Thanks and Goodbye
Today’s column is my last at Football Outsiders. I have enjoyed my three-year run with the site and I appreciate the opportunity to write here. It’s a fine staff of writers and I especially wish to thank past and present writers Doug Farrar, Tom Gower, Rivers McCown, Ben Muth, Mike Tanier, and Vince Verhei for their support.
Special thanks to Aaron Schatz for his willingness to embrace my ideas and to have the foresight to bring me aboard. He was faced with the decision to choose between me and Andy Benoit for one column to replace Farrar and decided the solution was to create a second column. Very cool.
I will still be writing about player evaluation at the Rookie Scouting Portfolio and you can continue to find my work there. Now, onto the show…
WARNING: DO NOT SKIP TO THE MOCK OR THE JOKE IS ON YOU.
Mock drafts are exercises in coloring inside the lines. No thanks. I prefer to start with a blank sheet of paper.
I don’t care about correctly guessing the players that the teams will pick. Make a list of your favorite football sites and writers and you should find a good intersecting surface area where they have written and posted at least three mock drafts for your enjoyment. This week’s Futures is devoted to what I think the first round should look like based on my perspective of the game.
I did not have the time to compare my thoughts with the stat projection systems at Football Outsiders such as SackSEER or QBASE. The ambition of this piece is to create a first-round exercise that doesn’t factor “market value” ideas or connections to what others know about team preferences.
I also want to be free of restricting my choices of what conventional thinking is for position selection in the first round. My aim is to see how good my choices of talent would be three years from now and not whether I’m accurate about picks in April.
I call it my First-Round Time Capsule Mock. Read it, curse it, and bury it. In 2018, let’s dig it up and see if it has more or less logic than it does today.
Matt Waldman’s 2015 Time Capsule First-Round Mock
(1.01) Tampa Bay selects DT Leonard Williams, USC: Listen, I’m a fan of Jameis Winston on the field. Off the field, I don’t have enough information about his alleged behavior despite the fact that there’s a lot of smoke. What I do know is that a person I trust inside the league tells me that Winston’s interviews at the combine reveal the quarterback as a guy for whom players would walk through a wall, but he still has little awareness of how immature his behavior has been. Combine that dynamic with a Tampa Bay organization that has a high turnover of quarterbacks and coaches, and has lacked the support system and foresight to prevent excellent rookies (Michael Clayton, Josh Freeman, and Mike Williams) from self-destructing. Maurice Jones-Drew made a great point in Mike Freeman’s Bleacher Report column, saying that Winston has performed well under off-field pressures at Florida State, which should be a great indicator that he won’t lose it in the NFL. Still, the idea of Winston landing a few hours down the road has a fear factor too hot for my liking.
I’d love to see Tampa Bay orchestrate a trade down, but Leonard Williams is too good to pass up — especially if three of the next five teams on the board are likely to snatch the USC defensive lineman if Tampa Bay doesn’t. It’s true that Williams is well matched for the position that Gerald McCoy occupies in the 4-3, and Buccaneers writer Sander Philipse argues that J.J. Watt has not helped the Texans win as much as Matt Schaub did when the quarterback was playing well.
I can’t get on board with Philipse’s point for several reasons. You can’t compare one great player with average surrounding talent on the line of scrimmage to the merit of three above average-to-very good players working as a unit. Jadeveon Clowney‘s injury-marred rookie year didn’t help Houston. Williams isn’t Watt, but he’s good enough that the Buccaneers could move him around the line for match-up advantages and wreak havoc on opposing lines — especially the Saints’ aging unit, the empty cupboard in Carolina, and Atlanta’s tattered carousel.
Drafting Winston could be leading a moth to the flame. Drafting Williams, building on a strength and waiting another round or three (might I suggest CSU-Pueblo’s Chris Bonner?), or even another year, for a potential starting quarterback would be a conservative, but productive move. I don’t expect this to happen, because as Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” The NFL is insane with its view of rookie quarterbacks, and the Buccaneers have displayed their own special affliction to grab a walking dysfunction when they see one.
(1.02) via trade with Tennessee, St. Louis selects (Read the rest at Football Outsiders)