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 Post subject: Finding talent in the draft
PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2005 11:25 am 
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An article by John Clayton, about how the "pedigree" positions such as QB, WR, LT, DE, and CB are more and more beign found only on the first day of the draft:

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/columns/s ... 9165&num=0

I think it just confirms my belief that if you want starting-caliber players, you need to find them in the first 4 rounds. It's not impossible to find quality starters in the final 3 rounds, because in most drafts, there are quite a few players that I think are 2nd/3rd round talents (meaning potential starters) that slip to Rounds 6 and 7, but if you're relying on a 5th round pick or 6th rounder to be a starter within the first 2-3 years of his career, you will likely be disappointed.

I also think it leads me to believe that if the Falcons continue to draft late round OL, which is something Gibbs prefers, it will ultimately mean that the OL will not improve significantly.

Gibbs in '95 in Denver, had the benefit of having a group of solid veteran players that really fit well with his scheme. There was still many of those "80s" OL that only weighed 285 pounds and were finesse blockers to make Gibbs scheme work. Harry Swayne, Tony Jones, Gary Zimmerman, Broderick Thompson, Mark Schlereth, etc. were the guys that would make a name for themselves in Denver over the next few years. All entered the league between 1985-89, and I don't believe a single one weighed more than 295 pounds. All were guys acquired by the Broncos either through trade or free agency.

The Falcons now however do not have that luxury of relying on old school players to build their O-line with. The cat-quick 285-pound finesse O-Lineman is a rarity in today's NFL. By now, most guys in college are going through that system, trying to put on as much bulk as possible. People are entering the league weighing 320 pounds. Now the "prototype" OT weighs more than 340, which was pretty much unheard even as recently as 1995.

Now this doesn't mean I think Gibbs should change his scheme. But I think what you've seen in Denver since Dennison took over full-time, is the Broncos going after guys that were not ideal fits under Gibbs. Gibbs probably would have never taken George Foster in Round 1, a guy that is a great athlete, but at about 340 pounds, is not exactly "Gibbs-ish." Ephraim Salaam, Blake Brockermeyer, and the recent signing of Anthony Clement, show that Dennison is trying to incorporate the bigger guys into the scheme.

Next year's OT draft class is one that many are touting as excellent, and there is definitely a bit of talent at the top of the draft. It's a bit too early to predict which OL the Falcons may/will target next year, but considering how strong the draft class looks at the top, with some saying there are as many as 3 "franchise" LTs in Round 1 (i.e. Top 10-15 talents), the Falcons would be mistaken to overlook any.

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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2005 12:23 pm 
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I think the main reason that Gibbs feels they don't have to draft 1st day talent for the OL is because the way everyone else rates players is based so much more on size. The ideal OL has gotten so much bigger that it effects how players are drafted. It might just be that some very athletic, yet not so big, OLs end up falling to the 2nd day simply because they're not as big. At the same time, I think that players have gotten bigger yet still have the same athletisism or better. My hope is that McKay, Mora, Gibbs, and the new OL coach will consider this and be willing to grab 1st day talent occasionally. Not that I don't think if they had a particular player rated highly enough they'd take him if he was available. I don't like the idea of placing pedigree on certain positions and relegating others. I think it should be based more on the needs of the team as to how certain positions are weighted. If there happens to be a suberb talent available at a position of lesser perceived pedigree, then it doesn't matter so much if you take them because all positions matter in the NFL. If you can get a great player that will lock up a particular position on your team for years, then you have to take him and not worry about if the position is a low-profile position.


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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2005 8:28 am 
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I agree jag, but I do sorta believe that some positions should take precedence over others in the NFL draft.

One of those positions is safety. I believe unless he is a superb safety, you don't take him in Round 1. I'm talking about players with Ed Reed/Sean Taylor-type ability. Granted, Reed is the best safety, but he wasn't as highly touted coming out of UM because he didn't have great size or speed, but he still was a bonafide 1st round talent. A guy like Thomas Davis would have been good enough this past year, but I would have questioned Brodney Pool.

As pointed out in the article, the marquee positions such as QB, WR, LT, DE, and CB should sort of take precedence over others. Now that shouldn't rule out other positions like RB, TE, DT, LB, etc., but for particular positions like OG, OC, S, you can often get away with waiting until Round 2 because most teams think like this, and will opt to take those guys in Round 2 and 3, since they aren't the marquee "athletic" positions.

Now who you pick in the draft, should always depend on the individual player and your team's needs and system. So I totally don't disbelieve in taking a player of those latter positions, but it just needs to be a very good fit and the player needs to be a bit better than usual. Davis would have been a good fit this past year because we needed a strong run-stopping safety with range, something Davis has. He was an exceptional talent, so he was worth the risk. There haven't really been any OG or OC in recent drafts that were 1st round talents that would have been ideal fits in Atlanta, but next year that may change.

Now for the OL particularly, we often find that Gibbs' types of players usually go on the 2nd day because they don't have the great size or strength. They are the guys that put up good athletic numbers but because they played OT in college but are only 6-3/295 and only did 28 reps at the Combine, they are considered OG material in most NFL systems. Or they are a college OG or OC that only weighs 285 pounds. You get the point. Just the way other teams draft usually allows for the undersized athletes to fall to Day 2, and you can usually get players like Frank Omiyale who are considered good fits in Round 4 or 5. But I guess, my point is to say that unlike maybe drafting a SS in Round 2, and taking a more marquee position player in Round 1, I don't think the Falcons can afford much longer to say, "Okay, we can wait until Round 4 because we'll still be able to find a quality player." Instead, they need to start focusing more and more on getting top OL talent early in the draft.

There were about a dozen or so players that many of us identified before the draft as Gibbs-type players, and as expected the majority of them went between Rounds 3 and 6. But I guess I will say that maybe the Falcons should be targetting more of the Jammal Browns than the Nick Kaczurs. Although the Falcons had pretty much no opportunity to get Brown this past draft, I'm just saying for future reference the team may not be able to afford passing up an opportunity to get a similar player.

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