Sunday, April 29, 2007

Former Browns Consultant Praises Russell Pick

Former Browns' consultant Vic Carrucci has attempted to write a rare post-draft puff piece on JaMarcus Russell. What he succeeded in doing is writing an NFL piece that I would expect from a middle-schooler. Read at your own peril.

This was a slam-dunk. This was a no-brainer. This was the sensible decision once all of the nonsensical speculation finally stopped.

The Oakland Raiders could not pass on a quarterback. Not after saying no to Matt Leinart a year ago. Not while lacking a legitimate starting quarterback this year. Not with Lane Kiffin, their rookie head coach, needing a centerpiece to the explosive, quick-striking offense he is looking to build.

It's not like the JaMarcus Russell pick was made because anyone in the world thought he was the best player available. Like him or hate him, he's going to be the Raiders best QB since Rich Gannon retired--unless Josh McCown beats him to the punch.

So while you have to respect the Raiders for making the move they needed to make based on the information they had, it's obvious that the Raiders' methods of QB evaluation--like most of the league--are flawed, and that 99% of the population will realize this before Vic Carruci does.

He's "special".

Furthermore, the Raiders could not pass on one of the most talented passers to emerge from the college ranks in many years.

#1) They did.
#2) As you alluded to one paragraph before, they've proven the ability to pass on a franchise QB before this year also.

They could not pass on a quarterback with JaMarcus Russell's ultra-powerful arm or his extraordinary athleticism for someone with a towering, 6-foot-5-plus, 256-pound frame.

What about Calvin Johnson? What about him? He is an incredibly talented wide receiver, but what good would that be with no one to throw him the ball.

For evidence on why a 6-5 256 lb frame means about as much to being a good QB as having a gigantic wang, see this post.

If you want evidence on why an ultra-powerful arm and overrated atleticism aren't very valuable, go read everything we've ever written, or just sit in the corner and let common sense set in.

I'm really sorry that I didn't get a chance to do more Calvin Johnson posting prior to the draft, but basically, receivers are improperly valued for a plethora of reasons, and Calvin Johnson will likely not do any "game redefining" during his NFL tenure.

What about Brady Quinn? What about him? He had an outstanding collegiate career, but he does not possess the same pure talent as Russell. No other quarterback in the 2007 college crop does. No quarterback currently in the league can match his arm strength.

Russell was the choice. Russell always was the choice.

I like the part where Vic Carruci writes of Quinn, "He had an outstading collegiate career" only to realize that this fact completely trumps all of his weak Russell points. He sheepishly tosses Quinn to the side of the road, and goes back to giving Russell a hummer.

Yes, he has some rough spots that were evident even during his most dominant moments at LSU. All rookies do. Kiffin and the rest of the Raiders' coaching staff are capable of smoothing them out.

It also helps when you have the tremendous foundation that Russell provides. He still will be able to do good things even before he learns what he needs to learn to become a consistently effective NFL quarterback.

Well, of course. In sabremetric football circles, and in MOST conventional circles, it's pretty much accepted--and evidenced--that no QB as a rookie will play anywhere near what he will be as a guy in his prime. Quinn is no more of an exception than Russell is.

The second statement is pretty much true also. I mean, sure Russell will only be a shell of his not so great potential, but just because he will be a complete "deer-in-the-headlights" rookie that has little chance of being replacement level does not mean that he won't rifle interceptions and take sacks with the utmost arm strength and falling force respectively.

I've heard the criticism that the importance of Russell's arm strength is overrated. It isn't.

Um, okay?

I've heard that the forecast for tomorrow for Chicago, Illinois will be 75 and sunny. But trust me, it won't be!

Your evidence?

No, he won't be throwing long passes on every down or on most downs. But the mere fact he poses a deep-ball threat is going to allow him to make an impact that Quinn and other rookie quarterbacks with less powerful arms aren't able to make. The respect opposing defenses must show Russell for his ability to make a game-breaking play with one flick of the wrist alters their coverage in ways that should allow the Raiders to run more effectively and/or make plays with short and intermediate passes.

This is not how football is played. Number one, no amount of respect for his arm will make up for a typical rookie QB performance. He will be costing the Raiders points. Quinn might be also, but he has a far better chance of being above replacement level. At least, thats what his projection tells me. Number two, you can not just assume that defenses will play JaMarcus Russell differently than any other crappy QB with a big arm.

Then again, after watching what his arm strength did to warp the minds of these draft analysts, defensive coordinators should be a bunch of sitting ducks, so long as he keeps his golden arm gleaming and polished.

I've heard criticism that the importance of Russell's standout performance in the Sugar Bowl is overrated. It isn't. Russell gave his best performance in the biggest game of his career, and that says plenty about him as a competitor and about what he can do at the next level. The fact he clearly overshadowed Quinn is equally important, because Quinn once held the distinction of being the best quarterback in the draft. Russell went a long way toward making him second best.

I think JaMarcus Russell proved clearly that he could do exactly to the Irish secondary what future NFL studs like Pat Cowan, Joe Dailey, John David Booty, Drew Stanton, Curtis Painter, and even Reggie Ball could do with superior offensive talent. All aboard the Reggie Ball man train!

Seriously, the notion that one "big" game against a weak opponent should be weighed any more greatly than any game Russell didn't play as well in is sick, twisted, disgusting, and perhaps the worst possible evaluation of a QB .

Russell isn't defined solely by his immense physical skills. He also has exceptional awareness in the pocket and his instincts are superb.

I think Carriuci's observation right here is more than a bit off. But don't take my word for it, how about we take the word of the guy who created the fucking QB projection system:

David Lewin writes, "An even bigger issue with Russell is that he is an atrocious decision maker. He consistently throws the ball into double and triple coverage. Like Favre he often gets away with it by making spectacular throws. Still, field vision is the single most important quality for a quarterback. You can get away with being average in this regard if you have superior arm strength and accuracy, but Russell still has a ways to go before he can be considered average at seeing the field."

Lewin's analysis is actually defended by real life "examples" and anecdotal evidence, which means it's "more accurate than" Carruci's baseless statement.

As the top overall pick of the draft, he must deliver in a big way. Every bit as big as his talent and physique says he can.

"Whether it's other people or myself, I set my standards very high and for the expectations that everybody has," Russell said. "But you know, you can only do what God has set for you to do. I'll be very pleased to go out there and work as hard as I can to make everything possible for the Raiders."

As the top overall draft pick, Russell will get a contract that is likely 2 years longer, and worth about 6 million more on a per season basis than Brady Quinn will after his draft day free fall.

Meanwhile, the Browns will build around their powerful offensive line and QB, and the Raiders will build around a weak QB and offense with what little cap room they have left. The Browns will become a perennial playoff contender, and the Raiders will not.

And the most ironic part in all of this is that Vic Carrucci got fired from his post as consultant to the Browns, allowing for this to happen.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Built to be a QB

Much has been made of Jamarcus Russell being as big as a lineman (and nearly as fast!). So much in fact that you might think, as some sources in the media have suggested that being amazingly huge will make you an amazingly good quarterback (here for instance). Now we've heard this about height for years, after all, Peyton Manning is the 6 foot 5 quarterback with the laser, rocket arm. This year, a big deal is being made out of weight as well. Now a normal person might think that a quarterback's ability is more affected by his ability than his height or weight. In fact, that's what's called a tautology.

However, seeing as the main stream sports media is above recognizing tautologies, let's test this bitch empirically. I'm going to fire up Stata and bust a regression on your dome. I'm going there, just because this talk is all so god damned stupid.

I'm only reporting the data for QB rating, because in spite of being a pretty shitty measure, it accounts for most forms of performance in a number that is decently spread out throughout the league. Rest assured I also regressed height and weight against tds, sacks, yds/game, comp%, and ints individually. The bottom line is that there is no correlation, 0, jack, zip.

Now, obviously, I excluded Quarterbacks without much playing time, this data consists of only QBs who had played six or more games and attempted more than about 15 passes per game. Since there is relatively little variation in height, compared to weight, I standardized the data first. The p-value for height is .330, the p-value for weight is .792!!! This means that it is 4 times as likely that weight has NO EFFECT on QB performance as it having an effect. The p-value for height is less than half as much, which may seem impressive, but generally the level of statistical significance is .05. Even more impressive, the coefficient for height is -2.1. NEGATIVE. That means that although the correlation is fairly likely to be a result of random variation, assuming that it isn't, taller quarterbacks actually perform WORSE.

Now you're probably reluctant to accept this, because the conventional wisdom is that height helps quarterbacks. However, this makes perfect sense. Unless a quarterback is about 4'11" it doesn't matter! And yet, coaches believe it matters so they tend to stick with subpar quarterbacks longer if they happen to be tall. It's just like deciding that the first man in your line up NEEDS to be fast, and then putting your worst hitter there. The physical attribute doesn't correlate strongly enough with performance to justify it. However, actual, statistical performance correlates perfectly with performance.

So basically, anyone who says that someone is "built" to be a quarterback, is WRONG--very, very wrong. Feel free to punch them.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Mel Kiper Schools Todd McShay

Mel Kiper is owning Todd McShay right now on Sportscenters NFL Draft Squareoff. Among his points:

-McShay puts too much value on big game arguments. Troy Smith and Chris Leak were wonderful in big games, but are bad prospects.

-Kiper has Quinn 5 on his board, McShay has him at 7. Kiper is trying to figure our how the fuck you can possibly feel the 7th guy on your board is overvalued. Kiper says that if McShay really thought Quinn was overvalued, he'd have him at 20-25. McShay actually claims that hes compensating for where Brady Quinn is going to be drafted. On his own personal draft board. I'm now convinced that one of the reasons he sucks so much is that he doesn't actually know what his job is.

-Per Kiper, McShay is too worried about the accuracy issues. They happen.

-The money due to each player is not an argument. You are trying to draft the best player. Worry about the money later.

This is why I love Mel Kiper. Look, the guy has Russell overrated, like a lot of other people. But rather than try to conform to conventional logic, like McShay, if he knew that Russell was bound to be the next Grossman--he'd put him down at 20-25. Because he's whats known as an "honorable draft analyst".

Thursday, April 19, 2007

You can't make this Shit up

I go to my mailbox and despite all my raging defense mechanisms, am still pleased to find the draft preview issue of ESPN the Magazine!

And then I look at the cover and in horribly unessarily giant bold yellow print, well, see for yourself:

Aside from this complete disregard for general marketing principles (I'll be damned the day that "upside" sells in the same way sex does), this cover almost seems like a satirical mockery of an ESPN the Magizine draft issue done by a bunch of sabremetric lowlives. Admittedly, this would have been a very good idea, but once again ESPN beat us to the punch.

The saving grace for ESPN in all this is that fortunately it does not feature a giant smiling mug of JaMarcus Russell on the front, rather has the mean, gritty face of Amobi Okoye (a prospect who we here absolutely love).

I'll check in with more updates once I gather the courage to open this thing up and read the pure shit inside of it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Next Vince Young?

So I'm watching NFL Live and they tease a segment as "another double threat" like Vince Young. They come back and mention that this player can throw or run. I know a measurable like this might not really be a factor in games, but know, just for shits and giggles: guess what this player's 40 time was?

Now I'm not saying that it's bad for his position...or even that it's relevant to how he will produce. But it may be relevant if you're going to compare his
running ability to Vince Young. They specified running ability. The player in question, by the way, is our old friend JaMarcus Russell. In case you're wondering, Young's 40 time was a disappointing 4.58. ESPN called it disappointing right here.

Ok, now some will think as I do that ESPN feels they got burned by doubting Vince Young last year, when he turned in a solid rookie season by combining mediocre passing stats with some very good rushing stats, and leading a pretty bad team dangerously close to the playoffs. So ESPN saw a quarterback who looks kind of like Young from a nice big, southern, state school that upset an early season favorite in a bowl game and wants to get on the bandwagon early. If so I've done my job.

Others of you will, rightly so, object to me using 40 times as a basis for comparison (oddly enough Brady Quinn's was 4.73). Good, I'm glad. So let's take a look at college stats. Again, this is a rushing comparison because that's the thing that ESPN did that made me cry. I'm only including this year for Russell because this is the only one where it wasn't negative.

Young (2005): 1050 yds / 6.8 ypc / 12 tds
(2004): 1079 yds / 6.5 ypc / 14 tds

Russell (2006): 142 yds / 2.7 ypc / 1 td

Again, I'm not saying that this should greatly impact his ability to be a successful passer...although it would probably help [ALL THINGS EQUAL] if he had Young-esque speed. What I'm saying, asking really is why the fuck can't ESPN see that he doesn't? Do they assume that his athletic ability resembles that of Young solely because of race or what? The whole thing sounds Dusty-Baker dumb to me. Again, for serious discussion of why sample size concerns should play a role in not getting bat-shit crazy excited about Russell compared to Quinn who is at least as appealing see below...but this whole segment irritated me far too much to ignore.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A Bonus Article Tonight for all those Loyal Readers

All 4 of ya.

We are probably going to be doing nothing but draft stuff for the next two weeks in this here space because...well, nobody is going to write anything about anything in football but the draft between now and then.

Anyway, I've noticed that most scouts will overvalue a players' physical tools, especially at the wide receiver position, and then when said player fails to meet expectations they write article about how tough it is to pinpoint receivers.

Well, the truth of the matter is, it's not all that hard. You've just got to look for the guys with the most college experience. Receiver is a very mental position and you want a guy who is aware of what is going on around him playing for you. So if you are going to get behind a WR prospect, get behind a guy like Dwayne Bowe, a highly rated 4 year player (3 year starter) at LSU. You'll be right more often than this guy.

But he will learn his lesson eventually. At least, thats what I thought until I read this article. Now I'm convinced he won't ever learn why he sucks at scouting prospects.

You need to be an INsider to access it. Sorry.

Productive NFL wide receivers come in many different sizes, shapes and speeds. Just take a look at the wide receivers who led the NFL in catches last season. Sure, Houston's Andre Johnson fits the mold as the league leader with 103 receptions. After all, the former No. 3 overall pick (2003) checks in at 6-foot-3 and 219 pounds with 4.4 speed. But how do you explain Mike Furrey, a former undrafted free agent in 2000, hauling in the second-most passes (98) in 2006?

Furrey plays the slot receiver in Mike Martz' offense.

Seriously Todd, no position in football is more affected by what their team is doing around them than the WR position. You probably should know this considering the career path you've chosen.

Andre Johnson caught a bunch O hitches from David Carr. That type of offense is only successful if you turn those hitches into TD's sometimes.

Other productive NFL receivers who slipped in recent drafts include Carolina's Steve Smith (third round, 2001), Seattle's Deion Branch (second round, 2002), Arizona's Anquan Boldin (second round, 2003), the N.Y. Jets' Jerricho Cotchery (fourth round, 2004) and New Orleans' Marques Colston (seventh round, 2006). Meanwhile, David Terrell (2001), Ashley Lelie (2002), Charles Rogers (2003) and Reggie Williams (2004) all looked the part as high draft picks coming out of college but haven't come close to matching production for investment.

Steve Smith, 2 years CC + 2 years at Utah, all starting
Deion Branch, 4 years at Louisville
Anquan Boldin, 4 years at Flordia State (correct me if I'm wrong)
Marques Colston, 4 year starter at Hofstra (also a really lucky find)
Jerrico Cotchery, 3 year starter at NC State, additional PT as a Freshman

David Terrell, 2 1/2 year starter
Ashley Lelie, 3 year starter
Charles Rogers, 3 year starter
Reggie Williams, 2 1/2 year starter

Have you learned anything from this trend? I'm guessing not. Okay then, moving on.

The bottom line is that evaluating wide receiver talent from the college ranks has become maddening for NFL front offices. In my estimation, there are a couple reasons for this. First off, I would argue that quarterback is the only position with more outside factors to skew collegiate production. Secondly, the ability to "separate" is the most important skill for a wide receiver. Unfortunately, it also can be the trickiest to properly evaluate.

Todd McShay actually thinks that QB production is the most skewed position on the entire field. He actually wrote this paragraph. This is hilarious. The easist position where a convienient FORMULA exists to project success to the NFL level is the position that Todd McShay believes is the one that gets skewed the most.

Did I read that correctly?

Secondly, the ability to seperate is not really all that meaningful of a quality for a receiver. The fact that you value it so much completely explains why you can't evaluate them properly. I would think the two biggest sticking points for grading a reciever are:

1) How well he plays the ball (the catch)
2) How well he gets yards after the catch (after the catch)

I would say that MOST receivers are relatively identical in the way they seperate. This probably explains why you can't grade a difference accurately. It's also a huge red flag that you are doing this whole scouting thing improperly, but I'm not one to tell you how to do your job.

Or am I?

While catching the ball is the ultimate goal, a receiver with great hands is rendered useless if he can't get open. It's not difficult to evaluate a receiver's hands, top-end speed and leaping ability. The challenge when evaluating a wide receiver's separation skills is to sift through those potentially deceptive variables, which include his supporting cast, the offensive system he plays in and the types of defensive coverage and level of competition he faces.

It's good that its not that hard to evaluate hands, speed, and leaping ability, because those things really don't matter. I mean, you don't want to draft a guy who drops the ball a lot, but those guys stick out like sore thumbs even at the Collegiate level.

Also, why would supporting cast, offensive system, or coverage (well, I can sort of see coverage) have anything to do with how well a guy seperates. You still haven't even told us why getting seperation is important. You have no credibility whatsoever.

Although there's no exact formula that makes up a receiver's ability to separate, here's a look at some of the key ingredients:

There's probably no formula because it doesn't really matter. Let me tell you how the passing game works. The defense, if in a zone, rolls coverage to where most receivers are. Not all receivers are going to seperate on any given play. The QB reads the defense and hits the open guy.

So, seperation, as you call it, is really just the ability to run.

Wonderful. I can see how someone would think that a receiver is defined by his ability to run while playing football. But lets see some of Todd McShay's fancy terms for this skill:

1. Initial burst
2. Recognition/instincts
3. Change-of-direction skills
4. Competitiveness

Initial burst, you mean running Todd?

I personally think recognition and insticts are the most important trait for a successful receiver. Hey kiddies, you know how you develop recognition and insticts? Stay in school. Play your senior year. Learn something. College is fun. Enjoy it. Become a better NFL prospect in the process.

Change of direction skills is completely useless and arbitrary. Unless you are talking about run after catch skills. Then its just arbitrary, but can have a conceivable use.

Competitveness is not a possible criteria to get open. It just isn't.

Jerry Rice will forever be the ultimate example of this attribute. A relentless approach to the craft -- both in practice and in games -- allowed Rice to overcome below-average speed throughout his brilliant 20-year career.

Joe Montana, Steve Young, and Rich Gannon may have had something to do with this too Todd.

This is a nice gritty article from Todd McShay with great upside and a high ceiling to allow for a lot of potential growth. What it's missing in facts and analysis (everything), it makes up for with initial burst and competitiveness.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Moment You've All Been Waiting For

Todd McShay and me in a very one sided debate!

I feel like a fighter right before the heavyweight title.

Heeeelllllloooo, Todd.

Todd McShay: Hello, SportsNation. Less than three weeks until the draft and it's still snowing in many parts of the country... We might as well talk shop, right?

Colby (South Jersey): In your latest mock you have Quinn going to the Vikings at the seven spot. I've also heard names like Peterson or Ginn Jr. Sounds like they are focusing on the offense in the draft. What do you think their biggest need is and can they compete if they fill it?

SportsNation Todd McShay: I would rank the Vikings needs as follows: WR, DE, CB, TE, QB. If Quinn falls to them at No. 7 I think they could take advantage of the value. Otherwise, I think they'd be better served addressing some of those other needs. There isn't a WR worth drafting at No. 7 after C. Johnson, and the same can be said for DE after Gaines Adams. My first priority would be to trade out. If they can't get a deal done (which is more likely than not), I think they should take DS LaRon Landry or CB Leon Hall.

Todd, I paid big money to your employer so I could hear you do idiotic and baseless things like deem Brady Quinn overrated, and now I hear some blasphemy like the Vikings could actually get value for him at seven?

For shame, Todd!

But at least you didn't disappoint me with that list of needs. That, my friend, is some freakin horrible analysis. Good work.

The Vikings don't need a DE. They took DEs in the first round in 04 and 05. These guys have turned out to be very good players, but you wouldn't know that because you are too busy getting your panties in a bunch over sack totals. It isn't going to matter who is playing WR if Tavaris Jackson is their QB. You could have gotten away easy if you just said "they could really use a QB (factual statement)", instead of some garbage about how they should be looking for WR, DE, CB, TE, and QB IN THAT ORDER DAMN IT!

Seriously though, if the Vikings land Quinn at 7, it would be the duty of Jerry Angelo, Ted Thompson, and Matt Millen to track down Phil Savage and rip his vocal chords out as punishment for passing on Quinn. Millen would deserve the same treatment, but lets face it, the Bears and Packers are much better off as long as Millen calls the shots in Detroit.

Rob, Somewhere,TN: Am I the only one thinking that the Raiders may be trying to move down to #4 and take Quinn?

SportsNation Todd McShay: That's a bad idea. If you can get an elite WR like Calvin Johnson or an exceptionally gifted QB like Russell, why trade down to take an overrated QB like Quinn?

Oh Todd, no you didn't.

First of all, the correct answer to the question would be yes, Rob from somewhere in Tennessee is the only one thinking the Raiders might do that.

But you, Todd McShay, are bad at your job. See, the whole idea behind a scout is to actively try to do everything necessary to discover who the best prospects really are. Not to try to justify hype by falling in love with skills that Russell shares with Leaf and Akili Smith and Cade McNown and all those busts.

Also, you are getting paid a king's ransom to have a TV/Interweb Chat gig where you answer people's questions with some degree of accuracy. Your job is NOT to perpetuate the hype of Russell/Johnson, it's to dismiss it when it isn't necessary.

Calvin Johnson: 34 NCAA Starts
JaMarcus Russell: 29 NCAA Starts

Dwayne Bowe: 35 NCAA Starts
Brady Quinn: 45 NCAA Starts

Then again, if anyone in the league didn't think Todd McShay was a lazy-ass, worthless scout, he'd be working for a team right now and not ESPN.

Darryl (Oakland, CA):: I've seen that Trent Edwards has moved up to either the Raiders or the Lions in the second round. If the Raiders take Calvin Johnson, will the first pick of the second round be Edwards?

SportsNation Todd McShay: I've heard some of the same rumors, Darryl. There are also rumblings of the Lions' interest in Edwards with the second pick of the second round. I'll be honest; I like Edwards as a developmental type, but not that early. I still think Drew Stanton has better pro potential.

You know, Trent Edwards has college stats, Todd. It really wouldn't be that hard to do some background research since its only your freakin job.

WTF is a developmental type? Is that code for "not a good prospect, but if you let him reach his prime before he reaches the field, he might appear better than he really is"? Because if so, that would be a point worth making.

Somehow, I get the feeling that Todd McShay actually believes that with the right coaching and the same damn amount of practice time as every other player in the league, Trent Edwards will actually exceed his career path! Woot, he developed differently than every other QB in the history of the game! I'm Todd McShay bitches!

Josh (Philly): Todd-This isn't a "why do you hate on Notre Dame" type of question, but what about Quinn's game makes you so quick to slap the "overrated" label on the guy? I know he underperformed in big games in college, but couldn't that just as easily have been a product of the quality of the talent around him when matched up against teams with elite talent?

SportsNation Todd McShay: I think Quinn is a good prospect and he's worth a mid-to-late first round pick in most drafts. But I don't think he's worth a top-five pick. In addition to his big game woes, he's not accurate enough for my liking. I think playing at ND and under Weis, as well as being a part of a 2007 class that lacks a lot of elite prospects, has really skewed Quinn's value.

Josh in Philly, I love you.

Todd, why don't you explain to the nice people why Quinn projects as a mid round pick and Russell as a top 5 pick guy?

Russells Draft Projection Comparibles:

1. Rex Grossman
2. Kellen Clemens
3. Cade McNown

Quinn's Draft Projection Comparibles:

1. Donovan McNabb
2. Carson Palmer
3. Jay Cutler

Todd McShay has access to the same information I do. Either he hates Notre Dame and has a bias against Quinn, or he's a lazy scout who does little actual work and gets paid a lot to be wrong.

I'm betting on the latter.

And WTF does a statement like Charlie Weis "has really skewed Quinn's value" mean? Holy fuckin a Todd McShay, you are both biased AND a moron. Do you really expect Quinn to reject the teachings of Charlie Weis once he hits the pro level?

Kevin (Berkeley): I've heard rumors that because of "character issues" and fumbling issues, Marshawn Lynch's stock has dropped to late-first round status. Is there any truth to this? Also, when exactly will Daymeion Hughes get drafted? I haven't seen two mock drafts where he goes in the same place.

SportsNation Todd McShay: The character stuff is hard to assess on Lynch because he was never charged or convicted with anything, although his ex-girlfriend did get a restraining order against him. I think he could drop to the bottom-half of the first round, but more due to his fumbling issues, nagging back injury and concerns about his inexperience as a fulltime load-carrying back.

You are ignorant. You don't need a conviction to have character issues. You need a conviction to be a criminal. I think you are confusing the two terms.

Someone will draft Marshawn Lynch in the top half of the round for need, I promise you.

J (Maryland): Hey Todd, do the Ravens draft a QB?

SportsNation Todd McShay: At some point in the middle rounds it would be a good idea. Someone with developmental upside such as Beck or Houston's Kevin Kolb. But they have other needs to address early on, including CB, OT and LB.

Developmental, developmental, developmental, upside, upside, upside. I, too, Todd, think that the Ravens would be better off with the next Giovanni Carmazzi or Chris Redman than with someone at another position who can actually play in this league.

Oh wait, no I don't. I just don't like the Ravens all that much.

Aric- Columbus,Oh: Todd, people are saying the Browns should draft Troy in the Second Round because he is a town favorite and compares him to Drew Brees. What do you think?

SportsNation Todd McShay: Most importantly, the Browns aren't going to draft a player because he's a hometown favorite. It just doesn't work that way.

McShay-English translation: Brady Quinn is overrated.

You know what, this debate is over.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Rodd Newhouse Chat

Sometimes it's just not fair for an NFL personel guy to have to field questions from the bottom third of American society, but it helps to know what you are talking about.

I love Scouts Inc!

Brandon(Terre Haute): Hey Rodd, is Micheal Turner going to go anywhere and what will it take to get him? Where will David Carr end up?

SportsNation Rodd Newhouse: Brandon, it is going to take a lot to get MT. This guy can play! That is why the Chargers put the high tender on him. He gives great assurances to a team that is built on running the football. As for Carr, I think his agent is putting up smoke screens byt saying Carr does not want to land in OAK. Thereare no guarantees the Raiders are taking a QB number one, but if they do, Carr still sees himself as a starter and wants a chance to compete as a backup somewhere like CLV, or CAR

First of all, Brandon is the first person to actually formulate a question that can be both read and answered. I'm sure he bothered to ask an NFL insider what the value of Michael Turner was so he could receive an answer like, "a lot". There is no possible way that he already knew that before asking the question. Also Rodd, the question was not "Can you say some nice things about Michael Turner?", it was "How much will it cost to get him?"

At least he answered the David Carr question but not before throwing out the gem, "Carr sees himself as a starter and wants a chance to compete as a backup somewhere..." Marvelous.

Ryan, Ohio: What do you think of the Jamal Lewis signing by the Browns?

SportsNation Rodd Newhouse: J. Lew is still a solid running back. Even if the Browns get AP at the #3 spot, I see that as a win for the Browns. A solid veteran RB to compliment a young fresh player who will have a great mentor to learn from on the field. (not off the field) ha ha ha.


Jamal Lewis defense adjusted points above replacement (DPAR) over the last 5 years:

2006 3.8
2005 -12.9(!)
2004 17.3
2003 30.4
2002 16.0

He hasn't been above league average since 2004. In fact, he hasn't even been the best RB on his own team since 2004. So, Newhouse is right, Adrian Peterson will be a great pick, because it accelerates Jamal Lewis' departure, which should win the Browns a few games.

How pathethic is Jamal Lewis going to be when he doesn't get to go up against the Cleveland defense anymore?

Shawn Peninsula, OH: Do you think the Browns should go after Trent Green, David Carr, or do you think that they should let Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson battle for the starting QB.

SportsNation Rodd Newhouse: I personally feel as though Charlie Frye can and will be a good QB in the NFL. the problem is that he is on a bad football team right now. He is being asked to do too much. Carr and/or Green would be able to step in and help Frye right away becuase they both have experience and need a fresh new start. Anderson is just merely a backup at best.

What are you basing this Charlie Frye support on?

Charlie Frye DPAR:

2006 -17.5
2005 -9.3

The numbers say Frye regessed from his rookie year. I wouldn't worry too much about that though since Frye is nowhere near replacement level and shouldn't even be on an NFL roster.

Charlie Frye is a perfect example of how the term "sleeper" is an oxymoron. Players in the draft who get the sleeper tag always go two rounds before they should (see: Gocong, Chris) and rarely justify their draft status. A sleeper is supposed to indicate a potential draft day steal, but in reality just creates a sizable market for the player. Thus, there really can't be any sleepers.

Carr or Green would both be significant upgrades. Green's the better of the two, but also has no future beyond a year or two. Which is good, since the Browns can just draft Brady Quinn and plan on being a perenial playoff contender. But then there's the whole Jamal Lewis must really suck to be a Browns fan. USC has a better offensive backfield.

Amer (San Jose, ca): Hey Rodd, Where will Lance Briggs play in 2007?

SportsNation Rodd Newhouse: ABSOLUTELY! You play for almost 700k last year, and you can't play for 400k per WEEK this year. Gime a break. His bark is loud, but make no mistake about it, whether traded or withthe Bears, he will be in ubiform and collecting his checks. He may sit a few weeks if still with the bears, but he will not sit more than a month, becasue hw only hurts himself by then.

Ok, first of all the question was WHERE Lance Briggs will play, not if he will at all. That said, Rodd's probably stumbled upon the right answer here (sort of since he only kind of picks a position). Anyway, the intelligent response would be that Briggs has little leverage. Anyone with experience in dealing with players knows that Briggs' threat to sit out the first ten games of 2007 is without substance. Outside of leaving all that money on the table, who's going to pay a guy whos career regressed a bit because he stayed away from football for 2 1/2 months of one of the seasons in the prime of his career? Briggs would be putting the death sentence on his own career. In the months following the draft, you will see Briggs cut a deal with the Bears to sign the tender in exchange for a (non binding) promise to not use the tag on him next year. Sorry you had to come all the way out here to get that answer when Rodd Newhouse could have just as easily told you that himself, had he read the question properly.

Also, why would Briggs sit out a month and then return? That makes no fucking sense.

Jim, VA: Rodd, talk about smoke screens. What's this I hear about the Skins bringing in JaMarcus Russell in for a 'look.' A look at what? Don't have they have a good young QB in Campbell who I might add Gibbs traded a 2/3 and a 3 in the following year to Denver to move up to get this guy. NFL Execs and GM can't take them serious to draft Russell. Can they?

SportsNation Rodd Newhouse: You never know in this League. I have said before, once the 1st pick goes, all bets are off, and what once was a smoke screen is now a reality. Teams make trades and find themselves in situtions they had only dreamed of and just want to be prepared. While not likely, there is a possibility that this could happen.

What? I'm not even sure I follow his train of thought. First of all, it's NOT possible that JaMarcus Russell will be a Redskin. So you are wrong, Rodd Newhouse. Secondly, I'd like you to explain to us why all bets are off after the first pick. Is this your clever way of saying if the Raiders take Quinn #1 overall, any team might take Russell because of his oozing upside? Why would JaMarcus Russell falling to No. 6 be a situation that the Redskins dreamed of? In fact, why would it change anything they were planning to do. Maybe they could get better value trading out of the pick, but still this whole debate is stupid.

wolfbait, san diego: dallas had 3 noteworthy signings this offseason: leonard davis, brad johnson and ken hamlin. i think davis will thrive, especially as a G where his size will help and his lack of speed won't hurt. johnson is ok and hopefully will be a mentor that doesn't ever see the field. but hamlin is a FS known less for coverage and more for being a hard-hitter that can align the rest of the defense. so my question(s) is: how well do you see him solving dallas' deep coverage problems? can he help roy williams and the CB's back there enough? is pat watkins a guy that can be the FS of the future? thanks much!

SportsNation Rodd Newhouse: hamlin will help the Boys' secondary by playing FS. While he is kown for his hard hitting, he acutally can cover with good range. Williams should move to SS becasue he has shown he cannot cover a wet paper bag. he will be better served closer to the LOS. Watkins only started last year by default and is a backup. The Boys' still need help oposite T Newman. A. Henry is NOT a CB. his best position is as a backup safety, becasue he lacks the speed to cover MvM.

Roy Williams was a classic case of a team not looking at a progressing trend before investing. At the time Roy Williams was drafted, the skill set of an enforcing safety was in high demand accross the league. Had Jerry Jones done a little foward thinking research, he might have noticed that offenses were trending towards faster TEs. Now, 5 years later, it's clear that Roy Williams' skill set makes him a big liability in coverage. Roy Williams is nothing more than a below average safety. If he was picked ten years before he was, he would have been a perrenial pro bowler. Actually, he is a perennial pro bowler, but that's only because the people who vote for pro bowlers are ignorant. Adrian Wilson is a better safety completely wasted than Roy Williams. He would have been a legit pro bowler in the 1990's.

The best personell guys stay ahead of the curve. Jerry Jones is not one of the best personel guys.

The interesting thing is that Hamlin may suffer from the same problems that Williams did. He's got better cover skills then Roy, but they aren't especially special (ha ha ha Rodd Newhouse). Bottom line is that the Dallas secondary still sucks.

Asher - Indy: I hadn't heard about Carr not wanting to join Raiders. Isn't that the only place he'd be a starter almost by default? Did you say that you think his agent saying that is a smoke-screen? To what purpose. I'm confused, obviously - can you elaborate?

SportsNation Rodd Newhouse: Carr wants to be a starter. Yes, it looks like he would be the default starter in OAK, but he has not proven himself in HST, so if the Raiders sign him, and still draft a QB, there is open competition for the starting QB position. It makes sense on his part to puthat out there, becasue he wants to see what OAK's real intentions are with him if/whne he signs. This kind of stuff happens all the time by agents. Similar situation with Briggs/CHI/WAS.

Maybe Carr doesn't want to go from Houston to the only team in the league with a worse line than Houston because that's not conducive to ressurecting a career? Is that at all possible? And how is this like Lance Briggs' situation at all? One guy ia a Free Agent, the other has the Franchise tag, a tag of which the only purpose is to prevent movement. These situations are nothing alike.

Soren (LA): Of the Sophmore QBs (VY, Leinhardt, and Cutler), who do you expect to slump and who do you expect to break-out this year?

SportsNation Rodd Newhouse: I expect #7 to slump a bit, becasue he is changing systems and has to learn e new system all over again. Culter should improve the most simply as a product of the system, and VY will improve, but will have a few more ups and downs.

Yeah, that new offense is really going to make Leinart look like a rookie again. There's no way he will improve on his impressive rookie year. Regression, Charlie Frye style! Yes, Cutler will improve, but for god sakes stop citing the system as evidence for anything. Yes, Denver has a very efficient system. No, Cutler is not a better player than Leinart. Vince Young should improve also, but he was clearly the worst passer of the three last year. More evidence that the ROY award means nothing.

AP (Boynton Beach,FL): Rodd I'm not sold on San Diego even though they had the best record in football last year they lost a lot of good people on that coaching staff

SportsNation Rodd Newhouse: AP, I share your concern. This team went 14-2 last year and almost completely didmantled the staff. While I think this was the most talented team in the NFL last year, now that they have lost their head coach and both coordinators, I think a lot of the continuity has been lost, and I do not see them repeating as divisional champs in 2007.

Holy crap! The continuity is gone! How will Chris Dielman and LaDainian Tomlinson ever be able to look at each other again? How can they expect to be better than the Raiders and Mr. Continuity himself, Lane Kiffin? Time to throw in the towel!

Steve Chicago: do you think the Bears would do the trade with the skins? Wouldn't it look bad for the organization if they do the deal as proposed by Drew Rossenhause? It will look like the Bears are caving into Briggs' demands...what would stop any other player unhappy with their contract from doing the same?

SportsNation Rodd Newhouse: Looks are not always what the look like. Rosenhaus is NOT in control of anything. The Bears are letting him do the work they do not want to do, and that is make phone calls to any suitors who may want to talk. ALL GM's knw each other and talk behind the scenes, so what we hear and read in the media from agents and players is NOT what is really going on behind the scenes. So if the trade gets done, it is becase V. Cerrato and J. Angelo agreed to the parameters.

Rosenhaus is the only party benefiting from this deal. The Bears don't have a use for the No. 6 pick and need Lance Briggs a lot more than Washington does. Briggs is in danger of losing his good image because of Rosenhaus' negotiating techniques. Also, I'd like to see some defense of the statement "looks aren't always what they look like." What?

mango: is Drew Rossenhause good for the game or bad for the game?

SportsNation Rodd Newhouse: By the way, Rosenhaus is really a great guy to do contracts with. he knows his stuff, but plays to the media too much sometimes and makes teams agitated, but that is his job for his clients, and he is actually quite good at representing his clients' interest. But trust, he knows when to strike a deal

Rosenhaus is a good agent. However, the question was whether or not he is good for the game. Read the damn question!

Rudy (San Diego, Ca): Rodd who wins and loses games players or coaches? SD still has the best team on the field!

SportsNation Rodd Newhouse: Ture. Players win the games, but without coaches players are not put in position to win games or make plays. I still think they are the most talented, but therr is a new regime in town and that will have an effect.

Thank you Rudy from San Diego.

Obviously Norv Turner will find a way to keep the ball out of LaDainian Tomlinsons hands and keep Phillip Rivers from throwing also. That horrible failure of a coach! He's going to punt on 2nd down and shit isn't he!

Gotta love Scouts Inc!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Even Pete Prisco can be right sometimes

Keeping with the April 1 theme, check out this article.

Hey, we aren't afraid to give credit where it is due. It's not like theres a lot of it to give.

Some of the comments are hilarious. Gotta love the sportsline posters.

From the article:

Oakland Raiders coach Lane Kiffin made a good point this week. He said Russell's big arm is great and all, but also asked how many times quarterbacks throw the ball 70 yards in a game? Answering his own question, he said twice.

Chances the Raiders make Brady Quinn the first pick: 51%

Chances the Raiders make JaMarcus Russell the first pick: 48%

Chances the Raiders forget when draft day is: Scary

Turn Off ESPN presents an honest evaluation of JaMarcus Russell!

April Fools!!

Tom Martinez knows better. He knows that an arm does not make a quarterback. He knows that Tom Brady, his most famous protégé, won three Super Bowls because he respects the finer points of the job. And he knows that a quarterback should never, ever be asked to roll to one side of the field and then throw to the other. It's inefficient, mechanically unsound, such a scandalous misuse of momentum that a 10th-grade physics student would flag the play.

Yes, this is all quite accurate.

But Martinez couldn't help himself. JaMarcus Russell's arm is that seductive.

Once again, JaMarcus Russell's arm inspires the ignorance of all general football laws. That is a really special arm that's about to lead him to a Grossman-esque career.

When it came time to create a list of plays for Russell to run in front of dozens of NFL scouts and executives last month, Martinez went with the taboo as their grand finale. Russell rolled right, and his receiver broke that way, too, before switching direction.

"JaMarcus threw it 70 yards and completed it," Martinez said. "It was unbelievable, unbelievable. You could hear this "Ahhhh" coming from all the NFL people."

Read that quote again. Now I want you to tell me that Tom Martinez is not just another fanboy.

He wore a mischievous grin when he described the play, still exhilarated that Russell could do something so wrong so right. In his 32 years as a coach at the College of San Mateo and endless summers tutoring quarterbacks at football camps, Martinez has worked with some of the biggest names in the business -- John Elway, future Heisman winner Gino Torretta, USC's Rob Johnson and Brady, who attended his first Martinez camp at age 13 and still calls on him for help with his mechanics. New Englanders view Martinez as something of a wizard.

Torretta and Johnson. If Russell could only be that good...

But the coach has never seen anyone quite like the 21-year-old favorite to become the No. 1 pick in this month's NFL draft or done anything like the prep work that he performed for Russell.

Remember when Kyle Boller took a knee on the 50 yard line and consistnetly threw balls though the uprights, wowing everyone there with his arm strength. I mean, it seemed at the time that taking a player based solely on physical skills was foolish. Then we saw it all play out for Kyle Boller. So what's going to be the excuse when Russell is predictably average. He was in Oakland? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Scouts have learned that it is foolish to project a QB to the NFL based on the variable of Arm Strength. Yet, they seem to be unable to control their hormones every time a guy like Russell roles around. Who's paying these guys. Quotes like these should be grounds for dismissal so you don't continue to make the same mistakes year after year.

At Athletes' Performance, a specialized training camp in Tempe, Ariz., Martinez joined a team grooming Russell to take his place atop the draft. The chief competition, Brady Quinn of Notre Dame, is more polished and experienced than Russell, with four years as a college starter as opposed to two, yet he showed up in Tempe for some buffing of his own.

YES!! YES!! Four years of college compared to two. THIS IS WHAT MATTERS. This is it. Build on this point. This is the only reason that Brady Quinn will be a better NFL QB then Jamarcus Russell. Gwen Knapp, please oh please don't let throw this point out here without comparing Russell to other first round picks who started less than 30 games in college, and Quinn to other guys who started 45 plus. Just do it, I beg you!

Russell's size makes him both alluring and unnerving, creating doubts about his agility. He can probably absorb a hit very well, but will he lumber around in the pocket, unable to keep up with the speed of the NFL game? At 6-foot-6, he looks more like a tight end than a quarterback, and he reportedly carried as much as 265 pounds when he led LSU past Quinn's Irish in the Sugar Bowl. His fitness advisers in Arizona peeled close to 10 pounds off him, revealing a sleeker model. Martinez immediately went to work on Russell's feet.


I hate bad sportswriting.

In fact, he wanted to put all of Russell's presumed weaknesses on display. Agents create scripts for these events, and they are usually written to obscure areas of doubt. Martinez reasoned that the scouts and coaches would eventually, in private workouts, ask Russell to perform drills that emphasized perceived shortcomings. He wanted the script to answer the big questions, to assure the scouts that Russell had nothing to hide.

Did Martinez find the Denver Broncos' defense and put them out there against the Oakland Raiders offense plus Russell at QB and let JaMarucus strut his stuff. If he didn't do this, I'm really not sure how much of his weaknesses were really on display. JaMarcus' weakness is his inexperience, just like any other QB who has ever come out early. By the time he gets to a point where he makes up the gap between himself and Quinn's college experience, he's probably already going to be a backup somewhere in this league. He's never going to catch Quinn in experience unless Quinn sustaines a multiple year injury.

When you really think about it, making a guy with 2 years of college experience your NFL Quarterback is really no different than a fortune 500 corporation giving a high ranking managerial job to a person who left school half way through his/her college degree to "go pro". I mean, it very well could work out for you. But you try to tell me that the same person would NOT be a more efficent worker if he/she stayed and finished his/her degree.

Now tell me that Russell will be better than Quinn.

By coming out early, Russell already put the sentence on his NFL Career. I'm guessing sometime in his first 4 seasons, he will post a respectable set of numbers, and a bunch of talking heads will talk about how JaMarcus Russell has "arrived". The next year those numbers will completely regress and the only person the mediots won't blame for the regression is Russell himself.

I guess it can be debated if Russell goes number one overall whether or not it was worth it to come out. On one hand, he could have been a bona fide stud QB had he stayed in college another year and produced. On the other, he likely would not be the No. 1 pick in a draft that includes Brian Brohm. Then again, he shouldn't be the No. 1 pick in a draft that involves Quinn, but Brohm could be even better than Quinn.

The Raiders, current owners of the top pick, recently invited Martinez for what was reported to be an interview to become the team's quarterbacks coach. Martinez read it more as "a chance to exchange information," and he filled them in on what he had learned about Russell.

If the Raiders took the opinion of a guy with a clear interest in the matter with any more than a grain of salt, there is no hope for them as an organzation.

Russell's soft-spoken personality? "He's very quiet, very respectful," Martinez said, "He doesn't say much, but he's always taking things in. You can see him sizing things up and figuring people out."

Russell's background? Martinez believes that any NFL executive who meets with Russell's relatives will gain confidence in the decision to draft him. "He has a very grounded family," Martinez said. "They're all squared away. They're not buying into the fanfare around this."

Now, Gwen Knapp, you've discarded all analysis to turn this into a puff piece. Congratulations.

The other information he would like to impart would apply to any 21-year-old. Russell needs stability, continuity on the coaching staff. Martinez once heard Jim Plunkett describe a harrowing period in his career when the quarterbacks coach changed four times in four years. He doesn't want one of the most prodigious talents the game has ever seen to be squandered.

Because Jim Plunkett's career ended just so horribly unfufilled.

Martinez has seen all of Russell's flaws up close, and he still finds himself amazed. He says that Russell, fulfilling a typical scout's request, can stand flat-footed at the goal line and, without moving his body for the necessary torque, throw a ball 77 yards downfield.

That's nothing. Did I tell you about the time that Kyle Boller threw a ball really far from his knees. Russell ain't got nothing on Boller.

He can also sit at the opponent's 40-yard line and throw a ball through the uprights of the goalpost. Cal's Kyle Boller once asserted that he could throw the same pass from the 50 while on his knees. But Russell does it on his backside, relying entirely on his arm. Martinez fondly calls this maneuver "the butt throw."

Shit. This is the most unbelieveable paragraph in professional sportswriting. You are comparing (correctly) JaMarcus Russell to Kyle Boller in a puff piece. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW RETARDED THAT IS! How can you make this comparision and NOT REALIZE THAT KYLE BOLLER IS A HORRIBLE QUARTERBACK!!

Martinez is a technical wizard, so he probably shouldn't be so impressed. But he can't help himself. Two weeks as JaMarcus Russell's coach turned him into a fanboy.

Okay, so in reality the article says "fan", not "fanboy". I just thought it rolled off the tounge better this way.