Monday, May 2, 2011

5 comments Gregg Easterbrook Mocks Mock Drafts...So I Mock Him

ESPN has not fired Gregg Easterbrook as of yet. This means we are presented with a column before and after the NFL Draft that 95% of America hates. I bet TMQ is like any Jay Mariotti column in that most of the pageviews are from people who don't like what they read. Regardless, Gregg mocks the mock drafts and gets to the bottom of the labor problems in the NFL. Without Gregg Easterbrook how would we ever misunderstand football-related things?

As the historian Barbara Tuchman wrote, human history reflects a "march of folly" -- people and institutions go out of their way to do that which sabotages their own interests.

Probably the NFL dispute will be resolved;

I would say we are more certain than "probably" the labor issues will be resolved. The alternative is that there is never another NFL game played and I highly doubt that will happen. So, it is not a leap to say at some point the lockout will be resolved.

Here is the core element of the folly: Under the 2006 collective bargaining agreement, the one canceled by NFL owners to trigger the current dispute, everything was fine.

Except for that whole key element consisting of "neither the players or the owners really liked the 2006 agreement," everything was just spectacular between the players and the owners. So really, everything wasn't fine if you factor in whether either side was happy with the 2006 agreement.

In each year of that agreement, ratings, attendance and merchandise sales hit record highs. In each year, players' pay and owners' revenue hit record highs. Now both sides are risking the creation of public contempt for the NFL -- even though everything was fine.

I'm not sure what point, if any, Gregg is trying to prove here. This disagreement doesn't make complete sense to the fans at all from a monetary perspective, I am not sure there is any arguing that. So if his point is that there was a ton of money going around, he's right, but that's also the problem.

The previous agreement had room for improvement, of course.

So basically, everything wasn't fine. The only thing that was fine was the fact the NFL and players were making a shitload of money. This was enough for Gregg Easterbrook to insist that everything was fine with the 2006 agreement. Now let's allow him to list everything that wasn't fine in that 2006 agreement...as further proof of his statement everything was fine.

(I like how Gregg put "everything was fine" in italics a few times, so I felt motivated to do it myself)

Health benefits for former players were poor. Bonuses for first-round draft choices were getting out of hand. But a routine negotiation could have handled such matters.

It would have been so easy if Gregg had been in control of these routine negotiations:

(Gregg Easterbrook) "As Abraham Lincoln said, 'there comes a day---'"

(Jerry Jones) "Shut the hell up Gregg and let's start the negotiations."

(Gregg Easterbrook) "Well, as your mediator I want to tell you what either side wants. Please no one get up for water or to go to the bathroom, this should only take 10 minutes max."

(Peyton Manning) "Let's get to it then. Quit talking and start telling us what either side wants."

(Gregg Easterbrook) "It's actually embarrassing we are here to be honest, in ancient Roman times---"

(Cam Newton walks in the room, stabs Gregg Easterbrook in the arm with a knife, is arrested and then immediately let go because his father insisted Cam didn't know the knife would pierce Easterbrook's skin and the stabbing was all his fault as Newton's father.)

(Gregg Easterbrook) "I'm losing blood quickly, let's move on. Here's what either side wants...and this is really basic. The owners want incoming rookies to get a lot less guaranteed money through the draft and the players want the owners to spend more money on health benefits."

(Peyton Manning and Jerry Jones look at each other, Lewis speaks) "Done. I don't see that as a huge issue. That was easy."

(Jerry Richardson speaks up) "We have that nailed down. Now what about the players helping pay our costs for the stadiums we run. We are losing a ton of money. We need the players to contribute more money. Also, what about the 18 game schedule?"

(Ray Lewis) "We'll never agree to either of those things. Are the owners going to give more money for retired NFL players to live off? Not to mention, we aren't playing an 18 game schedule and we actually want a bigger piece of the NFL pie."

(Jerry Richardson) "Fuck that. We are losing money and we want an 18 game schedule. We need you to take less money so we can have more money to live off. I can't afford any more tiger-skin towels for my home, that takes a toll on a person. Gregg, I thought you said this would be easy?"

(Gregg Easterbrook still bleeding profusely) "Everything is easy if you only focus on two of the most simple issues both groups are fighting about and then act like that's the only difference in each side. Removing the key issues you both disagree upon, this is such a simple solution!"

(Everyone gets up and leaves. The only thing they can agree upon is they don't like Gregg Easterbrook)

So basically, the NFL lockout is an easy fix if you don't pay attention and try to fix all of the complicated issues both sides disagree upon.

But there is a crazed dynamic at work -- one that must end, so American taxpayers with a median household income of $53,000 can stop subsidizing federal courtroom time for wealthy crybabies to shout at each other.

I just want to see football. I want to watch Cam Newton throw 24 interceptions and lose the confidence of his team by Week 9. I want to see my favorite rebuild again because they took a chance on a quarterback that ran a high school offense in college. Sadly, this is preferential to having a lockout in my mind.

Many owners believe they "lost" the 2006 bargaining round, held when the late Gene Upshaw led the union. This is a strange reading of the 2006 agreement, which objectively resulted in a win-win -- ratings, broadcasting revenue, ticket sales and merchandise sales hit record after record since the owners "lost" the 2006 negotiation.

Yet again, in valiant defiance of reality, Gregg misses what the lockout is about. It is about money. Neither side is arguing the NFL isn't doing great, the argument is over where the money is allocated and how much each side gets. It is about an 18 game schedule (that may be off the table now), how the NFL pie is split, health benefits, and various other NFL-related matters. More money for the league means the players and the owners want more money.

Unfortunately, a faction of NFL owners is what Tina Fey would call the bossypants type.

The fact NFL owners are bossypants should come as no shock to the readers of TMQ who are aware these owners are multi-millionaires and own an NFL team. I am going to go ahead and stereotype and say a person who owns a sporting team as a result of being multi-millionaire is probably a bossypants person. It comes out in different ways for each NFL owner.

They didn't get exactly what they wanted in the last bargaining round, which makes them think they "lost" in 2006.

So Gregg asked the question of why the owners felt they "lost" the 2006 negotiation and then answered his own question. He could do an entire episode of "The Sports Reporters" by himself.

Enter Bob Batterman, the first supervillain in this story. In 2004, the NHL was in financial trouble because its union refused to agree to a salary cap. Batterman, a union-buster of Pinkerton subtlety, was hired by the NHL, and led hockey through the 2004-05 full-season lockout, after which the players' union folded its cards and accepted Batterman's terms. A week ago, the NHL signed its first attractive U.S. television contract since the canceled season. Thus it took the NHL six years to recover from following Batterman's advice.

I admittedly know very little about this situation. Here is what I do know:

1. The NHL has never been terribly popular in the United States.
2. Franchises cropping up in random places in the United States hasn't helped the NHL's popularity.
3. The NHL hasn't signed an attractive U.S. television contract because no network wanted to make them an attractive offer.
4. The NHL's popularity wasn't at record levels prior to the lockout, so it is hard to blame Batterman for ruining hockey.

So I will say the NHL is recovering from its own dwindling popularity and strategic mistakes more than they are recovering from the wrath of Bob Batterman. I'm pretty sure Gregg just put the entire lack of interest in a major NHL television contract on Bob Batterman rather than the NHL's popularity as a whole. So even not knowing much about this situation, my indication is to see an attractive television contract would have happened earlier if the NHL was more popular.

Nevertheless, in 2008 the owners hired Batterman as labor counsel. He laid out a plan to create a lockout, and that's what happened. What does he care if an NFL season is canceled, and the league's popularity declines? He gets the same fee regardless.

Bob Batterman is not completely responsible for the lockout. The owners would not hire Batterman if they didn't want a lockout. The owners aren't sad little sheep following their master in regard to this lockout, they knew what they were doing. Maybe Batterman is the devil, but the owners hired the devil so I blame them for their own situation.

Upshaw, a former NFL player, was a gifted negotiator -- he won free agency for NFL athletes, steadily rising pay for them, and benefits for retired players. Because he'd been an NFL star, he was secure in his manhood. Because he'd played in the league, in all things he put the interests of the players first.

Nice blanket statement. I guess the wonderful example of health benefits and pension money that retired NFL players receive as they take 5 minutes to get out of bed in the morning at the age of 45 shows just how much Upshaw put the interests of the players first. Upshaw made some strides, no doubt about that, but I wouldn't paint him as the knight that did everything in the best interests of the players. He wasn't quite that good.

DeMaurice Smith was elected head of the union. He is the second supervillain in this story. Smith never played pro sports -- for that matter, had no background in labor law or sports economics. He worked in the Justice Department, then became a litigator for Patton Boggs, a leading legal firm. The first impulse of litigators is to create conflicts; the second, to sustain them. The longer and nastier a conflict is, the more a litigator benefits, in fees and in personal importance.

I love how Gregg is trying to paint the players and owners are unwilling victims of two blood-sucking litigators in DeMaurice Smith and Bob Batterman, while completely ignoring the people who put these two people in their respective positions were the owners and the players themselves.

But the majority of NFL players would earn less if Smith's lawsuit succeeds in blowing up the NFL. Suppose the Colts double Manning's paycheck -- the money will come out of the pockets of those guys whose names you don't know on the offensive line and on special teams.

In an unregulated market the big losers will be the lowly drafted and undrafted free agents that Gregg feels are often better than highly paid glory boys. Just another example of why undrafted free agents and lowly drafted players are better, more productive, and harder working in Gregg's mind.

And if the Brady lawsuit succeeds in blowing up the league, there's no way future NFL revenues will rise: Future revenues instead will decline. The brand-name stars will continue to roll in Benjamins,

Benjamin just happens to be the name of one of Tom Brady's children. Coincidence? I think not because all Tom Brady cares about his money. Danny Woodhead's kids names are Hustle Heart Woodhead, Hard-Working Woodhead, and Gritty Gutsy Woodhead.

In other negotiation news, ginormous signing bonuses for first-round draft picks should go down -- but signing bonuses for late-round choices should rise. See below.

I care not to "see below," but I will look just for morbid curiosity. The idea of giving first-round picks less of a signing bonus than a late-round choice just seems so stupid on its face I have to read the entire idea just to make sure it is the dumbest idea I have heard this week.

What TMQ finds worrisome about Newton is … he played for a BCS title team. That's a major negative; see below.

Yes, from the perspective of someone who knows nothing about football and nothing about Cam Newton's real problems upon entering the NFL, this may seem like the most worrisome thing.

Panthers note: Last year, Carolina traded what's become the first choice of the second round, quite a valuable selection, to New England for a third-round choice used on receiver Armanti Edwards, who had no starts or receptions as a rookie.

I will only semi-defend this trade for one more season and just because Edwards went to my alma mater. Edwards was a rookie who had never played receiver at any level. Was it stupid to trade this pick for Edwards? It looks that way now, but what Edwards did in his rookie year with a head coach who absolutely refused to get him in the game because he didn't advocate drafting Edwards isn't shocking. It's hard to get a start or a reception when your coach refuses to play yo regardless of talent level. Still, it was a dumb trade, but in a couple years it may not look that dumb. Let's just say I am more hopeful about Edwards being an NFL wide receiver than I am Cam Newton being an NFL quarterback.

14. St. Louis Rams. Shaka Smart, basketball coach: It's great that Smart turned down big bucks at Missouri to remain with underdog Virginia Commonwealth. VCU men's basketball has a strong graduation rate for African-American players, at 54 percent -- the Rams are a rare NCAA "revenue sport" program that is projecting a positive message regarding education.

As I covered in my last Easterbrook post, I don't know where he is getting this number from, but there are other schools with this strong of a graduation rate among African-American players. In fact of the "big name" schools I listed in that post, twelve of them beat the 54% number Gregg is using for VCU. So it isn't that rare for a "revenue sport" program to project a positive message like this.

The Flying Elvii are following the Massey-Thaler prescription. These academic economists contend that low draft picks actually are worth more than high picks, because the odds of finding a good player are the same, but the signing-bonus expense declines.

I scanned over the article and I would encourage others to do the same. I didn't read it because it is long and I have to type and complain about Gregg Easterbrook right now, which is much more important. My initial thought is Massey-Thaler based much of their research on the perceived value of players from The Chart, which is the chart Jimmy Johnson and the Cowboys staff put together in the late 1980's. Of course there is a problem with perceived value in the draft if you base player value on this chart of how much players are worth. The Chart really isn't that accurate anymore. So they are basing their findings, at least partially, on a chart that isn't completely accurate.

They comment the #1 overall pick is perceived to be three times the value of the #14 pick and how this is crazy. Yeah, it is, so basing the findings on The Chart will be skewed accordingly. I'm not saying what these guys are writing is wrong, but in the real NFL Draft you find players with more long-term value in the first two rounds than rounds 3-7. You can look at any draft and see this is true. There are guys who stick in Rounds 3-7, but players picked in the first two rounds are more successful (percentage-wise based on the 64 players chosen in the first two rounds) than players picked later in the draft.

Newton may indeed be a franchise quarterback -- TMQ thinks Newton can be effective as a traditional pocket passer, if that's what his pro coach wants.

I have to say, if a person believes Cam Newton can be effective as a traditional pocket passer then that person would most likely have to believe Newton can be a franchise quarterback as well. Considering his ability to be a pocket passer, call plays and read defenses are the biggest on-field question marks about Newton, if he were able to answer these questions then he would most likely be a franchise quarterback.

Any team that drafts Newton runs a risk the NCAA will at some point void Auburn's 2010 season, and Newton will return his Heisman. If this happens, a wave of negativity would wash over a franchise that's just given Newton a check for a staggering amount of money.

You mean the wave that washed over the New Orleans Saints this year and prevented them from making the playoffs when Reggie Bush gave back his Heisman Trophy? Wait, that didn't happen that way and no one really cared about Bush giving the Heisman Trophy back.

Why did he leave Florida?

Because he was stuck behind Tim Tebow and wanted a chance to start somewhere else? That's a fairly obvious reason. I don't like Newton, but that's an easy answer.

The situation at Florida seemed ideal for Newton: backing up Tim Tebow, learning from a master in Urban Meyer, with the likelihood that as a junior, he would become the face of one of college football's best-run programs.

So he basically did that exact thing with Auburn. Maybe he was going to be expelled, maybe he wasn't. I'm not sure if that was ever completely figured out. I guess this is an issue with Newton, but I would factor his on-field potential in a little higher when evaluating him.

A one-year wonder. Newton started 14 games at the major college level. Matt Cassel succeeded as an NFL quarterback despite no college starts. But since game-day experience means more to quarterbacking than at other positions, generally, quarterbacks with two or more college starting seasons do better in the NFL than one-year wonders (Akili Smith, Matt Blundin).

Really? Matt Blundin? Going way back aren't we to prove a point?

He played for a BCS title team. In his one year at Auburn, Newton was surrounded by premium athletes. Newton had stars to hand off to and stars to throw to. The blocking was exceptional. Oh mighty football gods, if I am reincarnated as a quarterback, put me on a stacked team.

Well, actually the scheme that was run by Auburn was very good and the players were very good. I wouldn't say the blocking was exceptional for him or that he had a ton of premium athletes around him. Certainly, Auburn was a good offensive team, but there aren't too many first round picks in 2011 sitting on that offense. I don't know if I would call the Auburn team from this past year stacked. They were an average team the year before they added Cam Newton to the roster.

Of the 11 BCS title-winning quarterbacks to enter the NFL, all were hot stuff in college; nine did little in the pros: Tee Martin, Chris Weinke, Josh Heupel, Ken Dorsey, Craig Krenzel, Matt Mauck, Matt Leinart, Chris Leak, Matt Flynn. The 10th, Tebow, has been in the NFL only one season; the sole (albeit current free agent) NFL quarterback with both a BCS title and a solid pro career is Vince Young. Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick, Matt Ryan, Josh Freeman, Philip Rivers, Joe Flacco -- none started on college title teams. They learned the hard way.

This is an interesting statistic. I have to admit that. I am not sure it really means anything. So the fact these NFL quarterbacks didn't win anything in college helped them prepare to win in the NFL? Is that the point this proves?

So basically the fact Newton won a national title in his only season as a full-time starter in college is a bad thing for him. I happen to believe if Jake Locker had done the same thing he would be seen as a "winner."

FNL had lots of actuality but not enough football. Through the course of 76 hours of television, surprisingly little was said about football itself: tactics, training, why things are the way they are. Big issues in high school ball -- heat stroke and concussions, abuse of players by coaches, academic ineligibility -- got less air time, if they were mentioned at all, than Julie Taylor's love life. That should have been different.

That is because Friday Night Lights is a television show, not a documentary on high school football. The players also were not shown putting their gear on, taking a shower, or listening to music in their car...but that doesn't mean they played naked, didn't bathe and came to the field in perfect silence. Friday Night Lights had enough ratings problems without becoming a preachy show about how high school football is corrupt and dangerous.

Many FNL characters were perpetual seniors, which is pretty time-confusing. Actor Scott Porter was 26 years old when he played a high school junior, actress Jurnee Smollett was 22 when playing a high school sophomore. In the series finale, a question is whether Matt Saracen, hero of the initial season, has matured enough to make a big decision. "How old are you?" SuperCoach bellows at him. Nobody can figure out how old anybody is on this show! Actor Zach Gilford, 29 years of age when the scene was shot, replies that he is 19.

BECAUSE IT IS CALLED ACTING! HE IS ACTING TO BE 19 YEARS OLD! THIS IS NOT A DOCUMENTARY, BUT A TELEVISION SHOW THAT FICTIONAL AND WANTS TO BE ENTERTAINING, NOT FACTUAL!

Does Gregg really think when he watches a birthing scene on a television show or movie they rip a newborn baby from a hospital and put him/her in the scene?

"That isn't a newborn baby! Hell no. It's clear she just had a baby that has to be at least three weeks old. Why would they get a 3-week old child to play a minutes-old child? Also, it's pretty clear the actress didn't really have a child. Would it have been too much to ask to have the actress get pregnant and then give birth on camera? A little realism please."

All recurring characters from the show's years appear either in the finale or an episode just before the finale, except for Smash Williams and Lyla Garrity. In the background at a sports bar, we hear Smash being praised on "SportsCenter," but he's not in any fifth-season episode.

Lyla, who got much of the screen time in the first three seasons, seems to have vanished from the face of the Earth. We don't see her in the finale or the buildup, and the characters don't refer to her.

I guess Gregg missed the Season Four episode where Lyla clearly stated to Tim Riggins she was leaving Dillon and not coming back. We even saw her get on a bus as "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright," by Bob Dylan played in the background. She was clearly gone and not coming back. The other characters that came back didn't have quite that type of exit.

Let's hope actress Minka Kelly, now a big deal, did not become too swelled-headed to do a cameo in the show that launched her career.

Assuming it is possible to be big-headed from playing a recurring character on "Parenthood" and being cast in the "Charlie's Angels" television reboot.

Shifting the big payday to veterans makes sense. Last season, for example, rookie Sam Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick, before ever attempting an NFL pass, had a $50 million guarantee. Tom Brady, winner of three Super Bowls, was second in line with $48 million guaranteed.

I agree.

But while bonuses (the guaranteed part of an NFL contract) at the top of the draft should go down, bonuses low in the draft should go up. Fairness should be a two-way street.

No. No, they shouldn't. I don't care what data Gregg uses, if you look at the results of any NFL Draft, there are more Pro Bowl players taken in the first two rounds of every draft then are taken after the first two rounds. This is true for every single year that I looked up. I won't argue there aren't contributing players later in the draft, but there are more players later in the draft (Rounds 3-7) who fail completely than players taken in the first two rounds (even percentage-wise) that fail completely. The simple fact is early round players get larger bonuses because they are seen to have higher potential for a productive NFL output.

First-round bonuses lately have averaged about $12 million, while fifth-round bonuses have averaged about $150,000. Football is a team sport: Is a first-round player really worth 90 times as much as a fifth-round player?

I won't argue the bonuses for first round players don't seem high. They do, but bonuses for later-round picks shouldn't go up, first round bonuses should go down.

Nobody succeeds in the NFL without good players from low in the draft, or undrafted. The Packers -- who started undrafted Frank Zombo, Cullen Jenkins and Tramon Williams in their Super Bowl win -- can attest to that.

Nobody succeeds in the NFL without good first round and second picks. The Packers--who started Aaron Rodgers, Bryan Bulaga, Greg Jennings, AJ Hawk, BJ Raji, Clay Matthews, and Charles Woodson--can attest to that.

J'Marcus Webb, drafted in the seventh round, started for the Bears last season and was a reason they reached the NFC title game. Should Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, a high first-round choice, really have received a bonus 400 times larger than Webb? Cutler may be worth more. He's a quarterback -- a plumber is worth more than a cab driver, too. But 400 times more?

This is what irritates the shit out of me about Gregg Easterbrook. He tries to intentionally mislead his readers in proving a point. He has a point about bonuses, but then he tries to make this point while completely ignoring Jay Cutler is on his second NFL contract which recognizes his perceived value (he received a two year extension) from having played in the league for a few years, while J'Marcus Webb is on his first NFL contract which was based on his draft position, not his talent. So 400 times larger sounds like a huge number, and it is, but Webb hasn't gotten recognized for his talent like Cutler has. If Webb continues to be a strong offensive lineman then he will get a larger contract in a few years with a larger bonus.

Of course I have no idea where Gregg got this 400 times number from because he doesn't mention where he got the bonuses from. This is another thing that annoys me, Gregg just starts spitting out numbers with no regard for his readers wanting to know where he got these numbers from.

There's another reason bonuses at the top of the draft should decline, and bonuses late in the draft rise. Many boys-to-men spend a decade of their lives training for football -- then their rookie bonus is the only payday they ever see. Many who end up in the sixth and seventh rounds were college stars. For them to receive a token $50,000 or $75,000 as their only income ever from the football establishment, while first-round choices are showered in huge amounts of money, isn't fair.

Then the players should play better in the NFL and get a second contract or figure out a way to be drafted higher. It is not the responsibility of NFL teams to over-compensate late-round picks that have a lower probability of making the team because that late-round pick was a good player in college. NFL teams should pay draft-eligible players on their perceived value currently and in the future, not on their past value to their college football team.

So how about a minimum rookie signing bonus of $500,000 for any drafted player?

Great idea if you don't want these later-round guys to get drafted. One of two things would happen:

1. If the goal is watch NFL teams pass over drafting players in the later rounds then this would be a good idea. Teams with multiple 7th round picks may just choose not to choose a player. If teams were allowed to trade compensatory picks this would also be a great idea. Otherwise, the NFL would be punishing teams for having more draft picks and losing free agents.

2. The later-round players would never get signed by their NFL team. So, as usual, Gregg's purpose of making sure these later-round players would get paid more money would backfire. Teams would simply have these later-round players show up for "optional" workouts and then evaluate them on their short-term performance and never offer the player a contract. This is assuming the teams even invite the players to the "optional" workouts and don't just draft the players and never sign them. Basically, the attempt to get later round picks more money would prevent teams from signing later round picks since it is acknowledged, except to Gregg Easterbrook, many later round picks don't contribute to an NFL team for an extended period of time.

One day last July, the Buccaneers gave Donald Penn, an accomplished veteran who is among the league's best linemen, a contract with a $20 million bonus; then signed rookie lineman Gerald McCoy, who had never taken an NFL snap but was the third overall choice in the 2010 draft, to a contract with a $35 million bonus. Penn was undrafted coming out of college -- this was held against him, lowering his value, even after he'd proved himself on the field in the NFL.

This is pure bullshit. Where Donald Penn was drafted had no bearing on how much in a contract extension he got. Gregg can try to show Penn got less money because he was an undrafted free agent, but he ignores the eternal truth that after a player is drafted and has been in the league a few years, teams only care about a player's production and not where he was drafted.

Besides, Donald Penn signed the contract and wasn't forced to do so. He must have felt it was fair enough.

General managers tend to assume that low-drafted or undrafted players should get the short end of negotiations, because they've been low-paid before.

Gregg Easterbrook is just being an idiot right now.

Most undrafted free agents are offered bonuses of $5,000 to $10,000. That's your reward for 10 years of round-the-clock dedication to football?

NFL teams are NOT giving contracts based on how long a player has played football, but on the perceived value of that player to the team. This is such a simple piece of knowledge. NFL teams don't care what a player did for his college team, they care what he can do for them. These players aren't supposed to be rewarded for dedication to football, but on their perceived skill level.

Reader Peter Backof of Washington, D.C., made graphs of recent NFL draft results. What jumps out is his graph of Pro Bowl appearances since 2000. The "undrafted" category produced as many Pro Bowlers as the second round, and more Pro Bowlers than the third, fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh rounds.

This is interesting, no doubt about that. I would also mention only a certain number of players go in each of these rounds, while there is a seemingly unlimited number of undrafted free agents. So I think the data would change if 32 undrafted players were chosen to be considered "undrafted" immediately after the draft just like 32 second-round players are taken in that round. Undrafted players are a pool of hundreds of players, so it doesn't completely shock me this is true because there is a larger pool of players to choose from and the difference in skill level of a 6th/7th round pick isn't that different from a undrafted player. Gregg is essentially comparing a pool of 32 players' results with a pool of 300 or more players' results.

The draft is a crapshoot, but I wouldn't say it is worthless. I would love to give a challenge to Gregg Easterbrook and the guy who wrote the post Gregg linked. Pick 32 undrafted guys a week after the latest NFL Draft and email their names to me (this will never happen, but I wish it would) and then in five years we will see if the undrafted free agents have more Pro Bowl appearances than the players from 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th or 7th rounds. Email me this and we will see which players from which round are most successful in terms of making Pro Bowls. Decrease the sample size of undrafted free agents to 32 and I bet you see a different result. It isn't exactly a fair comparison to use 6th and 7th round picks which only have a pool of 32 players to a large pool of undrafted free agents. Again, the skill set isn't that different between these players.

I would challenge the guy who wrote that post to pick 32 players that were undrafted a few days after the draft and I will let him choose my pool from the 3rd-7th round and we will see which pool of players is more successful. I may email him about this.

Also, notice this graph that shows it takes later-round players longer to become Pro Bowl players. That's why early-round players are paid more in bonuses.

Some highly hyped player will slip out of the first round, and draftniks whose boards were wrong will proclaim in unison: "I knew it all along."

Which is exactly what Gregg does concerning NFL head coaching decisions and pretty much anything else football-related on a weekly basis.

5 comments:

rich said...

So I will say the NHL is recovering from its own dwindling popularity and strategic mistakes more than they are recovering from the wrath of Bob Batterman.

As a hockey fan (we exist!), the biggest problem with the NHL isn't Batterman, it's Bettman.

In 1993, Bettman thought expansion was a good idea and added two teams. Then added two more teams in 1998 and then two more in 2000. The first two teams had relative success early on, but the last four teams have been to the playoffs a combined 5 times (I believe) in their histories, with only Nashville making it out of the first round (this year).

Then he allowed other teams to move from Quebec (1995) and Winnipeg (1997). So for those keeping track at home, that's 6 expansion teams and 2 teams moving in the span of 8 seasons. The incredible changes made in such a short period of time really thinned out the talent and the really good teams were really, really good, but it was a rather predictable time for hockey.

The salary cap actually saved hockey to an extent. One of the major problems was that certain teams would pay mediocre players tons of money and raise the cost of free agents. It was so bad that players had to agree to a 10% paycut across the board after the lockout.

a solid pro career is Vince Young

Did I fall into a coma? When was this "solid pro career" Vince Young had?

Penn was undrafted coming out of college -- this was held against him, lowering his value, even after he'd proved himself on the field in the NFL.

Didn't he just say Tom Brady had the second largest signing bonus? Was he in line to make 10M more, but the fact he was a sixth round pick was held against him?

The "undrafted" category produced as many Pro Bowlers as the second round, and more Pro Bowlers than the third, fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh rounds.

Because if you go nuts and say every NFL player lasts 6 years in the pros, you have 42 players through the draft. Assuming you resign every one of your free agents, you still have 11 rosters spots on the team and 8 more practice squad positions to fill. So even if you never cut or lose a player to free agency you'd have 19 undrafted players to the 6 you've gotten in each round of the draft.

Sure there may be more pro bowlers, but what's the hit %? If it takes 100 undrafted players to get one pro bowler and takes 15 1st rounders...

Also, how many of those pro bowlers were kickers and punters where the predominant number of them aren't drafted anyway? When 90% of your position is filled with undrafted players, You're essentially guaranteed a pro bowl spot (or two) every year which also skews the numbers.

Gregg really sucks with numbers.

Martin F. said...

A plummer is only worth more then a cab driver if you need your pipes fixed. A plummer doesn't do you jack when you need to get to the airport in 35 minutes.

Also, Gregg obviously knows nothing about the NHL, because one of the things labor lawyers have already talked about the difference between the NFLPA and the NHLPA was that the NFL players have already decertified and brought suit against the NFL. At no time did the NHLPA decertify because Batterman and Bettmen seemingly kept them thinking that they were almost about to agree, delaying the suit so long that the players had to cave. If the NHLPA had decertified and filed a lawsuit within the first couple weeks, the entire contract negotiations would have been different.

Also, the NHL is actually increasing in popularity, but the one thing almost nobody wants to give credit to is that a bunch of original 6 and first wave expansion teams no longer SUCK. The new expansion teams were so bad for so long that they were getting all the good players in drafts, and places where hockey was actually popular were being killed when the no name teams like Carolina and Tampa Bay were finally good and winning Cups.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I think (and I didn't think of this at the time b/c I didn't think about it) that expansion has hurt the NHL. I couldn't believe Carolina got a team. That being said, it is a pretty popular team, but still I didn't see that happening.

I know there are hockey fans. I would be a hockey fan, but I don't have time to follow it. I would have to drop one of the other sports I follow.

Either way, I don't think it was Batterman's fault the NHL had a lockout, but Gregg sees it that way.

Gregg did say Penn's draft position was held against him, but for some reason this isn't true for Brady. That's the issue the study Gregg was citing doesn't recognize. There are hundreds of UFAs and I don't think it is a huge stretch to say a player drafted in the 6th/7th round is incredibly different from an UFA. So the hit % is probably a lot lower because the UFA are a pool of hundreds being compared to a pool of 32 players. It's not a fair comparison.

I want that guy who did the study to email me and pick out 32 players he thinks will be good in the pros and I will choose the round of his choice in this draft. I would bet when we narrow down his pool, the drafted players will look as good as the UFAs do.

Martin F, I should have paid more attention to the hockey lockout. I thought they had decertified. The negotiations would have been different. I think hockey is increasing in popularity as well, I didn't mean to indicate it wasn't (if I did). It does have a lot to do with some of the bigger name teams doing better and the real hockey fans are more tuned into the games now.

I am so offended of you calling Carolina a no-name team. So offended...

Martin F. said...

Actually it was Gregg who said hockey was declining in popularity.

Ha! Sorry bud, but I barely consider the LA Kings, the team I root for to be out of the no-name bracket in terms of hockey. Heck, they've been around over 40 years now.

Bengoodfella said...

Martin, I figured it was Gregg who would say that. I consider hockey to be a fun sport to watch. Unfortunately, it is a numbers-crunch for me that I don't watch b/c there is so many other sports I end up watching.

It is okay. I actually like the Carolina Hurricanes, well I can't stand the Charlotte Bobcats and wish they would go away. They are a new team to most hockey fans I would imagine.