Archive for April, 2012
Here’s a look at my grades on each of the 32 NFL teams’ drafts. I have a formula for draft picking and team building. It’s very simple and I use it to grade drafts along with other factors.
Here are the positions you need to draft:
QB, RB, DT, WR, CB, LT, DE, MLB, WR2, DT2, FS, TE
Stay in those areas and your ability to have a successful draft increases greatly.
The other positions listed below, you address in free agency with low key signings. Not big named additions that achieved famed success elsewhere and will have a hard time doing things your way in you organization. Here those positions:
DE2, RT, OLB, C, FB, LG, OLB2, RG, SS
A ‘2’ next to a position means the 2nd player at that position. So WR2 means second best wide receiver.
Here are my draft grades
|New England||A||Attacked weaknesses on defense. Drafted at all key spots. Got value with late picks on Dennard|
|Buffalo||B -||Better picks available than their 1,3 and 4th round picks. Addressed weaknesses.|
|Miami||C||Reached with 1st rnd pick. Yet another OL in draft. Unpolished pick at 3. Failed to address WR. No impact players.|
|NY Jets||B||Impact player with 1st rnd pick. Got what they needed with 2nd pick. Drafted outside of key area.|
|Baltimore||B -||Strong 1st rnd pick. Question two guards drafted. Intruiging pick with Streeter at #198.|
|Cleveland||A -||Got their player in rnd 1. Addressed uncertainty at QB. Lost points for guard draft and 2 ILBs|
|Cincinnati||A -||Solid pick at #17. Lose points for 1st rnd guard pick. Sanu a steal as is Charles. Addressed key areas|
|Pittsburgh||B -||Lose pts with OG 1st round. Spence in 3rd round could pay off. Downgraded for 2 guards in draft|
|Houston||B -||Not solid on 1st rnd. Downgraded for OG, OC picks at 3 and 4th plus K pick in 5th. Need more impact players|
|Indianapolis||A -||Solid 1st. Got impact player at 3. Value with 5th with Ballard. Drafted mostly in key areas.|
|Jacksonville||B||Nice move to get Blackmon. Downgrades for punter and OLB pick.|
|Tennessee||B -||Solid 1st and 3rd. OLB in 2nd led to downgrade. Limited picks. Seemed like better picks were available with most picks.|
|San Diego||A -||Addressed some key areas. Lost a grade for OG and OC picks at 5 and 7.|
|Oakland||C||No impact players. Loses grades for OG and a pair of OLB picks. Reached with most picks|
|Denver||B||Osweiller lacks exp.to be big time. OC and OLB picks cost them grade. 2, 3 and 4th was solid|
|Kansas City||B||Risky 1st pick with Poe. OG pick with 2nd is a downgrade. Unspectacular with rest but stayed with key areas with most picks|
|Dallas||B||Solid #1 pick. Not much impact with others. Wait and see type picks with the rest of draft.|
|Washington||C||Got Griffin but Cousins a head scratcher. Downgrades for two OG and OLB pick.|
|Philadelphia||A||Addressed need with solid pick at 1. Stayed with picks at crucial draft positions|
|NY Giants||B +||Wilson a good back have to see where he fits. Randle good pick up. Stayed with key draft. Positions|
|Green Bay||A||Two solid DL picks at 1 & 2. Hayward solid corner picks. Addressed def need. They just know what they are doing.|
|Detroit||B||Addressed OT need. Broyles could pay off big. Bentley good pick up at CB. Attacked secondary needs|
|Minnesota||A||Addressed needs with solid players. Liked moves in secondary and WR. Don’t like K picks but got a good one.|
|Chicago||B -||Unspectacular. Reached with 1st pick and 2nd pick. Attacked secondary needs but with who?|
|New Orleans||B -||Not many picks. Picked a player from Regina at 3. Hope he’s good. Nick Toon good pick. Obscure with the rest.|
|Atlanta||C||What did they do? Went OL with 1st two picks. Nothing to write home about with the rest.|
|Tampa Bay||A||Lost on Richardson but battled back with Barron & Martin. David solid pick. Sent message to Blount by picking 2 backs and a FB in this draft.|
|Carolina||B -||Reached with 1st round pick, picked a guard at #2, didn’t really get impact players.|
|Arizona||B +||Floyd good pick up next to Fitzgerald. Filled some needs. Lindley pick at 6 could be sleeper|
|St. Louis||A||Reached with 1st pick. Loved next 4 picks. Jenkins a risk but high reward. Pead will surprise|
|Seattle||A -||Reached for Irvin but filled a need with a good player. Wilson intriguing. Turbin solid. Filled needs|
|San Francisco||C||Reached with 1st round pick. Didn’t need another back. Downgraded for OG, OLB and OC picks|
Well I told all to watch out for Miami’s Lamar Miller as the likely first Gridiron Stud to be drafted into the NFL but lost sight of LSU’s Rueben Randle. Low and behold Randle it was and he went to the defending Super Bowl champions, how ironic for a Gridiron Stud. Randle closed out the 2nd round at pick #64 to the New York Giants as they added another weapon to Eli Manning’s arsenal. Randle joins Hakeem Nick and Victor Cruz to bolster an already solid wide receiving corps. Gridironstuds.com was started in January 2009 and Randle was a member of the initial class entered into the Gridironstuds.com recruiting database. Congrats to Rueben on achieving this milestone in his career and we are delighted at Gridironstuds.com to have reached this milestone ourselves. Check out Rueben Randle’s Gridironstuds.com profile, click here.
Last week I gave you my top QB rankings for this month’s NFL draft. This week I dive in with the top WRs for this draft. I will do this in more depth next year with rankings on more positions. I will have running back rankings tomorrow. I base my rankings largely on production and attributes. Personal things that I know about the players does factor in along with what I perceive along the lines of work ethic as I feel it is a major factor in a wide receiver’s long term success in the NFL. I think is that factor weighs in as much as or more so than any other position on the field. Enough blabber, here are the rankings with brief comments:
|Gridironstuds.com 2012 NFL Draft WR Rankings|
|1||Justin Blackmon||Top 1||2 yrs of strong production|
|2||Michael Floyd||Top/mid 1||production + attributes|
|3||Kendall Wright||Late 1||experience|
|4||Stephen Hill||Late 1 / Early 2nd||a risk but undeniable attributes|
|5||Alshon Jeffery||Top / Mid 2nd||atrributes + production not dominant|
|6||Rueben Randle||Mid 2nd||attributes but production ?|
|7||T.Y. Hilton||mid to late 2nd||experience, production + speed & hungry|
|8||Brian Quick||mid to late 2nd||production and attributes- 3 yr starter|
|9||A.J. Jenkins||Late 2nd / 3rd||speed but where’s production|
|10||Chris Givens||Late 2nd / 3rd||speedy but not enough production|
|11||Nick Toon||early 3rd||big and productive + pedigree|
|12||Ryan Broyles||early 3rd||major production but knee injury|
What a sneaky title this is. While the main premise of this article is to propose a more logical realignment of the current college football conferences, it is also a sneaky way to slip in yet another Division I playoff format. This way we can do something logical in this sport like crown a champion by what happens on the field.
My conference realignments serves to group college football programs into regional areas (another thing that makes sense but isn’t done). It also serves to include all college football teams in the quest for the championship and not eliminate programs by lumping all the 2nd tier schools into one conference.
With 120 Division I-A teams, this is the perfect time and perfect number for something like this to be done. With 120 teams, it is now possible to have 10 college conference consisting of 12 teams. This allows every conference to have a championship game. Just the very thought of that should excite every college football fan as well as the teams, players and coaches.
Grouping the teams by region creates awesome rivalries that will mean something. Of course some previous conference rivalries will be lost but provisions can be made for every program’s biggest rivalry to remain in tact. Also the regional conference groupings set up a great situation for a playoff system that makes sense.
My proposal calls for a West Region and an East Region with five conferences in each region. Each conference will have six teams on one side and six on the other. Initially, the split can be done to have balance of program strength between each side. A realignment of the conference splits can be done every three to four years to maintain the balance between both sides of each conference. The realignment will be based by the performance of each team over the previous three to four years.
So before I dive headlong into the intricacies of this realignment along with offering rebuttals to arguments people may have, allow me to reveal to you the proposed conferences and their teams. Of course, the names of the conferences can be tinkered with but I went with made most sense at the time I put them together.
I placed teams in each sides of the conference based on my recollection of their recent historical performance in college football. I will continue this article after the tables showing the realigned conferences with the meat and potatoes of how this proposal will improve college football to levels never before seen.
Here they are:
|East Region||West Region|
|Southern Conference||Southwest Conference|
|UCF||Troy St.||Rice||N. Texas|
|Southeast Conference||Mid-American Conference|
|Miss. St.||Ole Miss.||Notre Dame||Missouri|
|S. Miss.||Tulane||Ball St.||Miami Ohio|
|Mid. Ten. St.||Lou. Monroe||Bowling Green||Marshall|
|Northeastern Conference||Midwestern Conference|
|Penn St.||Ohio St.||Oklahoma||Nebraska|
|Boston College||U.Conn||Oklahoma St.||Arkansas|
|Navy||Rutgers||Colorado St.||Kansas St.|
|Buffalo||Kent. St.||Air Force||Idaho|
|Mideastern Conference||Mountain West Conference|
|Virginia Tech||North Carolina||Texas Tech||Boise St.|
|West Virginia||NC State||Arizona St.||Utah|
|Kentucky||East Carolina||New Mexico||Utah St.|
|W. Kentucky||Duke||New Mexico St.||Utep|
|Northern Lakes Conference||Western Conference|
|Minnesota||Michigan St.||Oregon St.||Stanford|
|W. Michigan||Eastern Michigan||Washington St.||UCLA|
|C. Michigan||N. Illinois||San Jose St.||Hawaii|
|Akron||Ohio||Fresno St.||San Diego St.|
Now let’s talk about the realignments, scheduling, competition and the all important playoff system.
No more independents
Enough with the flying solo. The NCAA puts their foot down on a lot of things when it comes to college football but continue to get pushed around on other very important things. Tell Notre Dame the gig is up and that if you want any shot at playing for a national title, you have to take your conference assignment. Yes, I propose that the NCAA become Nazis with regard to this. They also need to say the same to Army and Navy. Everyone’s in a conference. That’s as fair as fair can get.
There’s no way to make every conference have equal strength but this is as close as you can get. At first glance it looks like Wisconsin would have an easy path to the conference title game each year but who knows if one or more of the other teams in their conference don’t improve dramatically when the prize of a national title becomes real. There is no more MAC conference or Conference USA or WAC where we lump in all of the weaker programs and have the king of that conference crying about how they don’t have a chance for a title. Those smaller programs are spread throughout the conferences. I am sure someone will come with the argument that putting those programs in with bigger programs will keep them away from ever winning a conference title. My reply is that these teams are winning conference titles now and the ones who are winning titles should welcome the chance to step it up against the big boys. In looking at the alignments, there is a tremendous amount of balance between them.
Regional Bragging Rights
Setting these conferences up soley by geographical location sets up a situation where each region can develop a sense of pride about the way they play football. Also a program can take pride in knowing that they reign supreme over a conference that is comprised entirely of teams within a small radius of their location. No more Lousiana Tech battling Hawaii in a Western Athletic Conference game.
But What About the Loss of Conference Rivalries?
What about it? When college football programs bolt from one conference to another in search of better television deals or revenue sharing, no one seems to care about destruction of conference rivalries. I was watching the 30 for 30 special on ESPN about “The Death of SMU” and remembered that there was once a conference called the SWAC. There was also a Metro-Conference. Conferences come and go and new rivalries get formed. I think rivalries are more powerful when they occur between teams in close proximity to each other. There’s the chance that every week will be emotional in these conferences.
With six teams on each side of each conference, every team will have five conference division games. I am then proposing that we take a page out of the NFL book and make the out of conference games pit one conference against another. So, for instance, Florida St. would play conference division members Miami, Georgia Tech, FAU, UCF and FIU equaling five games and then have another six games against the members of one side of the Southwest Conference. So for example they would play Texas A&M, Texas, Houston, SMU, N. Texas and Arkansas St.. That would give them 11 and everyone else 11 games. Every program will also have a 12th game which would be used for rivalry games, historical games, interesting matchups etc. So for example, Texas Tech, who is no longer in a conference with Texas can have their last game be against Texas if the two schools want to preserve some type of rivalry.
Now the Playoffs
To have a playoff system under this alignment, we would need either 14 or 16 teams from each region to enter the playoffs. I am proposing 14 teams from each region and issue bye weeks in the first round to a team from each region. Before we get to the playoffs though, every conference would have their championship game. The winner of each division within a conference would meet at the end of the year to determine a champion. Once that has been done we then issue a first round bye in the East Region to the highest ranked conference champion and then also do the same for the highest ranked conference champion in the West Region. We would then also have the need to select two wild card playoff participants from each region. I propose that the two highest ranking conference runner ups from each region be selected as playoff wildcards. So you now see two ways in which the ranking system remains relevant in how we arrive at a champion. After the teams with byes, the next two highest ranked conference champs would face the two wild cards. The other game would pit a conference champ against another conference champ. So let’s see what that would look like. I am going to use the 2010 season as an example and make some hypothetical assumptions about who would win the conference title games:
Conference Title games:
Southern Conference: #16 Alabama defeats #23 Florida St.
Southeast Conference: #1 Auburn defeats #20 South Carolina
Northeast Conference: #6 Ohio St. defeats Boston College
Mideastern Conference: #11 Virginia Tech defeats North Carolina
Northern Lakes Conference: #4 Wisconsin defeats #7 Michigan St.
Southwest Conference: #3 TCU defeats #18 Texas A&M
Mid-American Conference: #14 Missouri defeats Iowa
Midwestern Conference: #8 Oklahoma defeats #9 Arkanasas
Mountain West Conference: #10 Boise St. defeats Arizona
Western Conference: #2 Oregon defeats #4 Stanford
So here’s what the playoff brackets would look like. Some quick notes, in seeding the regions for playoffs, the two top teams would be split between the upper and lower part of the regional brackets. The rest will be paired high rank vs low rank. So highest ranking team will play lowest ranked team, etc. EXCEPT in cases in which the pairing would result in an immediate rematch of a conference title game.
Here’s what the playoff bracket would look like based on my hypothetical conference championship winners:
|Ohio St.||Ohio St..||vs|
wc stands for wildcard…
Before anyone says anything like, after all that we still have the same two teams playing for the championship. Well, that only happened because I did the simple thing of having the higher ranked team win each matchup so of course we would end up with the same matchup the BCS has produced. However, I think we all know that there would undoubtedly be upsets especially with the potential of a lower ranked team being better than a higher ranked team with the faulty measures used to do rankings.
But What About the Bowls?
The Bowls still remain and there would be a ton of good matchups amongst bowl eligible teams that did not make the playoffs. For instance: Miami v. LSU or Oklahoma St. v BYU or Michigan v. Texas Tech and many more. The bowl committees can set up parameters centered around what conference seed would face what other conference seed in the bowls. Plenty of awesome matchups would still be available.
A Playoff Would Make the Regular Season Irrelevant
Don’t need to spend much time on this. Under a system like this, that would be false. Each game in each conference has meaning as there is a division and conference race going on every week. Also, the rankings have a meaning so teams must play at a high level every week in and week out.
The Perks of this System
Personally, I would be glued to my television set each week if a system like this were in place. I would be able to see the playoff and national title picture unfold on the field and not necessarily have to just wait till Sunday evening to see where we are at. The playoffs would also be riveting. Every other level of football has playoffs (pop warner, high school and pro football). This set up is much like the NFL’s which is the best run sport in this country.
What could also happen under this realignment is under performing programs of the past who have wallowed in mediocrity in conferences full of other mediocre teams may now feel the pressure to improve and stay relevant. This could lend itself to more parity as programs try to avoid embarrassment.
I would love to hear from those of you who love college football and have read this proposal. What could go wrong? Where would we have a problem with this? What do you like about it? Comment away. I want to hear from you.
Is there anything more analyzed than the NFL draft and it’s prospects? If only oil and gas prices were analyzed as intensely maybe I wouldn’t spend so much time with the low fuel light on. With that said, for all the analyzing going on, it seems that most involved in the business suffer from this herd mentality. The top 5 or 10 are the same for pretty much everyone. Furthermore, the analysts make the same mistakes every year and then pontificate on what a bust a player is when history is just repeating itself. I guess I am the only fool that will look at things the way they really are and pay attention to history. Below is my list in order of the top QB’s (used loosely) in this year’s NFL draft. My list won’t look like many of the others you have viewed. My list is born out of what history has taught me about college QB entering into the pro game. Below the list, I explain some of the rankings that deviate sharply from what the “experts” are saying:
|Gridironstuds.com 2012 Draft QB Ratings|
|1||Robert Griffin III||Baylor||Top 1||Longest and most productive QB in class|
|2||Andrew Luck||Stanford||Top 1||Intelligent and productive in college|
|3||Kirk Cousins||Michigan St.||Mid-Late 1||3 year producer in Big 10 with physical tools|
|4||Russell Wilson||Wisconsin||Top 2||3 + prodcuer at 2 schools in 2 major conferences|
|5||Nick Foles||Arizona||Top 2||3 year producer with physical attributes|
|6||Case Keenum||Houston||Late 2 – Top 3||Hard to ignore the length and depth of production|
|7||Brandon Weeden||Oklahoma St.||Late 2 – Top 3||2 solid years. Age is a negative|
|8||Ryan Lindley||San Diego St.||Top 3||3 year producer that is underated bc of school|
|9||Austin Davis||S. Mississippi||Top – Mid 3||3 year producer that is underated bc of school|
|10||G.J. Kinne||Tulsa||Mid 3||3 year producer with phyiscal attributes|
|11||Darron Thomas||Oregon||Mid-Late 3||Solid 2 year producer. Run oriented system|
|12||Ryan Tannehill||Texas A&M||Late 3||Overrated, inexperienced, rising due to wkouts|
|13||Kellen Moore||Boise St.||Mid-Late 4||Outstanding production lacks physical attributes|
Whoa! Ryan Tannehill 12th? Russell Wilson 4th? Ryan Lindley 8th? Caught your eye didn’t it? Here’s my criteria for potential NFL quarterbacks: Experience, production and then physical attributes. It’s always interesting to me how analysts will try to crystal ball prospects and rate them this way. NFL teams that engage in this practice set themselves up for failure. Experienced stock traders will tell you to get on a stock when it has made it’s initial run and then get off when you have secured a tidy profit. That’s how NFL draft picks should be pursued. Trying to guess that Apple is going to $400 a share when it’s currently at $5 will more than likely have you buying a stock like Tandy Computers that busts. How does this equate to potential NFL QB’s? There’s nothing like a college quarterback that has been a starter for three or more years. The only thing better than that is quarterback that has produced quite well at the college level for three or more years. That prospect has shown you what he’s going to be like in the NFL. He is a stock that has made it’s run. Many can go out and have one great year but a whole lot less can go out after a great season and light it up again when everyone on the schedule is gunning for you. When you find a guy that did that for two or three years after they were the man then you have a guy that can hack it in the National Football League.
In the NFL you are playing the same teams over and over and teams will have a ton of information on you before you even step on the field to play. The question is can you adjust and maintain when teams know you and game plan against you? I put a premium on quarterbacks that have shown me they can do that in college. So if you are a one year starter, chances are, you are going to have a hard time in the NFL. On top of that, the higher up you are picked as an inexperienced QB, the greater the chance of failure because the pressure will kill you. I am only semi-sold on two year starters that have produced both years. You better have the physical attributes if that’s the case and even in that situation I am still taking a bit of a shot in the dark on you. Now when you have produced for three years or even four years, you have shown me that you can handle the grind of the NFL. Unless you have glaring weaknesses in physical attributes, i.e. very short, very weak arm, etc. or you have off the field issues then you have the goods to be an NFL playmaker at the QB position.
Of course, I love history and I went back to research this little theory I have. I will start off by saying that there are always exceptions to the rule. So don’t go emailing me about the guys here and there that you saw with one or two years in college or little production that got it done in the NFL. Furthermore, don’t go emailing me Ty Detmer’s name. I did say that they can’t have glaring NFL physical impediments. Detmer was very short and had a weak arm. Despite that, he did do a decent job the one year that he was entrusted to run the team. I’ll tell you this, Andre Ware and David Klingler would have loved to have had that one season that Detmer did.
Do your research and you will see the Alex Smith’s, Mark Sanchez’s, Jamarcus Russell’s, Vince Young’s of the NFL that had or are having a hard time because they were high draft picks with a lot of pressure and not enough experience to combat it. Turn around now and check the length and depth of college production from Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tony Romo. Check the history of the John Elways, Dan Marinos, Brett Favres. Someone will want to show me Tom Brady. Brady did not have that three year or four year Michigan starting career nor did he put up big numbers but you know what else, he wasn’t drafted in the first round. Nor was he drafted in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th round. I am willing to bet that Tom Brady’s NFL career would not have been as fruitful if he was a top 10 or 20 pick when he came out. His lack of college production combined with the pressure of being a #1 pick would have changed the course of his career. As a 6th rounder, he entered the NFL with no pressure and a nothing to lose mentality. He also ended up on a great football team.
Many high producers in college don’t get the necessary chance in the NFL because scouts and analysts get hung up on things that don’t mean squat. They overemphasize height by getting down on a guy that’s 6 feet tall (Drew Brees) or a guy who can’t throw it 80 yards like Jamarcus Russell. Well Chad Pennington had a pretty solid NFL career without the rocket arm. When you have a chance, check the length and depth of Chad Pennington’s college career against Jamarcus Russell’s or Joey Harrington’s. It should come as no surprise why he outperformed them both at the next level. Houston’s Case Keenum is this type of guy. The most prolific passer in college football history who stands at a reasonable 6’1″ is being down graded for all kinds of reasons, knee surgery, delivery, college offensive system, blah, blah, blah. These guys with these so called impediments have had them all their lives and somehow they managed to win a starting job, go out and produce and then do it year after year with everyone trying to stop them. You have to pay attention to that.
After you get over the shock of these rankings, do some research. Check the college production of a quarterback and match it up with what they did in the pros. One of the best sites online to go do this research is Totalfootballstats.com. You will be able to view the college and pro stats of almost any player you desire (from the modern era of course). Check it out. The proof is in the pudding.
American Heritage Delray head coach Doug Socha was asked what the Oklahoma Sooners will be getting when the sign 2013 RB commit Greg Bryant. Socha’s comment was that the Sooners would be getting a man. Socha was wrong. Sooners will be getting a beast.
The 5’10” 195 lb. life sized Heisman Trophy statue could grace the cover of Muscle and Fitness magazine. High school athletes aren’t supposed to look like this and I am certain that AH Delray’s opponents make wise cracks about Bryant’s age. Something to the effect of “we just got beat by somebody’s daddy out there.” Tough to believe that a teenager could have the physique of a 15 year IFBB pro bodybuilder. Bryant’s frame and all that is stacked on it is a function of his work ethic as opposed to any birth certificate funny business. Trolling around enough college mail to stack on an olympic bar during some power cleans, Bryant still finds himself in the weight room and on the field trying to out work his teammates. That’s a quality that is hard to teach once they reach this age. Bryant’s desire to work not only makes him better but inspires his teammates. This is evidenced in AH Delray’s march to the Florida High School State 3-A Title last year.
Bryant and company stood toe to toe against Class 3A favorite University School and nationally recruited prep star Nelson Agholor from Berkeley Prep during their playoff run. In both instances, Bryant’s hard nosed Delray squad knocked out the opposition. Hard work is the culture at AH Delray and Bryant soaks it all in. What’s impressive is that he has not sat on his laurels both personal and team. One would not know that he is one of the most highly recruited 2013 prospects playing for a three time state champion. Those are all beast qualities and they are headed to Norman in the Fall of 2013.