SportsProf

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Do Eagles' Fans Believe Andy Reid's Comments About the Draft?

The NFL Draft is compelling theater for me. Grown men go into excruciating detail trying to distinguish themselves as experts by looking for (slight) differences between players. NFL teams spend buckets of money trying to find the right players; academics have demonstrated that the current structure of the NFL draft leads to bad picks at the front end of the first round and have suggested that trading down is better than trading up.

Andy Reid has been the coach and grand poobah of player decisions in Philadelphia for over a decade. He's at best an average drafter, getting outstanding value on the second round (DeSean Jackson) and third (Brian Westbrook) while striking out in the first round by trading up for Shawn Andrews and Jerome McDougle. Overall, I would say that he has a mixed record.

So I laugh every year when I hear him wax eloquent about getting the players he wanted when, normally, he overlooks the consensus "best player on the board" time and time again, and sometimes by a factor of many (take mid-round pick Joe Mays, an LB out of North Dakota State a few years ago -- he didn't even appear on some teams' radar screens, and, with good reason, as Mays seems totally outmatched out there). I don't pay too close attention. Yes, I admire Reid's results, but every year you can get disappointed when a pick fails to pan out, so I tend to withhold judgment for a few seasons. Still, it's amusing to hear grown men talk with great sincerity about how "we got who we wanted."

Really?

Everyone thought that the Eagles would take a safety (Earl Thomas) when they traded up to the 13th spot. The reports on Thomas were raves, and he seemed to be one of the most talked about players leading up to the draft. So, it was a bit of a surprise when they took DE/OLB Brandon Graham of Michigan with that pick. Yes, the Eagles love speed rushers when they can get them, yes, their existing stock of DEs is weak after Trent Cole, and, yes, Graham is a DE. What was interesting wasn't what Andy Reid said, but the reaction of Jon Gruden and Tom Jackson on ESPN. Their comments were much more compelling and were a better cause for optimism, because those two guys reacted reflexively about what a great pick Graham was because of his relentless motor (Jackson drew a comparison to Dwight Freeney). Still, you don't know what you've got until they start to play the games. Sure, Andy Reid should be happy, he made the pick and traded up for the guy he wanted. It just wasn't necessarily the guy the fans were expected. And, if Graham struggles and Earl Thomas becomes a star, yikes!

But such is the nature of the NFL draft. Hope springs eternal immediately thereafter.

1 Comments:

Blogger Nic said...

As a diehard and utterly disappointed Wolverine fan, I can tell you that the one bright spot (other than our punter) from the last couple years was Graham. A big time defensive player might make three plays in a game and have a "great game" but it seemed like Graham's name got called on every series. Plus he completely took apart Iowa's 1st round lineman, and single-handedly drop the guy 5-10 draft spots. He'll be alright. Plus who needs a great safety...

10:13 PM  

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