Running Draft Day Blog...
April 26, 2018- In the current political tradition of "winging it", I've decided to develop a running account of Draft Day as it unfolds. The unpredictability of this year'a draft (created in part by the abundance of elite QB's and even greater number of teams in need of franchise QB's) makes it difficult to provide content that means anything.
Take the media mock drafts for instance - almost every one of them contains a half-dozen projected trades - trying to lay therm out side-by-side (as we've done in past years) is a pretty confusing chore. Then there's the overwhelming number and variety of draft rumors and the paucity of legitimate leaks. Bottom line - "We don't know nuthin'." So-o-o , I've decided to jot down Draft Day thoughts (& prayers) that come to me as the day wears down (time-stamped when I remember to do it) and let the cards (no pun intended) fall where they may. Suggest you bookmark this page and, since it will be updated periodically, revisit it early and often:
April 30, 2018 - 11 am - Lots of nice things being said in the media about Arizona's move up to snag Rosen and their pick of Kirk in the 1st round.
(More pressing need was a 6-2+ "Floyd replacement", but pickins' were pretty slim at WR, and Kirk (considered by some to be a late-1st round selection) represented good value. I view him as kind of a "Fitz-clone - to compliment Larry as our #2 WR and eventually be groomed to replace him.
In Cole, we get a "meat & potatos choice - a smart, gritty, lunchpail lineman who can play all 5 OL positions.
Choice of a scatback (Edmonds) was kind of curious - i.e. small school, very good - but not necessarily elite - tools, we already have Logan, but this is one of those deals where I'd place my unbridled trust in Steve Keim and the Cardinal scouting dept.
Campbell is a CB who may not have gaudy numbers but he's a big fella for a corner. Cunningham has the size, a good back-story and impressive "protect the passer" stats and came out of Cincy U. Statistically, both of these guys seem to good to be true, but it raises the question - "If they're that good, why didn't they go earlier?" But that'a what late 5th and 7th round picks are for.
Remaining buzz is that - in both quantity and quality, the Cards cleaned up in undrafted free agency. (Hint - Keep an eye on both kickers. Look for a few head-hunting, game-breaking EDGE guys to compete for roster spots at OLB or (4-3) DE.
Brief Memo to Cardinal faithful - There was considerable amounts of statics panning the Cards for not drafting the guy a fan wanted...or not making a trade...or not filling a need. Well, boys and girls, that's the way the draft works - you only have so many picks to work with...you're not going to get every player on your short-list...32 other teams want the same guys...& you can't draft everybody. Deal with it. That said, the Cards appear to have fixed their QBOF problem (That's a biggie). And after that, S Keim seemed to have played the percentages - nothing flashy/but nothing really stupid either. SK may not be the second coming of Bill Walsh, but he's better than most GM's and I feel he does a pretty darned good job. I trust him. True - every move he makes won't hit the jackpot, but those numbers will work better and better over the long haul. (They'd better - the NFC East ain't chopped liver)!
That''s a wrap! - JGG
Day After - 10:15 am -
Here's an uncorroborated list of UDFA's said to have been signed with the Cardinals (Source - ROTB). If this year is similar to past years, several names may be dropped from this list and others added over the next few days. For this reason we'll defer on posting this list on the BRS Draft MasterPage - consider them more "informed rumor" than fact (Fan comments in parentheses):
Chad Kanoff QB Princeton 6`4 205 (M Daniels Tw)
Austin Ramesh FB Wisconsin 6`1 255
Austin Olsen OT Southern-Illinois 6`6 315
Will House OL Southern Nazarene 6`3 315
Andrew Vollert TE 6`5 245 Weber State (Watch for Vollert. Super productive receiving TE.)
Jonah Trinnaman WR 6`0 190 BYU
Trent Sherfield WR 6`1 200 Vandy
Corey Willis WR Central Michigan 5`10 170
Jalen Tolliver WR Arkansas -Monticello 6`3 210
Matt McCrane K Kansas State 5`10 165 (Most accurate kicker in Wildcats history, )
Joe Davidson P 6`7 190 Bowling Green (Ray Guy finalist twice and one of 7 punters to be invited to the combine. Led the nation in kicks over 60 yds but struggles with hangtime. Maybe there’s something there.)
Alec James DE 6`3 272 Wisconsin (Signing with the Arizona Cardinals despite offers from several other teams. Perfect fit in their defense. )
McKay Murphy DT 6`4 290 Weber State
Dennis Gardeck LB Houston 6`0 215
Matt Oplinger LB 6`3 243 Yale
Mike Needham LB 6`3 220 Southern Utah
Frank Ginda LB 6`0 245 San Jose ST (Was a tackling machine)
Tavierre Thomas CB 6`0 205 Ferris St (Ideal for the slot, ran a 4.32 at pro day. Ballhawk with 14 career INT's.)
Deatrick Nichols CB UCF 5`10 190
AJ Howard DB 5`11 185 Appalachian ST
Elijah Battle CB West Virginia 6`1 190
Malcom Washington DB Northern Iowa 6`2 177
Jonathan Owens S Missouri Werstern 5`11 210
Zeke Turner S Washington 6`2 206
Andy Smigiera S Robert Morris 6`1 205
Day After - 9:30 am - Spent the rest of Day 3 getting my land-line telephone fixed and eating Indian food with my kids and grandkids. Only caught up with the final pick (Cunningham) a half-hour ago. Kid looks like a prototypical LT (6-5 305) which should give Cardinal coaches a piece of raw-material to work with. Lingering question logically has to be: "If he's so good; why wasn't he drafted earlier. (Logical comeback: "So what do you want me to do - pick dogs in the 7th round)?")
Yesterday afternoon marked the beginning of the traditional "Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines" sprint to snap up as many quality undrafted free agents a possible. Unlike most years - when teams inch closer and closer to reaching a goal of, say, 15 UDA's, there were uncorroborated reports of the Cardinals snapping up closer to 25 - 30 undrafted players. After I log off, I'll try to track down a credible list of UDFA's and post it on the BRS Draft Master Page. Til then...
Day 3 - 4:30 pm - Cards filled aposition- need with their 6th round (#182) pick, drafting Chris Campbell, a backup CB from Penn State, but info on Campbell was sketchy and only time will tell if he, in fact, turns out to be "the one" who gets penciled in opposite Patrick Peterson. All we know is that he's 6-1 193 and has run an unofficial 4.51. Last pick is near the end of the 7th rund (#254).
Day 3 - 2:15 pm - After spending 2 hours enduring ing the ESPN and NFLN "death watch" and hoping that Shaquem Griffin would remain undrafted till the Cards picked at #134) the Cards announced the selection of Chase Edmonds, a RB from that perennial college powerhouse, Fordham University (headquartered in lovely downtown Bronx, NY and famous for former StL Cardinal 2nd baseman, Frankie Frisch (aka "The Fordham Flash" and a strong tradition in the field of Law Enforcement). His selection no doubt caused many of us to fly out of our chairs and race over to our copies of Athlon and Lindy's to learn what they knew about Mr. Edmonds. The picture they paint resembles a young, small-college version of Andre Ellington (i.e. short, small, agile, versatile can pass block, catches well out of the backfiield - starred within a low level of competition).
Remaining undrafted was Mr. Griffin. Also still on my Board: Tim Settle DT...Marcus Allen FS...Jamarco Jones OT...Tyrell Crosby OT...Godwin Igwebuke FS. Cards still need to bolster Safety, Tight End and DL. Cards (barring trades) don't pick again until #182 (in the 6th round) and #254 (near the end of the 7th).
Day 3 - 10:30 am - I've been busy restacking the Day 3 Board, and I'd be lying if i said there were a lot of remaining players who I've ever heard of; let alone make me want to jump up and do a dance. As far as needs go, the Cards could use a bit more depth at Safety, Defensive Tackle and Tight End. Near the top of my adjusted Day 3 board are LB Shaqem Griffin, DL Tim Settle, FS Marcus Allen, WR Tre'quan Smith, OT Jamarco Jones, FS Godwin Igwebuke, EDG Duke Ejiofor and FS Armani Watts. (Note - Griffin is much more than just a touchee-feely story/dude can ball.
Day 2 - 11 pm - Cards added a short, quick route-running slot guy (Christian Kirk T WR Texas A & M) and a versatile lunch-pail interior lineman (Mason Cole OC Michigan) who can play all 5 positions along the OL. Going into Day 2, Kirk was #9 on my updated draft board. Cole was #23. Unlike previous recent drafts, pickin's are relatively thin for Day 3 gems.
Day 2 - 11:39 am - My Top 15 Board of remaining players sets up a scenario where (barring a trade) we'll be sure to get one of the following 15 players with our (#47) pick in round 2:
W Hernandez OG
J Jackson CB
C Sutton WR
C Williams OT,
H Landry EDG,
R Evans ILB,
J Reid FS,
N Shepard DT,
C Kirk WR
O Brown OT,
T Settle DL
R Harrison SS,
M Gesicki TE
B O' Neill OT
I Oliver CB
Day 2 - 8:30 am - For the first time in my nearly 70 years following the Cardinals, I saw a media guy jump for joy over a Cardinal 1st round draft pick - a dude on NFLN's morning show jumped up and down about our landing Rosen at the trade-cost of 3rd and 5th round draft picks shouting: "I loved what the Cardinals did! So OK; it's not what the media guys say about you/it's how Rosen performs and develops over 3 - 5 years: that's the bottom line.
Rosen's harshest critics might best describe him as: "Carson Palmer with a mouth." The book on Rosen is that (1) he has the best passing mechanics of any QB in this year's draft...(2) he's brainy and should have no problem learning the Cardinal playbook...(3) he'll try to force the action and risk turnovers or injury...(4) but he's not bashful about speaking his mind and could rub coaches and teammates the wrong way. Counter-argument to that last point - Nothing wrong with confidence/just rein it in so he isn't misperceived as cocky/
8:00 pm - Mayberry or Darnell? Mayberry! Followed by NYG taking Barkley at #2...That leaves the Jets at #3 - with Mayberry gone, they're now favored to take Rosen (over Allen or Darnold). They jump all over Darnold. That leaves Allen, Rosen or L Jackson still on the board for ARI. Will Cleve trade the #4 pick? Or will they pick Chubb? Surprise: They select a CB (Ward). Denver (who had been projected to draft Nelson) says: "Thank you very much" and jumps on Chubb. Indy grabs Nelson. I had Indy (at #6) overdrafting Hernandez, but they trade the pick with Buffalo who then takes Allen (Whew! Not the Cards can't be tempted to take Allen). Rosen and L Jackson still on the board. Bears grab Fitzpatrick...Niners surprise us by picking McClinchey...It's #10 (Oakland) and, I felt, a perfect landing-spot for the Cardinals (Steve Keim had been quoted as saying that he "wouldn't let the Cards get jumped this year", (the way we did a year ago when another team leapfrogged us to get D Watson)...Sure enough - Oakland and the Cards swapped picks. Would the Cardinals jump all over Rosen? Or did they like L Jackson overall. The Cards snapped up Josh Rosen (considered by many to be the top QB among the top 4). In addition to #15, we gave up a 3rd and 5th rounder to grab a possible franchise QB. I like it. (I also like his first name - My Dad's name was Josh. My grandson is named Josh).
7:45 pm - Rumor afloat that NYG might swap their #2 for Denver's #5 with Denver taking a QB and NYG grabbing Chubb...Despite wanting to be fair about Allen (i.e. HS misadventure yada yada) I'd rather keep the controversy and potential friction out of my lockerroom....
7:30 pm - Allen negative fall-out may shake up the QB rankings...
6:00 pm - Nothing new (yawn)...Jim Brown agrees with a Cleve: Barkley at #1...qb at #4 strategy...
4:00 pm - Darnold (& not Rosen) to Jets trending...Cards moving up to #10 to get a QB a possibility...NFLN going around the horn (city to city) without anything new...Denver at #5 appears to be a pivot point...NFLN keeps running the same footage of Barkley over and over...
11:00 am - Just did a survey of latest rumors, late-breaking mocks etc. Biggest change in the atmospherics is the possible changes in direction by the Browns to Mayfield (fr Allen) and the Jets (Rosen)...Denver said to "love Ward" (trade enticement?) but I think Nelson is a once-in-a-decade lineman...Miami was never rabid for a QB, but I view them as opportunistic - and they'd probably leap on Darnold if he dropped to them....And Buffalo (if they stood pat and resisted trade offers) could still have Allen drop to them at #12...I've had the Cards "settling for" Lamar Jackson throughout Draft Season but remain nervous that his presence would cause major overhaul of the Cardinal offensive playbook to accomodate his unique skill set...Most of the rest of the draft remains the same as it did a few weeks ago, with a few exceptions: Ragnow to Panthers a rumor just surfacing...I have Rudolph going to the Steelers because he's got Roethlisberger's build and Big Bend's smarts...Hurst drops to Jags in this scenario...I'm kind of iffy regarding C Wilson to the Pats (no dougt Belichick has something else up his sleeve)....Davenporft is a 1st rounder and I had no place for him....
9:45 am - Woke up to discover no trade news. Last night, Mayock's mock had Rosen falling to us at #13...caught the final part of an interview quoting Steve Keim (I think) stating that "we won't let ourselves get jumped like we did last year" (presumably referring to teams leapfrogging us to snag at least one top QB - including D Watson) and perhaps signalling that the Cards were quite willing to trade up to secure one of the top 4, 5 or 6 top QB's.
Top 4 Game Playing - Order at the top of the draft is (barring trades): Cleveland Giants, Jets, Cleveland. Most popular scenario has Cleveland grabbing Allen, NYG: Barkley, Jets: Mayfield and Cleve: Chubb. (Cleveland's GM John Dorsey says that there has been zero trade interest in #1 but quite a bit of conversation regarding the trading of #4 (presumably to a team interested in drafting Darnold or Rosen) with a 5th team (Denver) possibly in play as a trading partner...add to this side theories (about Cleveland interested more in Rosen or Darnold than they are in Allen or the Jets using Mayfield as a smoke-screen for a more legit interest in Rosen or Darnold and things can get pretty complicated...(Note to Mock Drafters - all it takes is one sideways trade to wreck your precious mock draft).
What About the Cardinals? - Could go several ways. Most mentioned in mocks is QB Lamar Jackson at #15 (I peg the odds of that happening at 65%). Another possibiliy (20%?) has the Cards trading up to around #10 (that be Oakland) to secure QB Josh Rosen or Baker Mayfield...Other possibilities include a corner (J Jackson or Alexander), a safety (Fitzpatrick or James) or a WR (Ridley). I believe the conversion from the 3-4 to a modified version of the 4-3 creates the need for a bigger, more physical MIKE linebacker (Edmunds or Vander Esch).
9:30 am - Good Luck Quenton Nelson - I live in Holmdel, NJ - a relatively small town by NJ standards. So it caught me by surprise to discover this morning, that Nelson - the top offensive lineman in the draft - is a Holmdel native. Go git 'em, Homie!
One Week Out & Counting...
April 18, 2018 - This Draft figures to be the weirdest one in recent history; characterized by (1)the number of Top 10 QB's, (2) willingness of teams to trade, (3) renegotiation of contracts by veteran free agents - blowing holes in lists of "team needs", (4) a high-level of sophistication by any football fan obsessed enough to put in the time and effort to scour the web for video-clips and info on the obscurest of players from the smallest of schools.
A speciail shout out to the in-depth coverage provided by the guys at SIRIUS and NFL Network and the Gannett (USA Today) sports dept. who have been all over the Draft from the gitgo. This morning USA Today ran special articles on "Defensive Linemen" and "Sleepers."
From teams to media to fans - all of these factors make this year's Draft (a) high-staked, (b) high-intensity and (c) unpredictable.
The pro teams are very adroit at hiding their intentions and leaking disinformation in a way that would do Vladimar Putin proud. Lots of "I know a guy who knows a guy who had dinner next to the owner": type stuff floods the airways.
A special word of caution regarding "player visits." Don't overemphasize them: (Truth is; the same top-ten players will often visit a number of nfl clubs. A number of enterprising agents book a laundary-list of a half-dozen more NFL cities for their lesser-known clients to vist (I call this "Joe Jock's Grand Tour of America"). And there's a number of other prospects who come in to check off a missing box or two - a missing forty-time or a non-football red flag.
(Of course there will always be that one embarrrassing exception where the rumor turns out to be true (the dude reallly does know a guy who knows a guy). But that's the exception rather than the rule, and knowing what's true and what's bogus is hard to figure out.
As we near Draft Day, a humble suggestion - Pay attention to your local beat-writer and his/her information about the local team - sometimes the team will throw their local writers a bone in the form of insider info about their team's draft intentions. Two other helpful "clues": (1) side-by-side mocks that have the same player going to the same team drafting in the bottom 10 - 12 of round one. (2) as mentioned in my previous post, Peter King of SI and Gary Myer of NY News tend to have high "batting averages" each draft-year. Jerry Isenberg and Paul Zimmerman (are they still around?) were also part of that elite club).
Stay tuned - JGG
Oh, the Mockery!
April 5, 2018 - I did some catching up on the various mocks released by various media gurus at the beginning of April. Here are my take-aways:
Mocks carry a built-in bias toward team-need. While some teams certainly follow that policy, there are as many or more GM's who at least say they favor a BPA or "best player available" approach. Since GM's have been known to lie (& it's close-to impossible to read their minds anyway). What is publically visible are club rosters to be analyzed and dissected. Far easier for a national media guru or local beat writer to base his/her mock projection on the apparent need of each of the 32 teams than it is to read minds.
Trades. I hate mock trades. This year, there is an abundance of top-rated QB's - at least 4 are projected to go in the first 10 rounds, and another 3 are likely to be gone by the end of the first round. This, in turn has encouraged football writers to project 3 or more trade scenarios as teams jockey for a shot at their QBOF ("QB of the future"). The reason I dislike mock trades is that they mess up my side-by-side comparative mock charts - when, say, each mocker has a different trade scenario involving Buffalo at #12. Also, it only takes one off-the-wall actual trade on draft day to screw up everyone's mock anyway.
Finally, there are certain writers who always seem to have the highest draft "batting averages." (Back in the day, this group included Peter King, Jerry Isenberg and Gary Myer). One way to improve your draft batting average is to (1) pay very close attention to what these Grand Pubas do as draft day approaches and pay special attention on what the local beat reporters have to say a day or two before Draft Day. (Many of these local folks have good relationships with team officials and will be thrown a crumb or two in the form of inside draft info for their local team).
Meanwhile, enjoy the 3 weeks leading up to the draft, and don't get discouraged when your favorite team trades away its Pro Bowl wideout to draft a scattergunned pheee-npm who'll need a translater to help him with the playbook. - JGG
April 3, 2018 - I'm late, and I owe you an apology.
The combination of personal challenges (including reaching the ripe old age of 78) has slowed me down a bit and caused me to run 3 weeks behind my normal rip-roaring pace. (Something as dumb as my space-heater in the basement office going on the fritz or the Lindy's Athlon or PFW draft guides showing up late on the shelves can throw me off my game). I know; life's a bitch; tough gazookies. Excuses excuses. So here goes:
2018 appears to be "a draft of weirdness" - BA's retirement, and Steve Wilks arrival on the scene has brought us new schemes, ideas and personnel. (When it comes to policies, strategies and personnnel, I have a bias toward the conservative - to observe the amount of time and energy it takes for new stuff to be installed and and then watch them tear it down and start all over again seems like giant waste of time). For example, after drafting smaller, more mobile ILB's to implement the 3-4, you now need to bring in a bigger, more physical traditional MIKE guy.
If you're a fan, this means you don't know (1) what new stuff the coaching staff wants to do and (2) how this changes the way you evaluate and draft. (I mentioned on another board that this draft within the context of the new regime leaves me feeling like I'm trapped in a sensory deprivation cell). This draft figures to be a YGIAGAM (Your Guess is as Good as Mine ) kind of deal - as you attempt to rank players by position and set up your draft board. Lots of luck.
Add to this the large number of (a) draftable QB's expected to go early and (b) the number of teams who want to trade up (to draft a top QB) or trade down (for more picks) and the first part of the draft has all the sights and smells of an ancient middle-eastern bazaar. (And, my fellow draft fans, we all know how even one trade high up can wreck even the best of mock drafts).
So motor on, draftnicks, stay tuned (come back here early & often) and fasten your seat belts (& load up on the antacid). It's going to be a wild and crazy ride.