The Big Uglies Shall Rise Again! – The Grand Finale
Posted 14 April 2011 - 03:03 AM
OK, you have just been promoted to General Manager of your favorite NFL team – there’s a reason you got the job, your team has not been doing well, you have an impatient billionaire owner and you have to get value on your first draft – or there may not be a second draft (how’s that for impatient?)
While it’s true that drafts are measured by later-round gems, you cannot afford to miss on any of your choices in the first 3 rounds. You are well aware of the failure rate of early round selections invested in quarterbacks and wide receivers, running backs have become somewhat of a commodity, and then, out of the blue, you remember “Professor Long Ball used to extol the virtues of the Big Uglies!”
So, do we go offensive or defensive with our Big Uglies? Let’s start the research with the first three rounds of the 2010 Draft, offensive linemen first then defensive linemen (at this point, an apology is in order - our Forum does not handle columnar spacing well, so I will ask you to click on each of the PDF files below - trust me, it will be much easier to read):
Big Uglies Grand Finale 2011-2010 OL.pdf 60.4K 13 downloads
Hmmm, pretty impressive – 10 first year starters and 4 solid back-ups. OK, how about the defense?
Big Uglies Grand Finale 2011-2010 DL.pdf 79.63K 9 downloads
Not so good – only 4 first year starters, 10 back-ups (2 of those 3rd string or worse) and 6 on injured reserve. Let’s continue our research with the first three rounds of the 2009 Draft, once again starting with the OL:
Big Uglies Grand Finale 2011-2009 OL.pdf 66.55K 9 downloads
Are we seeing a trend here? 12 starters, 2 back-ups (Urbik with Bills), 1 injury and 1 Cowboy Practice Squad mistake – OK, how about the defense?
Big Uglies Grand Finale 2011-2009 DL.pdf 83.98K 7 downloads
9 starters (up from 4 their rookie season), 8 back-ups (16 in rookie season), 1 injury, 1 traded and 3 cut (trying to make it with other teams). OK then, but sometimes it takes a year or two for a player to get used to the speed of the NFL game, and two years is a pretty small sample size. The infamous “they” say not to judge a draft for 3 years – let’s see what happened to the players drafted in 2008:
Big Uglies Grand Finale 2011-2008 OL.pdf 59.79K 7 downloads
A footnote is required for Chad Rinehart – he was traded to the Bills, where he now starts. Nevertheless, 12 starters versus 2 back-ups are still pretty good odds.
On the defensive side of the ball:
Big Uglies Grand Finale 2011-2008 DL.pdf 71.89K 6 downloads
Further footnotes: Lawrence Jackson was traded to the Lions, where he is a back-up, Kentwan Balmer was traded to the Seahawks, where he is a starter, Quentin Groves was traded to the Raiders, where he is a back-up, Chris Ellis was cut by the Bills, picked up by the Steelers for 3 games and cut again, Bryan Smith was cut by the Eagles and signed by the Jaguars as a back-up LB. 8 starters with their original teams plus 1 traded starter, 5 back-ups with their original teams plus 2 traded back-ups and 1 cut back-up – lemmesee, that adds up to 3 trades and 2 cuts, put down yore 3 and carry yore 1 . . . looks like a 50/50 proposition to me!
OK, Mr. General Manager, now you have all the research from the Long Ball Institute of “I don’t have enough to keep me busy!” So, how are you going to invest your draft choices in the first three rounds? Yep, the rest of the equation is totally up to you – are you a riverboat gambler or do you want to go for the sure thing?
Well folks, this concludes another year of posts on the less glamorous positions in football – I certainly hope you have enjoyed them, and more importantly, learned a little more about some of the prospects in this year’s draft. Be kind to Big Uglies that you pass on the street – one of them just might be ole Long Ball!
The Big Ugly Hisself,
Posted 14 April 2011 - 07:31 PM
Love it - not the least bit surprised by it. I will now commence pleading with you to allow me to forward to the Inbox for Messrs. Irsay and Polian in Indy - STAT - so they can break away from the tradition of trying to make 6th rounders or UDFA's work on the OLine.
Posted 14 April 2011 - 07:35 PM
Posted 15 April 2011 - 01:07 AM
Here's my thoughts on the whole offensive line and defensive line draft pick investment theory.
It all starts with the left tackle, at least that's what will get you killed in the media and maybe your quarterback as well. There has to be a balance between pass protection and run blocking, so what I'm looking for in my left tackle is a smart player that is in the correct position and understands what his responsibility is first. An athletic left tackle that misses on a block doesn't do you any good at all. I want a guy who has a high "floor" or basically a player that you can "plug and play" at the position. If I had to pick a tackle this year, I'd take Castonzo right away and forget about that position for the next decade. Everyone rags on Jeff Backus, but he's held down that job for a long time and while he's no Joe Thomas or Jake Long he's a starter in this league.
As for guards and centers, positions that are historically underdrafted, I want almost the same thing. I want guys who can anchor on the line, but are mobile enough to get out in front of a runner. But once again, I want smarts in my lineman. Pick up the blitz, adjust protection schemes, but you have to have a high football IQ.
In this draft I'd rank my top offensive lineman as:
Pouncey (as a guard)
Now, for my favorite side of the ball; defense. Now, it depends on what scheme you're running, but there are several elite prospects in this class. I think Nick Fairley, Robert Quinn and Marcel Dareus are going to be special players. Defensive tackles that can get in the backfield and cause havoc, think penetrating 1 gap players like Fairley and Corey Liuget are virtually essential to 43 teams. Now 34 teams are looking for players like Cameron Jordan, J.J. Watt, and Marcel Dareus.
My top 5 defensive lineman this year are:
Now, its a shame about Da'Quan Bowers. It really looks like that knew is going to be a problem. He was a monster in this year, but it was only for one year. Like Fairley and Quinn, Bowers took over and was dominant his last year in college and he could be a major talent.
Now, I listen to the Football Today podcast over on the Network and Mel Kiper's said that teams pick 20 or lower would snap up Bowers in a heartbeat. If those teams, who are winning programs, would take him without a thought, why wouldn't a team like Cleveland snap him up? Are there other players to draft? Sure, but Bowers might be the next Julius Peppers. The Browns could use that, who couldn't?
Quinn had a benign brain tumor, doesn't affect his swim move though. Bowers has the knee, Fairley has work ethic issues, etc etc. There's plenty of reasons to take these players if they can help you win games and I think that those guys have a chance to be really special players.
So that's my basic take. I would take the talent on the defensive side of the ball and I would take the smart safe bet on the offensive side of the ball.
Sound a bit crazy? Well, maybe it is, but I think that it's a pattern you see play out in reverse quite often. Jason Smith was drafted #2 overall several years ago and now he's a right tackle and a second round pick in Roger Saffold is their left tackle. Shouldn't that be backwards? Well, tackles and defensive ends get drafted really high and that's the problem. Players get drafted simply by the position they play.
I think that's another problem. A team like Carolina feels like they have to draft a quarterback, but what about all of that develop a quarterback talk I keep hearing about? So they hired a new coach, but does that mean that Ron Rivera can't develop Jimmy Clausen? I think that if they really want to improve that team they draft Dareus or AJ Green, or even Patrick Peterson. Get some talent somewhere else. You let Peppers walk away, you tagged a center this year as your franchise player. DeAngelo Williams may not come back and what about Charles Johnson? The Panthers have to address other areas of need.
Take the defensive player, and win more than 1 or 2 games this year and if Clausen really doesn't work out then draft Andrew Luck, who's going to be the number one pick regardless of what year he comes out.
Posted 15 April 2011 - 01:25 AM
You did remind me of something though -- when a DL prospect can control that aggression and become an OL player, you really have something. There haven't been too many of those conversion kits but the late Mark Tuinei of the Cowboys was one.
Posted 18 April 2011 - 04:09 PM
If Miller and Peterson are goners when the Browns pick at #6, the other top candidates would be DE Robert Quinn, or Cameron Jordan.
This was a great series, Long Ball! My mentor - tormentor, lol.
DE Lawrence "LoJack" Jackson was a player featured in my recent series of articles at Bleacher Report, "The Detroit Lions Square Peg Brigade". In 2010, the Lions acquired 22 players via trades, free agency, or waivers who went on to make significant contributions.
DT Corey Williams was a square peg in Cleveland's 3-4 defense who was obtained for a 5th round pick. Williams is a solid starter in Motown. How ironic. The Browns are going to a 4-3 defense in 2011, and have a severe case of the "shorts" at DT.
QB Shaun Hill was square pegged by the 49ers and was obtained for a box of Cracker Jacks, and 2 BART tokens. Geez, I wonder what Hill's street value is these days? Not bad for a former UDFA. Looks like the 49ers got rid of the wrong QB, eh?
Back to Jackson. LoJack had to be crushed when his former college coach, Pete Carroll cut him from the Seahawks roster. In Detroit, he has found his groove, and actually graded out higher than Kyle Vanden Bosch. Jackson recorded 8 sacks in just over 300 snaps in 2010. That's amazing production from the former square peg.
Other prominant members of the Square Peg Brigade:
PR/KR - Stefan Logan (4th in return yards in the NFL)
CB - Alphonso Smith (5 INTs before going on the IR)
CB - Chris Houston (Starter)
OG - Rob Sims (Starter)
TE - Tony Scheffler (Starter in 2 TE sets)
WR - Nate Burleson (Starter)
CB - Jonathan Wade (A clinker)
FS - John Wendling
LB - Bobby Carpenter (Special teamer)
LB - Ashlee Palmer
PK - Dave Rayner (13 of 16 FGs made)
FS - C.C. Brown (another clinker)
CB - Prince Miller
CB - Nathan Vasher
I guess it's true. One man's trash is another man's treasure.
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