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Mike Freeman's 10-Point Stance: The Worst Offensive Draft Class in Years

Feb 27, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; California Golden Bears quarterback Jared Goff works out during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Mike FreemanNFL National Lead WriterJanuary 12, 2017

1. Scout: "This is not a good class"

A scout and I went to lunch in Indianapolis, and before the waiter could say hello, the scout was ranting about the state of quarterbacking in college and the NFL.

On college quarterbacks: "Not a single one who makes you go, 'Wow.' The best teams can hope for is that one of these guys becomes Trent Dilfer."

Wait...what? Did you say Trent Dilfer?

"This is not a good class. No matter how much you guys in the media try to spin it."

So, there's that.

He calmed down after the food arrived. He had been hungry and grumpy. Now, he was just grumpy.

The scout is one of the more respected in football, and based on interviews with a half-dozen personnel evaluators, he's not the only one who feels this way. (Well, the Dilfer comparison is a little extreme.) His overall point wasn't just about quarterbacks, and it wasn't crazy, either. This is what he was saying:

Not only is the quarterback talent in this draft barely above average. The overall offensive talent is as well.

"This is one of the worst drafts for offensive talent in the past four or five years," the scout said.

One thing that factors into this belief: Wide receivers ran the slowest 40-yard dash times since 2011. Speed certainly isn't everything, but it has become a large part of football.

Another factor: I've heard repeatedly from team officials that they think the best player in the draft is Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott—not any quarterback, not Ole Miss offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil, not any receiver. Running backs are not supposed to be the most captivating prospects for a passing league, but here we are.

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

The scout's main problem with the draft is the top quarterbacks: Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, Paxton Lynch and Connor Cook. They are more workout wonders than players with skill, the scout said, and he believes it will be three to four years before a team sees a return from any of them.

"There is talent there, but it's marginal," he said. "They've all been inflated by the fact they know how to work out at the combine, but the tape isn't really all that impressive to me."

It's possible the scout is wrong, but this scout is rarely in error. I get the feeling we will look back at this draft—at the quarterbacks in particular—and wince.

Now, watch them all make the Hall of Fame.

 

2. Relatedly...

Since the draft isn't one of the better offensive ones, several front-office sources said more and more teams are looking to trade down. A team can trade back a handful of slots, gather picks and get decent (not great) offensive players late instead of getting decent (not great) players early.

 

3. The defense, on the other hand...

The scout: "This is one of the deepest defensive drafts, I'd say, in about three years. Maybe longer. The thing that's impressed me is the quickness of the interior linemen. They also use some of the best technique that I've seen in some years."

 

4. Drug tests at 4:30 in the morning

Gregory Payan/Associated Press

One thing few people understand about the combine is that it's a long, draining process. Ohio State's Joey Bosa's schedule isn't atypical. He had 13 interviews, he said at a press conference, and had to wake up at 3 in the morning for a 4:30 drug test.

 

5. Few in the league believe the 49ers on Colin Kaepernick

So we know the Browns don't want Colin Kaepernick.

And neither do the Texans.

But despite what 49ers owner Jed York recently told the San Jose Mercury News' Mark Purdy, the sense around the league is that San Francisco doesn't want him, either.

Several team sources (not with the 49ers) told me they feel strongly San Francisco wants Kaepernick gone and will move him as quickly as possible.

One of the interesting things York told Purdy is about the tampering that takes place in the league. He's one of the first owners or team executives I can remember who acknowledged—on the record—just how much teams tamper. It's been rampant for decades, and the NFL hasn't been able to stop or even slow it.

 

6. RG3 trade remains unlikely

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 26: Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins looks on prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles on December 26, 2015 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Imag
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Like Kaepernick, no one wants to trade for Robert Griffin III, team officials say. They know Washington will eventually release him.

But unlike it is in Kaepernick, the interest in Griffin is massive. Teams think they can remake him. League sources said at least a dozen teams are interested. It's probably even more than that.

 

7. Josh Freeman's next chance

Jan 3, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Josh Freeman (5) throws during the first half  against the Tennessee Titans  at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Hasselbeck is out as the backup to Andrew Luck, and Josh Freeman is in.

This is nothing against Hasselbeck, who was crucial for the team last season with Luck out. But good for Freeman. He deserves some appreciation for coming back from the brink.

After a promising start in Tampa Bay, Freeman struggled with the Vikings, Giants, Dolphins and even the FXFL's Brooklyn Bolts. But he never gave up, and here he is. This sounds corny as hell, but his story is a good example of perseverance. I know, corny, but it's true.

 

8. Jim Harbaugh, Urban Meyer still hotly pursued

Tony Ding/Associated Press

Just passing this along: As coaches were fired this past season, teams made runs at Michigan's Jim Harbaugh and Ohio State's Urban Meyer. This is not a shock. What is a shock is the ferocity with which both said no.

According to an NFL team official, organizations that contacted Harbaugh and Meyer (or their representatives) were given such resounding no's that those teams walked away thinking it will be years before Harbaugh returns, if ever, and that Meyer will never coach in the NFL.

Harbaugh supposedly told one NFL team official, "I'm having fun coaching football again."

 

9. The incredible Torrey Smith

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 01:  San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith attends UNICEF Kid Power Bay Area Celebration at De Marillac Academy on February 1, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for U.S. Fund fo
Kimberly White/Getty Images

Many blogs by athletes aren't worth the cyberspace they're written in. A handful are good. Even fewer are so good they need to be shared with everyone. This one by 49ers receiver Torrey Smith is one of those rare blogs.

It shows how, in some ways, despite their wealth and vast resources, athletes can face the same worries and fears the rest of us do.

 

10. Take your coach's advice, Tim

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 11:  Urban Meyer talks with Tim Tebow during the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 11, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Tim Tebow, despite being a quarterback who's unable to throw a football accurately, remains in the news. Meyer, his old coach, recently said what I've been saying for years: He just needs to go play in Canada.

"I think that's a great point, and I was actually in a conversation with him about going to Canada," Meyer said on the NFL Network. "The situation—his family and I were involved in it—we just didn't think it was the right one. I think if there's a right one, I think he'd probably do it."

Tebow still wants to play, but the NFL doesn't want him. Don't be surprised if a Canadian team makes an offer Tebow now can't refuse.

 

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.

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