There seems to be some consternation on mine and several others here on the whole Moreno pick. While I have heard arguments both ways, some I agree with and some I don’t, I thought we might want to do an exercise in what if, to see if we truly agree with the pick.
Granted this scenario has no basis in reality so it is more of a exercise in trying to determine if the love or hate of the pick is do more to a love or hate of HC McDaniel and Co., or if it really is based on not liking the selection.
Lets for a moment assume that Mike Shanahan had not been fired and that Jay Cutler had not been traded. Lets also assume that Shanahan had not pursued the free agent RBs that we had, maybe he signed Lamont Jordan, but he had not signed three FA RBs, which I doubt he would of. We could also assume that Mike Shanahan may have kept his defensive coordinator or maybe hired a new one, but in likelihood, we would be running a 4-3 defense come next season. Now lets fast-forward to the draft. We don’t have the extra picks because Jay would still be here and I am assuming working under a new contract. What would happen or be your view if we had selected Moreno with the 12th overall pick and not gotten a defensive player? Would you be happy, or would you be livid? I am guessing the majority of the reaction would be toward the livid side since Mike Shanahan had shown that year in and year out he could mine RB talent from later rounds in the draft, why ignore the defense with the 12th overall pick would be the main reasoning? Some would hail it as a brilliant pick in that we need a primary back with talent and getting by with scrap heap RB’s culled from the depths of the UFA wire has bitten us in the butt too many times this past couple of years.
Now lets reverse the pick, lets say we took the best defensive player available (you fill in the blank Jenkins, Orakpo, Ayers, Cushing, Mr. Potato Head, etc…), and lets say we followed the same MO of previous drafts and maybe got a RB in the 4th to 7th round, maybe get an UFA RB like Ian Johnson and/or Jeremiah Johnson, what would your grade be then. Would you say Shanahan is doing what he should and addressing the defense and looking for better production from a RB in lower rounds? Or would you be critical that they let Moreno go over maybe what would be graded as an overall inferior defensive player?
I guess my point being is that sometimes I think we get blinded (one way or another) based on who is making the pick, and not look at the pick itself in the greater context of the overall draft and what you try to accomplish. The whole need versus want argument that TSG put forward earlier is an interesting analogy of how to draft. The draft is obviously an inexact science at best, but I think when we look to evaluate a player, we really need to look at the overall context, was this the best overall value or could we get close to the same value later and address other needs going a different direction. I think some believe that if you are critical of selection, it means that you don’t like the player or had someone else you wanted, for me this really has nothing to do with that. This really comes into was this the best value for that selection in the greater good of the team. I think that is really where the debate needs to be framed.
If Moreno turns out to be the second coming of LT then I would whole heartedly agree that this was an excellent selection; but that is a slim chance. If he has a better than average career but maybe is never a top tier RB, then it was a wasted pick (IMO). It is hard to argue that you cannot get as close to as good of production from lower round RB’s, we have proven it and most other teams have followed suit in that philosphy. Look at last years top 15 rushing leaders and you see an interesting mix of where guys were selected:
Adrian Peterson – 1st Round
Michael Turner – 5th Round
DeAnglo Williams – 1st Round
Clinton Portis – 2nd Round
Thomas Jones – 1st Round
Steve Slaton – 3rd round
Matt Forte – 2nd Round
Chris Johnson – 1st Round
Ryan Grant – UFA
LaDainian Tomilinson – 1st Round
Brandon Jacobs – 4th Round
Steven Jackson – 1st Round
Fred Gore – 3rd Round
Marshawn Lynch – 1st Round
Derrick Ward – 7th Round
Obviously a lot of 1st rounders, but also just as many later round guys, you also have to ask what the value of some of the 1st round guys really are when you see that four were on playoff teams others were on average to horrible teams..
For the record, I hope Moreno defies the odds and becomes an LT or AP type of player, the views are many on him. Lets face it, every RB is going to have some detractors coming out (Adrian Peterson was injury prone and took too much punishment and LT was a small school guy with inflated numbers), Moreno is going to be no different in that aspect in that he will have proponents and detractors. The question ultimately will be not whether he is a good player or not, it will be was the pick a better value for the team long term?