Thursday, May 1, 2008

Recapping/Responding to Grades

For those of you who haven't found them all, I will start with links to the grades the Lions received from various sporting outlets. I do not agree with many of them, just to let you know, and will be responding to them below. My own evaluation of the draft will be following in a 3-4+ part series over the next week. I also have put out some inquiries to Boston area media outlets requesting information on Gosder Cherilus and the off-field "issues" many have a problem with, and if/when I get more information, I will do a piece on him, including that, as well.

On to the moron "expert" draft grades:

Yahoo! (Robinson)
Sporting News

I know that most of you have already read these "grades" -- what I find interesting about this year's draft for the Lions is that the "experts" seem to all be having trouble gauging it. The evaluations range from F to A overall -- this is VERY unusual. Among draftniks and journalists, there is usually very little dissension in draft grades. They all use essentially the same "Kiper Scale" before the draft, and grade teams according to it afterwards.

What is even more interesting is the individual player evaluations what was the worst pick to one evaluator, was the best for the next. They were split on Cherilous, about 30% liked Dizon, and about 30% said Smith is no good. Some loved Avril and thought he "redeemed" them, while others thought he was still a reach. Fluellen is either the next Warren Sapp or will make Shaun Cody look like Warren Sapp by comparison, depending on who you believe.

As I have said many times, the true evaluation of every draft -- if you are looking at how "successful" players are "going to be" -- has to be done 3 years down the road; how the class did or did not impact a team over time is the only way to tell. Carucci had the right idea when he labeled his "bottom group" wait and see...he should have put everyone under that label.

What it really comes down to, is that -- for one reason or another, the Lions pissed off almost every evaluator outside of Gosselin and Dr.Z by NOT taking who that evaluator would have.

The same guys who would pan Millen for taking another Skill player in 1, ream the Lions for "passing up" on Mendenhall (whom Dallas also passed on before Pittsburgh picked him up near the end of the round ). They hit the Lions for not picking Connor in 2 over Dizon, when 3 more LB, including ILB Tavares Gooden by Baltimore at 71, were taken before him.

I could go on and on. Gosselin gave the Lions high grades initially because he evaluates the draft differently than everyone else (wish I had the time and skill to do it his way!). He rates ALL the players he thinks have a shot at getting drafted before the draft. Each one gets a point value. He then uses that players point value in correlation to where they were picked to term it as Value, Reach, Great Value, or Big Reach. The Lions got Value with everyone but Smith -- he was a Great Value. His system doesn't take into account who he would pick, what the team needs are (value to the team) -- it only values the player and where they were picked. This means a team could have an A+ draft from Gosselin and still not fill any team needs -- so using only this type of scale can be misleading (like any scale)

On the whole, I think most writers didn't like the Lions' draft because it wasn't "sexy". As we honed in on before the draft, it was very un-sexy, but functional. Kind of like me buying a mini-van versus a sporty little car. Sure, the sporty little car is "fun" and "exciting to drive" and also would be a pain in the butt and near impossible to use with my 3 kids. My minivan seats 7 with ample room, gets moderately good mileage, and is very utilitarian. Sure, no is going to say "Damn man -- that Windstar is freakin awesome -- it does 0-60, in how long??" -- but it will do everything I need it to do effectively and efficiently. It may not be as fun as a Mustang for the price, but it does what I need it to do.

The Lions got one heck of a Minivan in this draft. Here's to one Lions fan who is glad they finally passed on the sports cars.

(Writer's Note: I will revisit these "grades" in 1, 2, and 3 years to see how they are really panning out. Funny how they all forget saying how "great" a move was that turned out disastrous!)


Anonymous said...

I do not usually read post draft grades because like Detfan, I don't think anyone can correctly gauge a draft a week later. Some of these "draft experts" irk me with their comments. How is Cherilus at reach at 17 when the Eagles coveted him at 19. They traded out of the first round once the Lions selected him even though they had a shot at Otah whom the "experts" say the Lions should have taken. I was disappointed when the Pats took Mayo but think Cherilus fits our scheme.
The whole Connors/Dizon thing just is a bunch of bull. Connors does not fit the system ,is slower and does have good pass coverage skills. I think the Lions targeted a RB with their 1st pick in the 3rd. I just don't think Dizon would have been there after Lions picked Smith. My only regret of this draft is the 5th round pick of Moore. I would have taken another ILB like Goff for some instant competition for MLB or a CB like Trae Williams for depth and youth. I just don't think a 5th or 6th receiver or a PR/KR is needed. I had wanted the Lions to select Owen Schmitt but after seeing clips and reading the profiles on Felton, I am OK with that selection. Overall, I am happy with this draft and believe these players fill the needs and hopefully make the Lions better.

JJLions20 said...

DetFan1979, This is a good post regarding the draft. I'm going to try to take your Blog paragraph by paragraph and add to it. I'll give my opinion as to why the "grades" varied so much.

First I don't think it is that unusual to have a team vary with the grades from the pundits. There are a couple of reasons. The number one reason is the pundits have to be different, and introduce some controversy. If they all line up with Kiper's analysis, then there is no need to have so many pundits. The second reason is that most pundit are not all that well versed on the players that are being drafted as well as the team needs and philosophies. So they really don't understand why a team selected a player. The third reason is self serving. They all made mock drafts, so it is one last time to explain why their mock draft was not accurate.

Regarding the evaluations of the individual picks and the percentage of pundits that liked the picks, this goes to what I mentioned above. Lets take Cherlious first. The pundits get into putting great value on a LT and not a RT, because they are typically harder to find. But in this draft there were many more LT candidates than RT. The law of supply and demand should have increased the value of a RT. They also got so enamored by this LT phenomenon that a guard (Alberts) who was thought to be able to play LT became a better value then the RT’s in the draft, even though Alberts has never played LT. Where Cherilous was a dominating RT in his Jr year and gave LT a try in his senior year, he was devalued when it was determined he was a better RT than a LT. His value dropped compared to the kid that never gave LT a try yet. When you look at the Lions needs they needed a RT. Backus is set at LT. Backus is not a RT and will not be moved to RT. He simply is not that physical power blocking tackle. He is more a finesse guy, who translates well to a LT.

Also, with the Cherilous pick, many said it was a reach. How could it be that much of a reach, when Atlanta had to trade up a few picks later to get the last starting grade OT. They had to give up a lot to get Sam Baker, and it's because there were not may good OT's left. Simply put if the Lions passed on Cherilous, somebody would have picked him soon afterwards. Therefore Cherilus was good value at the #17 pick.

Regarding Dizon. Just like with Mayo, the Lions knew how teams had this kid rated. Many say he is too small to play MLB. That is simply not true, given the requirements of a MLB in the cover-2 defense. So at 6' 230 lbs, he is not too small, It's a good fit. Given the Lions really needed a MLB, who else was left. Only Connor, who slid into the 3rd round. Connor was just not a good fit for the scheme the Lions are running. He obviously was not a good fit for a lot of teams schemes. There have been may reports that teams would have taken Dizon before the Lions picked in the 3rd. So taking him in the 2nd round was the option that presented itself and the Lions acted on it.

Then there was Smith, a guy that was rated very high going into the draft. After Mcfadden, Stuart, and Mendenhall, there were 4 RB's that were closely bunched to go late 1st or 2nd round, and Smith was in the bunch with Jones, Forte, and Johnson. The RB position was deep this year, or otherwise they would have never get a guy with Smith's talent in the 3rd round. But given this was the 3rd round and there was only 1 left in that 2nd round bunch, the Lions got good value at the top of the third round. Lets also remember there were two good moves that enabled the Lions to get Smith. Trading down in the first and not taking Alberts, then trading up two spots in the 3rd and only costing them a 6th rounder.

In the later rounds the Lions got guys that have the potential to be players. Ones that will fit the scheme, and fill a need. Only time will tell if it was a success.

Yes the true evaluation comes after these kids play their third year, but for a team like the Lions, they drafted for need and these kids will be given an opportunity to contribute in 2008. Part of it is because of how great the need is at the position they play.

What the evaluators are missing right now with their analysis is they are evaluating how good of a college player did the Lions draft. These kids are nothing more than "potential" NFL players.

I posted a week before the draft that I had a feeling it was going to be an un-sexy draft. If the Lions had selected Mendenhall more of the pundits would have given a higher grade. But it may not have been a better draft. You have to look at how the Lions filled their needs in the first three picks. As it is, they look like they have found a starting RT, MLB, & RB in those first three picks. If they had taken Mendenhall, they could have still gotten Dizon in the second, but would they have gotten a starting quality RT? NO. Plus from what I heard the Lions did not have Mendenhall or the other RB's rated that much different than Smith. Remember there were knocks on the other RB's. Mendenhall had the knock of a one year wonder, one that did not really work until the starting job was handed to him. Stuart had surgery and durability was coming into question. Jones was said to be a player that could not run between the tackles. So based upon the way the draft fell, the Lions got a very good combination of three players that can "potentionally" help them in 2008 and beyond. Also a draft that seemed to fit the type of character that was a major need on this football team.

Goslin's review is going to give an un-sexy draft a more accurate grade. It is very analytical. He takes the emotion out of it and simply puts value on a player "Before the Draft" and compares the value to where they were taken. What he misses is the players value in a certain system, and the value based upon the teams needs. I believe those are two factors that would have even pushed the Lions grade higher (if that was possible, and for what ever it is worth).

These grades by pundits that know very little about a player other than there senior years performance, are not very meaningful. The pundits have what is published from the combine, but they don't have what is not published by the teams. They also know very little about a teams needs and the schemes they are running. The fans in this forum know a lot more about the Lions needs then these national pundits. So these grades are largely ridiculous.

Think of this analogy. A draft pick is very similar to laying a bet down in Vegas. There are many factors that goes into a winning bet, but until they play the game, you really won't know if it is a winning bet. In the mean time there is a lot of money on the line. When the game starts you can sometimes quickly judge if somebody made a good bet, or one that just wasted money. But for most bets you have to wait to see the end of the game (3 years). So I ask, why don't the pundits rate gamblers in Vegas. Because they know very little about why the gamblers made the bets, and what went into the decision. It would be pretty meaningless to rate such a thing. But doesn't that sound like rating the NFL Draft?

Ok, I have to address the Minivan. I recently had a minivan (until March of this year) that was approaching 300,000 miles. It was a 94 GMC Safari. It was so functional that I used it for everything as my kids were growing up. It was so functional that my family took it for granted. Over the years my kids and my wife would want me to replace it with a new car. The jokes were made about how ugly it was (it really wasn't ugly, it just was not sexy looking). Well this March, the Mini-Van had to be sent to the junk yard after colliding with a deer. Now that it is gone, the family is finding that it is missed. How will we haul thing back to college. There is not as much room when taking a vacation. They need to be a little more careful with the new car. When I look back on the years with that functional vehicle, it was really a winning vehicle. Looking back at what we got out of this minivan over the 13 years, I would not have traded it. If I could go back in time I would not have changed my selection and taken the flashy sports car. Hopefully the Lions got their Mini Van, and somebody else got the sports car.

JJLions20 said...

Regarding the Moore pick, I've heard some reports that he is actually very good. Led the ACC in receiving. Good hands, can catch the ball well, and can give you something on special teams. Remember these 4-7th rounder’s are not going to be starters year-1. In order to stick you need to use a roster spot and that means they have to play special teams. That is the reason Mike Hart slid so far. He never played special teams.

Lets see what happens before the first game in 2008. If McDonald is traded, the pick may make "Moore" sense. It may also put a lot of pressure on the Bell/Calhoun/Cason situation. It could make one or more of these guys expendable because this Moore played RB in his junior year. Or it could allow to keep a Felton as the 3rd back, and let Calhoun and Cason go. Or Bell goes Calhoun is kept. Or they try to hide Felton or Moore on the practice squad for a year and make the cuts next year. Then again there are always injuries in the preseason. It will be interesting.

Anonymous said...

While I understand and agree with your reasonings as to why the Lions selected Moore, I just think it is luxury pick. Trae Williams is a CB with return skills. He could return kicks this year and then competed next yr for a CB spot. I just think Kelly only has a couple of yrs left in him and it would have been nice to already have a replacement on hand. Our LB corps other than Sims is still questionable. Added another young LB besides Dizon would have increase the competition. I hope Moore does make the team and makes those other guys expendable. BTW, I believe Felton will not only make the team but will contribute.

CHIEFGER139 said...

cant say im glad they passed on mendenhall-made me sick-thought cherlious was a 2nd rd pick-and from many that rated the draft they did too. thought dizon was a 3rd to 4th rd pick and from many you posted they did too.they didnt put into account-mayo and lofton and stewert were gone on our 1st pick-albert and mendenhal and otah or chelious were basically our picks-they took cherlious-i forgot to mention conners he was there too-and was there in rd 2 also-forte was gone in rd 2-and we took dizon which made me sick-at least we got a linebacker and a tackle but no runningback-really only 2 left-smith and charles glad they traded up to get smith-didnt like charles at all-that made my day-avril was rated high not a bad pick and fluellen too-i over looked him but filled a major need-overall considering how bad day one went-thought they totally turned it around day 2-smith is a big risk-cherlious is too and so is dizon the rest even more-dont see no sure thing at all in this draft like cj was last year-can anyone say theres a sure thing in the whole group?? i cant
but they got guys they brought in to look at and to me went for the fill all holes win now type attitude-only reason i see them passing on better players-they wanted all needs filled and did it-i think many will contribute-i also feel coach ros thinks he can coach these guys up and win with them-i do too-i wanted much more than smith but he was on my honarble mention list-cherlious i had as a 2nd rd pick and dizon a 4th-they brought all these guys in-plus avril-they must be happy with that-win it with heart guys you can do it-
lions great in 2008-playoffs and beyond!!

JJLions20 said...

The reason the Lions did no select Williams may have something to do with his weaknesses. Check out the following:

Basically it says that he does not have great timed speed, not very strong or physical, marginal tackler, Sub par ball skills, and he offers very little in the way of run support.

It doesn't look like a cover-2 CB. Even as a mid rounder the Lions probably did not have him on their board.

I too would have liked to see them get a CB over a WR, if they thought there was one there in the 5th round that could make the team.

DetFan1979 said...

Great Dialogue guys. So, after your posts JJ, do I still need to do my post draft analysis series? (just teasing you.)

Funny thing is I love mini-vans. Had an old Dodge Caravan in my teens, early college. When I had my third, upgraded to a Plymouth Voyager (my kids are close in age, and three carseats didn't fit) that only had 130,000 miles instead of 190,000. Then, I gave that to my kid sister when she went to college, and bought my Windstar with about 100k on it. funny thing is, it was owned by a couple who bought it and traded it in at the dealership/repair shop that I use -- since they had everything done there, I even knew how many sets of windshiled wipers it had put on it!

To me, this is kind of like where the Lions are going. Build the mini-van base, and then updgrade those minivans to better ones, but keep away from the flashy cars until everything else is in place. No matter hwo fun the Mustang is, you still need that minivan to haul the kids to grocery store, school, and all those other "boring" tasks.

Minivans Rock! Block out the sun baby -- and IMHO if Smith came out last year, or next year, he is a 1st round back - high 2nd at worst. Too many close options there this year -- but I've said before, and will again, I think he will -- in the end -- be the msot productive RB out of this entire draft.

Anonymous said...

Quit your crying already, (I use to enjoy your enthusiasm and posts) you and Millen would probably get a long with your want of skill position players. You need to understand if you can't win in the trenches then it doesn't matter how much skill you have at certain positions this isn’t pop warner or high school. That of course is my opinion and has been proven by solid team after solid team throughout history. I personally think the Lions did very well in the draft making giant strides in the right direction.
I have stated my opinion many times in this blog that being; you need to build from the trenches out and the running backs in this draft were good through the forth round. Of course the draft is a crap shoot and what happens remains to be seen but this is by far the best draft (as for need) I have ever seen from our team. So take a deep breath regain your composure and enjoy what is to come of this season, I know I’m going too.


minker said...

On day one, I was getting bummed out because of how good Kansas City's picks looked and because the Patriots took my picks of Mayo (and later, Crable). I didn't know enough about the guys we selected and I thought for sure we'd get at least one of the other players I had picked-we didn't. It would become clearer we did the right thing later. I rationalized that Mayo and Crable were reported to have highly impressed Coach Rod, so if the Patriots grabbed them so early (some said it would have been a reach for us to get Mayo at 15 and some had Crable as a 4th rounder)then we were evaluating talent the right way. I also suspended disbelief with our picks thinking that they must have had good (character) interviews, something that Kiper/Mayok wouldn't understand.
On day two, the picks on day one made more sense, especially our 15-17 swap to get the third pick in the third round. When I saw the icon change from the Dolphins to the Lions, I thought Whoo Hoo, we got our guy. (I think this is where Millen really excels, in draft day maneuvering around the board) I felt the picks continued to make sense, these were Marinelli picks, not Millen picks from the past. ESPN kept going to commercial breaks every time the Lions picked and would come back with some round table discussion of who should be the starting quarterback on Green Bay and the Dolphins-WHO CARES! TELL ME ABOUT THE LIONS PICK! I got on YouTube and checked out the player videos like All 41 Carries of Kevin Smith VS UAB and of Dizon and started getting pumped up.
I have to admit that initially the TV announcer's humdrum attitudes about our picks were affecting mine, but I'm a lions fan and I believe. I believe in Rod and I believe in what he's doing, so if the media doesn't get what we're doing, that's egg on their face.
I also thought that it was interesting that some of the guys we passed on, (and were getting slammed for it-like Connor), slid so far. I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

CHIEFGER139 said...

AM I SUPPOSE to lie and say im glad they passed on mendenhal? im not-but understand why they did-im not crying-already im saying 11-5 and thats with splitting games with the bears,vikes and pack-all winnable so could go 14-2 but doubt it-the 2nd day made me see why they did what they did on day one and truthfully many of the guys we wanted were gone-i dont think they ever brought mendenhal in-they probably never wanted him-
broke my heart when forte went to the bears in rd 2 and we got dizon-at that moment i was upset and would be lieing if i told you otherwize-
feel they hit a homerun on day 2-didnt realize smith was a home boy-and it did make my day we got him-
i was seeing come day 2 we wouldnt get any top tier runningback-they didnt think they'd needed one-
but trading up to get smith when there was basically only 2 top runningbacks left-charles and smith made me very happy-i liked cherlious and dizon-they were on some of my mock drafts and i mentioned smith if forte wasnt there-adding avril and fluellen on day two they hit a homerun there-and then take into account getting cherlious and dizon-we did pretty darn good-now im seeing a lot of good things about dizon and if they fill he can play mlb-considering mayo was gone they did great
lions great in 2008-playoffs and beyond!!