As we all take a deep breath from our week-long return to elementary school and the constant grading we have doled out to NFL programs, it is important to realize that teams can not be judged simply from first draft impressions. Secondly, we really REALLY need to stop judging a team's pick purely based on Kiper's or McShay's draft boards.
Going back to reviews of last year's draft, clearly our initial impressions led us far astray. Two teams with "poor" grades from last year are Baltimore and Carolina. Baltimore was criticized for taking Flacco so darn early, a guy w/ potential but a 2nd or 3rd at best. Carolina traded away a 1st rounder for the next year for a frickin OT in Jeff Otah. All those guys did was step in Day 1 and help lead their teams to the playoffs. Not the best examples I know but it only shows that although us Americans just love our instead gratification/feedback, we really need to wait before we completely toss a team in the ditch just because they did not take the number 1 guy left on Kiper's big board.
Teams should draft guys they like. Period. If a player meets and trys out for a team and theres something that resonates with the team, then why shouldn't they take him regardless of where he falls on the infinity plus one mock drafts that are out there. And this trend USED to be more prevalent but now programs do not have the thick skin to absorb the media's criticism and the GM's and coaches do not have the security or tenure to buck the trend. We still see it every now and then; i could not help but admire clubs like Baltimore (Flacco) and Tampa Bay (Freeman) who pretty much had their guy in the bag but still traded up just so there was no doubt to his availability. With Flacco, there was a seemingly instant bond between new guys Harbaugh and Flacco and that allowed for a comfort level and learning curve that was much easier to handle than guys who show up knowing little to nothing about the franchise or staff. Trading up for Freeman who seemed like he was not going anywhere shows a lot about the Bucs, Freeman was a guy that TB was interested in taking since he declared. They were comfortable with the kid and had their eyes on him from the very beginning. Sounds like the start of a great relationship, but like I said earlier it is too early to say. The same could be said for Sanchez
So if Al Davis likes Mitchell and Heyward-Bey, if he has a legitimate relationship with these guys that goes further than a simple drooling over their athleticism, then I see no harm in either pick. Sure he could have gotten "better talent" guys or waited to take Mitchell, but these were need picks (WR and S help are needed in the worst way in Oakland). And if Davis took them b/c he truly did feel like their maturity level or approachability or work ethic or something in their character seperates them from other prospects, then why not take them? The talent and potential is there, so what if they were not Kiper's faves? Time will tell how big of mistakes or successes they are but for now I give Davis the benefit of the doubt and even props for picking guys he likes.
Posted on: April 30, 2009 4:16 am