The Draft Rant

>> 1.13.2011

Those of you who've been reading for a while, or following me on Twitter, know I inhabit a strange mindspace when it comes to the NFL draft.  As a boy, and a teen, I was a monster draftnik--I was absolutely obsessed with the draft, the runup to it, the anticpation of it, etc.

 . . . however . . .

Nowadays, with the Internet, vast oceans of prospect information are out there for the dedicated football fan.  The draft has gone from being an offseason sideshow for NFL geeks, to a prime time television extravaganza that pulls millions of casual eyeballs.  This combination of huge audience, and huge information flow, has led to this weird situation where liking the NFL Draft compels people to pretend that they are scouts.  It's already been going on for weeks now; fans are debating the relative merits of prospects, arguing about potential, everyone posting their mock drafts, etc.  I still love the draft, and preparing for watching it, but I'm sitting on the sidelines right now.

I'm starting to get the annual inflow of questions about various prospects, and I'm having to start disappointing people with my answer: "I don't know."  What I think about this kid from East Texarkana State?  I don't know!  Will the Lions be able to get a quality outside linebacker in the third round?  I don't know!  At this point, I don't even know what outside linebackers are projected to go in the first round, let alone second or third.  Even if I did, I cannot begin to pretend to know what the Lions' draft board looks like, let alone that of 31 other NFL teams and how they all fit together.

The uncomfortable truth is that nobody but real scouts have real grades on these players at this point--anything you hear about players' relative values are just guesses (with varying degress of education behind them).  Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, and pro day results will swing these players up and down many slots; obsessing about whether or not the Lions will have a crack at John Q. Cornerback in the fourth is meaningless, because his forty time could swing him up or down a round (or two).  Trying to figure out whether you think the Lions should go offense or defense in the sixth is hopeless, because the sixth-round pick may struggle to make the roster--let alone make an impact.

I don't want to be a downer about this, so I'm saying it once.  My evaluation of prospects begins with the Senior Bowl practices, and slowly ramps up through the Combine.  Unless you are trying to break into the field of scouting, forget about the Draft and let the scouts do the work for you.  Enjoy the playoffs--and spend your "worrying time" worrying about if these draftees will be in New York, holding up their jersey, or at home, barred from communicating with the team that has locked them, and their coworkers, out.


Tinderbox: Guest Articles at RoTL & Press Coverage

>> 1.11.2011

I’ve been fortunate enough to get a couple of guest posts up around the Web lately, and I’d be remiss not to let you folks know.  So:

The Lions Congregation, at Roar of the Lions

After a too-long absence, I’ve rejoined the flock at The Lions Congregation!  DetFan1979 from Roar of the Lions has continued to host this Lions blogger roundtable, and the latest edition of The Lions Congregation discusses expectations, and how the Lions’ 2010 season measured up to them.

Press Coverage: Sports. Media. Kvetching.

Also—and this is something I’m really excited about—I’ve written a post about the Michigan coaching search on Press Coverage, the sports media blog edited by Dan Levy of On the DL Podcast fame.  Don’t worry, Michigan fans, I think I did right by you.


Three Cups Deep: Go Pack Go

>> 1.09.2011

21 November 2010: Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings (85) makes a reception for a Green Bay Packers touchdown.  The Green Bay Packers defeated the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 31 to 3 at Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, MN.

he put da team on his back

The Lions aren’t in the playoffs.  This is hardly a surprise; usually the start of the playoffs means the end of me being emotionally invested in NFL football.  Oh, sure, I watch the playoffs, like the playoffs, love them even—but I rarely have a rooting interest.  The playoffs have become like this whole other thing, this separate world the Lions don’t belong in . . . it’s almost like a different league.  The standings, division races, wild card races?  The Lions just aren’t ever a part of them.  The Lions logo never appears on my TV under the heading “Playoff Picture,” not even in the crappy column on the right.

But now, the Lions—on the heels of a four-game winning streak—have rejoined the league as a whole.  They will enter next season as legitimate playoff contenders—admittedly, a low bar to jump over in today’s NFL.  But no matter: for the first time since 2007, and the first time besides that in a decade, the playoffs are relevant to the Lions, and the Lions are relevant to the playoffs.

Between the Bears, Eagles, Packers, Jets, and Patriots, the Lions played five of the eight playoff teams.  Against all of them, the Lions were within a score in the fourth quarter.  Against some of them, they had a lead.  Against the Bears, they won but had the W taken away from them.  Against the Packers, they actually really officially won.

Yes, the Lions beat the Packers, a team which is moving on to the second round of the playoffs—and who I, along with many others, thought had the inside track on the NFC Super Bowl berth coming into the season.  The last time the Lions beat the eventual Super Bowl winner?  1999, when the Lions beat the Rams, 31-27.  In collapsing the big top for the Greatest Show on Turf, the 6-2 Lions beat the 6-2 Rams.  Starting QB Charlie Batch got hurt, but Gus Frerotte picked up the slack.  The Lions couldn’t run for beans—leading rusher Sedrick Irvin had 4 carries for 10 yards—but sacked Kurt Warner four times, and intercepted him twice.  Doesn’t it seem like a century, not a decade, has passed since then?

As cool as it would be for the Lions to break yet another not-since-Millen streak this year, I have to admit I have other reasons for rooting for the Packers.  For starters, the Packer blogosphere is one of the best around, both in terms of content and friendliness.  Holly over at Cheesehead TV has long been one of this blog’s kindest supporters—and considering the work she does scouring Packer opponents’ sites and blogs, that’s high praise indeed.  Larry from Packer Chatters once let me post a Watchtower as an article on their site, which I appreciated greatly (but their commenters didn’t, so much).  Aaron Nagler’s Aforementioned Cheesehead TV also gives away the “Titletown Awards” to other Packers blogs and websites, which is a wonderful idea.  There’s also C.D. Angeli's Tundra Vision, whose “Am I Still a Fan?” post put on the table some feelings that had been stewing in me for quite some time.  The crazy thing is, this doesn’t even scratch the surface of the awesomeness of the Packer Blogosphere.

For these fine folks, for some friends and family who count themselves part of the Cheesehead Nation, and for the reflected glory in which the Lions would then bathe, I’m rooting for Lombardi’s team to add another Lombardi trophy to the case.  Further, I’m calling for Lions fans who don’t already have an affiliation with a playoff team to join me.  Please, let’s let Packers like Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings feel the glory of the mountaintop once—because Ndamukong Suh and the Lions will be king of that mountain for years to come.

Forgive me, I’m terrible at this, what is it the kids say these days, “running smack?”  As a Lions fan my default mode is demure submission.  Anyway, Go Pack, Go.


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