This is the 10-Point Stance on HGH. Pumped up like Jose Canseco.
In this specially fat, and phat, 50-Point Stance, there is tons of draft talk—but also other NFL talk, inspirational pictures of dogs, Donald Sterling, Star Trek and Godzilla vs. Rodan. Not in that order.
Most of all, in addition to some good info—from the Bleacher Report football family as well as other media—this 50-Pointer is about having some fun during a draft time when the Draft Industrial Complex sometimes takes itself a little too serious.
We begin with how the Seattle Seahawks have proven how useless parts of the upper rounds of the draft really are.
Enjoy the HGH.
The draft is near and you will hear about the importance of high-round picks. The media will talk about them. Fans will clamor for them. But when someone tells you how vital a first-round pick is, slap them, and remind them of the Seahawks.
By winning the Super Bowl, the Seahawks proved—mostly—that first-round picks can mean absolutely nothing. A Super Bowl champion can be built with mid- and low-round picks as well as free agents.
In many ways, what the Seahawks proved was that how you coach players is more important than where you draft them, and that the difference between a first-round pick and a fourth-round pick isn't always as great as we in the media make it out to be.
Make no mistake, the Seahawks have high-round picks. Percy Harvin was a first-rounder. Some of their offensive linemen were first-rounders. Still, the heart of their team—most of their players—is comprised of players acquired in the lower rounds of the draft or through free agency or trades. Even the free agents the Seahawks signed that were high-round picks, in some cases, didn't reach their potential until they were around Seattle's coaching. Go down the list:
Russell Wilson: third-rounder.
Marshawn Lynch: a first-round pick but was traded to Seattle for a fourth-rounder and a conditional pick. He didn't reach his full potential until arriving in Seattle. The Seahawks simply coached and utilized him better.
Derrick Coleman: undrafted.
Doug Baldwin: undrafted.
Zach Miller: signed as a free agent.
Luke Willson: fifth-rounder.
Michael Bennett: free agent.
Red Bryant: fourth-rounder.
K.J. Wright: fourth-rounder.
There is no better example of how a franchise can build a dominant team without high-round picks than Seattle's secondary. Only safety Earl Thomas is a high-round pick. The rest were either undrafted, signed as a free agent, or fourth-, fifth- or sixth-round picks. One of the best players in football, Richard Sherman, was a fifth-round selection.
I remember speaking to Cliff Avril, who came to Seattle from Detroit, and he told me how players on the Seahawks had a chip on their shoulder. They used not being drafted or not being drafted high as motivation.
One of the more fascinating aspects of the draft is how wrong teams—hell, all of us—get it. Some teams are so horrific at it, watching them pick players is like watching a car wreck.
Then there are teams, like Seattle, that ace it. They know the early rounds can mean absolutely nothing. Just remember that as you watch the draft drama unfold this week.
I've been a critic of Ndamukong Suh's. I don't like his temperament on the field. But a close friend of his opened my eyes recently. He said off the field, Suh was actually a smart, gentle soul who has bigger goals beyond football. In this friend's view, the reason Suh is fined so much by the league is because he plays harder and fiercer than almost anyone else. It was a fair argument.
Maybe the best nickname of all time was created by a listener of the Jim Rome radio show. It was a nickname for bigot Donald Sterling: Bigotron.
I tweeted this:
NFL team official: "What does Mark Cuban have to say about his fellow owner? Oh nothing? That's what I thought."— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) April 27, 2014
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tweeted me a response:
RT @mcuban: feel free to give him my email, phone # address. Happy to talk to any gutless wonder who wont use his name face 2 face>passed on— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) April 28, 2014
Info passed along per your orders, Mr. Cuban.
An NFC scout ranks his top five picks of the draft and tells us why:
Jadeveon Clowney: "Don't just look at his college tape. Look at his high school tape. It's incredible."
Teddy Bridgewater: "Trust me on this. There are still believers in him because they trust the game tape."
Sammy Watkins: "Has No. 1-overall-pick-caliber talent."
Khalil Mack: "One of the smarter potential draft picks I've ever come across."
Greg Robinson: "A bruiser who could play in our league for 15 years."
The always-smart draft analyst Matt Miller with one of the best draft tweets this year:
If 85% of an evaluation is film work, why are people letting a pro day completely change their grade on a player? Isn't 85 > 15?— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 27, 2014
I wrote on Twitter about the Dallas Cowboys' interest in Johnny Manziel before it became fashionable to do so. The odds he is there when Dallas picks at 16? Low. The odds the Cowboys move up to get him? Low. But Dallas definitely loves him, and if Manziel somehow slips to 16, he would probably be a Cowboy. And that would officially break Twitter. And Facebook. And the Internet. And cause the Earth to sling from its orbit.
One thing that keeps coming up: the Philadelphia Eagles are also interested in Manziel. There is zero chance he gets drafted by the Eagles, but I keep hearing of their interest, repeatedly, from scouts.
Another scout stressed this: "I think it's easily a 90 percent chance the Patriots take a quarterback. They know the Tom Brady era is coming to an end in the next few years. Brady is great, but he's not eternal. At least not that we know of." Confirmed.
Many in the league believe the Houston Texans have settled on keeping their pick and selecting Clowney because it's the safest thing to do in a draft with a number of risks, particularly with quarterbacks.
This is interesting. It's basically another link in the concussion chain. The league will continue to take steps to assure parents of kids playing football in high school that the sport is safe. It's not an easy sell.
One of the more interesting teams in the draft to watch is the San Francisco 49ers. For a franchise that has been so spectacularly talented and formidable over the past two or three years, they are also a team in flux.
The 49ers simply cannot afford to draft a player who will get in trouble with the law. Since 2012, four players have been involved in five alcohol-related arrests. Then there's Aldon Smith, a one-man crime wave.
San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke on the situation (via CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco):
I don't want anybody to leave here thinking we don't care about the off-the-field situations that our players have put themselves into I hope I've made that very clear.
But when you're dealing with the number of players we're dealing with, OK, to say that 'X' amount of incidents, what is that number? One is too many. So if one is too many, then five or six is way too many. I hope everyone understands this isn't something we take lightly.
Baalke made that statement, however, after he said the following, and was challenged on it by the media:
We've had very few off-the-field incidents over the last three, four years. (I) keep going back to the word disappointing. Are we disappointed we've had a string? Absolutely. Absolutely we are. At the same time, we're very proud of the group in the locker room and what they stand for on and off the field. I have a lot of trust in them, almost as much as I have in my own family, my own children.
So does Baalke truly take the problems seriously? Or is he paying lip service? This draft for San Francisco will go some ways to answering those questions.
One team official says the NFL is rethinking its decision to postpone the draft two weeks. However, the official doesn't believe the league will change its mind and thinks the draft will stay where it is. Almost everything the NFL does in terms of scheduling works. The idea of moving the draft back was not one of them. It created two huge problems: overkill and over-analysis of the picks themselves.
Agents I've spoken to despise the extra time for the simple reason that it allows teams and the media to rip apart their clients.
But this is what will happen: The draft's ratings will be solid, and the NFL will use those numbers to justify their decision. And this is why the draft will stay right where it is.
I'm not sure why but this made me laugh.
How quickly things can change…
This was written just four years ago.
And now, here we are.
One of the more notorious draft-day slides was Brady Quinn, in 2007. He waited and waited and waited. He recently told the NFL Network something he had rarely discussed before.
While he was sliding, he was on the phone with the Baltimore Ravens almost the entire time he fell. He thought for certain the Ravens were going to take him, and the Ravens apparently thought the same. Then, at the last minute, he got a call from a 216 area code. It was the Cleveland Browns. They took him at 22. Most thought Quinn would go in the top five.
The speed of Kent State running back Dri Archer…my goodness:
I've been told to expect that AJ McCarron will go somewhere between the late first round and the early second (as has McCarron, based on his recent comments on The Paul Finebaum Show). I think teams are putting up a nice little smoke screen. Several scouts I trust think he'll go more late in the second and into the third. Many scouts feel McCarron is solid, but would be shocked if he went in the first round.
This story from The MMQB on Boston College running back Andre Williams is well done and shows just how far he's come to reach this point.
Allow me one moment to express my man crush on Bleacher Report's Matt Bowen. No one explains the intricacies of the game more in depth and more eloquently than Bowen. His breakdown of Michigan State corner Darqueze Dennard is yet another example of this.
The fact that J.J. Watt is the most popular defensive player in the NFL (via the Houston Chronicle) is not a shock. Because of Watt's combination of skill and charisma, he will end up being one of the five most popular players in football, particularly if Houston somehow makes a Super Bowl run.
I hate these kinds of stories. Sometimes, they are accurate. Sometimes, they are bulls--t. They are planted to get the player's stock to drop, so the very team leaking the info can snag him. This is one aspect of the draft that stinks.
Another aspect of the draft that stinks: how Bridgewater continues to be a punching bag. NFL.com's Mike Mayock has Bridgewater tied for the fifth-best quarterback in the draft. ESPN's Mel Kiper has him going in the second round. I mean…what?
Hold on…Godzilla vs. Rodan?
The Browns remain one of the key cogs in this draft because they could go in a number of directions. There is no question there are internal battles within the organization about which player to take. There are internal battles in every organization. When I covered the New York Giants, there were some epic fights. But I'm told the Browns' exchanges are slightly more heated than the average back-and-forth. I think that's good as long as there are no brawls. The focus of the heated exchanges? No one will tell me for sure, but my belief is it's over whether to stay where the Browns are and take a quarterback or drop lower in the draft and take one. The quarterback remains the focus. But back to Godzilla versus Rodan.
It may not actually be Rodan. It may be some Rodan-like creature that looks like Rodan. The worst part of the movie is that there's no Mechagodzilla.
I am often asked to rank the Star Trek captains. Seriously, I am. Here we go, my exclusive rankings:
Janeway: Brought a single ship home 70,000 light-years back to Earth.
Archer: A single ship fights the Xendi. Started the Federation.
Sisko: Saved the Federation from the Founders. Fought numerous battles. Kicked alien ass.
Kirk: When you think about it, he really didn't do much, except make out with women.
Picard: Was assimilated by the Borg. A pompous ass.
I have not heard that the Buffalo Bills are trying to move up, but if they are, as ESPN's Todd McShay suggests, it's smart.
Tennessee's Bernard Pollard (via Terry McCormick of 24/7 Sports) on the team's 7-9 2013 season:
We have been a team where we have sucked butt. And I'm just being perfectly honest with you. We have sucked butt, and it's time for us to turn that corner. Like I said last year and this year, we're gonna knock the piss out of you. It's gonna be fair. It's gonna be within the lines—I may get one outside the lines or whatever—but that's just who I am and that's just who we are. It's going to be a lot of fun doing it.
From Brendon Ayanbadejo's Instagram:
I loved this.
I think the Seahawks have the best defense in football, but I don't think safety T.J. Ward is far off when he tells Troy E. Renck of The Denver Post that the Denver Broncos have the top defense in the sport.
I asked an NFC scout to predict which teams in the AFC would have the best drafts. I asked for three and to put them in order of best to worst. His response:
Denver: "Elway might be best in business now."
Houston: "Almost impossible to screw up the No. 1 pick. Too many good players to choose from."
New England: "Bill (Belichick) isn't perfect, but he's always picking near the bottom of the round and still builds good teams. Yes, he has Brady. I know that."
The same NFC scout, asked to predict the three teams that would have the worst draft in the AFC:
Miami: "They scare me."
Jacksonville: "I hope they do well. I like the organization, but history is against them."
Pittsburgh: "Never thought I'd ever say that name."
An AFC scout, asked to predict the three best NFC drafts:
Seattle: "No team drafts better. Look at what they do with their low-round picks."
Philadelphia: "I have a lot of faith in Chip Kelly. I know he's not the GM, but make no mistake, he runs the show."
N.Y. Giants: "They haven't had great drafts recently, but I think they rebound this year."
And the three worst:
St. Louis: "More misses than hits overall."
Minnesota: "Christian Ponder."
Arizona: "Would like to see more consistency from them."
I imagine the NFL will take a hard look at this. A very hard look.
More on how hard it is to pick a quarterback.
That is stunning.
From the great Matt Miller:
Write this name down for the future: Clemson WR Mike Williams. He's going to be special.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 30, 2014
New Orleans Saints defensive end Cam Jordan on defensive linemate Akiem Hicks (via Larry Holder of The Times-Picayune):
Akiem is a monster. That dude is a monster. I don't know if you see him. I'm usually big towards a lot of people, and he makes me feel regular. Which makes regular people feel small?
I think he's definitely in a position to break out and be one of the premier (players). If they would have labeled him a D-tackle, he would have been an elite D-tackle last year.
It's too bad London Fletcher didn't speak up about this sooner (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk):
I played in Washington for seven years, and the first six I didn't really pay that much attention to it until this past offseason when more groups started coming out and talking about the Redskins name. I started looking at it and doing a little bit of research on it and I started to feel a little bit uneasy about it; I spoke to our G.M. Bruce Allen about it.
I told him Mr. Snyder should go and speak with Native Americans to get a true understanding of how they feel about the Redskin name and if it was offensive. I wanted Mr. Snyder to go out and talk to them because he's the one that is ultimately going to make the decision. It's his football team and he's the one who's been adamant that he's not going to change the name, but I think if he goes and has some conversations maybe he might look at it a little different.
Teddy Bridgewater is No. 1 on Doug Farrar and Chris Burke's big board (via SI.com). Their top 10:
|10. Aaron Donald||DT||Pittsburgh|
|9. Sammy Watkins||WR||Clemson|
|8. Mike Evans||WR||Texas A&M|
|7. C.J. Mosley||ILB||Alabama|
|6. Anthony Barr||OLB||UCLA|
|5. Jake Matthews||OT||Texas A&M|
|4. Khalil Mack||OLB||Buffalo|
|3. Greg Robinson||OT||Auburn|
|2. Jadeveon Clowney||DE||South Carolina|
|1. Teddy Bridgewater||QB||Louisville|
When Cuban warned that the NFL in 10 years might lose its footing as the top American sport, he was scoffed at by many, including me. But there's this from an NFL general manager: "The only sport that has a chance to overtake us is the NBA. I think sports is about stars, and that's the only league that has a lot of young stars like our league. It's forward-thinking. Run by smart people. It has a global footprint. It's a formidable league."
But the NFL has something, for now, that makes it unique: only 16 regular-season games. That makes it must-watch television, and will make it must-watch television likely past a decade.
How quickly the NFL has changed: Just nine years ago, three running backs (No. 2 Ronnie Brown, No. 4 Cedric Benson and No. 5 Cadillac Williams) went in the top five. Six years ago, five running backs went in the top 10 (No. 4 Darren McFadden, No. 13 Jonathan Stewart, No. 22 Felix Jones, No. 23 Rashard Mendenhall, No. 24 Chris Johnson). Last year, zero went in the first round. No better indication of how it's now a passing league than those statistics.
Ben Tate told The MMQB's Robert Klemko if he had to do it all over again, he would have chosen to play safety over running back. What you will see in the future is that as the position is devalued, more kids will abandon it.
More Bowen man crush. I love this list.
This from my man Pete Prisco is pretty damn good.
A question I don't know the answer to: Would the NFL have banned their equivalent of Donald Sterling for life?
Sterling is gone from sports. That's a good thing. Like the draft. Happy draft to you.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.