Screw your elite drafts, I’ll take a deep draft any time

February 18th, 2013 | Written by Kip Earlywine
always compete

The debate rages on

This April, roughly 255 amateur players will be drafted into the NFL.  Many hundreds more will be signed to post-draft contracts.  The amount of time required to sort, study, analyze, and choose among these options is staggering.  The process is urgent, challenging, sophisticated, and above all else:  guarded.  Like the sports world equivalent of the Manhattan Project.

And yet, for a process with enough information to fill a section at a library, draftniks and draftertainers find a way to boil it down to the most binary of terms, every year, without fail.  That distillation?  The draft is either “elite” or it isn’t.  And by elite, I mean elite in the top ten picks, which comprise just 4% of all the selections that will be made on draft weekend.  While GMs know perfectly well the value of a good 2nd round pick, draftertainers tend to display a laser focus on those high picks, as if to seriously suggest that those choices define the draft.

Pouring over this draft has been like pouring over a bag of dimes trying to figure out which ones are the shiniest.  But here’s the thing- it’s a really big bag of dimes.  While it’s true that relatively little separates the 3rd pick from the 33rd pick, there’s also little that separates the 50th pick from the 100th pick.  I haven’t been doing this forever, but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a draft that was stronger top to bottom than this one.

It reminds me a little of 2009- some unremarkable yet over-hyped players dominated the top ten, and a lot of the talk before that draft was how it wasn’t a great draft.  Indeed, the first dozen picks of that draft were about as bust-laden as they come.  But for as bad as those early picks were, that draft recovered in a hurry.  After an atrocious top twelve, the next 50 picks took off, among them Clay Matthews, LeSean McCoy, Jairus Byrd, Brian Orakpo, Brian Cushing, Josh Freeman, Malcolm Jenkins, Jeremy Maclin, Brandon Pettigrew, Percy Harvin, Alex Mack, Max Unger, Michael Oher, Vontae Davis, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt, James Laurinaitis, Andy Levitre, Phil Loadholt, William Moore, Paul Kruger, and Sean Smith.  For good measure that draft also produced Mike Wallace in round three and Henry Melton in round four, and someone named Arian Foster went undrafted, thanks in part to Jim Mora.  And if you don’t know that story, take it from me, ignorance is bliss.

If there was ever a draft that made the obsession with top 10 picks look silly, it was that one.

I see history repeating itself in 2013.  Star Lotulelei will be like this year’s Aaron Curry, a guy who’s raw physical ability will entice enough to trump common sense and assure himself a selection in the top five picks.  Sharrif Floyd will be this year’s Tyson Jackson, who went from a 2nd round pick at the start of the year to a top 3 pick in late April.  It’s even possible they could be selected by the same team.  Matt Barkley is obviously this year’s Matt Stafford.  Mike Glennon and Ryan Nassib will battle for the honor of being this year’s Mark Sanchez.  EJ Manuel could very well be this year’s Pat White, and Geno Smith could end up having a similar up and down career to Josh Freeman. I never said this draft would be without it’s ugly parts.

But some early headscratchery aside, this draft will get awesome in a hurry.  You are going to see 1st round names going in the 2nd round, 2nd round names going in the 3rd round, and some 3rd round names going in the 5th round.  This draft is as unpredictable as anyone has seen in recent memory.  And the reason it’s unpredictable is because there might be 60 players who get talked about as top 32 round picks, and maybe 150 players who get talked about as top 60 picks.

The receiver and tight end class are incredibly deep.  As many as six tight ends could carry top 60 grades, and the list of top 100 receivers grows by the day.  Stedman Bailey and Markus Wheaton are great prospects.  They could go 25th overall, or they could go 125th overall.  There is just a sea of viable receivers this year.

Some of the best pass rushers are among the least heralded:  Jordan Hill, John Simon, Quanterus Smith, Armonty Bryant, Brandon Jenkins, Tank Carradine, David Bass, Corey Lemonier, Alex Okafor.  The first round will be dominated by defensive lineman, but the options remain deep long after despite that.

In a draft like this, a late first could look like Kawaan Short, a late second could look like Khaseem Greene, a late 3rd could look like Markus Wheaton, a late 4th could look like Jordan Reed.  Even in the 5th and 6th rounds, you’ll probably continue to hear familiar names get called.

And that is pretty damn exciting.  The homerun potential in this draft from start to finish is like Barry Bonds’ home run potential hitting off a tee in a little league game.

Who needs to tank a season for Julius Peppers at #2 when you can get Clay Matthews at #26?  Sure, it’s not that simple.  But elite talent rarely is.

Most people consider the first two rounds to be their “starter” rounds.  Let them think that.  Meanwhile, the Seahawks will do their thing from rounds 3-7, and celebrate a job well done.

Oh and hey, I’m back.  I hope you all are as jazzed as I am for this draft.

31 Responses to “Screw your elite drafts, I’ll take a deep draft any time”

  1. Zach says:

    Great read and I hope your right. It could also end up being the worst draft in history. One thing Seahawk fans should expect for the next decade……picking over #20.

  2. Dave says:

    What happened with Jim Mora and Arian Foster? I couldn’t find anything on google

    • Brincke says:

      Yeah, i would like to hear that story as well..

      • Joe says:

        The Seahawks were going to pick him in the 7th round and when Mora called him to say, “Do you want to be a Seattle Seahawk?” Foster wasn’t enthused. Apparently at that point in the draft he wanted to go undrafted so he could pursue any team of his liking.

        Mora sensed Foster wasn’t down with getting drafted by us and thought, “This guy isn’t the right kind of dirtbag!” They drafted S Courtney Greene, DE Nick Reed, and TE Cameron Morrah instead with their 3 late 7th round picks.

  3. Morgan says:

    The way Foster describes it, someone from the Seahawks called him saying they were going to use of of their two picks in the 7th on him and wondered how he felt about it. He was pretty upset about not being drafted earlier so when he got the call he was pretty disenchanted with the whole affair and told the person on the other end of the line something like “Yeah, that’d be okay I guess.” That underwhelming response led the Seahawks to take Nick Reed and Cameron Morrah instead. Apparently it was Mora that called and he told Tim Ruskell how the conversation went down and they decided Foster had a “bad attitude.”

    *Sigh*

  4. Colin says:

    Uh, where did you go, Kip? Lol

      • Actually, I stayed away for two reasons:

        #1: Rob is doing an amazing job providing excellent reads every day. In previous years he’d put up articles maybe 4-5 times a week and leave gaps, but this year their haven’t been many gaps to jump into, so I haven’t felt nearly as needed. He’s been killing it this year.

        #2: This draft has been extremely hard to work out. I’ve already flip flopped many times on this group of front seven players, but after going back many times to review each player, my analysis is finally starting to settle enough that I’m comfortable making judgements and sharing those reports.

        • Dan says:

          So whats your report? lol. Who do you feel is the #1 guy we NEED to get? Regardless of the round. It’s a tough question and I’m still not entirely sure myself. Greene would be my best bet considering what the FO likes in their players.

          • If I had the #1 pick and was forced to use it without trading, I’d pick Bjoern Werner. At #25, my favorite player that’s realistic is DeAndre Hopkins. Kawann Short and Sylvester Willams are growing on me. I am extremely intrigued by Armonty Bryant and Courtney Gardner- and I would take them very early if I had to- kind of like how I felt about Irvin and Wilson last year.

            • Ely says:

              Are you worried at all about the level of competition on either Courtney or Armonty? The films I’ve seen are really fantastic but they also look like they are playing against high school teams. Exactly what level are they playing in DII? Definitely intrigued by those two as well. At least Wilson and Irvin were doing their thing against DI colleges and tape against elite teams could be found. I have heard that lower level players must completely dominate to have a decent shot which these two clearly do. At least Bryant was invited to the combine. Its unfortunate that Gardner wasn’t.

  5. TJ says:

    I agree with your assessment and would say that top 10 picks are overrated – although I doubt Colts or Redskins fans would agree. Chiefs fans must feel like their team picked a bad year to “earn” the top overall pick.

    After reading this article, I can’t believe that Russell Wilson was available to Seattle when they picked at #15, let alone that he made it all the way to their 3rd round pick.

    http://www.kansascity.com/2013/02/16/4070696/no-clear-choice-for-chiefs-if.html

    • I don’t think top 10 picks are overrated, I just don’t think they define a draft. People just think that because star players coming out of the top 10 picks are easier to see coming.

      • TJ says:

        In certain years I would agree. In some years, being in the top-10 is a huge deal. I doubt there is a Chiefs fan alive who doesn’t wish the Chiefs had the top choice last year instead of this year. Joeckle and Floyd may be fantastic talents, but for a team like KC, they probably won’t be as franchise-changing as Luck or Griffin III would have been.

        Some years, like in 2005 & 2009, there isn’t much difference between players 1-10 or 11-20. In those years, picking in the top-10 isn’t nearly as big of a deal. To me, this year feels like one of those years. I’m not saying that there won’t be fanstasic players drafted in the top-10. I’m just not convinced that equally good players won’t be drafted during the later stages of the 1st round.

  6. Kenny Sloth says:

    I didn’t even realize this wasn’t Rob until the very end. I was all “The f***, Rob.”

  7. LantermanC says:

    Glad to see you’re back Kip. And glad we have a new FO in place for this draft so it won’t be a repeat of 2009.

  8. AlaskaHawk says:

    Good to read something from you Kip. Last year we found starters into the 4th round, and backups into the 7th. Even a starter if Sweezy sticks this year.

    This years draft could be even more productive.

  9. Sawker_Dawg says:

    I think you are right on. If you look at current players who are the best at their position or have been the best at some point in their career, I would say that less than 10 were top 10 picks. Granted, there are more than 10 good players picked in the top 10 but if the draft top ten were really viewed as elite, only the best players should have been drafted there.

    It has taken me a while to get over viewing the top ten or even the first round picks as being that much more talented than everyone else. Maybe that had to do with how poor our FO used to be in finding talent. Now we have a FO that finds talent everywhere. There are very few “elite” players and the rest are generally good or they don’t make the team. I sure am looking forward to this draft.

    • To be clear, top 10 players generally are awesome, and this year that group is a little less awesome. I’m not hating on top 10 picks, I just think they define a draft far less than people think.

  10. [...] Firstly, please welcome Kip Earlywine back to the blog. His latest article is now available so check it out by clicking here. [...]

  11. Aaron says:

    Kip, I wanted to let you know I really missed your write ups after games this year. Rob’s articles were great, but what can I say? I’m a junkie and I want to get as much quality writing about the Hawks as I can.

  12. nick says:

    That GIF of Russell is evidence that he is in fact a robot.

  13. Jim Kelly says:

    Welcome back, Kip.

    Remember how Arien Foster wore number 37 his first year (or was it two)? He wanted to wear the number of his favorite player, and was hoping that the Hawks would draft him. Sad, but if the front office had drafted Foster and Clay Matthews, Jim Mora, the younger, and Timm Ruskell might still be here.

  14. JC says:

    As an old school video game shut in nerd, that graphic is epic. Oh, and it’s good to hear from Kip too.

  15. Eran Ungar says:

    Loved every word of it.

    Let me add another view leading to the same result :

    Assuming we need a TE or DE or DT – each such position is approx. 10% of the number of players in the draft. I.E. 3 such players per round on average.

    If you check the various lists of top 10 TE/DT/DE and add all those players – you’ll end up with about 20 names.

    So, the guy you picked at the 5th or 6th or even the 7th round is bound to be on a top 10 list somewhere…or at least there are some top 10 on someone’s list available.

    If more players of a certain position are picked in earlier rounds then the average – you’ll find higher ranking players available playing other positions.

    It’s such a great year to have more then 10 draft picks. AND WE DO !!!

    • Sawker_Dawg says:

      Sure it’s nice to have 10 picks but the 49ers look to have 14 picks. For the first two rounds we pick before them as it stands right now but I’d like to see them not have so many chances to add depth to their roster.