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I was trading emails with an old pal this past weekend about one of my favorite non-MLB Draft topics: the NFL Draft. We were discussing potential project backup quarterbacks for our favorite team when Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson came up. I’d personally be thrilled to take a chance on him in the middle rounds — fifth ideally, fourth most likely, third only if there’s a run on second tier QBs earlier than I think will happen — in much the same way I would have been happy to have my favorite baseball team take a chance on him in the MLB Draft’s middle rounds (my idea of our draft’s “middle rounds” are anything from round 10 onward). Here’s why I was high on him as a baseball prospect back in the day…
Betting on Wilson is betting on upside, a worthy risk to take when you are considering which mid-round college hitter to gamble on. See, the sad little truth about lists like this are that the players, while undeniably impressive and accomplished and talented, are more than likely never going to play in the big leagues. Heck, many of them won’t see AA. Once you get past the top two or three names on any of these college lists, it’s all a big guessing game. Educated guessing, to be sure, but guessing all the same. To make a long intro slightly less long, if you’re are going to bet on a mid-round college player, go for the rare guy with untapped potential. That’s Wilson. Here’s why…
I tend to overuse this word when writing about draft prospects, but it applies to Wilson so well here that I can’t help myself. Wilson is an interesting prospect. More than one team affiliated employee I spoke to used that word to describe Wilson in some way – “interesting upside,” “interesting bat,” and “interesting future.” Watch him for just a couple of innings and you’ll see evidence of all five tools right away. His bat is, well, interesting, and his power, while mostly to the gaps at this point, could top out with homer totals in the teens professionally. As a former quarterback unafraid to take off with the ball when needed, it comes as no surprise that his speed rates as an easy 60, with startlingly quick acceleration. Defensively he may have the speed, instincts, and athleticism to play up the middle (2B or CF), but his presence on this particular list is a bet on his plus arm playing best at third base over the long run. Wilson’s numbers this year were solid across the board, but his performance must be judged with his lack of college ball experiences prior to 2010 in mind. He needs more reps on the diamond, but if a team is patient with him they could be rewarded with a player who closely mirrors the Melvin Mora developmental path, something that will no doubt interest a big league club or two come draft day.
Wilson was a surprise fourth round pick by Colorado in 2010. He wound up only playing parts of two baseball seasons before “retiring,” transferring from NC State to Wisconsin, and having the crazy 2011 college season that will get him drafted next month. As a 22-year old in the South Atlantic League (Low-A) he hit .228/.366/.342 in 193 at bats with 15 steals in 17 attempts. Obviously not great numbers, but not terrible for his first full pro season. When you factor in his potential defensive value as a 2B, you see that maybe the Rockies were on to something with their widely panned “overdraft” of Wilson. For better or worse, we’ll never know what could have been for Wilson on the diamond; selfishly, I’ll admit that this kind of unknown isn’t a lot of fun for somebody as fascinated with the MLB Draft as I am, but it is never a bad thing when we get the chance to watch a talented athlete follow his dream in a sport he loves.
Holiday weekend, spring break, warm weather, Opening Day quickly approaching…feels like as good a time as any to do something totally different around these parts. I finalized my 2010 NFL Draft for something elsewhere on the internet last night, so why not open up the list to public ridicule here as well as there?
Not included, unfortunately, are OF/LHP/S Chad Jones, OF/HB Toby Gerhardt, OF/WR Eric Decker, OF/WR Riley Cooper, and, the likely crown jewel of the 2011 NFL Draft and my favorite pro baseball prospect of the bunch, OF/QB Jake Locker. Between you and me, the top 24ish prospects ranked or so are where I feel most confident; once I get to the spot where my favorite team picks in the first round, my already meager knowledge base tends to dissipate. Keep that in mind as you check out the big board at the end.
As much as I love the NFL Draft now, I REALLY loved it back in the day. REALLY loved it. If it’s in ALL CAPS, bold, and italics, then you know I’m serious. We’re talking taping and then re-watching games on my sister’s 14″ 2-in-1 TV/VCR combo. Ah, life before the internet boom. If I had high speed internet back then, perhaps we’d all be reading the fantastic insight from the super successful website Football Draft Report right now. If that was the case, you would have been able to read gems like the ones I recently recovered from my 2002 NFL Draft notes whilst cleaning out my office…
1. No prospect reminds me more of a young Troy Aikman than David Carr. (Good call!)
2. No prospect reminds me more of a young Warren Sapp than Wendell Bryant. (Well, in my defense, they were both large men who played football!)
3. No prospect reminds me more of a young Derek Brooks than Napoleon Harris. (Maybe I just wanted a guy named Napoleon to succeed for a change…)
4. Julius Peppers is a classic boom or bust prospect. Smart money is on the latter. (Terrible, terrible, terrible. I think the 16-year old me was just happy to use “latter” correctly here…)
5. Quentin Jammer = best player in class (Not the stupidest thing I’ve ever said, but still not too bright…)
6. Ryan Sims = most ready to play right away in class (Still not sure why he was as bad as he was, but, boy, what a nondescript playing career he’s in the midst of…)
7. Jabar Gaffney should have a long, undistinguished career as a journeyman WR (Alright, that wasn’t a bad prediction actually…)
8. Antonio Bryant will have a better career than any other receiver in his class (Considering Donte Stallworth, Ashley Lelie, and Gaffney were all seen as better bets at the time, I like this call…)
9. Kalimba Edwards > Dwight Freeney (Arguably as bad as the Aikman to Carr comp…)
10. Josh Reed = Troy Brown with more speed (This may not have worked out, but I’ll defend Josh Reed’s value to the death…)
11. TJ Duckett = Eddie George (In a parallel universe where the toilets actually flush counter clockwise, maybe…)
12. DeShaun Foster will go down as the best runner in the draft while Clinton Portis will be a steady starter, but never a star (First and last time I’ve ever doubted a Hurricane…)
13. Lamont Thompson = four time All Pro safety (What an oddly specific, and truly terrible, prediction…)
With my reputation as a brilliant football draft prognosticator now a matter of public record, please do enjoy yet another faceless hack’s list of most promising 2010 NFL Draft prospects.
2010 NFL DRAFT FIRST ROUND BIG BOARD
20. T. Williams
30. D. Williams
Ask anybody who has the distinct pleasure of knowing me personally – my obsession with following the draft doesn’t end with baseball. So it only makes sense that I use this outlet to let some of my NFL Draft thoughts spill out of my brain. After the jump, check out a totally amateur hack job of what Saturday’s first round could maybe, possibly, kind of, sort of look like. The goal this year is to get at least 5 picks right, and, yes, I’m including getting the Stafford to Detroit pick in that five. Before my seemingly random NFL mock, a seemingly random quote about mocks in general. You see, recently I’ve been debating on ramping up the mock draft coverage done on this site – I enjoy doing them, people seem to be interested in them, and they can pack a good bit of information when done right. All of those are good things, but there are still drawbacks to mock drafts that I’ve never been able to quite put my finger on. Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders recently put into words something I’ve felt since starting this site up, but haven’t been able to accurately express…so I’ll steal his rant about the very nature of mock drafts:
This is insane! It’s all just idle speculation. I mean, we all know the top 20 to 30 prospects. Some teams have really obvious needs. But really, aren’t we just shuffling a deck over and over again here? Is there any accountability? Is a mock draft any more interesting or useful than, say, a player profile? Or a study to determine whether 40-times are really valuable for running backs?
Oh wait: Mock Drafts generate eyeballs. Casual fans click the link, read about their favorite team for 30 seconds, then move on. It’s a proven, easy-to-generate commodity in the marketplace. Heck, this isn’t even that much work, even if I am chained to the keyboard and producing them round-the-clock. And in two weeks, it will be over, and I will be writing about actual picks by actual teams that will affect the future of the entire league. Hooray! I have found my motivation.
I’ve gotten big traffic (well, not BIG big…big for me…I mean big is a relative term, right?) the past week and I owe it all to that updated mock draft from last Friday. The WordPress software allows me to see which pages are getting clicked on and, let me tell you, the gap in page views between mocks and non-mocks is laughable. I know page views isn’t a perfect way to evaluate who reads what, but the numbers are startling. For example, my first post, a quick summary of what this site is all about, has been viewed about 40 times; the second post, Mock Draft 1.0, has been viewed almost 4,000 times. Crazy, right?
I’m not complaining at all. I love doing mocks because a) they are fun, b) they are good conversation starters (I’ve learned a ton about the Astros since starting this site up), and c) they attract casual viewers who might not normally care about the Rule 4 First-Year Player Draft. I like providing the opportunity for someone out there who might only kind of sort of care about this stuff to suddenly become somebody who actually enjoys following amateur baseball and the baseball draft process. I actually want to start doing weekly updates as we get closer to the draft for those three reasons and I’m excited for the possibilities that some of the upcoming content will hopefully bring forth. Alright, enough of the meta stuff…2009 NFL Draft First Round Mock after the jump…