A companion to the in depth review of players taken in the 2008 draft that have been written by Styg50...
There comes a time during a good Broncos game when a play goes horribly wrong. We all groan, kick the dog, throw a brick at the tv, or go out and drink our Zappa Juice. And then (like Death and Dying author Dr. Kubler-Ross says) we hit the next stage of grief and get depressed.
BUT WAIT! Coach Shanahan throws the red flag onto the field, and thousands of eyes shoot up to the replay screen in the sky!
"All, all forsook the friendless guilty mind. All... but HOPE. HOPE lingered yet behind!"
We've gone through a draft with our eyes on the ball, many have felt kicked in the gut, but I'm about to make the argument that upon further review the Denver War Room had their eyes on the entire field and saw some things we missed. I'm throwing out the red flag, and asking for us to consider the following facts.
For starters, we have to get out of the woods to see the forest. The best players are found at the top of the draft, and we know the names better up there. When a player gets taken that we didn't want, it is at least someone we know and someone who is ranked high. A good example is Clady. Some of the MHR faithful didn't want Clady, but they knew him and knew he was considered solid at what he does. We accpeted him right away.
But in the middle and lower rounds we're not aware of who everyone is. Starting with our third pick onwards we began to see Denver take players we hadn't heard off. To many, this was a sign that Denver had lost their way. Player recognition is automaticaly lost in the mid and lower rounds by implication, simply because of the number of players and the reasonable expectation that fans will focus on the players they really want. It's a trap we all fall into.
This brings me to my second point. The only TRUE experts are the ones in NYC. The people who spend up to 16 hours a day traveling the country and staying away from their families while they study film, salary cap implications, and write and re-write software programs that simulate draft scenarios. These are people who's very jobs ride on being the best. And no, I'm not talking about the sports media experts. I'm talking about the guys in the field of battle - managers and scouts.
But everyone feels like an expert. When there's a fire, and a child is in the house, every parent just knows that they can run in and save their child. In panic, as they fight the fire fighters, they don't realize the delay they are causing in getting elite rescuers into the inferno. Everyone who has ever waited over an hour in an emergency room lobby just knows that their pain is an emergency, and is convinced that they need to be seen right away, not realizing that the staff is tied up dealing with a heart attack in the trauma room and waiting for your labs to come back (something they have no control over). Heck, I feel like an expert sometimes, and I constantly need to remind myself that the pros are a far stretch from the high school game. I need to remember how many times the shoes was on the other foot so I can remember to keep myself in line. If I had a dime for every parent that had played in HS and considered himself an expert (but never coached), or every local sports reporter that had a fancy job but never even played the game, or every person (and this happened every year and almost every couple of weeks) that gave me advice based on what they saw on their "Madden NFL" game at home. I need to remember that now I'm presuming to outguess the Denver Broncos, and I had better remember my own experiences first.
Third, consider the issues in a draft we have zero knowledge of. Styg50 has written a lot about character. It's easy for us to forget the importance of "player character" in a draft. I can't begin to tell you how many times I made (or saw) coaching decisions based on which kid had his "head screwed on straighter". The decision was a mystery to fans and families, but sometimes we needed a kid who was a leader, or meant what he said, or wouldn't go out and get suspended before a big game. We got burned last year with a lot of non-typical behavior problems in the Denver organization, and it looks like we are fixing that this year. Character DOES convert o the playing field and the locker room. It's not just cliche. Denver (and other teams) use tests and interviews to uncover character, including interviews with the player's coaches.
Fourth, who really gets most of the people they picked before the draft? Unless someone has a chrystal ball, it's unlikey that the team gets most of the picks in line with most of the fans.
I know I'm being ungrateful about something else. I noticed that, setting aside the names I liked, Denver got the positions I wanted. I wanted a couple of OL picks (got 'em). A return guy and a project WR (got it). Even a FB (which most of us would swear Denver would never go for (guess what?). I wanted a DT, and I wanted a RB (got 'em). I wanted another LB for depth and STs, and a SAF for the same reasons (got 'em). The only thing I got that I didn't want was a CB. And I'm complaining?
I have a daughter who is kindergarden aged (yes, old MR. and MRS. HT waited a long time). Bless her heart, every year she gets presents for Christmas or her birthday and she looks thrilled with everything. Some day she'll get older, and maybe she'll get something she doesn't really want and she won't hide it so well. Well shame on me. I asked for 8 things and got all 8, but I got something else I didn't ask for. Poor Mike Shanahan knew I loved DBs and he threw in an extra CB for my draft day, and I'm going to cry because it wasn't what I wanted? : )
Well, sometimes you have to be big and own up to mistakes. Over the last two days I watched the draft closer than ever. I also did it with a bunch of friends (all of you out there). I caught myself making the mistakes listed in the above paragraphs. The funny thing is, the longer I looked at the choices we made, the better I understood them and the more I appreciate them. (Ok, the CB is still too zone for my taste. But I still like his STs value).
Clady - not a sexy pick, but the right one.
Royal - return man, future slot WR.
K-lich - has time to develop, and (according to Styg) a terrific player that was flying on stealth before the draft.
Williams - I'm shooting straight here. Denver sees something that I don't, but that's why they get paid the big bucks. But more on him in a minute.
Torain - we somehow managage to get great talent late at RB, and we think we know more than the Broncos managment? He must be good.
Powell - meet your new DT. Some say he might be a steal.
Larsen - read Styg's excellent piece.
Barrett - In a weak SAF class I still managed to hear this guy's name from time to time.
Hillis - Ok folks, we've been wanting a true FB. We got one.
And now for a little surprise or two. MHR ace contributer Zappa turned me onto the SI draft grades. While the two obvious picks (Clady and Royal) scored high, the rest of the picks were in tight right behind them. According to SI, on a scale of .01 to 4.99, Denver never went below a 3.37 Further, the picks for our SAF, DT, and yes even our CB ranked just below (and in the case of Barrett) just above our second pick (!). Read the grades here.
Upon further review, perhaps we can agree that this draft may be better than many of us first thought. I'm finding myself warming up to some of the decisions already. Either way, let's keep something in mind that MHR veteran Artic Bronco points out in a comment under another story. These are our guys now. Let's give them the chance they deserve.