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Shallow Thoughts & Nearsighted Observations -- 2009 NFL Draft

You know, this has been a great weekend for MHR.  Our leader got to cover the draft as a credentialed member of the legitimate media, our staff kept the information flowing, and our community contributed thousands of comments and many outstanding Fanposts throughout the two days.  It was a triumph for this site, and now I am exhausted.  And, yes, it's back to the day job tomorrow, for another five days.  Please forgive me if this is a shorter than usual ST&NO, but my eyes hurt and my fingers are tired.  Ready..... BEGIN!!!

1.  Events like the Draft always seem to bring trolls to our community, which is a model of respect and civility which any sports blog would be envious of.  I personally thank all of our regulars who went out of their way to educate these visiting trolls that MHR is different than what they're used to elsewhere.  The staff is under marching orders not to engage with trolls, and we try really hard not to.  What is impressive is that most members aren't under any such orders, and do the right thing anyway, out of common sense.  I applaud this community, but that's nothing new.

Sometimes, people like the guy at right visit our site.....

And we have to remember who we are, and help them understand what MHR is all about.  Give yourselves a pat on the back for getting it.

2.  Today's Donny Deutsch Big Idea is to Axe ourselves the following question: From the last day of the 2008 season, to now, is there any position group except QB where we are significantly less talented?


RB - We're absolutely more talented here than we were on December 28th, and it's not even debatable.  Knowshon Moreno is the most talented back we've had since at least Clinton Portis, and some useful guys like J.J. Arrington, Correll Buckhalter, and LaMont Jordan were brought in to compete with Peyton Hillis, Ryan Torain, and Selvin Young for roster spots.  That is a lot of talent right there.

WR - Jabar Gaffney is a solid upgrade over Darrell Jackson, and Kenny McKinley has the potential to be a good slot receiver.  Also, Eddie Royal and Brandon Marshall are a year older, and more experienced.  This position is also upgraded.

TE - I liked the Richard Quinn selection for his blocking ability, and I never loved Nate Jackson the way some people do.  I'll call this group's quality level neutral though.

OL - I actually liked the selection of Seth Olsen, which puts me in the minority of the staff.  Since everybody is back from last season, this is at least neutral, but almost certainly improved, with the expected growth of young players like Ryan Clady, Ryan Harris, Chris Kuper, Tyler Polumbus, and Kory Lichtensteiger

Front 7 - Good heavens, why didn't the Broncos take any defensive linemen?  The world is coming to an end. 

Well, first of all, they did.  Robert Ayers is a blue-chip talent at DE, who is notable for both his stoutness against the run, and ability to rush the passer.  He's not a two-gap player, but he's a tough one-gap player like Luis Castillo.  As for the rest, I believe in Marcus Thomas, and I think people are sleeping on Ronald Fields, who is a good player.  I also continue to like Kenny Peterson.  I don't have any particular reason to believe in Carlton Powell, but I hope he does well, and I did like the Everette Pedescleaux CFA signing.  It's too bad there weren't more zero-technique and five-technique players available in the Draft, but you do the best you can with the cards you're dealt. 

As for LBs,  I liked the Andra Davis signing, and I still think he can be solid inside.  I hope D.J. Williams can also, but I really expect him to continue to underwhelm me.  (Meaning no change.)  I do have high hopes for Wesley Woodyard, and for the conversion of Elvis Dumervil to more of a hybrid player.  If either Jarvis Moss or Tim Crowder works out, even better.  I think this is a decent upgrade over what was a bad group last season.

DB - This will be a completely new group, save for Champ Bailey (and depending on who has a good camp, probably two out of three between Jack Williams, Josh Bell, and Josh Barrett.)  The McDaniels/Xanders strategy is clear here.  Bring in so many bodies that the survivors have to be good players.  It is very likely that Champ, Andre Goodman, Brian Dawkins, and Renaldo Hill start.  That's four good players.  It's a near certainty that Alphonso Smith will be the nickelback right away, because he has special talent.  Darcel McBath and David Bruton will both almost certainly make the team, Bruton for being a great special-teamer as much as anything.  That's 7 locks to make the roster.  I'll optimistically project dramatic improvement by Jack Williams, and outstanding special-teams play for Josh Barrett to give us our nine, with McBath able to fill in at CB as needed.  This group is dramatically upgraded, though, no matter how you look at it.

ST - I think that the coverage units will be tremendously improved by virtue of the addition of so many good athletes in the draft.  Kicker and punter look the same, though I think Prater will do better this year.  Arrington probably returns kickoffs if he makes the team, and he's excellent at that.  This also seems upgraded.

So, I Axe again.... what is there to really be upset about?  I think our team is greatly improved from 1-53, and there's no reason to think that a division championship is out of the question with this group of players and coaches.  Remember last year's Dolphins, who went from 1-15 to 11-5 by improving the quality of the bottom of their roster, executing on offense with minimal mistakes, and being sound on defense.  This Broncos team is more talented than that Dolphins team, or for that matter, last year's Falcons team.  Have some faith.

Now we smell good, in a masculine sort of way (sorry ladies, you're outnumbered here) and we know the answer, because we Axed.  (Axe is in no way responsible for the content of this ad, but donations are being accepted and checks may be made out to Ted Bartlett Foundation, with the word "Foundation" written in pencil, please.  Thank you.)

3.  Optimism doesn't cost anything.  This is my new mantra lately, though it pretty much tracks with how I have thought my whole life.  I might make some orange-and-blue bumper stickers that say "Optimism doesn't cost anything." 

And by the way, calling me a homer doesn't hurt my feelings.  I want to see my team do well, and I'd rather not have anything to complain about.  Having a constant need to whine is a trait best observed in ex-wives and Raiders fans.

4.  The First Amendment is not germane to a setting like MHR, and anybody who graduated from middle-school civics class should understand that.  MHR does not represent the United States Congress, and by deleting a troll FanPost, we're not making laws which prohibit the free exercise of religion, infringe the freedom of speech, infringe the freedom of the press, limit the right to peaceably assemble, or limit the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

By deleting troll posts, we're simply declining to allow this community to devolve into the DP message board, or other cesspools of hatred, vulgarity, and misinformation, and other related forms of douche-baggery.  See the MHR Code of Conduct for questions on what is or isn't appropriate behavior.  But don't ignorantly invoke the U.S. Constitution when you clearly don't understand what it's saying.

5.  I wish that the Morans dude would have turned sideways a little bit and lost the American flag bandanna, so we could get the fuller effect of what seems very likely to be a terrific mullet.  I wonder how he feels about literally millions of people laughing at his poor spelling and general ridiculousness?  Like that old battle-axe Mrs. Houlihan, of Pembroke, Massachusetts, said back in 1983, SPELLING COUNTS!!!!  (And Mr. Mackey chimes in - "Don't get a mullet, either, mmmkay?")

Edit:  It seems that the Morans guy may have intentionally spelled "Morons," as "Morans," as a way to criticize Congressman James Moran of Virginia for opposing the US war against Iraq.  Thanks to Darin H for bringing this to my attention in the comments below.  So, maybe he's not a bad speller, and I retract the implication that he is.

The content of this sign is, however, troll-like, and I stand by the use of this picture as an example of troll-like behavior.  And spelling DOES count, and mullets and American flag bandannas ARE horribly tacky.

6.  My co-worker said she'd read this if I included some content about something she is interested in, like midgets.  I'm always trying to grow the readership, so here goes.  Midgets don't actually like to be called midgets.  They prefer to be called Little People.  Think of it as being analogous to when the private military company/mercenary outfit Blackwater Worldwide re-branded themselves as Xe, (which is pronounced Zee.)  Of course, Blackwater mostly re-branded because people got upset about some of their tax-dollar-(very-well)-compensated mercenary personnel indiscriminately shooting innocent Iraqi citizens, which is presumably very different than the reason behind the midget re-branding.

In any case, according to the outstanding film In Bruges, midgets... err, Little People, have a high rate of suicide, which is very sad.  If you see a little person, you should try to make him or her feel good about themselves, because most of them are probably the salt of the Earth.  For more on Little People, visit the Little People of America website.  This sounds like a good place to claim to be diverting those donations to the Ted Bartlett Foundation.  :)

7.  Retired for John Elway.

8.  Back to bidness, I want to talk about Draft picks for a minute, and how they're valued.  There is a cottage industry around the NFL Draft, and those who profit from it are incentivized to condition fans to think of a Draft Pick as an important asset.  I reject that thinking, because the only thing which gives a Draft Pick any cause for being considered an asset is that it ultimately confers upon the owner the right to pick a player on a specific date and at a specific time in the future.  The player is the physical asset at the end of the rainbow, the thing (thing?  why the hell not?) which will do work for you in helping your business to operate successfully.

To repeat myself, (in keeping with the best practices of political messaging,) when you own a Draft Pick, you own the right to someday pick a player, so the Draft Pick is actually a derivative asset, like a futures contract.  A lot can happen between today and the future date when your derivative asset becomes a physical asset (a player.)  There could be an unexpectedly large number of underclassmen deciding to stay in school next season, like there was, to some extent, this season.  You could go 0-16, or you could go 16-0, or anything in between, affecting the sequence in which your pick will ultimately be exercisable.  You may be up against the cap, and unable to afford the absurd cash outlay that accompanies a high draft pick.  Your general manager could get hit by a bus, and your owner could instantaneously go senile and hire Matt Millen to replace him. 

The point is, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding any derivative asset.  Remember when every energy analyst in the world was convinced that Oil would be $300 per barrel by 2010?  Light Sweet Crude futures traded at $50.46 on Friday at the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX).  Do you want to be the guy who went long on oil futures in July 2008?  At that time it seemed like a great idea to buy a contract guaranteeing delivery of oil to you at $250 a barrel in July 2010, (so your speculating butt could turn around and eventually sell it to somebody who actually wanted to take delivery of some barrels of oil.)  Now?  Not so much.  You'll be getting some oil delivered to your doorstep, and you'll be contractually paying at least 3 times more for it than market price, and probably 4 or 5 times.  You lose.

The Broncos could have kept their #1 next year, but it would be a virtually valueless derivative asset until April 2010. There is an opportunity cost to sitting on it.  Instead, they trusted their evaluation of Alphonso Smith, and took a sure thing for something which has a generally accepted selling value of a mid-second rounder this year.  In other words, they traded the equivalent of this year's 48th pick for this year's 37th pick. 

The Panthers got killed last April for trading this year's #1 to Philadelphia for Jeff Otah last season, and he was the best all-around RT in the NFL as a rookie.  They would do that deal again in a heartbeat, and I'd do the Smith deal again in a heartbeat also.  He's going to be a big-time player, who will make more game-changing plays in his first 3 games than a good player like D.J. Williams has made in his whole career. 

We'll see you next Monday morning for more Shallow Thoughts & Nearsighted Observations.  Have a great week!!!