Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, April 28, 2021

no fixed location
Like I said, I didn’t watch much of this year’s National Football League draft.

But, the half-dozen or so times that I did tune in to ESPN’s coverage this weekend, I definitely noticed this curiously franchise-dependent tone of reaction after certain picks:

Players selected by the most successful organizations generally have their positives accentuated by the pundits and experts. So when the Indianapolis Colts took running back Donald Brown from Connecticut with the 27th pick in the first round, the choice was mostly well received…

Two-back systems are all the rage in the NFL, but did the Colts really need to use a first-round pick for a complement to [starter Joseph] Addai when they had needs at linebacker and defensive tackle?

Of course, [Colts team president Bill] Polian does the draft about as well as anybody in the NFL and has earned the right to avoid criticism. Indy’s top choices the last 11 years all became starters.

So ipso facto, because the Colts are a perennially strong team, even their questionable reaches on draft day are presumed to be smart moves.

As for the dregs of the league: Along with the Oakland Raiders, who were instantly trashed for their first-round passing up of top-rated receiver Michael Crabtree in favor of faster-but-less-polished wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey, the Cincinnati Bengals got the raw treatment:

The Bengals’ first three draft picks were players who, at one time or another, were being pegged to go sooner than they did.

During the season tackle Andre Smith looked like a potential first overall pick. Cincinnati got him at No. 6. USC linebacker Rey Maualuga looked like a sure first-rounder. The Bengals got him early in the second. Georgia Tech defensive end Michael Johnson was being touted as a potential first-rounder before his senior season; he went 70th overall.

If the New England Patriots had made those picks, they’d be praised for maximizing value. The Bengals make those picks and the focus is on Smith’s immaturity for ducking out of the combine early, Maualuga’s tendency to overrun plays and Johnson’s lack of effort.

It doesn’t seem like this dynamic was so pronounced in past years’ draftnik hoopla. Not sure why it manifested itself so noticeably in ‘09. Maybe it was because it seemed like a pretty boring draft class — I certainly didn’t sense an especially compelling storyline from any of the prospects this year. So to compensate, Mel Kiper et al went over the top when teams veered from the consensus rankings. As always, the final verdict won’t be known for at least a couple of years, so all the draft-day gesticulation is so much hot air (for now).

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 04/28/2009 08:33am
Category: Football
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