Sam Monson: Pro Football Focus


No-brainer or head-scratcher? Some split views of Monson's pick. I think the question should be win now or build for future?

No-brainer or head-scratcher? Some split views of Monson’s pick. I think the question should be win now or build for future?

Twtter: @PFF_Sam

Pick Summary

  • Round 1: QB Peyton Manning
  • Round 2: WR Andre Johnson
  • Round 3: DT Nick Fairley
  • Round 4: ILB Sean Lee
  • Round 5: CB Antonio Cromartie
  • Round 6: WR Mike Wallace
  • Round 7: DE Cliff Avril
  • Round 8: CB Sam Shields
  • Round 9: S Glover Quin
  • Round 10: RB Demarco Murray
  • Round 11: CB Robert McClain
  • Round 12:T/G Todd Herremans
  • Round 13: LB Erin Henderson
  • Round 14: DE Everson Griffen
  • Round 15: RB/FB/H-Back Marcel Reece
  • Round 16: C Will Montgomery
  • Round 17: 
  • Round 18:
  • Round 19:
  • Round 20:
  • Round 21:
  • Round 22:

Pick Details

Round 1, Pick 2: Peyton Manning, Quarterback

Aaron Rodgers was the no-brainer #1 pick of this draft. If he somehow made it past the first pick I would have broken something running my way to the podium to turn in his name for my team. He’s arguably the best QB in the league, and is still relatively young – a guaranteed stud for years to come, the true definition of franchise QB. Once he was gone I was left with a pretty interesting set of choices. My options fell into three categories:

  • Guys young enough, but not quite as good as truly top echelon passers
  • Guys who are as good as anybody but don’t have much longer left due to age
  • Young studs who showed a lot in year 1, but are still a question mark long term.

There was at least a part of me that wanted to select somebody from each category. For the sake of the draft still going on I won’t put a name to those I was considering, but in the end QB is just too important a position to screw around with and try to be clever, so I went with the best available QB and screw the long term (at least until later in the draft when it comes to backup time!).

Peyton Manning is one of the greatest QBs of all time, and that was only underlined last season when he came back after a year out of the game and had arguably the best season he has ever had despite having to modify his play as the year went on to accommodate his physical limitations. Anyone that can be an All-Pro all the while changing his game to adjust to what he can’t do anymore as the season went on is a freaking hero. It’s like Tiger Woods winning the masters at the same time as completely re-working his golf swing in between each day of play. Manning ensures that my QB situation is as good as anybody’s for the next year or two, and it just means that I need to be aware of looking for a young option for the future at some point in much the same way as Denver went all-in with him financially, but then added Osweiler in the draft.

If I were Andre Johnson and had the chance to play with Peyton Manning, I'd feel 25 all over again. That's what Monson's hoping with this selection.

Round 2, Pick 63: Andre Johnson, Wide Receiver

So apparently Sam Monson is building the team to dominate the 2009 season.

I admit I didn’t want to select a guy as old as Andre Johnson having already taken Peyton Manning, but when I surveyed the draft as my pick came around I was left with a relatively simple choice. It also didn’t hurt that I discovered the player I was planning on picking had actually done more than a dozen picks beforehand and I just hadn’t noticed!

There were still genuine stud players left. Despite players being taken at their positions there are a couple of players still there who I believe are the best players at their position in the NFL, but those positions I just don’t think are important enough to warrant a 2nd round selection in a draft like this. Eric Weddle is the best safety in football, and given that two safeties have already come off the board he would represent fantastic value in that sense, but I don’t see the safety position as a legitimate game changer outside of Ed Reed in his prime. Nobody playing right now is at that level.  Similarly as much as I love a good interior O-lineman, I’m not taking a center or guard this high.

So I was then left with a few young, talented players with huge upside but no guarantee they continue the journey towards that upside, or a guy who at 30 years old is still an All-Pro at his position, and that position is an impact one.  Last season Andre Johnson gained 1,598 yards – a career high for a guy with 11,254 and counting. His 99.9 receiving yards per game were also a career high, and his receptions per game were also right at the peak of his best performance. He did this with Matt Schaub throwing him the ball in a Houston offence that was run, run and run some more.

Much like Manning, Johnson is still one of the best players in the league despite his advancing years. He actually graded higher than Calvin Johnson in 2012 according to PFF’s play-by-play grading and led the NFL by a distance in terms of yards gained per route run (3.01, besting the next best WR by over 8%).

The bottom line is that Andre Johnson is still a beast. He’s big, fast, has great hands, and is incredibly tough to cover, and given some of the receivers to have already gone, and how high they went, he represents the kind of value I couldn’t pass up for a younger, unproven defensive stud who might make it to my next pick at the tail end of the 3rd round. The spine of my passing attack with Manning -> Johnson looks fantastically healthy, and all his age means is that I need to think about the future more than some others at a later point in the draft or even in the hypothetical future. But let’s face it, Brandon Stockley got off the couch at 36 and was turned into a 500+ yard, 6-TD receiver by Peyton Manning, I think Andre Johnson coming off a 1,500+ yard season with Matt Schaub throwing him the ball just might do ok.

Monson takes a recently impressive Nick Fairley for his middleman. Photo by Mike Morbeck.

Monson takes a recently impressive Nick Fairley for his middleman. Photo by Mike Morbeck.

Round 3, Pick 95: Nick Fairley, Defensive Tackle

I love it when a plan comes together.  I had considered taking Fairley with my pick in the 2nd round but gambled that he would slide under people’s radar and took Andre Johnson instead.

Fairley is the first Detroit Lions DT I would have taken in this draft.

Let me emphasise – I think Fairley will end up being a better player than Ndamukong Suh, and probably as soon as this season. If you look at the PFF grading, there’s an argument to be made that he was better last season, despite Suh putting together his best season. Fairley graded pretty close to Suh, despite playing ~400 fewer snaps, and the biggest thing holding him back was his penalty count.

He had a slow start to his career, and that might have put people off, but last season Fairley really began to emerge, and the best part is he was getting better as the season went on before being shut down. He was blanked as a pass rusher twice in the first four games, but after the bye week it didn’t happen for the rest of his season and 7 of his 8 QB knockdowns came in that stretch. Unlike Suh, Fairley’s performance vs the run was impressive as well. He shows a far better feel for the down blocks and wham blocks that teams have used to nullify Suh’s threat and made 23 stops on the year (a tackle for an offensive failure) compared to Suh’s 21. He was a top draft pick for a reason, and we’re starting to see that kind of talent in a major way. 2012 should have more in store.

The bottom line is that Fairley is on the kind of upswing in his career arc that Geno Atkins was on before his last real breakout and dominance in 2012. If I’ve caught Fairley at the same point then I’m in serious business with the first pick for my defense.

Before his 2012 injury, Lee was on fire. Photo by Sam Monson.

Before his 2012 injury, Lee was on fire. Photo by Sam Monson.

Round 4, Pick 98: Sean Lee, Inside Linebacker

Every great defense needs a tackling machine in the middle of the field. Whether you’re running a 3-4 or a 4-3, you need that inside linebacker to marshall the defense, set the tone, and generally smack the hell out of anyone trying to gain yardage on his defense.

In Sean Lee, I just picked one of the best of them.

Last year before getting hurt Lee was playing out of his skin. He was shut down mid-way through Week 7 against the Panthers, and he still finished the year as PFF’s 6th graded ILB, just a hair behind Lawrence Timmons, a player that went just before him. He graded out essentially the same as Timmons but playing around 1/3 of the snaps, that’s how dominant he was when he was on the field.  The best part though is that Lee is a complete linebacker, looking adept in coverage as well as coming up to stop the run.

In Kiffin’s new 4-3 defense in Dallas, Lee could really take off, becoming the best linebacker to come out of ‘Linebacker U’ in years.

Fairley and Lee give me a great beginning and spine off which to hang my 4-3 defense, but both players have the kind of abilities to move around a little within the defense and give me the flexibility to tinker with the front as necessary.

The time he missed with injury might have caused him to slip past my fellow GMs, but Lee should be right there in the conversation about the best ILBs in the league when he returns to the field.

Antonio Cromartie (Photo by SD Dirk)

Monson thinks Antonio Cromartie has a bad reputation. (Photo by SD Dirk)

Round 5, Pick: 160: Antonio Cromartie, Cornerback

One of the more important positions to get locked down for me was my top cornerback. As the market started to get hit I had to jump now, and got a guy who is one of the league’s more talented players, and actually far better than his maligned reputation would suggest: Antonio Cromartie.

There were a few ways I could have gone here. Part of me was tempted to take a pair of Cover-2 corners (arguably the best 2 in the league) with my two close picks and have the most important part of my secondary entirely sorted in one easy move, but I am loathed to be boxed into any one particular system, and I honestly prefer the flexibility and challenging nature of other schemes.

Cromartie got a big reputation early in San Diego with some flashy play, but then he ended up moving off to the Jets where he became firmly lodged in the shadow of the league’s best corner, Darrelle Revis. From this point everyone kind of forgot how good Cromartie could actually be, and when Revis went down this year we heard how the Jets defense would collapse in his absence, especially on the back end, where Cromartie would now be tasked with having to deal with an opponent’s top receiver, and would no longer be protected by Revis. How did he respond? With a career year, that’s how.

He was thrown at 87 times this season, but allowed just 40 catches (46%) for 511 yards. Though he was beaten on occasions, he also intercepted three passes and broke up another dozen, and QBs targeting him had a rating of just 69.7

The bottom line is that Cromartie is a versatile and talented corner, and one of the few left capable of legitimately manning up against an opponent’s top receiver and doing fine. I’m happy to have him in my secondary, and that gives me three talented, aggressive, and scheme diverse players as the spine of my D from which to build.

Round 6, Pick 163: Mike Wallace, Wide Receiver

With my second pick in rapid succession I looked around for where I thought there was value, and it took a lot to step away from running back, where I think there are a couple of fantastic players still around. In the end I went receiver, and a guy who just landed a huge free agent contract from Miami – Mike Wallace.I’m bringing in Wallace for the same reason Miami went so hard after him this week – because he has a unique ability to run off the top of a defense and straight past any cornerback in the league. As much as football gets ever more complex, speed still kills, and a guy who can just run downfield over the top of a defense will always have a huge value to an offense. Mike Wallace is virtually impossible to overthrow, demonstrating a freakish closing speed when the ball is in the air and the kind of extra gear defensive backs just don’t have. He isn’t anything like the same player, but this trait reminds me a little bit of Randy Moss under the deep ball – the ability to locate the football and separate from his coverage as he runs to go and get it.With Andre Johnson already in house, I’ve got an All-Pro receiver with a complete skill set to play on one side, and I just added the league’s most imposing deep threat on the other side. Mr Manning is going to have toys to play with.

Round 7, Pick 224: Cliff Avril, Defensive End

I’m happy to get Avril this low down. He’s a legitimate pass-rusher who wasn’t helped by the Lions’ D-line system that requires rushers to try and beat their guys one on one in the same fashion almost every snap. In Detroit he didn’t get the benefit of being able to mix up his rush much or run a lot of combination moves with defensive tackles, but he will have no such restrictions in my defense. I’m going to turn Avril loose and with Nick Fairley the duo will have far more help within the system and from each other than they ever had in Detroit.

The former UM wide receiver has flashed skill as a bump and run corner. Photo by Brian Giesen.

The former UM wide receiver has flashed skill as a bump and run corner. Photo by Brian Giesen.

Round 8, Pick 226: Sam Shields, Cornerback

In today’s passing league you need to be able to match up on the back end. Antonio Cromartie is a corner who can legitimately match up with a number one receiver and track them all game, but there’s no use doing that if you don’t have a player that can hold up on the other side.  Sam Shields is one of the league’s better young corners and should fill that role ably.

Last year he was PFF’s 8th graded cover corner despite missing time and playing only 606 snaps (compared to over 1000 for some of the players above him). He can be beaten badly at times, but he will make teams work for their completions and presents a dangerous target for opposing passers. On 44 targets last year he got his hands to ten of them, either picking them off or breaking them up.

Round 9, Pick 287: Glover Quin, Safety

I love Quinn’s versatility. A lot of players get termed versatile in the NFL, but all too often that just means they can do multiple things badly. Quinn can do multiple things well. He can play in a cover-2 system easily, or he can also play deep, in the box, and most crucially, cover the slot to a reasonable level. I anticipate adding a nickel corner who can take my primary slot duties, but Quinn gives me the versatility to cover TEs in man coverage or to go to a dime package without needing to find another player that can cover the slot.

Monson thinks he got the last worthwhile starting running back in the NFL when he took Murray.

Monson thinks he got the last worthwhile starting running back in the NFL when he took Murray.

Round 10, Pick 290: DeMarco Murray, Running Back

I actually tried to go offensive line here before discovering the guy I was picking went rounds earlier, so I came back to running back, where I think there’s a significant drop-off after a guy like Murray. He’s got great vision, burst and the ability to play in all facets of the game. He’s going to give Manning the running game to work off.

Monson thinks he got one of the most underrated players in this draft when he picked McClain. Photo by Football Schedule.

Monson thinks he got one of the most underrated players in this draft when he picked McClain. Photo by Football Schedule.

Round 11, Pick 349 : Robert McClain, Cornerback

This is a pick I had been eyeing up since the start of the draft, and my only question was how far I could afford to let him fall before taking him.  In truth I suspect I’ve jumped the gun a little taking him this high, but I couldn’t risk missing out any longer.

When Peyton Manning threw his three first quarter interceptions against the Atlanta Falcons, one of them was a great play from McClain, playing one of his first NFL snaps, making a great read on the play and coming over the top to pick it off. Since that point McClain put together a really quite impressive season and finished the year as PFF’s 10th ranked coverage corner and 12th overall despite being essentially the nickel corner for the Falcons. He can play inside and out, but will be manning the slot primarily in my defense. He didn’t allow a single TD last season and in addition to that pick of Manning, he broke up another eight passes and was beaten for just 7.8 yards per completion when he did allow a catch.

McClain I think is a complete under the radar stud, one of the best players nobody is talking about, and he helps make my nickel defense look extremely tough to attack through the air.

Round 12, Pick 352:Todd Herremans, G/T

Time to (finally) think about my OL.  I purposely ignored OL until this far into the draft because I knew good, solid players would be available, and frankly a monster OL is pretty meaningless without the QB to take advantage of it.  In addition, guys like Manning can make poor units look better than they are, so he should be able to make a capable unit look really quite good.

Herremans is a good guard and right tackle, and could play any one of three positions for my OL. At this point I haven’t decided which he will be playing, rather just taking a player of his skills and fitting others in around him when the draft comes around to me again.

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8 comments

  1. Nice job giving a good breakdown behind the logic of each of your picks. And keep up the great stuff with PFF.

    I’m on the side that doesn’t agree with Peyton Manning at 2. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have taken Peyton Manning over Drew Brees, Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan and Tom Brady.

    I think people tend to underestimate how fast and how powerful declines are for top players. 3 years ago if we had done this Randy Moss would have gone in round 2 and the owner would have talked about how Moss has a few high quality years left. Yeah…no. There are countless other examples of this I could pull up but it’s a much riskier proposition to assume a guy that old just has a few years left in him, even someone like Peyton Manning.

    Let me also bring in this, I don’t think this is an issue of winning now vs later at this spot. Think about it, ultimately, 2-3 years down the road do you really think Peyton Manning is going to be at a completely different tier and level than Andrew Luck? I don’t, I think it’s very possible Luck is a top tier QB then leading a winning franchise(in fact I think its actually more likely than not). To me(and those who don’t agree with this probably are in the minority if anything) Luck is a phenomenal type talent(who already showed ALOT his rookie year) who 2-3 years down the road has a fair chance at definitely being an outstanding QB nonetheless, 10 years down the road. In my view, assuming Luck will be a top end QB the next 5-10 years is much safer than gambling on Manning for more than 2 years. And if the issue is 2 top years of Manning vs 5-10 lets say hypothetically Ben Roethlisberger not Peyton Manning level type years from Luck(and that’s on the pessimistic side assuming Luck isn’t as good as those who scouted him coming out of college thought he was which obviously is a dicey proposition) I would have a hard time going with Manning in that situation. But I’ll say this, if you have Manning you are going to be a 11+win team the next 2 years at least. and if you have manning, you might as well go all in those 2 years which you did smartly by taking Andre Johnson with your next pick.

    • Great reply Samuel (also great name…).

      I’m really far less enamoured with Luck than most people are. He has fantastic pocket presence and made some great throws, but also forced the ball a lot, misread things a lot and generally threw a lot of crappy passes. Plus there wasn’t any noticeable improvement in that area over the year. Maybe he’ll improve that and become the All-Pro everyone else expects, but I’m not of the opinion that’s a nailed on certainty, so I wouldn’t have touched him high in this draft, especially knowing others would. Wilson by comparison noticeably improved consistently as the year went on and ended it playing out of his skin, at a level Luck never got near.

      Drew Brees is interesting, but he is far from young himself, and has shown a lot of poor play recently, certainly more than Manning. I just didn’t see the combination of play and age as worth it so high.

      Matt Ryan was the other guy I seriously considered, and Ben Stockwell, PFF’s great mysterious man behind the analysis, actually told me to go that way. He’s arguably the 2nd best combination of youth and talent. Thing is, he’s also so criminally underrated that he fell to half way through the first round. If I’d taken him this high it likely wouldn’t have served me too well.

      I’m happy to admit that Peyton Manning is on a clock here, and the Broncos know it in real life too. But if they win back to back rings over the next 2 or 3 years then have to try and replace him, will it have been worth it? I’m going with that plan. Manning is arguably the best passer in the league right now at the single most important position, and he puts my team in the best position to win for the next 2 or 3 years. At that point I’ll try and replace him.

      If I was starting a team I’d look right now for a young guy to groom behind Manning for a year or two and see if I can find an Aaron Rodgers. Maybe I won’t manage it in the necessary timescale, but that’s the chance I take for getting the best guy around.

  2. Whoever wrote that comment did and outstanding job explaining themselves. Completely agree.

  3. Thanks for the response and definitely well thought out, I’ll add in a couple things here.

    a) This Luck debate is fascinating because it brings up a couple issues. First is how to judge rookie quarterbacks. I noted on another post how much slower QBs develop even in front of our own eyes than we realize. Joe Flacco from 2009-2012 in the regular season basically looked like the exact same player. If there was ever anybody you thought would show progression he’d be at the bottom of the list, then he comes out and looks like a completely different player in the playoffs(and while it is overblown the amount of credit he gets for it there were things hes long struggled with like pocket presence/mobility that noticeably improved) and he ends up as the highest paid player in NFL history. It took 5 years for that. Eli Manning is even longer, people don’t remember but until late 2007 he really was in the eyes of many a significant dissapointment. Then he turns it around in the postseason and from 2008-10 looks like a much better QB and the narrative will end up being Manning turned into a very solid QB who led the Giants to a super bowl. But there was more to it, Manning in 11 made a giant leap again and this time really played at an all-pro level and led the Giants to another SB and the narrative completely changed again. He basically went through the developmental curve you want every QB to go through—constantly improving until the point he ends up as an all pro franchise QB. And guess how long that process took? 8 years and lots of rushing to judgment. So it’s really hard for me to make alot of judgments from a QB based off one year. You can also extend this idea to legendary QBs like Peyton Manning who threw 26 INTs his rookie year, had tons of growing pains but it helped him immensely.

    b) With Luck there were obvious flaws with him and you hit alot of them. But you always have to account for context; look at what the Colts were asking him to do. I believe Luck led the league in vertical passing yards(yards not accounted for by receivers after the catch). This was a vertical based passing offense, thats what Bruce Arians believes in, and inevitably stats like completion rate will suffer. Your asking a QB in that situation to make incredible stick throws and that will lead to some forced throws and INTS(the Brett Favre effect if you want). But again it comes down to look at what they were asking him to do as a rookie. Go through 3 and 4 reads in a play, attack vertically and make the tightest hardest throws there are to make. Rookies almost never get asked to do that; hell most quarterbacks in their fourth and fifth year aren’t asked to do that. So when a player is asked to do more by his scheme, he’s more vulnerable to errors because his coaches aren’t protecting him as much. If you compare what Luck was asked to do in reads and throws in comparison to someone like Robert Griffin III or Russell Wilson, it’s no contest. Now I would have still voted RG3 rookie of the year but that’s besides the pt. The Colts coaching staff could have protected Luck alot more than they did and there’s a reason they didn’t and other coaches did for their rookies. While Luck’s stats weren’t as good, clearly the team didn’t suffer(although the Colts also had TONS of luck)

    c) Ultimately though what this comes down to is how much do you trust scouts’ word on players coming out of college. How much emphasis do you put on reputable scouts saying Luck is the best prospect since Manning or Elway and how great he is? I personally put a fair amount in because I don’t scout players coming out of college and the fact it was so unanimous with Luck. But that’s different for every person. To me there has to be a line; in the NFL teams don’t watch every player and every snap, they have to trust certain people’s opinions on players and values(heck that’s why teams ask PFF for their analysis). That’s the same with many top writers and analysts, you go to your scouts and executives you know and ask them what they think on guys you don’t know much about. The question is how much do you value those other guys who analyze players college performance when you don’t and what they are saying? To me, when an analysis is so unanimous with someone like Luck, it means a good bit. But different minds can obviously disagree on this; I just think there just has to be a level to which you rely on people to tell you something about players and that has to factor into what you think to some degree.

    d) To chime in on the other players. Brees is 3 years younger than Manning which to me is very significant(I really think after that near career ender Manning isn’t looking to stretch his career out as far as people think, i think there’s a certain limit of about 2-3 more years and that’s it. Heck the Broncos feel the same way; you don’t draft a qb in the second round otherwise). I personally value Brees more than Manning due to those 3 years but I can see a different perspective. Tom Brady I would rather take over Manning more so than Brees. 18 months younger and the same quality player and someone I think could legitimately try to stretch out his career more than Manning.

    e) Matt Ryan is really fascinating; I’m really surprised he fell as far as he did if I had a board for this he would have been in my top 5-7. The thing is though he’s clearly not at the top level of a Rodgers or Brady and it’s always risky to take someone who’s never played at that level when he’s 29. There is a fine line between what Ryan is now and what Rodgers or a Brady is and its significant since it comes from such a major position. You can win a Super Bowl with a flawed roster around Brady or Rodgers. You can’t with Ryan. The chance for 3 years to win a super bowl even with a flawed roster is probably worth more than having Ryan for 7 years but having to construct a better roster. And also that 7 years is far from a sure thing; like I said in the past we tend to overestimate how long we think players will play at the level they are badly. So I think I might agree Manning>Ryan but that’s really tough.

    • Another great reply.

      1. I agree that 2012 Luck doesn’t define him as a QB in future. He could iron out all of his mistakes from this year and suddenly become the new Peyton Manning. The only issue is I can’t be sure he will. If he doesn’t, he may never be any better than he was this year, which is still a significantly flawed quarterback, albeit one still desired and capable of leading his team to wins.

      2. I think Luck was definitely asked to do more than someone like RGIII, but I think teams are shortchanging how much the Seahawks asked of Wilson and what he responded with. Imo by the end of the season his play was practically flawless, and was markedly better than Luck ever hit during the season. The average depth of target figures also show Wilson right near the top with Luck.

      3.Personally I put very little stock (almost none in fact) in what scouts think of players before I see them for myself. The draft is one thing, but when players start playing in the NFL it’s a blank slate for me. If guys are supposed to be amazing prospects I’ll look out for them, but if I’m not seeing it on the field I’m not going to question what I’m seeing just because scouts think he should be doing better. Maybe the scouts have it right on Luck and he is this amazing QB prospect and future GOAT, but maybe they fell in love with things that won’t quite translate to the NFL and maybe that great intangible ‘it factor’ is what will separate him from Russell Wilson always. I don’t know, but right now I’ve seen more from Wilson than I have from Luck.

      4. Brady is interesting the only QB of the 3 that I think might genuinely be declining. I’ve seen Brady’s play drop off despite the numbers and he would be the one I wouldn’t have touched.

      5. Matt Ryan I think has been better than people have given him credit for for a while now. I agree he’s not Rodgers, but I think people overplay how much of a difference there is.

  4. Good reply. I’ll say outright that I don’t agree with the notion of barely putting any stock into what scouts and those closely observing the league and have inside information think about players. Teams would probably agree with me also, nobody watches every game by themselves, that’s part of why PFF has been a success. Teams ask for their data because they don’t have time to watch every snap. Heck, that’s why PFF has a team and is not just one individual and I’m sure there are disagreements on value of a player amongst PFF’s staff.
    Also, to me a major indicator in evaluating the general quality of a player is to see what a team thinks of them—how quick they are to sign them to an extension(or to not), how much competition they bring in for his position via draft or free agency, how they are used(this talk of how Joe Flacco is elite ignores how what the Ravens asked of him pales in comparison to someone like Drew Brees who I’ve seen smart people say are on par with each other now), who they are willing to just let walk(Michael Bennett was a good example of this). But overall I’m not trying to come across as some jerk I just disagree. Nonetheless, still very interesting to see how people who spend more time watching the game than I do view it and their perspective on evaluating players.

    As for the development and skill set vs watching what you see—like I said before after year 5 and heck even year 7 evaluating a player can still be about his development and skill set vs what he has produced thus far(Eli Manning a great example). So for me with Andrew Luck in year 1 vs Russell Wilson, evaluating them definitely skews toward the side of skill set/development. But to each their own. Wilson really only took on a significant burden of the offense towards the end of the year(he was coddled the first half and in October after the Rams game there was actually talk of him being benched) and he played in a perfect system for his skills and one he ran in college(great scheme and coaching rarely get any mention in a player’s success—if Wilson’s on the Browns his rookie year nobody’s calling him a steal at 10 in this draft as of now) so I don’t know if I buy Wilson has shown that much more. It’s just what he did vs the Falcons and 49ers is most recent and that is what sticks in our head and is likely a trend of things to come . Still, I’ll disagree with wanting Wilson more than Luck—there’s a reason Wilson’s height was enough of a negative for him to fall to round 3. Sure, he’d go with pick 3 if the draft was re-done today but that is a long term concern to some degree still(although alot less) and I still see more ability out of Luck than Wilson. But to each their own.

    Matt Ryan is a hard player to evaluate. His pre snap ability and how he has evolved to shoulder the burden of an offense with an average offensive line and bad running game is impressive. Few show his accuracy also. Still has clear flaws(playing without functional space in the pocket, deft pocket mobility at the top tier like you see from a Brees or Brady and more above average than top tier arm strength). He’s prone to some really shaky games. Also he has probably the best set of weapons in the NFL(Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and 8 games in a dome). Top QBs like Rodgers, Brady and Manning have had all time trend setting seasons with top tier weapons. Ryan did not. I still see a significant gap there although you are in right in general that Ryan is undervalued in public perception due to the sheer stupidity of people evaluating QBs by playoff records(something many who do this for a living still do).

    Lastly I’ll also say PFF views Tom Brady lower than other(something I don’t agree with but for another day) but in 2011 he was your 12th ranked player. 2010 he was the 33rd. I don’t imagine him being below 33rd in 2012 so I’m not sure he’s declining, even to you as someone who doesn’t view him as good as an Aaron Rodgers.

    If your still on here looking at these comments if I could I want to ask a few questions to you
    1) What are the general themes your trying to build around? You see to have a bit of everything—you more going for balance across or strengths at specific things like pass rush, receiving weapons, front seven run defense etc?
    2) Your first two players are both 31+ and will probably shown signs of decline sooner rather than later yet the last 5 picks are all alot younger—so clearly your not necessarily trying to go all in right now? Are you just going best player available or trying to build a clear strategy like going all in now(despite younger players) or specifically trying to go young on D to balance out the fact your offense is likely to age within the next few years?
    3) At what point would you take the first non quarterback player on the board for this exercise? I think this is probably the most interesting question of this exercise-determining the cutoff in value when a QB no longer exceeds that of a non defensive player? And who would that first non QB you take be—JJ Watt I’m assuming?

    • Answering your Qs:
      1) I’m not building on any themes at the moment. I’m looking for value when I draft, essentially taking BPA, but starting at the positions I think are most crucial to get locked down. QB on down.
      2) See 1. The first two guys were just too good in terms of value and quality to pass up despite age.
      3) Somewhere in the teens. As dominant as Watt/Miller/Revis/Atkins can be, it’s almost meaningless if their teams don’t have QBs sadly.

  5. Interesting strategy here of loading up on DB’s, particularly for the subpackage(and Quin can be multifaceted in what he can do in subpackages)–was that intentional or just a best player on the board kind of thing? Not sure you need that many good DB’s with Sean Lee in your subpackage, also how you going to go about your pass rush? The old Rex Ryan way of playing subpackages and disguising and cross training to bring the illusion of pressure and blitzing or is there something else going on here? Also just out of curiosity what do you see in DeMarco Murray because it seems like you like him alot and to me he’s very average(and gets knocked far below that because you know he won’t play 16 games? The no o-line strategy is interesting, peyton manning doesn’t need them, but 2 years from now when Manning is out your going to have to rebuild an offensive line in addition to everything else, although you kind of have to rebuild everything when Manning leaves.

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