – KDKA-TV Sports Anchor, Bob Pompeani sat down with Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin Tuesday Morning. The interview will air tonight on the KDKA-TV News at 5 p.m. The Fan Morning Show spoke to Bob today to give us a preview of what Tomlin said.

Bob is live in Florida covering the NFL Owners Meetings. It’s been so long since we heard Tomlin speak to the media, so Bob had to go back to the beginning of the off-season, starting with the firing of Bruce Arians.

Bob said that Tomlin made the decision to fire Arians. He also said that new Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley was not picked for him by ownership. Tomlin took responsibility for that decision as well.

As for new information in the off season, Bob said that Tomlin didn’t offer much as to personnel issues surrounding the team with the changes in the roster, and in the coaching staff. However, Bob did say that the team will bring in “some running back help,” whether it be through the draft, or free agency.

For complete coverage of Mike Tomlin’s discussion with Bob, and the rest of the media, watch KDKA-TV today at 5 p.m., or click below to listen:

Filed under: Football, Heard on The Fan, Sports, Steelers, Watch + Listen Tagged: Bob Pompeani, Mike Tomlin, NFL Owners Meetings, Pittsburgh Steelers, The Fan Morning Show

Source: CBS Pittsburgh » Steelers

Georgia’s new coach is Hines Ward? It certainly looks like it.

ATHENS, March 28—There have been rumors about what former Steelers WR Hines Ward will do, but now we have some facts to back it up.
Please click here to read the rest of this story and watch rare footage of Ward scoring a game winner for the Bulldogs in a rivalry game against Georgia Tech.

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

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NFL owners approve postseason overtime for regular season

All games that go to overtime now can’t end on a field goal on the first possession. The opposing team must get one series, and if it also kicks a field goal, the extra period continues.

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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Ziggy Hood Move To Nose Tackle Talk Back In High Gear, But It Really Shouldn’t Be

The annual Willie Colon move to guard talk is back in high swing and so you knew the annual Ziggy Hood move to nose tackle would not be far behind it. It is more talked about this offseason it seems being as Casey Hampton has a strong possibility of starting the year on the PUP list as he recovers from his knee surgery.

Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin was asked on Tuesday about the possibility of Hood playing nose tackle and he replied, “Hood is potentially part of that. He is a very talented and strong guy, but I think Steve McLendon proved that he is a capable backup a year ago, Read more […]

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers Reportedly to Open 2012 Season in Denver on SNF

*** Discuss this article and more at our Pittsburgh Steelers forum ***

Rumor has it the Steelers will be in Denver for a playoff rematch to open the 2012 season.

Sort of.

The Steelers vs Broncos 2012 opener on NBC Sunday Night Football won’t be so much about the two teams wild card OT playoff game that went to the Broncos, as much as it will be about the new Broncos toy – QB Peyton Manning.

With Tim Tebow in New York with the Jets, the Steelers will have to get ready for a pumped up Broncos team with Manning now under center, making his first start in a season after undergoing a couple neck surgeries and watching all of 2011 from the sideline.

If it’s true and the game is set, the Steelers will be without starting safety Ryan Clark, who upon hearing the rumors tweeted: “Hearing Steelers @ Broncos could be 1st Sunday night game of the season,” Clark posted on Twitter. “If that happens, guess I’ll wait for week 2.”

I can think of no better way to welcome Manning back to the NFL than for the Steelers to ruin his first game back with a win in Denver.

Source: Steelers Gab

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Ike Taylor thinks knee injuries will increase as head injuries decrease

Steelers defensive back Ike Taylor says he and his teammates have gotten the message from Roger Goodell: Don’t aim for the head. “Guys getting fined heavily, especially on our team, we see the commissioner is really putting his foot down,” Taylor said on NFL Network. But Taylor raises a point that arose in Pittsburgh’s playoff…

Source: ProFootballTalk » Pittsburgh Steelers

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