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Draft Thoughts Part 3

April 23, 2016

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        • Cut or trade every veteran on my team that is 29 years old or older.
        • Purposefully suck in Year 1 to be near the top of the draft in each round for two consecutive drafts.
        • Make no major moves in free agency except on a quarterback.
        • Spend a large amount of money/picks to get the best possible quarterback for the franchise long term.
        • Trade down in the draft regularly
        • Sign a bunch of undrafted free agents

I said they had done the first four things and were soon to be doing the last two. Well #5 on the list has officially started in earnest (trading from #2 to #8 a week before the draft) and I will say again that I love the Browns offseason so far. They really are implementing the most logical, unemotional, statistically most likely to be successful approach towards rebuilding a very bad franchise. I applaud them and I wonder when the Browns backlash becomes the Money Ball Oakland Athletics circle jerk. I’d guess it starts in 2018 and becomes full blown in 2019…unless Haslam just fires them all…which is still the most likely scenario.

  • In that same post on April 4th I said how I liked the Eagles approach this offseason to the QB position. Currently the mainstream opinion is that the Eagles overpaid to move up to #2 in the draft and they’ve spent too many resources (money & picks) on the QB position. I disagree and stated it in that article, “Both the Eagles and the Browns actions could be considered overkill in their pursuit of an elite QB but in my opinion the position is so important to fill at a high level that more teams should do what the Eagles and Browns are doing and just throw resources at it.” Yes the Eagles now have 3 of the top 40 QBs in the NFL but these situations work themselves out. Even now profootballtalk.com is making a very interesting case for the Jets & Broncos to call the Eagles about Sam Bradford (http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2016/04/21/jets-broncos-should-call-eagles/ ). The Eagles paid $11 million in bonus money already to Bradford so a team trading for him would get him on a 2yr $24 million deal. Now I think Bradford is essentially a big tease as he’s been in the NFL for 5 seasons and hasn’t shown me too damn much BUT his QB rating the past two seasons was 86.4 and 90.9, both of which are pretty solid so it is easy to argue that he’s a steal for $12 mil a year (two good compariosn are: Cutler makes 18 mil a year and had 92.3 and 88.6 QB Ratings the past two years, Flacco just signed a 22.3 mil a year extension and had 83.1 and 91.0 QB Ratings the past two years. I’d take Bradford for $12 mil over either of these other two options). Yes fans can complain about the Eagles “wasting” so much money on one position but in today’s NFL you can never have too many good QBs, whether for injury insurance or for trade bait. I bet the Eagles trade Bradford for a healthy return, the Browns offered a 1st round pick for him just last offseason, and the Eagles get back some of those valuable picks they lost in the trade up from #8 to #2. I worry about Wentz as a small school kid and question just how much GMs can evaluate him off that film BUT I have no problem with the Eagles trade up as they are continuing to put as many resources as are necessary into the most important position in all of sports. I just can’t fault them for that as I really wonder why more teams don’t do the same.
  • If you read my prospect profiles in detail, I’m always curious how many profiles are read after the first few big names at each position are completed, you would see that I really focus on pedigree. I don’t hear this term used too often by other analysts and it surprises me as, having studied the draft for +15 years (+5 years in depth), I’d argue it is one of the most valuable tools to use when deciding between two prospects. A case in point is the 2013 Freshman All-American team. These are players that came in as true or redshirt freshman and just dominated the competition from Day 1. If you take this list and read it 2-3 years later you would see that almost all of them are in the 1st round conversation. That should be the case as guys that dominate year in and year out have a much lower bust rate than the one year wonders. The 2013 list includes guys like Jameis Winston, Laremy Tunsil, Myles Jack, Hunter Henry, Jack Conklin, Joey Bosa, Kendall Fuller, Vernon Hargreaves III and Jalen Ramsey. All of these guys except Fuller are consensus 1st round “candidates” and on my board I have Fuller as a mid 1st anyway. Also guys like Tyler Boyd and Zack Sanchez are probably higher on my board than on others as I really value this attribute. Contrarily guys that shoot up the draft board out of the blue like Carson Wentz, Paxton Lynch, Corey Coleman, Kevin Dodd, etc. I am a little more leery of than other analysts are. Yes this has caused me to rank lower than I should have some perennial Pro Bowlers like JJ Watt, Cam Newton and others but I’ve always gone by the motto of it’s not important who you didn’t draft, it’s important who you did draft and I’ve consistently hit on the pedigree guys like AJ Green, Julio Jones, Adrian Peterson, Patrick Peterson, Robert Quinn, Tyrann Mathieu, Andrew Luck, etc. Looking at the 2013 list I see guys like Ramsey, Bosa, Jack and Hargreaves in the mix for the Top 10 so I’d moneyball it and seek out lower guys like Conklin, Fuller, Boyd and Sanchez as those four have consistently been productive players and all could be options in the early to middle of the second round (though there is some chatter of Conklin getting mid to late 1st round consideration). As a Cowboys fan I’m intrigued by a combo 1st/2nd round pick of Tunsil/Fuller, Ramsey/Fuller, Bosa/Fuller or Jack/Fuller with the latter two being preferably executed after a trade down from #4 to #6 (Ravens) or #7 (49ers). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, someone is going to get a steal in Kendall Fuller as a 2nd round pick. I hope it’s the Cowboys as with 5 days till the draft it seems like the most natural candidate where need meets value.
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