Friday, 9 May 2014

How The 2014 Draft Busted The Jerry Jones Myth

Think about Jerry Jones for a second. The chances are you're not impressed with the image. Is it the firing of coaches? Is it the way he promotes the Cowboys? The influence he has on the NFL owner meetings? Is it just his face? It's a pretty annoying face, we grant you.


We aren't fans of Jerry either. We've long lamented the 'business/entertainment' factor that has ridden roughshod over the NFL in recent years, and we've long suspected that Jones is one of the driving forces behind the degradation of the NFL's sporting integrity.

But at some point, putting all of that aside, we have to admit that Jerry isn't the guy that the media have created, particularly when it comes to the draft. He is the ultimate argument generator, the man who gets more clicks than any other owner, the guy who has become a reason all of his own. 'Because Jerry' is how many in the NFL media rationalize insane scenarios and stories that would otherwise be seen as cynical attempts to generate headlines and hits.

Want proof? Look no further than this year's draft, which will hopefully herald the end of the myth that Jerry Jones is a loose cannon who puts the 'big splash' above the needs of his team. Sure he can sometimes defy reason and pull off a Roy Williams ridicu-trade, but Jones has kept his draft-day discipline better than most NFL owners over the last 15 years.

The Johnny Football Smokescreen

Every year there's a player who teams use as a smokescreen, a guy who they have little or no interest in drafting, but who they use as a method of ensuring the guy they really want is still there. In the eyes of NFL decision-makers, keeping your intentions secret and spreading misinformation are never bad things.

Inevitably, Quarterbacks - as the most discussed human beings on earth for two weeks prior to the draft - are the go-to guys in this situation, so when a media phenomenon like Johnny Manziel comes along, you can expect plenty of BS from teams, with an all-too-willing media rumor machine that is more than happy to play along. It's a win-win situation for the media and teams.


Let's use Todd McShay of ESPN as the 'goat here. He made his biggest pitch of the draft season yesterday morning, telling the world and his dog that 'Manziel is believed to be the number 1 player on Dallas's board'.

He wasn't, Todd.

This story didn't develop overnight, however. It began months ago when Todd Archer of ESPN posed the innocuous (and valid) question of whether the Cowboys could be tempted if Manziel fell to them at no.16

We think Archer and the ESPNDallas boys had this one nailed on from the start, and over time they posted plenty of articles with well-reasoned theses on why the Cowboys simply couldn't commit to any other QB while Tony Romo's contract weighs them down. Seriously basic stuff, you'd presume, and hardly information that isn't available to other journalists...

Story done, then. We'll just pack up our Johnny Football Cowboys jerseys to take down to the shelter... wait...that's that?

There's more?

Of course there is. This is the NFL, where people will literally make up any conceivable possibility and then justify it because a) 'it's the draft, an inexact science' and b) 'it's Jerry Jones/Al Davis/Mark Davis/Bill Belichick/<insert wild-card decision maker here>'. It doesn't matter about 'facts', it only matters that journalists can pump out reams of copy with very little substance - and it's all based on the image they have created of these guys as 'unpredictable', when they are anything but.

Things took a turn for the crazy a couple of weeks back, when an un-named scout suggested in a text to Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report that impulsive crazy-man Jerry Jones could ignore all rational thought and draft Johnny Football at 16:

"Just texted scout to see if he believed Cowboys would take Manziel if Manziel was there. Scout: "Of course he would." Oh boy."

We don't see much wrong with that (although if we were Mike, we'd consider getting a new scout in our contacts) because it was hardly more than speculation of other scouts' thought processes. From then on, however, the Manziel talk took on a life of it's own. 

We've long believed that these stories are a product of an insulated journalistic bubble that dozens of reporters live in, experiencing nothing but NFL opinions and 'information' from 'sources'. It's easy to see how one man's 'source' can in-turn become the source for another guy's article, as in the case of Ed Werder and Mike Florio:


"From the moment the Joneses who own the Cowboys started gushing about Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, we began to pay attention to the possibility that the Cowboys would be inclined to add the potential franchise quarterback a year after giving Tony Romo a franchise quarterback contract.
Ed Werder of ESPN fuels that notion, explaining on SportsCenter that, if Manziel falls to No. 16, the Cowboys could take him."
Good PFT reporting doctrine followed, no link to ESPN: check. One link to your own story about Johnny Football telling us how it is probably BS: check.

But Mike wasn't finished there...

"Let’s take a step farther.  We think that, if Manziel slides past the Vikings at No. 8, the Cowboys could be inclined to trade up to get Manziel."

Oh christ. This had better be good Mike. What's your reasoning for this?

"In 20 of 25 drafts, Jerry Jones has made a move with a first-round pick."


We... but... in 24 of 25 drafts Jerry hasn't drafted a first round QB? In 22 of 25 drafts Jerry hasn't even drafted a QB in any round?  If you want to argue that Jones is likely to make a trade because he's done so in other drafts, that is fine, but the very same (flawed) stats would seem to indicate that an offensive player or QB are very unlikely. Let's have all of the relevant statistics (below), not just the ones that suit a particular angle.

Oh, and what about the cap hit?

"Cap considerations would make a trade of Romo difficult if not impossible this year.  The cap hit would be stiff next year but not insurmountable, if the Cowboys were to move Manziel to the starting lineup and move Romo out of the building."

We can guarantee that if it suited his argument - and it may do should Romo struggle this year - Florio would decry the Cowboys for putting themselves in a position where Romo is un-tradeable. He isn't going anywhere. 

They won't be able to trade him because they have back-loaded his salary to next season and ensured they are on the hook for almost $20m should they need to cut him. Jones just restructured Romo's contract this offseason to essentially guarantee two more years of Romo, and Jones, despite his flaws, isn't Woody Johnson, he doesn't make long term commitments without being sure it is what he wants.

Listen (or read), again, we need to emphasize that we're not Jerry Jones fans. The guy has proved time and again that he is not a particularly great NFL talent evaluator, and we are particularly worried by his influence on the league as a whole. We can see his fingerprints all over the NFL's misguided European expansion, for example.

That said, there are parts of this characterization of Jerry as an impulsive megalomaniac that are completely media-driven

As we mentioned above, in 16 years, Jerry has drafted just two first round 'skill position' players (Felix Jones and Dez Bryant). Primarily, he has drafted defensive players and prioritizes the offensive line. Why do people assume he is the second coming of Al Davis come draft day, given these very relevant statistics? Well, let's do some really basic research:


Team Number of first round QB/RB/WR/TE since 1998
Detroit Lions 9
Indianapolis Colts 8
Jacksonville Jaguars 8
Minnesota Vikings 8
Cincinnati Bengals 7
Cleveland Browns 7
Arizona Cardinals 7
Buffalo Bills 6
Baltimore Ravens 6
Pittsburgh Steelers 6
Tennessee Titans 6
San Diego Chargers 6
Chicago Bears 6
Atlanta Falcons 6
New Orleans Saints 6
Denver Broncos 5
New York Giants 5
San Francisco 49ers 5
St Louis Rams 5
Miami Dolphins 4
New England Patriots 4
New York Jets 4
Kansas City Chiefs 4
Washington Redskins 4
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4
Houston Texans 3
Oakland Raiders 3
Philadelphia Eagles 3
Green Bay Packers 3
Carolina Panthers 3
Seattle Seahawks 3
Dallas Cowboys 2


Yes, that's right. Not a single team in the NFL has drafted less offensive players over the last 15 years than the Dallas Cowboys. Whoever thinks 

Mike Mayock of NFL Network suggested in his mock draft that - like McShay's - had the Cowboys taking Manziel at 16 that 'this is Jerry's world, and what Jerry wants, Jerry gets'.

We don't think that 'what Jerry wants' in Dallas is anything other than a winning team. Looking at the players drafted, it actually seems that if Mayock's claim is true, then the media could have taken a quick look at the number of offensive players and QB's that Jones has drafted in his tenure, and realized immediately that the Johnny Football draft talk was very, very unlikely.

Hey, at worst, they could have listened to the guy himself:

"No doubt in my mind [Manziel] is going to be an outstanding NFL football player, but we have Tony Romo, and Tony Romo is our ticket."

Of course, nothing will stop the NFL media machine perpetuating the myth of Jerry Jones as a draft wild card - at least not while it is their own ticket to more hits.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Newshound 5/3/14 - Mocking a mock and other media analysis

It's Newshound time again and today we find out why predicting first round QB's can go wrong for those who tell us that taking first round QB's can go wrong. Trust us, it'll make sense in a moment... We also find out why Johnny Manziel is a dead cert to be a superstar, and how Vince Young became the second coming...


Learning from the mistakes of others (that you pointed out)

We had a bit of a dig at Profootballtalk's Mike Florio the other day, but we don't want anyone thinking that we're using this column as an excuse to have a daily pop at Florio or anyone else for that matter. That said, he and PFT sometimes make it very easy for us, as in the following case...

Remember Andre Woodson? Wodson was the Kentucky QB whose draft stock was so unpredictable that in 2008 pre-draft mocks he was anything from a first-rounder to a 5th rounder.

He ended up going in the 6th round, despite claiming later that he had been led to believe he was a 2nd round pick.

Now, quite rightly, Mike Florio pointed out on PFT some time after the Woodson fiasco that expert opinions on Woodson's draft stock were potentially dangerous, giving players a false sense of belief and potentially influencing off-field decisions. As per Florio's general 2008 style, this was passed along via a virulently anti-ESPN character assassination of Todd McShay from a 'league source':

"The problem with people like McShay is that they have no accountability,” the source said. “They can say what they want and when they are wrong no one cares, [except] the kid’s family. McShay could not get a job with any NFL team, even as an intern. He is a very poor evaluator. He proved it with his evaluation of Woodson."
(courtesy of walterfootball forums)

That's actually fine. We agree that people should try to remember that those slabs of meat being measured poked, prodded and psycho-analysed in the run up to the draft are human beings. When a guy falls 3-4 rounds beyond where he believed he'd be drafted, the financial implications for both the player and his family are huge, and you'd have to be made of stone not to feel for Woodson as he describes what it is like to not hear your name called for almost two whole days.

So what has Mike Florio learned from the whole sorry episode? Well, according to his 2013 1st round 'final  mock draft', very little. In fact he has taken 'Woodson-ing' to an even greater level.

"8.  Bills: Ryan Nassib, quarterback, Syracuse."
"26. Packers:  John Jenkins, defensive tackle, Georgia."

Nassib was of course drafted in the 4th round by the Giants, while Jenkins went to the Saints in round 3.

We can't wait for the "league source" to give their opinion on that one.


'The one where Skip makes us vomit'

ESPN has long trodden a fine line between sports and entertainment, pretty much forgoing all sense of journalistic integrity in the name of shouting matches between opinionated bigots who are willing to say anything to boost ratings. If you don't believe us, check out deadspin's scathing takedown of Bristol here.

With all of that in mind, Skip Bayless's latest ESPN.com piece comparing Johnny Manziel to Tim Tebow is a chilling vision of things to come. If Tebow was TV dynamite to Skip and co, then Johnny Football is a nuclear warhead aimed directly at your face 24/7.

Let's overlook Bayless's shoehorning of Tebow into an article about someone who is almost a polar opposite in many regards, and instead we'll see what fascinating insight Skip has to offer into Manziel's future in the NFL.

"I was right about Tim Tebow and I will be right on a much higher level about Johnny Manziel."

We think this means he was actually wrong about Tebow in some ways, and that he'll be even less wrong about Manziel.

"Manziel has Tebow's miracle-making will, electrified by far more quickness, speed, accuracy, radar and football IQ."

In fairness, it is hard to not be better than Tebow in many of those categories...

"Tebow was a phenomenon. Manziel will be a perennial Pro Bowler, a Michael Vick fully capable of picking you to pieces from the pocket."

Is this even a compliment any more? It isn't 2004, Vick is widely regarded as having frustratingly thrown away potentially game-changing physical gifts. Not to mention that getting to the Pro Bowl is hardly the badge of honor it once was, given that last year 11 QB's (over 1/3) technically 'made the Pro Bowl' in 2013. That list included Eli Manning, who had arguably his worst season as a pro, so if anyone sets any stall by the Pro Bowl, they probably know as much about football as the people who voted for Eli.

"This is how much better Manziel is: The Houston Texans, with this year's No. 1 overall pick, will forever regret it if they don't take the Texas kid with the movie-title nickname, Johnny Football."

We don't know whether Manziel will be good or bad at the next level, but for the record, here are Skip's thoughts on one Mr Vince Young in 2006:

"This young man has a 6-foot-5, 235-pound blend of talent and intangibles never before seen in a quarterback. I don't want to hear another word comparing Young with Michael Vick or Daunte Culpepper or Randall Cunningham. He's in another stratosphere as a passer/runner/leader."

"Madison Avenue analysts are projecting Young could quickly become the NFL's most marketable star -- its LeBron, a Michael Vick who can live up to the hype."

"Vick is still the NFL's most dangerous broken-field runner. But he's playing the wrong position. At what appears to be a shade under 6 feet, Vick has trouble seeing over Young-sized defensive linemen" [for the record, Manziel is officially 5'11" 3/4]

"But Texans fans are right: Their team would be crazy not to take Vince.
"If they don't," says Houston Chronicle columnist Richard Justice, "they'll need an armed perimeter around the stadium to keep fans from storming it. Vince is all anyone is talking about."

"And the Texans can risk letting Young fall to (and turn around) the New Orleans Saints? Or -- their worst nightmare -- the Tennessee Titans?"

So you'll forgive us if we take Skip's draft opinions with a pinch of salt, given his Al Davis-esque tendency to masturbate himself senseless over physical ability, while conveniently ignoring every off the field red flag that GMs and head coaches might base their decisions on. And yeah, we had to imagine Al Davis masturbating after writing that, and it was not nice. Or moist.

We'll let Skip sign off with a final piece of 2006 pre-draft NFL wisdom:

"Indeed, if Reggie Bush avoids knee surgery, he'll be a Hall of Famer."

That's why he's on the big bucks...


Mean Machine

"Projecting Ray Rice took some guts, but somehow we've found a way to give him over 1,200 total yards." says CBSSports.com's fantasy expert Dave Richard.

We've seen 'The Longest Yard' too, Dave.


We'll be back with more petty sniping and media analysis throughout the week. In the meantime, check us out on twitter or drop us an email if you spot anything you'd like to see on these pages.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

NFL Newshound 4/30/14

Our regular look at some of the more tenuous NFL media stories continues. It's officially draft-season, which means reams of speculation, very little tangible evidence, and a lot of contradictions. Today, Blake Bortles is destined for Canton, Matt Cassel is the new Matt Schaub and the Vikings get a literal steal...


Stretching belief (but not the field)

ESPN's Matt Williamson was once a college scout for the Cleveland Browns, which begs the question of how, exactly, he is qualified to analyse Quarterbacks. Unless he was in any way responsible for Kelly Holcomb, because we liked Holcomb.

Anyway, we digress. Today Williamson pipes up about Blake Bortles. Bortles has a number of featurettes on the ESPN site today, which inevitably means at least 75% of them are complete rubbish. One of WIlliamson's assertions about incumbent Vikings starter Matt Cassel caught our eye in particular:

"Cassel, I think, you can win with. I could see him being Matt Schaub with the Texans before Schaub (struggled) a year ago"

Um, let's back up there a little Matt. You see, the problem with that comparison is that Cassel did actually play in the league before he joined the Vikings, and in the period before Schaub went all pick-6 crazy, Cassel was one of the worst starting QB's in the league.

In 2012 Schaub threw for 4,008yds, 22 TD's, 12 INTs and led the Texans to the postseason.

In 2012 Cassel threw for 1,796yds, 6 TD's, 12 INT's and was benched for Brady Quinn.

So all we're saying to Vikings fans is not to bank on Matt Cassel being Matt Schaub, and probably assume he will be more like... er... Matt Cassel.


Taking the High Road

If there's one thing that gets Terry Blount's goat, it's people exploiting Seahawks QB Russel WIlson's divorce for their own ends. Yes, Blount takes aim at those scurrilous rumor-mongers at TMZ etc who deal in '... inaccurate reports... that specialize in private lives of public figures.' Good call Terry, we're on board with this campaign. What kind of person would use the divorce of someone to generate column inches of their own verbal diarrhoea?

"However, a fair question to ask: Will going through a divorce affect Wilson’s play in 2014?"

Ah. We see. You would. We're sure Russ appreciates the concern.


Hall of Fame

Here's our favorite draft story today - ESPN Insider Peter Keating writes of 'Four indusputable reasons why UCF QB Blake Bortles is more likely to go boom than bust'.

This had better be good.

Reason 1: 'He has already played well in the kind of offense NFL teams use today.'

Ok Pete, nice try, but 'indusputable'? For years players have been labelled 'More NFL ready' or exalted in pre-draft shows because they 'played in a pro-system at college' and proven unable to handle the rigors of the NFL.

Jimmy Clausen, for example, was rated higher than he should have been for this exact reason. The fact is, many of those players have ended up as busts, and many of those from the last few drafts such as Matt Barkley, have shown that 'pro style' QB's are far from NFL ready. Just because the type of offence is changing, doesn't mean every defensive co-ordinator in the league isn't trying to stop them. Just ask RGIII...

Reason 2: 'At age 21, he is already a veteran'

Wow. Where to start... in fact no, balls to it: John Beck, Brandon Weeden, Tim Tebow. All older than Bortles, all busts.

Reason 3: 'His statistics, interpreted properly, are too good.'

Now we're in dangerous territory. 'interpreted properly'?

"back in 2006, David Lewin, then a college student writing for Football Outsiders, found that he could predict quarterback performance in the NFL reasonably well by looking at just two college stats: games started and completion percentage"

Did he now. Well Sam Bradford had a 68% completion percentage at Oklahoma, and how has that panned out? At best we're on the fence, but at worst, you could argue that Bradford's lack of playoff games, massive cost in salary and general mediocrity weigh him more towards the bust category. Regardless, to say that certain stats prove that Bortles will be 'indisputably' good is madness. Which brings us on to Keating's final reason...

Reason 4 'The game of football has invested too much in him already'

Yes. This is real. This man is paid to write articles for the biggest sports network in the world.

Do we even need to elaborate why this is madness? Keating bumbles some reasoning based on Bortles's upbringing in Florida, his family income, the amount spent on college athletes these days, and other reasons that could apply to many other players in the NFL draft.

We're not sure what Keating is getting at here. The NFL has invested nothing in Bortles being a professional football player, and in fact 31 teams will be actively trying to prevent any success once he is drafted. The idea that Bortles is more likely to be drafted due to his upbringing, the slightly disconcerting tendency of local education authorities towards athletic success at the expense of academics, and financial investment may be true, but it doesn't mean he can't fail.

The 'game of football' invested everything, mind body and - quite literally in some cases - soul into Tim Tebow's success. He was born and raised in Florida, deemed a freakish talent from a  young age, had a supportive family and became a college superstar. Nothing could have been a better advert for the 'game of football' - something that doesn't exist as a tangible body - than Tebow becoming an NFL megastar. Instead, he'll be working college games on ESPN next year.


Bookmarked, Peter.


'He goes where no ordinary draft expert would dare...'

Remember Bucky o'Hare? Along with 'Biker Mice from Mars' and 'Attack of the Killer Tomatoes' it is one of those things that make us question whether Pickwatch's cereal was spiked with LSD. It's also our favorite 'Bucky'.

Bucky Brooks, however, is not our favorite Bucky.

Today he proves just why, by picking Khalil Mack to be selected by the Raiders at no.5.



Most blatant draft smokescreen of the day:

"We’ve already gotten some calls about teams wanting to move up," - Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome

Sure you have Ozzie. I bet teams are desperate to get to that coveted number 17 spot a week before they know who will be available.

















Wednesday, 30 April 2014

NFL Newshound - 4/29/14

Here's Pickwatch's regular newshound column, trying to make sense of the vacuous offseason speculation in the media. This week, Mike Florio tries to get Ben Roethlisberger a raise, Ashley Fox repeats every cliché in NFL draft history, and the USA Today crew set themselves up for a lifetime of pain by trying to rationalize the Browns front office decisions.

If you have a story, a series of stories or any type of NFL media-related news to share, why not drop us a line and see your name featured on this page. Thanks to David Holmes and Jon York for submissions this week.


Cottage Industry

We hate to turn any post into a PFT-bashing exercise, but actually that's complete rubbish. We do enjoy reading PFT, but we find that quite often, they're not exactly the impartial observers they claim to be.

And here's why.

PFT has long specialized in the 'half-baked crackpot theory' field of 'journalism' that, let's face it, is pretty much all we have left in the internet era. In particular, you can always tell a real click-generator by how partial the site's editor Mike Florio is to take control of the posts on a given subject. In many ways, Florio's guessing game drives reactions from the players and teams involved, which in turn gives the guys at PFT even more fuel for their fire.

It's always nice, then, to follow those story arcs to their logical conclusion and see exactly how things pan out.

AND HERE'S WHY: THEY'RE INVARIABLY COMPLETE GARBAGE.

With that, let's look at PFT's coverage of Ben Roethisberger's status with the Steelers.

 To summarize, someone made up a story about Big Ben wanting out of Pittsburgh last November. The crux of the matter is that the whole thing was badly reported from all sides. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network covered himself in something other than glory, Mike Silver (sorry dude) managed to get caught up in the whole 'ask a player a question-get an answer-pretend it is meaningful or reflects the view of the whole organization' game, and then Florio decided to simply sit on the sidelines and stir the pot.

But what of the protagonists? Well, Dejan Kovacevic of TribLive managed to speak to owner Art Rooney and Roethlisberger, who denied it completely - and with enough force to convince even the most cynical of NFL observers:

"It's ridiculous" - Art Rooney II

A fairly open and shut case, you might think, but if you did think that, you'd be underestimating the ability of Mike Florio to try and push his own theory. Here's a selection of the many headlines and complete rubbish generated by this one piece of complete crap.

NFLN keeps driving wedge between Steelers, Roethlisberger


Roethlisberger keeps talking about how he doesn’t want to talk about trade rumor


Roethlisberger lashes out again at ongoing reports of discord


Haley, Roethlisberger relationship moves closer to the spotlight in Pittsburgh


Rooney on Roethlisberger trade rumors: “It’s ridiculous”


Big Ben is riled up, again


Steelers apparently content to carry $18.895 million cap number for Roethlisberger


Roethlisberger, Haley friction returns



The piece de resistance? This amazing quote from Florio on November 18th:

"At a time when the network partially owned by the Steelers has crafted a cottage industry out of the possibility that franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be traded..."

Ok Mike. Someone else is creating a cottage industry out of these rumors you say? Best get on their case.

Oh, and anyone want to guess why the following scoop was given to Josh Alper, rather than Florio?



Kevin Colbert: Steelers “unanimous” on wanting Roethlisberger for rest of his career




The $20m Question

When is $20m not $20m? The answer is, of course, when it is $16m.

Said Mike Florio of Ben Roethlisberger's contract on Nov 10th 2013:

"Ben’s recent insistence that Tom Brady must be regarded as the best quarterback in the game because he has three Super Bowl wins carries a clear implication that Roethlisberger sees himself as tied for No. 2 with Eli Manning."

Ok, that's pretty logical. Even if we weren't talking money, it's reasonable to think Ben was trying to emphasise his own achievements. However, Florio appears to have forgotten the Eli comparison a week later:

"Rapoport also mentioned that which we believe is at the heart of the situation: Roethlisberger’s contract.  He’s due to make $12.1 million in 2014 and $11.6 million in 2015.  Players at the top of the quarterback market — all of whom have fewer than two Super Bowl wins — are at or above $20 million per year."

But if Ben considers himself level with Eli... and Eli makes $16m on average... surely he'd be satisfied with somewhere around that? Does that not make more sense? We're confused where this $20m figure has come from, as it appears to originate from this story by Jason Cole of the National Football Post:

"A contract the 31-year-old Roethlisberger would expect to be north of $20 million per season, putting him in line with fellow quarterbacks Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco."

Unfortunately, this story appears to be entirely Cole's opinion, and we don't understand how this has become a 'Ben wants $20m' story - except of course, because it is a better headline than 'man expects reasonable compensation as he is quite good at his job'

Tom Brady Super Bowl wins: 3
Tom Brady's average salary: $13m

Ben Roethlisberger Super Bowl wins: 2
Ben Roethlisberger's average salary: $14.6m

Whatever Florio's selling on this subject, we aren't buying it.


Character Flaws

If you've been wondering what the puff-piece writers of ESPN's Insider section think about the draft, then Ashley Fox's latest article on the character vs talent debate will leave you frankly shocked. What hard hitting expose has Fox come up with for the paying customers of ESPN? Well... erm...


"Talent always trumps character," one AFC general manager said."

"Some accept the risk of taking a player with a questionable background, either because the head coach has ultimate power and wants to win now or because the organization believes it has the structure and the locker room to handle it. Others simply won't."


"Some players with character issues coming out of college, like Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant, have panned out. Others didn't have character issues in college, like Denver's Von Miller, and still ran into problems."


"It is an imperfect science, for sure"


"Character should be part of the equation regardless of the player's talent. In most cases, it isn't. That's when talent trumps character, even though it should not."


So NFL teams have regularly taken risks on players with character issues that haven't panned out, and the draft is an imperfect science.


Great. Cheers Ashley.


Oh, and if you're writing a piece about why teams should take character issues into account more often, then perhaps don't use the Rams - who have drafted three players in the last two years with character question marks against them - as an example. Especially when all three have been solid performers who have not been in trouble since being drafted.




Slight Reach


Says Mel Kiper of the Lions taking Odell Beckham Jr. at no.10 in his latest mock:


"If their board looks at all like mine, I think both corner and safety (both needs) could be a slight reach here"


Which would be great, except that Kiper then has the Titans taking a CB with the very next pick.


And the Rams taking a Safety at 13


And the Bears taking a CB at 14


And the Cowboys taking a Safety at 16



Number of mentions of reaches in those blurbs: 0



This is the Important Part...


Adam Schefter is answering draft questions, and here he is providing us with a fascinating insight into the mindset of the Rams front office when trying to trade down:


"The issue is, the Rams have to get compensation they want and -- this is the important part -- wind up in a position in which they are comfortable enough to still be able to land a player they value."


Well, that de-bunks our theory that the Rams would trade down for inadequate compensation in return, and be in position to draft a player they didn't value at their new draft slot.

Silly Question of the week:

Here's the burning question in the USATODAY office:


"Why might Vince Young make sense for the Browns?"


We'd advise against trying to make sense of anything that happens in Cleveland, guys.