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Friday, April 17, 2009

Is Mark Sanchez a Beanie Baby?

The USC QB is the hottest thing since

a) the tulip bulb craze in Holland in the 1700's;
b) becoming an investment banker in Iceland in 2007;
c) the dot.com run in the late 1990's;
d) the rush to draft Akili Smith after one good season at Oregon about 10 years ago; or
e) lining up at the store to buy the Princess Di Beanie Baby also about 10 years ago.

Reports are that Sanchez is moving fast up the draft charts, possibly to Seattle at #4 (according to what I heard on ESPN Radio this morning). The reasons are not that Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer have become stellar pros. The reasons are that he has a good skill set and has impressed teams who have interviewed him with his football IQ, his intensity and his work ethic. The latter should not be underestimated, because it has often been the case that highly rated QBs who are asked to sit for a few years lose their work ethic or, if they get to play quickly, they don't think that they need to study (support for this contention is that 3 out of 4 QBs drafted in the first round over the past 20 years or so have not been successful). Matt Cassel, for example, who was a back-up his entire college career, wore his helmet on the sidelines to remind him that he had to keep his head in the game in case he was called upon to play. That strategy worked out well for Cassel, who had a good year in N.E. when Tom Brady went down and who inked a huge one-year deal this year after the Patriots tagged him.

Back to Sanchez. Is he the real deal, another Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco, or is this merely a feeding frenzy and a team in need of a QB is just as likely to get a good one in the sixth round as it is in the first? How many times have we heard that QBs are must haves, only to see them not play well. Sure, it's easy to point to a Ryan Leaf, but how about Smith, Cade McNown, David Carr (although the lack of a good offensive line on an expansion team limited Carr's potential), Vince Young (although the book on him hasn't been written) and many others. If I am a GM of a team with a first-round pick, I'd question myself as to why Sanchez is such a must have and then consider whom I would have considered had Sanchez not become the subject of such a frenzy.

The herd mentality of NFL drafters also had led the likes of Marcus Allen and Warren Sapp, among many others, to slip, only to have those players excel in the NFL. That's why those in charge of their teams' drafts have to be careful about the criteria they're using to evaluate any prospect. And they also should consider why a guy who wasn't considered a high first-round pick has risen so highly.

While buyers should be wary, why is it the case that NFL GMs make the same mistakes over and over again?

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11:22 AM  

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