Thursday, April 30, 2015

5 comments 2015 NFL Mock Draft

I don't know why I insist on posting a mock draft every single year. I think I just like guessing in the slim, slim hope that I will look smart. This is last year's mock draft I posted. My favorite part is how I mock Peter King saying the upcoming draft is just so incredibly unpredictable, as if this doesn't happen every year. If an unpredictable draft happens every year then doesn't that mean the draft is actually predictable? Peter is doing it again this year, saying how there are no sure things in this draft like there have been in the past. This is, of course, revisionist history. Without further ado, here are my attempts to guess at the draft order, and yet again, I won't predict trades. This thing will be torn apart by the first trade, I do realize that.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Jameis Winston, QB

I feel like if Jameis Winston was more well-liked then his struggled with interceptions would have been written off as resulting from having lost so much offensive talent around him at Florida State after the national title in 2014. Winston would be tagged with the "he's just a winner" label regarding how he may struggle in games, but then will come up big when his team needs him. Interestingly, I don't see either the excuse or the label given to him. I'm notoriously bad at judging QB's coming out of college (except Blaine Gabbert...I never liked him), but other than what seems to be a semi-long windup I think Winston really has a chance to be a good QB. But again, I really didn't like the Cam Newton pick. There is sort of a "curse of Jimbo Fisher QB's" thing that should bother me (Ponder/Manuel/Russell) more than it does. And yes, Winston has growing up to do. Most athletes coming to the pros from college do. At least I'm getting this pick right.

2. Tennessee Titans- Marcus Mariota, QB

I'm dying to pick Leonard Williams here just to be different in the hopes I nail the pick, but this is supposed to be who I think each team will pick. The Titans have been waving this pick around, but I think if they like Mariota as well as it's claimed they do then they will draft him here. I can't imagine what offer would make the Titans move out of this spot if they really think Mariota is a franchise QB. Heck, would three first round picks be enough to move out of this spot if Mariota was only a Top-10 QB? Probably not for me. It's a quarterback league.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars-Vic Beasley, OLB/DE

I don't think the Jaguars are going to keep this pick, so it will probably be another team picking. I'm not entirely sure where Beasley fits in on a defense honestly, but he's the type of speed freak who can get to the quarterback. That sounds like a good role. He's not great against the run supposedly. Still, David Caldwell seems to consistently pull some bullshit in the draft and I think the talk of Cooper or Leonard Williams here is a way to get another team to move up so the Jags can draft Beasley a little later in the upper first round and get a pick or two out of it. I don't know if Beasley will be an All-Pro guy, but ESPN not having him as a first round pick is absolutely ridiculous.

4. Oakland Raiders- Leonard Williams, DE

Jack Del Rio is an defensive guy and the Raiders have quite a few needs. I think they should draft a receiver here, but it seems the Raiders like Leonard Williams a lot more than I do. I don't think he's going to be terrible, but I'm not sure he'll be the force that the Raiders are going to want. I will say this, not giving Derek Carr more to work with is a mistake. This isn't quite as deep of a receiver class as last year's draft and I would take White or Cooper.

5. Washington Redskins- Dante Fowler Jr, DE/OLB

I don't really love this pick for the Redskins. I am not sure the Redskins keep this pick, so it may not matter. I don't know who to pick. My gut says Amari Cooper, but the Redskins lost Orakpo in free agency and they probably feel like they don't need a #1 receiver with Garcon and Jackson on the roster. I'm not saying that's right, but Fowler will help give the Redskins a stronger pass rush and they can worry about other spots later in the draft.

6. New York Jets- Kevin White, WR

I prefer White to Cooper, so maybe that's affecting my decision. Yes, Todd Bowles is a defensive guy, but he also coached in Arizona where he saw what having Larry Fitzgerald and a strong group of receivers can do to help a quarterback that isn't so talented. The Jets have upgraded the defense in the draft and they are giving whoever the quarterback is a fighting chance with White/Marshall/Decker as the three-wide depth chart. This is good news for Geno Smith if it happens. Maybe he'll forget he's in the NFL and think he's back at WVU.

7. Chicago Bears- Danny Shelton, DT

I feel like I know John Fox fairly well and a defense that can't stop the run won't last long when he's the head coach. He had Kris Jenkins in Carolina and Terrance Knighton in Denver, while the Bears need a run-stopper. Fox prefers his defense to rush four at the passer and get to the quarterback that way (which coach doesn't prefer that, but Fox seems to really prefer that). His first pick as Bears coach will be a defensive pick me thinks and he loves his run-stoppers who can also get pressure on the quarterback up the middle.

8. Atlanta Falcons- Brandon Scherff, OT/OG

This is a tough pick because the Falcons need pass rushers in the worst way, but they also need to shore up an offensive line that got beaten up last year. I am not sure the Falcons won't try to trade up more than they will try to trade back and get another pick to move out of the #8 spot. It's tough for the Falcons that Gregory and Ray have off-the-field issues because they could use that talent. Maybe they still take one of them here. I say protect Matt Ryan and find a pass rusher later in the draft. And yes, I know pass rusher is a big need, but the Falcons were beaten up on the offensive line last year.

9. New York Giants- Ereck Flowers, T

I am going to hate myself (okay, not really) if Amari Cooper is the pick here. I really, really want to mock Cooper here, but the eternal fight for the Giants to improve their offensive or defensive line takes precedence in what I think the Giants will do. I wouldn't be surprised to see Randy Gregory get picked in this spot. I read on Walter Football there is another issue that NFL teams know about that the public/media doesn't know about regarding Gregory, but I also read this on Walter Football, so who knows if it's the truth? Maybe the issue is that scouts think Gregory is stupendously stupid, which is what was reported yesterday. Either way, I think Gregory is absolutely astoundingly talented and could be the pick here if the Giants have the balls. So yes, I basically just sort of picked two guys in this spot and actually picked Flowers. Sue me.

10. St. Louis Rams- Andrus Peat, T

Peter King, who basically works for the Rams it seems to me sometimes, thinks the Rams are taking a tackle. Greg Robinson did not work out in his rookie year like the Rams thought he would. This doesn't seem like the right pick here, but I can't figure out who else the Rams would select if they didn't go offensive tackle. I'm not feeling a wide receiver and the Rams really don't have a ton of other huge needs without reaching. They have to protect Nick Foles, so Peat is the choice.

11. Minnesota Vikings- Devante Parker, WR

It's fashionable to say the Vikings will pick a CB here, but with the team saying this is a big year for Corradelle Patterson (that may be how he spells his first name, maybe not, I'm too lazy to look it up), I can't help but think the Vikings find a corner later and give their franchise quarterback another offensive weapon to work with. Maybe it will be an offensive lineman, but as you can tell, I'm a big fan of giving a quarterback offensive players in the draft. The Colts proved how this can work wonders. Plus, Parker and Bridgewater already have great chemistry.

12. Cleveland Browns- Amari Cooper, WR

So the Browns would run to the podium to make this pick, right? Maybe not, but I would. The Browns still need wide receivers and I can't think how Cooper fell this far in my mock. If the Browns are gutsy they would take Todd Gurley. I really, really think he's going to be a stud and their running game was awful last year. Maybe they are a little shy about taking a RB so early after the Trent Richardson Experiment and wide receiver is really a much greater need.

13. New Orleans Saints- Bud/Alvin/Simon/You & Me Dupree DE/OLB

I'm not sure what his name will be in the NFL, whether it is Bud or Alvin, but the Saints need defenders in Rob Ryan's defense. Supposedly this is too far for Dupree to fall, but we will see. Knowing Sean Payton, he'll draft Todd Gurley in this spot and force me to cheer against a guy who I think will be an absolute stud. In my mind, Dupree will be the guy.

14. Miami Dolphins- Todd Gurley, RB

Trae Waynes is just sitting there, begging to be taken. He's considered to be among the top corners in the draft, so I could easily see him being taken by the Dolphins. They could go with an offensive lineman too, but this is the part of the draft where the pick each team takes will be based partly on need, but mostly on what players are available. There are a lot of players with similar talent levels in this part of the draft. Todd Gurley would give the Dolphins the type of consistent running game that they have lacked and he'll be Ryan Tannehill's best friend because of that.

15. San Francisco 49ers- Trae Waynes, CB

I have seen Arik Armstead mocked here repeatedly. I can't help but think it's going to be another player simply because of that. It will be a defensive player if you ask me, so the questions becomes which defensive player. The 49ers lost two corners in the offseason and Waynes is one of the three best corners in the draft (or one of the three guys considered to be the best). I think this pick makes too much sense for it to happen. I wouldn't mind mocking a linebacker like Eric Kendricks here, but I think the 49ers feel they can get a guy later in the draft like they got Borland/Bowman at the linebacker spot in the third round.

16. Houston Texans- La'el Collins, OT/G

Man, this is a tough pick because I've seen a bunch of receivers mocked here. I always think that means a team has done a great job with a smokescreen and won't choose a receiver at all. I think the Texans could use offensive line help and if they don't choose a wide receiver here then upgrading the tackle or guard spot with Collins could be the next choice. Currently, the Texans depth chart on the inside of their line could use an upgrade and Collins can play multiple spots on the line.

17. San Diego Chargers- Cameron Erving, G/C

It's tempting to take a running back here, but the Chargers really need to upgrade the interior of the offensive line. I know, I know, two straight interior linemen in my mock draft. This will never happen because the NFL likes shiny prospects that are difference makers and interior linemen are boring...until you don't have any good ones. It's a good pick too since running backs can be had later and Ameer Abdullah could be available in the second round.

18. Kansas City Chiefs- Nelson Agholor, WR

The Chiefs were awful at wide receiver last year. I don't want to put too much of the blame on Alex Smith, but I would probably like to put more on him than others are putting on him. At some point, a lack of touchdowns from the receivers also reflects on the quarterback. Andy Reid does what he wants and upgrading the receivers shouldn't be done simply because the Chiefs overpaid Jeremy Maclin. I can see Andy Reid loving the thought of Agholor and Maclin on either side to keep the defenses honest and catch the ball in space.

19. Cleveland Browns- Arik Armstead, DT/DE

I think this is a good choice for the Browns here. Armstead is from the "unproven, but look at his size!" mold, but he would provide some versatility for the Browns along the defensive line. He's huge and could make a good edge rusher or interior guy on passing downs for the Browns. I don't believe the Browns will go offensive line with this pick, but my picks are probably going to be 80% wrong anyway.

20. Philadelphia Eagles- Jake Fisher, T

Yes, he went to Oregon so it's a cliche to say the Eagles will pick him. I simply don't believe that Chip Kelly will pick a wide receiver here because he's proven this offseason he believes he can find guys who can fit his offensive scheme and make it work. It won't work without an athletic offensive line to block for Sam Bradford and Fisher is used to play in up-tempo offenses at Oregon. I think Fisher will play guard since the Eagles are hell-bent on getting rid of Evan Mathis. Of course, I should expect Chip Kelly to go with a running back here or take a guy projected to be a fourth round pick.

21. Cincinnati Bengals- Randy Gregory, DE/OLB

One of the more underrated aspects of the Bengals defensive decline last year was the lack of a pass rush. They got Michael Johnson back after being on loan to the Buccaneers for a year, but Randy Gregory is the best pass rusher available at this spot and I don't think the Bengals get shy about picking him. Weirdly, I can see them taking a wide receiver in this spot as well. After last year in the playoff game against Colts, it was obvious that if half of the receiver depth chart gets injured then Dalton is going to struggle. Of course, that can be said for nearly any QB.

22. Pittsburgh Steelers- Byron Jones, CB

The Steelers have had success identifying really good receivers later in the draft, and while it may be tempting to pick another position of need on defense, they need corners badly. I think it will be Byron Jones over Kevin Johnson. Every year the Steelers seem to have a guy fall to them and I can't figure out who that will be this year. So I go with need and one of the best players still available.

23. Detroit Lions- D.J. Humphries, T

I have no idea who the Lions will pick. Melvin Gordon makes too much sense for it to happen and I don't know if the Lions are really going to spend a first round pick on a DT after letting two first round DT's go in free agency. I'm tempting to mock a cornerback here, but they need to keep the offensive line strong and they can start Humphries at RT if necessary and then move him over to LT at some point in the future.
 
24. Arizona Cardinals- Grady Jarrett, DT

Not a terrible position for the Cardinals to be in. There are a couple offensive linemen available, Melvin Gordon is available, defensive linemen and there are cornerbacks to choose from. Again, this is the part of the draft where there are guys who seem to all be similarly talented. Gordon is probably the obvious pick at first glance, but the Cardinals are going into the season with interior linemen that I'm not confident will hold up against the run. Jarrett is a big guy who may not be an ideal nose tackle, but he can play end or nose tackle in the Cards' 3-4 defense.

25. Carolina Panthers- Kevin Johnson, CB

The Panthers GM goes with best player available, so I would have to guess who I think is the best player on their board. It doesn't help the team has needs at a ton of positions. They've been interested in drafting safeties over the past few years (but just not done it), so Landon Collins could make sense and the GM stated he likes where they are at with wide receivers (I could like it more, but whatever, I'm not the GM). They have shown a ton of interest in Shaq Thompson and Thomas Davis isn't getting younger. I almost want to make that the pick, but I think the 4-5 tackles the team wants are off the board and they go with the highest rated player at a position of need. The Panthers could use this pick on any position except QB or TE.

26. Baltimore Ravens- Breshad Perriman, WR

I think I mocked a receiver to the Ravens last year as well. I'll just keep doing it until they draft one. They lost Torrey Smith and Steve Smith can't play forever. If Perriman falls this far then I see the Ravens taking him and worrying about their cornerback need a little later. It's popular to have Melvin Gordon get taken here, but I think the Ravens can get a running back to pair with Justin Forsett later on. Of course the draw of a guy like Marcus Peters could end up being strong.

27. Dallas Cowboys- Eric Kendricks, LB

The Cowboys got desperate at linebacker last year and I think the need to shore up the position for the inevitable Sean Lee injury causes them to choose Kendricks over other defensive players in this spot. Melvin Gordon is another popular pick for the Cowboys, but I file that under "conventional wisdom" that seems to be be so rarely correct. So I'm taking a guess (which all of these picks are guesses) the Cowboys go with Kendricks.

28. Denver Broncos- Maxx Williams, TE

Most mocks I looked at had the Broncos taking an offensive linemen in this spot. I think that's a definite need for them. Still, I can't help but mock a tight end in this spot to the Broncos. Kubiak loves using his tight ends and Manning likes throwing to his tight ends. Adding a talent like Maxx Williams to the offense could help make up for the loss of Julius Thomas and it makes sense to me based on the head coach and quarterback's wants. It's getting almost time for Manning to retire, so I have to think the Broncos will want to keep him upright, but also make sure the tight end spot is taken care of.

29. Indianapolis Colts- Cedric Ogbuehi, T

Landon Collins is the most popular pick of popular picks in this spot. The Colts do need safety help, but I'm not sure that comes before making sure Andrew Luck stays protected. Ogbuehi is coming off an injury, but if he had not suffered that injury then he could have been a Top-15 pick. The Colts have needs on defense, but Ryan Grigson has reached there before in the draft, but keeping Luck upright and healthy is of vital importance. It would be fun to see Melvin Gordon taken here, but I think the Colts will value a tackle higher.

30. Green Bay Packers- Jordan Phillips, DT

The Packers need corners too, but the way my mock is falling they could end up grabbing one at the end of the second round. But the Packers were gored by Marshawn Lynch last year and they need a rotation of interior defensive linemen to prevent this from happening again. Phillips fits that bill and the Packers can take care of their corner needs later in the draft. Besides, a good pass rush and preventing the other team from running the ball always makes the corners look better anyway.

31. New Orleans Saints- Melvin Gordon, RB

I don't see Gordon falling out of the first round and the Saints haven't been shy about drafting a running back in the first round before. Plus, they have churned through running backs in the past and drafted Mark Ingram with the hopes that he would stop this from occurring in New Orleans this season. Maybe not ironically, Melvin Gordon could replace Ingram and be that guy who stops a three or four-headed running back attack. I could see the Saints going with a receiver in this spot or possibly an offensive lineman. But the lure of getting Gordon probably would cause the Saints to select him.

32. New England Patriots- Marcus Peters, CB*

The Patriots seem to need cornerbacks and I don't see them selecting Landon Collins here. They need interior linemen as well, so Malcolm Brown could be in play. Most likely, the Patriots will trade this pick and move back a little, but if they keep the pick then I think Marcus Peters' talent will be too much to turn down. Yes, I am going with the cliche "The Patriots can take care of a troubled player and turn him on the right path" mantra the media pushes which never actually happens. I'm just kidding! The Patriots are going to select Jalen Collins because he's another talented corner...wait, he supposedly had drug issues in college? Nevermind, I was kidding about that too. Well, they need a pass rusher, so the best one on the board is Shane Ray. He has issues as well? Ugh, let's go offense. The Patriots could use another receiver, so the final pick is Devin Smith. He has speed and the Patriots could stand to upgrade at receiver. As of noon today, he hasn't had legal troubles.

*Real pick is Devin Smith, WR (I just wanted to show many guys could fall to this point based on personal issues)

Feel free to mock my mock draft. If I have time, I may update it with any trades that happen. We'll see.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

8 comments MMQB Review: Peter King Stalks Women on Running Trails Now Edition

Peter talked about Tim Tebow getting signed by the Eagles last week in MMQB, not because he wanted to of course, but because one anonymous coach said Tebow could make the Eagles' roster. So obviously if Tebow is going to be a third-string quarterback then Peter has an obligation to report on Tebow being signed by the Eagles with as much in-depth analysis as he would any other third-string quarterback that was signed by an NFL team. So that's what he did. When any third-string quarterback signs with an NFL team, Peter puts that quarterback's name in the title of MMQB, and discusses the signing. He totally didn't do this just because the words "Tim Tebow" in the title piques interest and increases pageviews/discussion. This week Peter talks about the Philip Rivers to Tennessee trade being dead/alive/who knows really, has (lack of) insight from Mike Mayock, and can't even run without listening to other people's conversations.

Three days before the 2015 draft, one thing is clear: The drama starts with the second pick.

Such dramaaaaaaa! Peter loves himself some drama. Every draft/NFL season/offseason is even more dramatic than the last. 

With Tampa Bay very likely to take quarterback Jameis Winston number one, Tennessee is in command with quarterback Marcus Mariota the likely target if anyone wants to come up.

Lots can happen, including Philip Rivers being in play, and Chip Kelly getting an itchy trigger finger,

An itchy trigger finger? How many people have you killed Chip? You can tell Peter. He wants to know.

the Jets moving up for their quarterback of the long-term,

Put on repeat over the past few years.

Nothing is clear this morning, but this is what I’m hearing, and what I believe three days from round one:

Nothing is clear! No one knows how the NFL Draft will exactly shake out at this point. There's drama everywhere!

I don’t think the Chargers will trade Philip Rivers. Just a gut feeling after lots of time calling around over the weekend. Now, I do think the Titans and Chargers will talk this week, but I don’t see a smart match; moreover, as I’ve written all along, San Diego definitely does not want to trade Rivers, and I believe the Chargers have never been told Rivers won’t sign a contract in San Diego beyond this year—though he does not want to currently.

It's a smart move by the Chargers to not trade Rivers. Knowing Rivers doesn't currently want to sign a contract beyond this year, when would he like to do this? It's unfair to the Chargers, but if Rivers wanted it would be grand if he could give the Chargers a target date for when he may want to sign another contract or he could end up being traded...unless that is Rivers' intention, to get out of San Diego without ever actually demanding a trade.

I believe Tennessee would want more than the 33-year-old quarterback for the second pick in the draft,

(Bengoodfella spits coffee all over his desk) Look, I hate older players as much as the next guy does, probably more. I'm not interested in a hot take, but if the Titans aren't looking to take a quarterback in the draft (and there isn't much else in free agency), want to count on Zach Mettenberger, then they are going to end up with a lot of disappointment this upcoming year regarding the performance of their quarterback. I don't believe Mettenberger is "the guy." So holding out for more than Rivers in exchange for the #2 overall pick doesn't sound smart to them now, until it's Week 5 and the Titans are ending the day with a record of 1-4.

If the Titans like Mariota, then great, they shouldn't be dangling the #2 pick to Chargers for Rivers anyway. Yeah, the Rams got a haul for the #2 pick a few years ago, but NFL teams learned from that and the Redskins weren't getting a proven veteran in return for all of those picks. San Diego feels like they can get more than one draft pick for Rivers, while the Titans want more than one player for the #2 overall pick. I can't imagine a deal goes down.

If the Titans don’t get a good offer, I think they pick Mariota. Tennessee wants an offer; the Titans aren’t married to picking anyone at number two. I do not believe Tennessee has gotten a golden offer yet.

I don't know anything about anything, but if the Titans are going to pick Mariota because they need a quarterback and he seems like as good of an option available without a better trade option in place, then I would probably trade for Rivers (if possible). Taking a quarterback at #2 isn't something an NFL team should just go because they need a quarterback. That team has to like the guy and know how they will build the offense around his strengths. I don't know, maybe the Titans can do this, but they seem to be using Mariota as a backup option at #2 unless they find a better option. There's no harm in getting offers for the pick, but what would it take for the Titans to pass up on what they perceive as an elite player at the most important position on the field? Why would they pass up on a quarterback they like if given a great trade offer? Quarterback is the most valuable position and the bottom drops out of the quarterback market after Mariota and Winston are off the board. All this talk about the Titans wanting to trade is probably a smokescreen that I'm not smart enough to understand.

The Titans were all over Mariota all through the college season, and beyond. One Oregon source told me the Tennessee scouts were the most fervent of all teams during and after the season investigating Mariota. The one thing the Titans feel very good about: Though Mariota has a reputation of being a running quarterback who would have a tough time adjusting to life as an NFL pocket passer, they saw that the majority of his throws this year came from the pocket, without a lot of movement before the throw.

Or maybe the Titans do like Mariota. It's that time of the season where, as Peter would say, NOTHING IS SET!

The idea that some "draft experts" are furthering that Mariota can't pass from the pocket is just ridiculous though. These "experts" seem to have watched Mariota play for one quarter of one game and based their evaluation on that.

My gut feeling three days out? (Dangerous in a year like this, because nothing looks certain but the top pick.) The Titans don’t get that pot of gold for the pick, and they take Mariota.

Or they could trade this pick and get Philip Rivers. I think I know which option I would choose if I wasn't absolutely sold on Mariota. My gut tells me the Titans are absolutely sold on Mariota and are simply feeling the market out.

With Jacksonville picking third, I asked 12 people I talk to fairly often to tell me if they heard anything they trust about the Jaguars at three. Eight answered the question with a name. Amari Cooper, Dante Fowler and Leonard Williams all got mentioned as names they heard reliably.

Well, Bleacher Report is always suggesting in slideshows while grading each team's draft that a team should have filled all of their needs, even though a team doesn't have enough draft picks to do this. If the Jags have cap room, maybe they should draft all three of these players. No one can stop them once they land in London to play all their home games there.

Very little consensus about the order of the top players this year. Have you noticed? It’s been that way consistently since the end of the college season. There’s not an Andrew Luck, or even a Jadeveon Clowney, this year—a player who would be rated the best on the board of most teams or most analysts.

THIS IS THE CRAZIEST NFL DRAFT SINCE AT LEAST LAST YEAR'S NFL DRAFT!

Let's talk what Peter had to say about the 2014 NFL Draft. Let's talk about what Peter King wrote on April 30 of last year when trying to pick the Top 10 picks of the draft. Guess who he doesn't pick, on April 30, as the first pick of the draft? I'll give you a hint, it's not the consensus first guy on every team's board whose last name is "Clowney." Here's Peter's Top 10 from last year:

  1. Houston: Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida.
  2. St. Louis: Greg Robinson, T, Auburn.
  3. Jacksonville: Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina.
  4. Cleveland: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville.
  5. Oakland: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M.
  6. Atlanta: Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M.
  7. Tampa Bay: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo.
  8. Minnesota: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA.
  9. Buffalo: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson.
  10. Detroit: Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan.
Not awful, but not quite. It's interesting how Peter remembers Clowney as being the top guy on most teams' board, but on April 30 of last year Peter didn't have Clowney going to the Texans. It's almost like Peter writes, "THERE'S NO CONSENSUS THIS YEAR UNLIKE PREVIOUS YEARS!," nearly every single year prior to the draft. In fact, here is another King nugget from that MMQB:

I think the difference between this year and many recent ones is that we know which players to place at the top of the draft, but we have no idea whom to match where. 

Last year was such a different year too with all the lack of consensus in the Top 10 of the draft. It's almost like this happens every year.

Want more of Peter King misremembering and overstating Clowney as the first pick in last year's draft? Great, here it is. From the May 3 MMQB, which was written three days before the draft:

From the top of the first round to the bottom, here’s what I’m hearing:

No. 1, Houston. The buzz about a trade-down or Khalil Mack to Houston instead of Jadeveon Clowney won’t die.


Peter just wishes there was a consensus top guy on the board like there was last year with Clowney. If only...

There is also a picture of Peter King with Brian Williams in that MMQB. It's notable because Brian Williams is disgraced now for making things up that he experienced as a reporter, while Peter King can't remember what he experienced just last year as a reporter.

The book on this draft, essentially, is that there is no book.

Which happens to occur what seems like every single year prior to the draft.

The big calls from each analyst: 

I'm not going to print all of these because they are all guesses. I pretty much believe nothing that Mike Mayock writes/says/indicates though, so I'm glad he wasn't a part of this sample of "big calls" (again, "big guesses") from these "analysts" (professional guessers).

The moral of the draft this year is that it’s a beauty-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder draft. It should be fun Thursday night, just because most of what happens will have a surprise element to it.

Every single year the moral of the draft is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there are always surprises. Nothing has changed. 

Having said that, I’ve heard from several agents that their clients want the draft in New York. It’s perhaps a coincidence that the potential top three picks Thursday night—Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and Amari Cooper—all chose to skip the trip to Chicago. Perhaps it’s the start of a trend. Players should be free to make their own decisions about attending or not attending, but it’s been a long time since three of the top picks in the draft skipped it. So that bears watching.

I get it, Peter! The draft is in Chicago, so something "bears" watching. If the draft were in New York, would these three players have "jetted" out of there or made the "giant" decision to attend the draft? What if the draft is in Green Bay? Would so many potential draftees attend that they can't "pack" them all in? Hilarious (not really) and great stuff (not really) that Peter didn't even realize he did.

Thursday’s and Friday’s picks (rounds one through three) will be made inside the Auditorium Theatre. All Saturday picks (rounds four through seven) will be made outside, in Selection Square. Day three picks will have some interesting venues:

The Jaguars, trying to pump up their London partnership, will be making their sixth- and seventh-round selections late Saturday night (England time) from London.

The Jaguars, realizing they are quickly alienating all of their fans in the states, will hope they can trick some unsuspecting foreigners into cheering for them.

Other local markets will have different places where picks will be made as well. The Vikings will announce day three selections from the construction site of their new stadium in Minneapolis … the Falcons from a fan event at the new College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta … the Cardinals from the Big Red Rib & Music Festival at their stadium, where local flag football players will announce the picks.

The Rams will be making their picks from Los Angeles at the site of their new practice facility that is being built, not because they are moving to Los Angeles, but because...uh...it's more convenient? Jeff Fisher specifically is going to be making the Rams' fourth round pick from the deck of the new house he built in Los Angeles after receiving a contract extension from the team. Then the entire organization will flip off the city of St. Louis and thank them for being so patient by burning a pile of the 2017 season tickets that would have been issued had the team stayed in St. Louis.

How well the league and the fans and the players adapt to the new setting will determine whether the league continues to go on the road—though from what I hear, Chicago would have to be a significant failure for the league to revert reflexively to New York next year. “We love the move so far,” O’Reilly said Friday. “It’s allowed us to re-imagine what the draft can be.”

The NFL just asks that you bear with them on this Chicago draft idea.

Collinsworth, the Emmy-winning NBC color man on “Sunday Night Football,” usually disappears from the football consciousness in the offseason.

I personally ignore him during the regular season as much as possible too, so his disappearance becomes more of a year-round thing for me.

Not this year. Collinsworth in 2014 bought a majority interest in the football analytics website Pro Football Focus, and PFF will have a draft special today, “Pro Football Focus: Grading the 2015 Draft,” at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

Last year the site began to do the same work for major-college teams. NBC says PFF analysts graded all plays for each draft-eligible player in the 2014 season and graded the players the way they’d grade NFL players. On this show the PFF analysts will compare the pass-releases of Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston to established NFL stars like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.

That will be interesting, especially when factoring in who actually catches the pass that is released from the hand of Winston, Mariota, Brady, and Rodgers.

Two interesting Collinsworth observations after some draft study. One: “When I started watching tape on the quarterbacks, I was 100 percent convinced Winston was the better player. As every day goes by, in my mind, Mariota gets a little closer.” 

"A little closer"? So Collinsworth was 100 percent convinced Winston was the better quarterback, but now that Mariota is getting a little closer, Collinsworth is only 95% convinced Winston is the better player? That still seems like he is very convinced, no? So this observation doesn't mean a hell of a lot in the end, because "a little closer" isn't close at all coming from 100 percent certainty.

Two: “The best player in the draft, to me, is Dante Fowler.

Mike Mayock liked Dante Fowler as the best player in the draft too, until he saw Fowler had a bad personal workout and now he's moved Fowler to a late fourth round pick.

The Hardy case certainly is not over, after the Dallas defensive end was suspended last week for the first 10 games of the 2015 season. If the suspension holds, it means Hardy would be sidelined for playing football for 25 games, longer than any other player for an off-field issue ever.

I'm not going to waste my time finding a .gif for this so just pretend I put a .gif up of a person pretending to cry out of mock sympathy. Hardy was sidelined during the 2014 season while not losing a dime he was supposed to be paid for the season. So he got paid to do nothing. I wish I would get suspended like that by my employer.

1. Hardy’s case on appeal will be simple: I shouldn’t be kept from playing football for 25 games for what I did. Hardy’s side will add the 10 games this year to the 15 games last year. The NFL will argue, as league counsel Jeff Pash did with me Friday, that the 15 games was mutually agreed to, in essence, when Hardy agreed to go on paid leave without discipline last year.

And let's be honest. This isn't a 25 game suspension. Hardy got paid for 15 of those games. That's not a punishment, but a chance for him to ply his trade as a rapper and whatever else he did during that time while earning his full contract, and having the time to Retweet idiots who supported him.

But it’ll be interesting to see, assuming he files suit against the NFL for an excessive suspension, if a court views last year’s 15 games as time served.

Hardy will file that suit against the NFL. He's refused to even admit guilt for putting himself in the situation he was in and has been defiant through everything. That's his deal, good for him, but a little self-awareness about putting himself in the situation would be nice. Best of luck, Dallas. You got the best bi-polar defensive end who only wants a new contract in the NFL. Once he gets that contract, we'll see how dominant he continues to be.

“In terms of what’s different about the NFL’s approach and what different about how the NFL’s approaching these kinds of issues, is the fact that we took a case where the prosecutors dismissed the charges, sent the guy home, and we said, ‘We’re not done,’ ” said Pash. “We spent quite a bit of time, at no small expense, to hire investigators to get the facts as best we could.

I see the NFL is wanting a pat on the back for taking domestic violence seriously. I hope the NFL, a billion dollar non-profit organization, didn't have to spend too much money getting the facts as best they could. I wouldn't want them to spend money they can't afford to spend, which is better served going in the pockets of the already-wealthy owners. Great job, NFL! You take domestic violence seriously...now.

Even if Greg Hardy’s suspension gets sharply reduced on appeal, even if the judge throws out the suspension for some technical reason, the facts are clear. It’s clear what happened. It’s clear what he did. It’s clear what he did because we did the kind of thorough, competent, professional investigation that deserved to be done, and that honored the suffering of this woman, and respected the significance of this issue. And that’s what we weren’t doing the right way a year ago.”

Here's a gold star for you, NFL!

The key part of Brody’s ruling, I believe, comes on page 71 of her decision, and it has to do with the fact that players would have to prove that all or a great majority of any head-trauma issues were caused by playing in the NFL. As pro careers on average last less than four years, many NFL players played more tackle football before reaching the NFL than they did in the pros, a fact that Brody addresses midway through her ruling.

Which is a point I have made repeatedly when Gregg Easterbrook has written about concussions. There is a causation issue where it's impossible to tell when a NFL player actually received the concussion(s) that affected him through out his life. 

Not in any way to minimize what happened to players in the NFL, but there is no question in my mind that if the case ever went to trial, the NFL would have taken some of the big-name plaintiffs in the case, found some old video of college collisions, and asked at trial: Which ones of the big hits caused Player X to have significant post-concussion syndrome today? If one single hit didn’t, how much of his condition can be attributed to his six years in the NFL, and how much to the 10 years of tackle football before entering the NFL?

Considering brain trauma can be caused by what may seem like an insignificant hit to the head, it wouldn't be hard to prove there is a causation issue. Maybe the hits to the head built up over time, that's possible I guess, but the NFL will be paying the burden of an NFL player's entire football career in the settlement. So I see the NFL's point and it's a point I would make as well.

“The main one is Randy Gregory. And trust me, I’ve had a bunch of teams in the bottom half of the first round going, ‘Uh-oh, we’ve got to be all over this guy from our owner, because you might have to bring him into this conversation, from our owner down to our coaching staff.’ And what I think it really becomes, it’s an organizational call. You’ve got top-10 talent in Gregory. And if you’re going to pull the string with him at 16 or 32 or 48, I don’t care where, because of the well-known off-the-field issues, you’ve got to get ownership to buy in and you’ve got to have a coaching staff that understands what they’re going to have to do to provide an infrastructure to help this kid succeed.”

You gotta love Mike Mayock quotes about the NFL Draft. Actually, no one has to love them, and if they didn't, maybe he would go away.

—NFL Network’s Mike Mayock on one big hurdle facing Nebraska pass-rusher Randy Gregory, who admitted testing positive for marijuana at the NFL scouting combine—and whose off-field life at Nebraska has been the subject of much investigating by NFL teams in advance of Thursday’s first round.

I'd worry much more about Gregory's size if I were an NFL team, but I guess a positive drug test is a red flag. If he fell to #25, I wouldn't mind at all if the Panthers took him. He's stupid and had/has an issue with smoking pot. It's not like he was kicked off the Huskers team or has a history of violence. Of course I probably would have said the same thing about Charles Rogers in regard to having an issue with smoking pot. And yes, I bash Greg Hardy while wanting a pot smoking pass rusher on my favorite team. It's not the same thing and Gregory actually sounds contrite, which can't be said for Hardy.

“We tried to move up last year with a team, and they wanted my first three grandchildren. I said, ‘No, I’m not going to do that.’ ”

—Denver GM John Elway, on trading up in the draft.

Elway initially threatened to go play baseball if the other teams didn't let him get his way and do the deal which would help the Broncos trade up, but then realized that won't work in this situation.

Factoids of the Week That May Interest Only Me

For the first three months of his NFL career, Todd Gurley will not be able to drink a beer legally. He turns 21 on Aug. 3.

I'm not a fan of drafting running backs in the first round as a general rule, but Gurley is the exception for me. I would take him in the first round if I were a team that needed a running back and Gurley was the best player on the board. I think he's going to be a stud.

“The Greatest Catch Ever,” Spike Lee’s 30-minute documentary on David Tyree’s Velcro-helmet reception in the Super Bowl (and on a few other catches), has this note of interest that I never knew:

Stop it. Why do I feel like this wouldn't be the last note of interest about this documentary?

The ball Plaxico Burress caught for the winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLII is the same ball Tyree caught four plays earlier against his helmet as Rodney Harrison mugged Tyree to the ground.

That is interesting. It's at the point now that I don't have to watch the documentary because Peter has told me all the information in the documentary that would have caused me to watch it on NFL Network while I was bored one night. 

NFL Draft Quiz:

The third quarterback picked in the 1998 NFL Draft (after Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf) gave the commencement address at his alma mater Sunday. Who was it, and where did he speak?

Answer in Ten Things I Think I Think.

Because giving the answer right now would make too much sense. Plus, Peter has to trick his readers into accidentally moving closer and closer to viewing the Adieu Haiku.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

So I ran the 6.2-mile Central Park loop Saturday morning (58:33—hey, anyone ever notice it’s different running on a windy 47-degree morning, with real hills, than it is on a flat treadmill in the basement of a health club?), and for nearly a mile I found myself trailing  a woman having a great time running and chatting away on her cell phone.

Oh no, this woman wasn't following the strict rules that Peter sets out which state how every single person on the planet should behave while in public. The only exception to these rules is Peter King himself, of course. He makes the rules, he doesn't follow them. So this woman is minding her own fucking business and running as Peter trails behind her like a stalker, except Peter isn't stalking her, but only listening to her entire conversation as it occurs. He's not stalker, more eavesdropping for a longer period of time. It's a totally different thing.

We were both running about the same pace, about 9.5-minute miles, up and down the slight grades of the beautiful park, and I was interested in her conversation with—I believe—a girlfriend on the other end of the conversation.

You should have tried to----I believe---mind your own business and fall further behind this lady or pass her on the trail. That's fine, it's a free country. You could have---I believe---just done your best to ignore the conversation and not have memorized the whole thing so you can dictate it in your football column later in the weekend. See, that's creepy when you make a point to listen to a person's entire conversation.

(When I run, I have nothing in my ears. I struggle, and think, and watch the surroundings, and then struggle some more. But I certainly do not converse more than is absolutely necessary. I can’t.)

Eavesdrop. Don't forget you do that too.

Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't state Peter has nothing between his ears sometimes when he isn't running. 

I did find out, though, that this 30ish woman was going to a baby shower later that afternoon, hadn’t bought a gift yet but was thinking about a gift card from Bloomingdales, wondered how much would be appropriate, settled on $50, then asked if the person on the other end wanted to meet for a margarita beforehand, and then she drifted behind me on a bit of a decline.

See, this could all have been avoided. I run and I pass people talking and doing weird shit I wouldn't imagine doing while exercising (okay, mostly talking). Peter didn't have to keep the same speed as this lady for nearly an entire mile. He caught up to her somehow, didn't he? So why didn't he just pass her on the trail so as to avoid being the creepy guy who is trailing behind some poor lady while she runs? I ask when I know the answer. Peter got stuck behind her and wanted to know what she was talking about so he could tell everyone in MMQB about this crazy lady who is talking on the phone while running. He made a conscious decision to stay behind her, which is creepy.

In general, when not running in a race where there are runners everywhere, it is common courtesy to not just drift behind someone for nearly a mile. You make an effort to let the person in front of you go further ahead or try to pass that person. Why? Because it's really fucking weird to be running and have some dude hanging out behind you for an entire mile. If I were the lady (and I would not have been on my phone, so Peter would have either let me go ahead or passed me due to having no creepy story to tell in MMQB), I would have eventually turned around and asked what his problem was or just accelerated as fast as I could to get away this creepy guy. There are so many issues here, but either this lady was talking really loudly or Peter was really close to her. I say this because Peter had to have been breathing hard to hear the conversation, yet she either talked loudly enough or he was close enough to hear over his own breathing.

There is a distinct possibility this woman was continuing to talk on the phone just in case the weird guy hanging out behind her running attacked her there would be someone who knows and could call the police. If Peter is going to trail behind her, at least don't listen to her conversation. It's weird.

It’s a free country and cool if you can use all this technology wherever, and I know I’m a 57-year-old dinosaur, and I get that just running and thinking and pondering life is probably passé, and I understand no one gets hurt when someone is on the phone while jogging in one of the great parks in the world.

Well, part of the reason the woman stayed on the phone with her girlfriend is that she didn't know no one was going to get hurt while on the phone. There was a guy right behind her for nearly a mile and he seemed very interested in what she was saying. That's creepy.

But I do not want to be on the phone when I am running through Central Park. I’m just not going to understand that.

You don't have to understand it, you just don't need to stay behind the lady so you can hear her conversation purely for the purposes of relating the conversation in your weekly football column. 

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think there is a cottage industry out there saying the Bengals are nuts for extending Marvin Lewis and asking what Marvin Lewis has won that would merit him getting a contract extension through 2016. Idiocy, in my opinion.

It's all Andy Dalton's fault anyway. He's the one who got his receivers injured this past year against the Bengals, which prevented the Bengals from beating the Colts.

Does he need to win in the playoffs? Absolutely. Losing in the playoff opener four years in a row isn’t good, nor should it be something anyone with the franchise accepts. If Mike Brown were a Steinbrenner, Lewis would have been gone after last season. But I refuse to blame this all or even mostly on Lewis. The Steelers and Ravens start first-round quarterbacks who have played great in multiple playoff games, and both have won Super Bowls. Andy Dalton hasn’t—yet. I’m not putting the blame for that on Marvin Lewis. Now, I would put the blame on him for so solidly standing behind Dalton, without any consequence for his lousy January play. The Bengals need to draft a challenger to Dalton, not necessarily to hand him the job

I’m not absolving Lewis of blame for never getting past the first playoff game. But I’m putting more of that blame on the quarterback than on the head coach.

Actually Peter, it sounds like you are putting most of the blame on the Bengals GM. Peter states the Bengals need to draft a challenger for Dalton and show him consequences for his lousy play in the playoffs. If he doesn't blame Lewis for the Bengals not drafting a challenger to Dalton, then he certainly can't blame Dalton for refusing to bench himself. Dalton has no way to draft another quarterback to compete with him, so it seems like Peter is actually putting most of the blame on the Bengals GM. So Peter is blaming Mike Brown for Marvin Lewis not having won a playoff game.

3. I think it wouldn’t shock me if the Saints used the Jimmy Graham pick from the Seahawks, the 31st pick of the first round, on Dorial Green-Beckham. But I can’t see him going much earlier than 31. With the great group of wideouts in this draft, what sense would it make to take a great prospect with the most checkered history of any player in this draft in the first round?

Peter King is just absolutely so predictable. Here is something I wrote last week when Peter said that Green-Beckham was one of the great mysteries of the draft:

Just write it Peter. You know you want to. List the same teams you always list that could draft a player like Green-Beckham and surround him with veteran players who will show him the right way. The Patriots, Seahawks, etc.

When it comes to talented but troubled players or players that an NFL team may not know how to utilize effectively, it's always easy to know which teams Peter will suggest will draft these players. Funny, these teams rarely do draft these players. I knew Peter would link Green-Beckham to the Seahawks. It makes sense for their needs, but it's also something lazy that Peter would write...and he did.

4. I think it probably wasn’t the best idea for Greg Hardy, or someone Tweeting for him,

Oh no, it's completely Greg Hardy Tweeting for himself. There's very little doubt about that.

to re-tweet the day of his 10-game suspension this wish from an apparent fan of his: “F— Goddell.” [Sic.] That’s the kind of thing that’ll really help him win a reduction in his suspension.

He doesn't care and he hasn't cared. More power to him. Hardy has consistently Retweeted things such as this over the last few months. It's who he is.

5. I think I was glad to see Mike Mayock admit his mistake before the draft last year in being convinced

that Teddy Bridgewater wasn't the best quarterback in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft based on one individual workout? That he regrets coming to this conclusion based upon ignoring all the tape Mayock saw which showed him Bridgewater was the best quarterback in the 2014 draft and believing this one workout showed Bridgewater's true abilities?

Johnny Manziel was growing up. I bought it too. And that’s one of the reasons why you should be skeptical of every guy in this draft with some pockmarks in his past, such as Jameis Winston and Marcus Peters and Randy Gregory. 

There has been one incident with Randy Gregory so far. He's the outlier here because there's been ONE incident of him failing a drug test, just like Warren Sapp failed a pre-draft drug test. I think there is a difference in a guy having multiple red flags and what happened with Randy Gregory. I could end up being wrong of course.

When you get a repeated pattern of bad decisions, you might be on your best behavior leading up to the draft—you’ve got all kinds of people around you telling you what to say and how to act—but once you get comfortable, whether it’s one year in, two years in, three years in, once you get comfortable again in the NFL and you get paid, typically that kid goes back to being who he always was.”

Which is what I believe any smart person would have thought about Manziel prior to the draft last year. Money and the chance to be a pro isn't going to make him change his actions, it will only exacerbate his actions.

7. I think, if you want to know the value of Peyton Manning to the league, you should know that the Broncos in 12 of 16 regular-season games this year will either be a prime-time game or a doubleheader game in the late-Sunday-afternoon time slot.

Ratings are what matter.

Matt Ryan’s a pretty good quarterback, right? He and the Falcons have only two prime-time/late-Sunday-doubleheader slots.

I guess Matt Ryan is a pretty good quarterback. His team hasn't exactly been very good lately and that seems to have caused the opinion of Ryan to decline. He just needs more help. How can a guy be expected to play well when he only has two quality wide receivers? Without a Hall of Fame tight end Ryan shouldn't be expected to carry the Falcons team.

10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:

a. Good for you, Bruce Jenner. Really good for you.

Peter can't wait until you fully transition into becoming a woman so that he can follow you on a running trail for a mile, listen to your conversations and then tell the general public the details of your conversation.

b. Seventh pick in the 2009 NBA Draft: Stephen Curry.

c. Second pick: Hasheem Thabeet. Sixth pick: Jonny Flynn.

I'm not sure anyone but the Grizzlies talked themselves into Hasheem Thabust as a real NBA-quality center. He was a tall guy in college who could block shots and had no offensive game to speak of, plus he was a year older than everyone else in his class. I wonder if Peter watches a lot of basketball? He's never made it entirely clear whether he likes basketball or not.

d. As you all know, I am not basketball guy.

What? No way? I had forgotten Peter wasn't a basketball guy since he had not mentioned something about it in the past week.

But Steph Curry is such a marvelous athlete and competitor and player. I think he’s the most compelling player in sports today.

He's the most compelling player in sports over Peter's lifetime. By his "lifetime" Peter King means, "over the last year."

e. How does a human being make the kind of shot he made getting mugged and falling out of bounds that Curry made against New Orleans Thursday night? In front of Sean Payton, by the way … according to Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Adding this shot was made in front of Sean Payton probably doesn't add to this story like Peter thinks it does.

g. If it hasn’t happened already, someone with the Kansas City Royals whom Yordano Ventura respects needs to take him out to dinner and bring the conversation around to behavior during competition. And this person needs to say to Ventura: “You’re 23 years old. You won’t make it to 25 as a baseball player if you get in fights every time you pitch. Either someone’s going to maim you, or you’ll continually get thrown out of games.”

While Peter may have a point, I wonder if this same conversation would have been had with Don Drysdale or any other pitcher from Peter's childhood that prided themselves on pitching batters inside?

i. There have been many bad contracts in baseball history, but the Josh Hamilton deal has to be in the top five.

j. This is what Angels owner Arte Moreno will get, in the end, for about $110 million: 240 games, 31 homers, 123 RBI.

It's not great, but I don't know if I would put Hamilton on the list of the top five contracts in baseball history. The money was great, but Hamilton didn't play terribly. There are probably contracts worth less where the player receiving the contract didn't perform to the level where he could come as close to earning that contract as Hamilton came to earning his contract with the Angels.

n. Coffeenerdness: Very glad to have discovered walking through Grand Central Station the other day Joe, a tiny to-go coffee shop with tremendous care taken in making good espresso drinks. The smell in there: heaven.

And what does heaven smell like to Peter? Heaven smells like the sweat hopping off a 30-something old female runner's body, while Peter is stalking this woman around a running trail. 

q. NFL Draft Quiz answer: Charlie Batch, picked in the second round by the Detroit Lions in 1998, gave the graduation speech at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich., on Sunday.

Here is the answer to the question Peter posed earlier. My life is now more complete knowing this and the wait was absolutely worth it.

The Adieu Haiku

Ted Wells probe of Pats:
Day 94. Please end it.
Publish the report.


I think it is Year 2 of the Adieu Haiku. Please end it as well. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

5 comments John Calipari is Culpable for the Scam the NCAA Runs Simply By Choosing to Be a Head Coach

I've read a lot of John Calipari-hating columns through the years. Some I agree with and others I don't agree with as much. I'm not a huge Calipari fan, but I often find myself countering attacks against him from certain parts of the media who seem to think one-and-done was his idea. Today, a guy who writes for Deadspin and Slate (well, at least he writes for Slate for one day) states that John Calipari is culpable for the NCAA running a scam on players with the one-and-done rule because he chooses to be the head coach at the University of Kentucky. That's the gist of what he writes. If true, this means every Division-I head coach who recruits a player that leaves after one year is culpable for the NCAA scam of one-and-done. As I always state, one-and-done is not an NCAA rule, but it seems few people care about that sometimes. It always comes back to John Calipari as the bad guy because he dares to recruit one-and-done players. It is unfair for Calipari to be blamed for something the NCAA has chosen to do. The only way Calipari could not participate in the NCAA scam is if he would resign as the University of Kentucky's head basketball coach and go find something else to do with his life. I'm not sure why this ultimatum only pertains to Calipari, but it seems that it does. I've explained too much already, so I'll let you get confused by what point the author is trying to prove in blaming Calipari. The author admits that the one-and-done rule and other NCAA scams are not Calipari's fault, but fuck it, let's blame him anyway. Actually, the author's point is that if Calipari were really on the player's side then he would quit his job at Kentucky. Because that would fix everything.

Last week I wrote about the ways that both pro- and anti-NCAA camps tend to miss the mark when talking about University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari. He deserves less criticism for breaking NCAA rules and more for profiting from them, because even his “Players First” arrangement forces players to take huge risks for a reward artificially delayed by NCAA and NBA rules,

I am not going to wave a Calipari flag outside the courthouse steps or self-immolate in order to protect his honor. But let's be a little bit honest here. I like honesty. Almost every NCAA men's head basketball coach would like to be in the position that John Calipari is in. They can lie and claim differently, but the vast majority would take Karl-Anthony Towns on their team for one year. Most coaches wouldn't mind their program being a pit stop between high school and the NBA. Coaches like Bo Ryan can argue differently, but they are lying. Bo Ryan heavily recruited Kevin Looney, who is a one-and-done player. So getting that assumption out of the way, which I believe to be a correct assumption, most men's college basketball coaches wouldn't mind profiting from the NCAA rules. It is not John Calipari who forces Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to come to college for one year, it is the NBA who forces Kidd-Gilchrist to go overseas or play in college for one year. Sure, Calipari is profiting. He's not forcing these players to take these huge risks. They are free to sit out a year, go overseas (where there would still be risk for injury) or they can play college basketball for one year in the United States (where there would still be a risk for injury). Absent not playing basketball for a full year and then entering the NBA, the risk is always there. Calipari is not forcing these players to do anything because it's not his rule and he's simply recruiting these players like other men's basketball coaches are doing. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is going to play basketball for a year after high school prior to entering the NBA, it's just a matter of where.

while he himself risks nothing at all and has a guaranteed seven-figure annual reward no matter what becomes of the players who do all the valuable work.

This is an absolute strawman argument. Every men's basketball coach risks nothing at all while coaching. Saint Coach K isn't risking his career coaching Jahlil Okafor. Steve Prohm isn't risking his life or career coaching at Murray State. The risk will always be on the players. I don't know why John Calipari and his "arrangement" is more dangerous than Tom Izzo's "arrangement" where he gets paid millions of dollars and the players do all the valuable work.

On Sunday, Slate writer A.J. McCarthy published a thoughtful response to my piece. In his estimation, “Calipari’s unmatched success in getting his players to the next level—while certainly not entirely ridding him of the NCAA’s stench—does, actually, separate him from his rival coaches. Not just in degree, but in kind as well.”

To argue that Calipari’s arrangement with players is meaningfully different—in kind, not degree—from the one offered by other college coaches because of the high rate at which his players catch on in the NBA, strikes me as flawed in at least a couple of ways.

It can be a flawed argument, but it's an argument that is as flawed as arguing John Calipari is the most evil of evil head coaches because he profits from the one-and-done rule and forces his players to take huge risks prior to entering the NBA. The risks Kentucky players take are no more than the risks any college basketball player takes in wanting to make it to the NBA one day. Doug McDermott was coached by his father and his father didn't take a risk, it was Doug who did all the valuable work during his time at Creighton and took on the risk of injury.

First, and most importantly, it ignores the risk forcibly taken on even by those of Calipari’s players who emerge from his program with their NBA prospects unharmed, or even enhanced. Anthony Davis may have survived his lone season at Kentucky without, say, tearing his Achilles tendon, but he still carried the enormous risk of doing so throughout that entire season—

Every single college athlete in every single college sport suffers risk of injury during their playing career. Some of these athletes plan on making their living in sports, others don't. The risk of injury doesn't go away simply because Nigel Hayes is planning on spending four years in college rather than one year in college. If Anthony Davis tore his Achilles tendon, he has the option of going back to school for a second year. This risk of a player's stock being down or an injury occurring isn't present because John Calipari has put a gun to Anthony Davis' head forcing him to play, but because Anthony Davis is forced by NBA rules to either sit out a year, play overseas or play college basketball for a year prior to entering the NBA. Simply because John Calipari is an NCAA men's basketball head coach doesn't make him partially culpable for the NBA rule requiring Anthony Davis to play/sit out a year before entering the NBA, any more than Bill Self is culpable for coaching a group of basketball players at Kansas who may someday want to enter the NBA.

a season during which his work paid him no money, and helped John Calipari haul in at least seven figures.

You are blaming John Calipari for participation in the NCAA system. What does the author expect Calipari to do? Quit? If he quit as the head men's basketball coach at Kentucky would the NCAA system all of a sudden become fair and NBA prospects are no longer risking injury to play basketball in college? Of course not. Calipari coaches within an unfair system, but this doesn't make him culpable for the unfairness of the system.

Davis took a huge risk because artificial and unjust rules forced him to, and he’ll never be compensated for taking that risk—but his coach was.

So again, while being a problem spotter and not a problem solver, what is the solution here? Should John Calipari stop coaching college basketball because the rules are so unfair, which of course would fix nothing because 300+ other Division-I college coaches are still coaching teams under the same unfair rules they would embrace if Anthony Davis wanted to go to their school? Should John Calipari just not get paid for coaching the Kentucky men's basketball team? That seems like a rather unreasonable conclusion.

That would be true at any other college.

Which only highlights the absurdity of blaming John Calipari for an institutional problem.

Second, the notion that every instance of a star recruit making the NBA is an instance of a fair deal ignores how even those nominal successes can be screwed by their time in college (even apart from the fact that they don’t get paid for their work while there)

This is the part where the author has already blamed John Calipari for his recruits having to spend a year in college, allowing his prospective one-and-done guys to play basketball in live action games, thereby risking them getting injured, but now blames Calipari for the NBA rookie pay scale. That's his fault too now. 

Consider fellow Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel. Superficially, Noel might seem to buttress McCarthy’s point: He arrived at Kentucky as the top recruit in the nation, tore his ACL just weeks before the NCAA tournament in his freshman season, and still went on to a lucrative NBA contract as the sixth overall pick in the following draft.

BUT NO! McCarthy wasn't considering factors which John Calipari didn't have a hand in creating or legislating that show how Calipari is the real problem. If you consider another factor out of Calipari's control, it just goes to show the evil nature of Calipari and how he abuses his prospective one-and-done basketball players merely by choosing to coach college basketball. This is abuse caused only by Calipari.

But then, account for the NBA’s rookie pay scale system, under the rubric of which draft position determines salary for all first-round picks. Prior to his ACL injury, Noel was the presumptive first overall pick in the 2013 draft (actually, “presumptive” may not be strong enough; that he would go first overall was a virtual certainty); when the draft finally rolled around, he fell to sixth, thanks to concerns about his leg and how recovery might hamper his development.

So once you factor John Calipari's culpability in creating the NBA rookie pay scale system (which he has none), then you can see the real evil behind his mad schemes. So what if no men's college basketball coach had anything to do with the NBA rookie pay scale system? Fuck it, blame them anyway.

Here is another scam that John Calipari participates in. This so-called "American Dream" where everyone has a shot to succeed. How about those who never got a shot to succeed? Doesn't John Calipari care about them? He earns millions of dollars working at a lucrative job, while thousands go hungry, living on the streets, and without sufficient food or shelter. If John Calipari really cared about the scam of the "American Dream" then he would move to another country where (a) there is no poverty or homelessness or (b) no one pretended to care about the poverty and homelessness. As long as John Calipari lives in the United States, he's all a part of the scam.

The first overall pick, Anthony Bennett, received a first-year salary of $4,436,900; Noel, at sixth, received $2,643,600—a difference of almost $1.8 million in their rookie season alone.

And is John Calipari going to reimburse Noel for that $1.8 million difference caused by no actions on Calipari's part other than a freak injury occurring to Noel when Calipari had chosen to put Noel in the game? Of course not. It's all a part of Calipari's plan to recruit one-and-done basketball players and then steal hypothetical money from them when they get injured on the court, all the while Calipari is manically laughing at how his team has now a lesser chance of winning a championship. It's all part of the plan that John Calipari and the NCAA have.

Of course, one could also point out that Anthony Bennett was also a one-and-done guy, so the money Noel "lost" was "gained" by Bennett through the scam Dave Rice is running at UNLV where he recruited Bennett to play basketball. Dave Rice is culpable as a basketball coach in the NCAA scam too, right?

Over the maximum five-season lifespan of his rookie deal, Noel’s draft position is worth about $11,000,000 less than if he’d gone first overall, as he would have if he hadn’t suffered the ACL injury.

This has to be one of the most poorly defended articles I have read in a while. Okay, that's sad for Noel. I have absolutely no idea what this has to do with John Calipari. If Noel didn't tear his ACL as a member of the Kentucky basketball team then he could have done it as a member of the UNC or Indiana basketball team. I wouldn't argue against the NCAA costing Noel this money, but dragging Calipari into it due to his status as a basketball coach for an NCAA team is ridiculous.

And unlike Alex Poythress, the Kentucky player who decided of his own free will to return to school and wound up with an expensive and prospect-darkening ACL injury of his own, Noel didn’t lose a dice roll of his own choosing.

So now we are differentiating between the risk on the court a guy who may be one-and-done takes with the risk on the court a guy who may play in the NBA but chooses to stay in school for 3-4 years takes? The risk is the exact same. Nerlens Noel could easily go back to school and turn into a guy who stays in college for 3-4 years. All of a sudden, Calipari is no longer responsible for Noel's draft status!

He played the single season of college ball essentially mandated by the NBA’s age restriction, got injured, and got screwed.

But Noel could have gone back to school. Alex Poythress would have left after his freshmen year too if his draft stock would have been higher at that point. Noel rolled the dice of his own choosing by not coming back to school for his sophomore year. He could have made the same decision that Poythress made.

(Before anyone does the whole Hey, Nerlens Noel made $2.6 million his rookie year—if that’s getting screwed, sign me up thing: Likely there are people who would happily do your job for 40 percent less pay, too. Probably you would feel pretty screwed if your employer told you that you were about to become one of them.)

This isn't close to being an accurate parallel. A more accurate parallel would be if I had the chance to get a job, but because of circumstances out of my control they re-opened the job search and hired someone else for the position and paid them more than they were offering me. Then I would get a similar job for less pay at another company.

None of this—the NBA’s unjust age restriction and rookie wage scale, the NCAA’s criminal restrictions on athlete compensation and unfair asymmetry of risk—is John Calipari’s doing, or John Calipari’s fault.

I must have misread that. I'll try again.

None of this—the NBA’s unjust age restriction and rookie wage scale, the NCAA’s criminal restrictions on athlete compensation and unfair asymmetry of risk—is John Calipari’s doing, or John Calipari’s fault.

Oh, what you write does say it is John Calipari's fault. The author states the following in this column:

He deserves less criticism for breaking NCAA rules and more for profiting from them, because even his “Players First” arrangement forces players to take huge risks for a reward artificially delayed by NCAA and NBA rules, while he himself risks nothing at all and has a guaranteed seven-figure annual reward no matter what becomes of the players who do all the valuable work.

It sort of sounds like he is blaming Calipari for the unfair asymmetry of risk and unjust age restriction doesn't it?

You may rightly assert that his Wildcat pedigree and Calipari’s imprimatur helped secure Noel’s draft position against concerns about his health, in service of a Coach Cal gets his guys paid! argument.

But then, account for the NBA’s rookie pay scale system, under the rubric of which draft position determines salary for all first-round picks. Prior to his ACL injury, Noel was the presumptive first overall pick in the 2013 draft (actually, “presumptive” may not be strong enough; that he would go first overall was a virtual certainty); when the draft finally rolled around, he fell to sixth, thanks to concerns about his leg and how recovery might hamper his development. The first overall pick, Anthony Bennett, received a first-year salary of $4,436,900; Noel, at sixth, received $2,643,600—a difference of almost $1.8 million in their rookie season alone.

Doesn't this sound a bit like blaming Calipari for the rookie wage scale? Specifically since this was a point brought up to counter an argument that Calipari's success makes him different from rival coaches and therefore shouldn't be put to blame for "the deal" he offers his players.

The point isn’t that Calipari is out here doing anything more evil than what his counterparts are doing at other big-money NCAA programs—he’s not—but that the NCAA system itself is so corrupt and compromised, the ripping-off of athletes so fundamental to its business, that it cannot be navigated in a humane and ethical fashion by a coach.

So why in the hell are you singling out Calipari for disdain? Other than it pumps up pageviews and the comment section to have a debate about Calipari, of course.

To coach in the NCAA is to perpetrate the rip-off. John Calipari might make it as painless as it can be, but it’s still a rip-off—for Alex Poythress, for Nerlens Noel, for Anthony Davis, for all of them—and Calipari is still on the side of it that participates by choice. The side of it that gets paid.

As is every single NCAA college coach. I don't get the point that is trying to be proven here.

Tellingly, the defense of Calipari winds up echoing defenses of the NCAA itself. McCarthy objects to the use of Poythress to illustrate the shortcomings of Calipari’s “Players First” principle, on grounds that Poythress, who stayed in college longer than he had to and suffered a torn ACL for it, will still “have a free college education to show for his time at Kentucky.”

Well, that defense sucks then. There is no required defense of John Calipari. He coaches men's basketball at the University of Kentucky. Some of his players who choose to go to the NBA after one year, as they are required to wait that long by NBA rule. Some players wait longer than one year to go to the NBA and other players of his have no chance of making the NBA. John Calipari tries to win games for the University of Kentucky while teaching his players how to play basketball better, which may or may not help them make it into the NBA. His track record says he is pretty good at getting his players into the NBA while following the one-and-done rule set out by the NBA. The rookie wage scale has nothing to do with NCAA college basketball.

Remember that Poythress will have earned this education by playing many hundreds of hours of basketball for the university—basketball that generates far more money for the university and the NCAA than they return to him in the form of his athletic scholarship.

If John Calipari died as a child, then Alex Poythress would still be playing hundreds of hours for a university and receiving no money in return for the money he generates for the university.

Poythress has not received a “free college education.” He has received an incredibly expensive one! He has paid more for his college education than the average college graduate will spend in a lifetime.

When you find evidence that John Calipari is directly responsible for college athletes not getting paid, then call me.

To accept the premise that an undergraduate education is—or even can be—a fair return for the work high-level college basketball players do is to accept the central lie of “student athletics.” If Calipari’s deal as presented by McCarthy—NBA jobs after a year of underpaid work for some, free college educations for the rest—is a fair one, then so is the NCAA itself.

Maybe this is true. It sounds like both McCarthy and the author here are arguing about whether college athletes should get paid, but putting "Calipari" in the title in effort to gain more attention for the same old tired argument.

In this case the sheen of principled rebellion evaporates from Calipari’s rules violations in an instant, and he’s just a guy who cheats to get ahead, then leaves the consequences for others to absorb.

Oh, we are talking about Calipari's rules violations now.

But the NCAA’s deal isn’t a fair one. An undergraduate education isn’t a fair return for the work college basketball players do. And so Alex Poythress’s decision to stay in school and pursue his degree doesn’t vindicate Calipari’s methods.

If the NCAA isn't a fair deal, then no methods used by any NCAA athletic coach are vindicated in any way. This is because zero college athletes get paid for participating in their sport and generating revenue for the school. This is true whether the athletes be women's soccer players at Lehigh University or football players at the University of Texas. These athletes spend hundreds of hours of their time trying to perfect the sport they aren't getting paid to perfect. If the system is corrupt, this means any athletic coach in the NCAA is culpable on the same level as Calipari. No method used by a coach, interestingly other than to commit a rules violation (that the author felt the need to randomly bring up as a case against Calipari's methods) by paying the players, will vindicate that coach's methods because the NCAA system is corrupt.

Calipari runs the scam without the bullshit pretense of some lofty pedagogical mission, but it’s still a scam.

It's a scam, but not a scam of Calipari's doing. He's trying to do what other men's basketball coaches are trying to do, which is work within the rules and recruit a team that wins games. It's not Calipari's scam, he's simply choosing to work at the University of Kentucky. His quitting as the head coach at Kentucky would have zero impact on the scam the NCAA is running. Therefore, his culpability is the same as every other coach's culpability, yet for some reason other coaches aren't mentioned in this column. Weird.

McCarthy and other defenders are right to say that Calipari offers the closest thing to an honest bargain players can get from college basketball. It’s also true, though, that the comparison makes Calipari appear better than he is. Only in the context of the NCAA would justice-minded people look at him—a millionaire management-class white dude who asks for a year of underpaid labor, rather than four, from his black teenage workers—and see a beacon of fairness.

What are Calipari's other options again? Other than to quit his job as the head coach at Kentucky, of course. I don't think some people see a beacon of fairness in having basketball players at Kentucky stay there for a year before they go to the NBA. I think Calipari offers certain college basketball players a way to reach their goal of making it into the NBA, just like other NCAA men's basketball head coaches offer prospective one-and-done players or even players that will be at the school risking injury over a four year period.

Go easy on him, the other ticks are much thirstier. That flattering comparison is another of the many ways John Calipari profits not in spite of the NCAA’s awfulness, but because of it.

I don't think this article was quite as profound or persuasive as the author believes it was. To frame this argument in the context of John Calipari and try to make it seen as he's hero for college athletes is very misguided. It's simply not true. The basic argument McCarthy was making was this:

The NCAA is, for lack of a better word, evil. But while John Calipari might not be a hero fighting against its crooked ways, he isn’t the villain that many, including Burneko, have described.

Right, Calipari isn't the villain. Because if he is the villain then every other NCAA coach who participates in the scam is a villain as well. If the author doesn't blame Calipari for the NBA's rookie salary structure, the one-and-done rule, restrictions on athletes' compensation and the asymmetry of risk then what is he blaming Calipari for? Being a cog in the machine? I guess both arguments pro- and anti-Calipari are wrong in that case.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

7 comments Skip Bayless Evaluates Why NFL QB Draft Choices Fail; HAHA! I'm Just Kidding, Skip Bayless Talks about Himself and His Old Opinions of NFL QB Draft Choices

I imagine the home of Skip Bayless isn't really a home. I imagine it has approximately 500 mirrors and mostly serves as a shrine to Skip's favorite person, himself. Every article he writes at ESPN.com is really just about Skip's opinion and the opinion of others regarding Skip's opinion. There's no substance to any of Skip's writing, instead it is mostly "Here is my opinion and what others thought about my opinion and do you mind if we talk about me a little bit more?" So under the guise of figuring out why quarterbacks taken in the first round of the NFL Draft miss the mark in the NFL, Skip reviews the quarterbacks who he believed would succeed and discusses how sometimes he's right and sometimes he is wrong, but mostly it's just another shrine to Skip Bayless and his opinions. The use of the words "I," "I'm," and "I've" in this article is so prevalent only the most noble and bored of adventurers would take on the expedition of counting how many times Skip uses these words.

I'll admit it's getting a little eerie. Six times before NFL drafts, I've taken a stand for quarterbacks doubted by many. For a while, they've all made me look like a genius.

It's eerie that Skip really doesn't know what the fuck he is talking about. Weird, isn't it?

Then ...

Things have gone wrong.

They have gone wrong for a variety of reasons, but mostly because Skip was never right and NFL defensive coordinators found a way to game plan around stopping the strengths of these quarterbacks. It's much in the same way that Skip would build a bridge and claim "for a while" it was a work of genius until one day the entire bridge fell and killed dozens of people and hundreds of innocent water creatures. Skip will still insist "for a while" that bridge worked really well, while ignoring that isn't the mark of success at all.

In each case I wound up publicly pilloried as a madman, a football fool, a quarterback hack who is daft when it comes to the draft. I still believe I deserve credit for always being so initially right. You decide.

It's all about Skip and the reaction of the public to the idiotic words he speaks because ESPN inexplicably gives him a forum to speak these words. And no, there is no credit being given for being initially right, because being initially right where a quarterback plays well for a season or two isn't correctly predicting that quarterback will succeed in the NFL. Success isn't determined over a short span of time. There's really no debate that can be had on this. Skip isn't right because Tim Tebow fooled defensive coordinators for almost an entire season, at least until they caught on to how to game plan around him.

But as we go case by case, you'll see a common cause of eventual failure -- one I can't account for pre-draft.

Skip tries to blame outside forces for the reason each quarterback didn't succeed in the NFL, in order to cover up for the fact "He isn't a good quarterback" could not have been accounted for prior to the draft. Skip can try and talk around it all he wants, and I will admit it's a guessing game whether some of these quarterbacks will succeed in the NFL, but the bottom line is that Skip went hard all-in on some of these quarterbacks and has ended up being wrong. He can talk around it, but that's the bottom line.

Most of these quarterbacks wound up with franchises whose executives and coaches were dangerously split on them. I was all-in. The team that drafted them was not.

Of course, it is the franchise's fault for not being all-in on these quarterbacks. Naturally. It's not that those executives and coaches who argued against the drafting of these quarterbacks were right, it's just they were only right because they argued against drafting these quarterbacks based on legitimate reasons that ended up being correct. But the reasons wouldn't have been correct if they had just been all-in on the quarterback. It all makes sense if you turn your brain off. 

You'll also see a common flaw: Several of "my guys" failed to handle their success and/or failure in unstable and uneasy situations.

And really, who could have seen that coming? Johnny Manziel partied a lot in college and was drafted by an organization that seems somewhat dysfunctional? Who could have seen that he wouldn't succeed? 

You can argue I've been much more long-term accurate on which quarterbacks are being dangerously overrated. I said on air JaMarcus Russell and Sam Bradford were very bad ideas for No.1 overall picks, that Alex Smith would never live up to being taken No. 1 and that Matt Leinart, Brady Quinn, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder were not first-round picks. 

You could argue that, but it wouldn't mean Skip wasn't wrong about these other six quarterbacks.

Those weren't popular stances.

Skip is a rebel and takes unpopular stances, based on the fact Stephen A. Smith disagrees with him. As is well known, Stephen A. Smith speaks for the majority opinion of the sports-loving world.

Neither were these ...

2006: I said on air the Houston Texans should take Vince Young No. 1 overall, in part because he grew up in Houston and had just led the University of Texas to the national championship with the greatest individual performance in title-game history.

Does Skip remember how popular Vince Young was coming out of Texas? It was not popular to say he would be successful in the NFL? I do disagree. Also, you can see from the start this isn't a column about WHY NFL quarterbacks taken early in the draft fail, as promised in the column title, but is about Skip Bayless and what he has said on the air. One other thing, to indicate the Texans should have taken Young simply because he grew up in Houston and led the University of Texas to a national championship is very bad reasoning for taking Young #1 overall.

Houston shockingly opted for defensive end Mario Williams, leaving Reggie Bush for the New Orleans Saints and Young for the Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese and Titans owner Bud Adams,

It was shocking in that Mario Williams really worked out well for the Texans and Bush never really was the running back he promised himself to be in college. So it's almost like the Texans knew what they were doing.

One big problem: coach Jeff Fisher was against drafting Young.

Jeff Fisher is never wrong and you take it back right now.

Still, Young often made me look pretty good. He was offensive rookie of the year. He made two Pro Bowls. He went 30-17 as Tennessee's starter.

And that's really what this is all about isn't it? Which quarterbacks made Skip look good and which quarterbacks didn't make Skip look good. Vince Young did have success for a while, but this doesn't mean Skip was right about him. I think Mario Williams was the right pick for the Texans. 

But predictably, he often clashed with Fisher. It appeared Fisher helped turn some in the local and national media against Young. His skin grew thin.

IT WASN'T YOUNG'S FAULT HE FAILED IN THE NFL! IF HE HAD JUST GOTTEN ANOTHER SHOT WITH ANOTHER NFL TEAM HE WOULD HAVE SUCCEE---

Incredibly, after a season in Philadelphia and a camp with the Buffalo Bills and another with the Green Bay Packers, the league rejected Young at age 30.

This is shocking that Skip blames Young's failures on the environment in Tennessee and Young goes to another NFL team and continues to not be a good quarterbacks. It's almost like, and I almost dare not say it, Vince Young wasn't really a great quarterback and Skip was wrong about Young. But no, I'm sure the issues Jeff Fisher had with Young followed him to Philadelphia, Buffalo and to Green Bay. That makes more sense than Skip just outright being wrong.

What if Fisher had wanted to draft Young, had publicly invested his pride in him, had supported him through the growing pains? Young was too good for it to go so wrong.

What if Vince Young had success early in his career and this pretty much rejects the idea the biggest issue with Young's progress in the NFL is that he wasn't supported enough, because it doesn't make sense for him to play well at the beginning of his career and suddenly need more nurturing as he played more NFL games? I'm sure the Titans could have done something to help Young more, but three other teams took a look at Young and rejected him.

Another quarterback taken in that 2006 draft made the Pro Bowl in his second full season of starting. When Jay Cutler was a junior at Vanderbilt (my alma mater) I began raving about him on air, predicting he'd be a "franchise quarterback." Of course, that proclamation was met with chuckles. A Vandy quarterback?

As always, it is about Skip Bayless. Sense a trend that permeates Skip's entire writing style?

"Here's a quarterback. Here's what I thought about that quarterback. Here's what others thought about my thoughts about this quarterback. Here's an excuse for why I was wrong, but this doesn't mean I was wrong and others were right."

Cutler was the "lucky" one of the six debatable quarterbacks I loved before their drafts. (He's also the most prototypical pocket passer who least relied on his legs.) Shanahan really wanted him. So did the Bears. I certainly wasn't wrong about Cutler's ability. He's no bust. But he is what he was at Vandy: a little more interested in pulling off the occasional "wow" throw than winning.

Skip wasn't wrong about Cutler's ability? Is Cutler a franchise quarterback? No? Skip said Cutler was a franchise quarterback and he isn't, so that leads me to the conclusion Skip was wrong.

2009: I said on air that Mark Sanchez was being overrated. He went fifth to the Jets. I also raved about Josh Freeman and said the Tampa Bay Bucs stole him at No. 17.

Ah yes, the inconsistencies of Skip come to the forefront. He uses "games won" to make a case for why Vince Young could have been a great quarterback if it weren't for that meddling Jeff Fisher. All of a sudden he skips over that Mark Sanchez went to two AFC Championship Games as the starter for the Jets. Sure, I wouldn't give Sanchez credit for that, but in his eagerness to show how right he was about Sanchez, Skip changes the metric he uses for quarterback success. All of a sudden "games won" doesn't hold as much meaning to Skip when he's talking about a quarterback he thought wouldn't succeed in the NFL. Weird how that works.

I'd watched Kansas State's 6-6, 240-pound Freeman play big in his biggest games against Texas and Oklahoma.

No one else saw this. Only Skip saw Freeman play big in his biggest games against Texas and Oklahoma. (By the way, notice how Skip's love for the University of Texas seems to play a part in his evaluations?)

In his first full season as Tampa Bay's starter, he made me look pretty great by throwing 25 touchdown passes to only six interceptions and leading the Bucs to a 10-6 record. He was a Pro Bowl alternate.

Then ... it all fell apart in 2011. Rumors swirled. Maybe Freeman let success go to his head (or stomach). Maybe Raheem Morris lost control of the team as it went from 3-1 to 4-12. Morris was fired.

Freeman played pretty well in coach Greg Schiano's first season -- 27 touchdown passes, 17 interceptions -- but the team went 7-9.

Welp, it seems using team performance to evaluate a quarterback means something important again.

After three starts in 2013, the Bucs tried to trade Freeman, couldn't and released him. After one horrendous Monday night start for the Minnesota Vikings, a 23-7 loss at the New York Giants, Freeman was out of football at age 25.

You still hear speculation Freeman will get another shot. But how could he go from 2010 to this? Again: so right, so wrong.

Probably the same reason a rookie baseball player can have a fantastic rookie year and then fail to improve on or reach those heights for the rest of his career. Opponents adjust to the rookie's tendencies, and when the player's true talent comes to light after opponents have adjusted, it turns out he isn't the star people thought he could end up being.

2010: I said on air I would take Tim Tebow late in the first round. "If you let him run the read option he ran at Florida," I said, "he'll win games in the NFL. He'll never make a Pro Bowl, but he can win games as a starting quarterback."

He'll "win games," which is exactly the type of thing you want your first round pick quarterback to do. Just don't suck and win a few games.

Under John Fox, the Broncos began the next season 1-4, and a new Broncos regime (led by John Elway) that clearly didn't believe in Tebow threw him into the fire, at Miami, out of desperation. I was asked on air what I thought Tebow's record would be the rest of the season. I said 7-4. Chuckles.

Tebow went 7-4, led Denver to the AFC West title, led the NFL in QBR in the last five minutes of games and turned the Broncos into the NFL's No. 1 rushing attack. 

And let's be clear that the Broncos HAD to become the NFL's No. 1 rushing attack with Tebow as the quarterback, because he wasn't going to win games by throwing the football. Regardless of whether the Elway regime believed in Tebow or not, it doesn't mean they stunted his growth. Tebow failed in New York, where Rex Ryan took Mark Sanchez (the same Sanchez that Skip didn't like as an NFL QB) to two AFC Championship Games and he flamed out in New England. I would think if Belichick could have used Tebow in any productive way then he would have.

That offseason the Broncos replaced Tebow with ... Peyton Manning! No shame there. Tebow was traded to the Jets, with whom he was never even given a shot at starting.

That's funny. Tebow was in New York the season that Mark Sanchez was horrible and the Jets needed someone, anyone, to come in and play well at the quarterback position. Even going up against the quarterback that Skip thinks sucks, Mark Sanchez, Tebow couldn't win the starting job on a team desperate for a starting quarterback. So yeah, he was never given a shot. That's the lie that Skip will go with.

Tebow began to doubt himself and drifted from one throwing guru to another.

Maybe he started doubting himself because he's really not that good at throwing the football?

It's still possible the Philadelphia Eagles' Chip Kelly will sign Tebow, but again, I was so sensationally right ... and ultimately condemned as so dead wrong.

No, not at all. You were so sensationally wrong. Tim Tebow is now a co-worker of Skip's at ESPN. Tebow is not in the NFL anymore, so Skip was right for a brief period of time, but in the longer span of time he was absolutely wrong about Tebow. Again, simply because a bridge holds up for a brief span of time before it collapses does not mean it was a safe bridge to cross for that brief span of time.

I do really like how Skip talks about how he was right about Tebow winning games as an NFL quarterback, while also ignoring that Tebow couldn't beat out the quarterback Skip proudly beats his chest in this article for correctly stating wouldn't be successful (Mark Sanchez). Ignore that which makes Skip look dumb. That's A LOT of ignoring.

2012: On air long before the draft, I said Robert Griffin III would prove to be an even better pro than Andrew Luck. The Washington Redskins traded three first-rounders and a second to move up from No. 6 to No. 2 to take RG III. Way too much? Not to me.

It's hard for Skip to talk his way out of this one. He'll try to do so by ignoring the issue he himself brought up when arguing for Griffin. The issue Skip presented was that Griffin will be a better quarterback than Andrew Luck. He's not and he won't ever be. Skip was wrong.

Still, In RG III's rookie season, at age 22, he went superstar on the NFL. Offensive rookie of the year, 20 touchdown passes to just five interceptions, led the league in yards per pass attempt and per rush, led his team to the NFC East crown, had a better QBR than Luck -- 71.4 to 65.2.

FOR ONE YEAR! ONE SOLITARY SEASON!

RG III sprained his knee late in the season, then tweaked it just before his team jumped out 14-0 on the Seattle Seahawks in a home playoff game, then wrecked it late in that eventual loss. And he has spent the past two seasons looking like a sad shell of a guy who no longer trusts his legs or eyes or arm.

I like how Skip always blames outside forces for the failure of these quarterbacks. It's never, "Griffin got injured and his lack of mobility revealed him as a one-read quarterback who just couldn't grasp the passing concepts required to be an NFL quarterback." Skip reasons that Griffin no longer trusted his leg or arm after his injury. Of course, because Skip could never be wrong with his evaluation of Griffin's abilities.

He clashed with Shanahan and failed to click with new coach Jay Gruden. Now ESPN's John Clayton is reporting new GM Scot McCloughan will take Mariota if he's there at No. 5.

Now it feels like RG III's best bet is to start over with another team in another town.

Where when/if Griffin fails there, then Skip will conveniently ignore that Griffin was away from the Redskins' toxic environment and he still couldn't succeed.

2014: I said on air the Texans would forever regret not taking Texas native Johnny Manziel, the Heisman winner from Texas A&M, with the No. 1 overall pick.

And so far, the Texans have been correct twice when Skip has claimed they would regret not taking a quarterback that Skip suggests they draft.

I was told the Texans were considering Manziel until they asked him to lay low and behave himself in the month leading up to the draft. Manziel attended the Masters, had too much to drink and -- the Texans were told -- made a spectacle of himself. They were out.

Again and again I said before the draft: If alcohol proves to be an ongoing issue for Manziel, I'm out.

Skip is blaming alcohol for Manziel's poor rookie season, while acknowledging that he thought alcohol could be an issue for Manziel prior to his being drafted. This sort of contradicts what Skip said earlier in this column:

But as we go case by case, you'll see a common cause of eventual failure -- one I can't account for pre-draft.

Oh, except Skip did account for Manziel's alcohol use pre-draft. I wouldn't expect Skip to stay consistent.

Loggains showed the text to owner Jimmy Haslam, who encouraged GM Ray Farmer, coach Mike Pettine and coordinator Kyle Shanahan to trade up to take Manziel. The Browns did, from 26 to 22.

But the GM, coach and coordinator were not sold on Manziel. I said on air the next morning this was the wrong place for a quarterback whose coaches and execs must be united in their belief in him and his crazy-competitive playmaking genius. This, I said, will not work.

Me, me, me, me. Skip said this or that "on air." I wonder if Skip could write a column without once referencing his own opinion or in any way trying to bring the subject of the column back around to himself? Most definitely not. Remember, Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for Robert Griffin when he had his great rookie season. I'm not entirely sure what this means, so forget I brought it up.

The Browns lost last year's starter, Brian Hoyer, a Pettine favorite, to free agency but have signed Josh McCown and Thad Lewis and recently (according to an ESPN report) tried to trade for Bradford. Manziel no longer appears to be in the Browns' plans -- and shouldn't have been in the first place.

Manziel needs a second chance with a GM and coach who completely buy in. Maybe he'll prove to be nothing but a bust. The other five did not.

The other five quarterbacks that Skip caped up for weren't busts, but neither were quarterbacks that Skip proudly tells his readers he never liked and look at how right he was about that. Mark Sanchez wasn't a bust if Tim Tebow wasn't a bust, Sam Bradford hasn't been a bust, and Alex Smith is a lot of things, but he's also been a better quarterback than the six Skip has listed here as QB's he was temporarily right about.

I can't predict injury or addiction or sorry situations. But I must admit, if I were a hotly debated draftee, I wouldn't want me pushing for me.

It's not like Skip is a well-known personnel genius or anything like that. He's just a guy with a hot take who likes to take guesses and then make excuses if he is wrong. But yes, I wouldn't want you speaking about me at all if I were a draftee. I would prefer you just disappear or try to write a column that isn't simply about you.