Monday, April 30, 2007


Grading NFL drafts is a joke! To grade a draft the day after it is completed is like having a Texas Chili contest before the chili peppers arrive from South America. It’s like planting apples seeds and deeming the tree’s fruit to be delicious before the tree takes root.

Let’s face it – all this talk is frivolous right now. It’s filler banter that crowds websites, radio sports talk, NFL Network and ESPN. You just don’t know and you won’t know for a couple of years how the teams really fared this weekend.

Need proof? Look at some of these grades and comments from the highly paid, high profile writer for Sports Illustrated, Peter King after the 2000 NFL Draft (my comments follow in italics):

A-minus grade to Oakland: Now, I fault the Raiders for panicking and not dropping down once or twice 10 or so spots and getting an extra four, five or six while ensuring they'd still get their man, kicker Sebastian Janikowski. (A Seahawk mole tells me the Raids turned down a six from Seattle to move down two spots, from 17 to 19, and who knows what else they could have unearthed.) That having been said, this team went 8-8 last year, losing all eight by a touchdown or less. They missed 11 field goals. Janikowski is the best kicking weapon to come out of college football, maybe ever.

Perhaps one of the worst first round picks that wasn’t a quarterback in NFL history, in my opinion. I think Stover went to college, right?

B+ Grades

Buffalo: Pick 89 overall, Corey Moore, will be one of those classic Bills picks (they always get a very good player after the first round, every year), the kind of player GMs will regret passing on.

Uh...ok...go ahead and Google Corey Moore. Good luck finding what King predicted. Even Google barely remembers this 3 year journeyman.

New England: J.R. Redmond will be the every-down back by Oct. 1. Not bad for the 76th overall pick.

Redmond had 406 rushing yards as a rookie. Since then he’s “racked up” 270 yards – TOTAL! By the way, no mention by King of Tom Brady.

Pittsburgh: Here's one of my post-fourth-round exceptions: Love the pick of Tee Martin late in the fifth. Watch the games. He belongs in the NFL. Steelers got two big receivers (Plaxico Burress and Danny Farmer) and I have a sneaking feeling that Martin will be throwing to them in December, at the end of a lost Steelers season.

Apparently the NFL did not agree with King. He only had six more NFL completions than Brat Packer Dean Martin before meandering his way through the CFL and NFL Europe. He was drafted before Tom Brady.

B Grade: Cleveland. Courtney Brown is a draft.
With a draft like that you should close the window.

C Grade: Baltimore. I really like Chris Redman at 75 for the Ravens, but the 49ers were skeptical of the beating he's taken in college and the one he'll take as a pro. But the Ravens were dumb not to trade down from 5 for a bounty of picks. Shaun Alexander (who went 19th) will be a better pro than Jamal Lewis (fifth), by the way.

You thinking what I’m thinking?

C-Minus: Kansas City. I like Sylvester Morris. But I can't figure for the life of me why Carl Peterson, who is a smart man, didn't go out and spend a couple of picks to save his running game for years by dealing for Corey Dillon. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Hello Peter...there's a call holding for you on the clue phone...I think the Chiefs’ running game did ok for years after this draft. Sylvester Morris did not. So who is dumb now?

The point here isn’t to pick on Peter King but rather the lunacy and the time wasted on playing teacher with the red pen and handing out grades when the meaningful term papers have yet to be turned in.

Last year draft website NFL Countdown among other things had this to say about the Ravens 2006 NFL Draft which they rated a B-:

With their third round pick the Ravens chose #2 rated sleeper in the entire draft, cornerback David Pittman of Northwestern St. With starter Will Demps leaving as a free agent, safety was one of the teams greatest areas of need yet they waited until the fifth round to address it. Landry, whose younger brother LaRon of L.S.U. will be one of the top senior safety prospects in 2007, is just not the answer that they needed at the position and leaves the starting spot opposite Ed Reed a major question mark at this point.

Have I made my point?

Look, scouts can size up players and GM’s can pick them based on how the scouting reports help shape draft boards. Collegiate talent is one thing. How that talent projects to the NFL is another. Many things affect how a successful college player performs in the NFL. What was the level of collegiate competition like? Can they improve physically or have they reached their physical peaks? How coachable are they and how good are the coaches that acquire them? How good is the acquiring team and are the skill sets a match for that team? How strong is their ambition to succeed, to work hard and to compete?

Who among these supposed draft graders knows the answers to such questions? Probably none!

Judging a draft today is a waste of time. It’s filler. It’s the noise before Van Halen’s version of You Really Got Me.

Yet we still look. If your team gets good grades then that publication is a good one. If your team grades poorly, well then that publication hasn’t a clue, right?

The truth be told, no one really has a clue, not yet anyway.

Come see me in about three years, then tell me.

One thing we do know, the Ravens since 1999, the Ravens have a significantly higher percentage of players still active in the NFL than any other team in the league. And with that in mind, I’ll trust Ozzie and Eric over any silly grades by Peter King or any other media member who thinks their grades aren’t dumb, dumb, dumb.


Anonymous said...

So, what grade do you give us this year? :p

ppdoc said...

i agree with you entirely, but then the talking heads wouldn't have a job. btw - most of the chiles which make chili in a "chili contest" come from new mexico, texas and california, and not from south america ;>

Tony Lombardi said... that was pretty funny Anonymous...I'll say a B with a bullet...

PPD....thanks. I once sat in on a presentation given my a buyer who worked for McCormick while I was in grad school at Loyola. He said that the red hot chili peppers they used came from India and South America so naturally I assumed...

Some though go through Californication

Anonymous said...

Come on Tony. Other than Peter, almost all the grades given out today are based on Value. Did a team take a guy in the 2nd that they could have gotten in the 4th? And so on. That's what all of today's grades are based on. Then in 3 years we're graded again on acutal production. And the Ravens get downgraded on reaching for Figurs who would have been there in the 4th rd. 3 years from now NO ONE will care where we selected him if he's producing. Last year we were ripped for drafting Koch does anyone care now??

Tony Lombardi said...

Define value. Is King's value the same as Pete Prisco's? Dr. Z's? Don Banks?

Brady Quinn falling to No. 22...why is that value? Maybe that's where he should have been all along and the agents and the hype machine of the draft clouded the value that scouts apparently assigned to Quinn.

The real value is on the field and to get excited over someone's grade of a team's draft...a media member's grade...sorry. It doesn't matter. What matters is does that player project well given the players that complement him and the coaches that try to maximize the players core competencies.

NOW that's value IMO. With these grades and $4.50 Peter King can keep buying his Starbuck's Lattes. In other words, these grades have no value. ZIP!

Matthew said...

When grading the draft, experts should really make a bigger deal out of value, rather than sexy skill picks and hype. But that's life, they need to make money.

As for actually grading a draft, wait for three to four year and then a real hype-free draft grade can be given.

Enjoyed the commentary as always Tony, thanks for your hard work

Anonymous said...

I define value as a player that the Ravens and Patriots think would take at that position. They are two of only a few teams that do not subscribe to one of the draft services. Any surprise that they usually find the best talent. You should only be aloud to grade the draft that took place 3 years ago. The Kyle Boller pick and the following draft set the Ravens back. Other than that they have had amazing success.

MB Genius said...

Kyle Boller has been a noose around the franchise's neck for 4 years. That was one expensive reach...kind of like reaching for the brass ring from the 25th floor ledge. Too bad...he seems like a good guy. I wonder if Tara will take him back?

Anonymous said...

I have to agree and the examples pointed out from Peter King's "analysis" back in 2000 is a perfect example. Why do they bother?

Oh, because the NBA, NHL and MLB suck!


Anonymous said...

Long-needed article. Great to read it; thanks for doing the research; I feel the same about the other major sports (NBA, NHL, CFL and others) and their drafts.

You covered all the variables the press misses. It's time we started seeing publications that grade the graders. Anually.

Good stuff.