Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NFL Draft: Smart people look stupid

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Smart teams make smart picks in the NFL Draft, almost by default. This is stupid, as all teams ride the wave of success or failure driven by the draft. Where are all the picks now? Dan Salem and Todd Salem debate in part two of this week’s TD Sports Debate. Two brothers from New York yell, scream and debate the NFL and sports.

[Part one - Good, but mostly Ugly]

 

TODD:

I’m not sure a team’s success or failure should automatically be determined by whether or not they make the playoffs. The idea that a quarterback has to come first in order to get the rest of your team in order is faulty. The quarterback has to come at some point. That is inarguable, but he doesn’t have to be the first piece for a rebuilding team. If there is no QB prospect that an organization feels confident in, they are better off waiting on that spot and filling in elsewhere. Otherwise, Brandon Weeden happens and Blaine Gabbert happens.

Is it a coincidence that Houston passed on a QB in 2014 and two of the teams that grabbed top guys were two of the more recent examples of failure when a team forced the franchise title on someone undeserving? This is rhetorical by the way.

You make a great point about the Jets draft versus the 49ers draft though. The idea of a team supersedes what that team is actually doing. This happens in all sports and in other walks of life as well. But New York and San Francisco could have symmetrical drafts and one will be applauded while the other is criticized.

This is a cyclical phenomenon. The Baltimore Ravens are another one of those “smart” organizations. This distinction comes after unexpected Super Bowl titles more often than not, or else after sustained success and sustained winning, even if the overall goal of a championship never materializes. In Baltimore’s case, the 2012 season’s Super Bowl cemented Ozzie Newsome and company as smart guys. Therefore, their 2014 draft was very good! It hardly even matters who they selected. Just the fact that THEY were the ones making the picks means the picks were good.

C.J. Mosley was passed over at the linebacker position by the Pittsburgh Steelers, who instead selected Ryan Shazier. Baltimore settled for Mosley almost by default. Why is that move to be praised? And their second-round pick was Timmy Jernigan, a man whose stock dropped throughout this process almost as precipitously as Aaron Donald’s rose. How do we know that was a good move when everyone, including Baltimore, agreed he wasn’t worthy of his previous first-round grade?

The point here isn’t to bash Baltimore. To be honest, I like both of these players. But the self-fulfilling prophecy of smart teams making smart picks (and vice versa) is troublesome to me. How can moves be properly judged when certain organizations are getting the benefit of the doubt no matter what the move is? If you run the numbers, no one hits on a majority of their picks for more than a season or two. These things come and go. New England had great rosters but failed to capitalize in recent years by helping through the draft. The New York Giants ran all the way to a couple of titles on the backs of a few great drafts and have followed that up with mediocrity.

There is no key to this or secret to nailing the draft. Therefore, there are no smart guys when it comes to drafting. The smarts more likely come from head coaches who turn players into useful pieces that other coaches may not be capable of.

 

DAN:

You know what’s missing from the growing NFL draft phenomena and year round media circus surrounding future NFL prospects, the where are they now television show! You make an excellent point, that no matter who certain team’s draft, they get the benefit of the doubt and are applauded for their brilliance. It is the hope of success that makes the draft so attractive, but where are the players now?

I want to know where every round one pick from the 2013 draft is today. Granted, we as the public have forgotten the majority of their names. And yes, it may be depressing to find out that so and so is a carpenter and what’s his name works at the bank in Iowa, but this would be an awesome television show. E! True Hollywood Stories expose the reality of life and this would too. More than half of the first round picks must be on some team still. I want an expose.

More importantly, as you noted smart men make smart picks almost by default. But how long does the ‘smart’ tag last and can a NFL general manager lose the benefit of the doubt? At some point a team no longer has its mojo and I think the Pittsburgh Steelers are entering that territory. The Ravens keep on winning, but Pittsburgh has been up and down as far as I’m concerned. Those two picks from this year’s draft need to be evaluated a year from now. Although we applaud Baltimore for their move and practically ignore Pittsburgh’s, the truth needs to be explored down the road. Who will ultimately be the better pick, Mosley or Shazier? This would be the true test of which team is smarter in the war room.

The same goes for 49ers versus Jets. I’m not sure if I’m the man for the job, but these two historical draft hauls need to be judged for their success or failure, pick by pick and position by position. If we are going to continue to evaluate draft picks based upon no information the day after the NFL Draft ends, then we need to evaluate them all a year later based upon a season of NFL work. I realize this is done to an extent, but not in the same manner we judge the new entrants. The NFL sells hope and ignores the castoffs and missed opportunities of failed careers. Rightfully so. But the media, we need to be the ones to fill out the other side of the puzzle.

What was once an understood part of the job has become the exception. The sports media was once critical and judgmental and scrupulous. Its gotten soft and often feels like it’s sitting in the hip pocket of the leagues its covering. The historical draft hauls of the Jets and 49ers is the perfect place to start, to change the equation and once and for all answer the question of whether a team truly had a great draft. I want to know.

[If you missed Part one - Good, but mostly Ugly]

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Tags: 2014 NFL Draft Baltimore Ravens New York Jets NFL NFL Draft Pittsburgh Steelers San Francisco 49ers