Thursday, March 20, 2008

Shattered Dreams

I have to admit; I know something about having unrealistic expectations for my life. When I first started playing Pop Warner football I expected to be the next Howie Long or Lawrence Taylor. I was going to become a professional football player, a top draft pick, a multi millionaire, and have a pony.

I still don’t have a pony…and I’m not a multi millionaire… and I haven’t been drafted… despite being eligible for the last 10 years.

So I understand what some of the players who are just wrapping up their college careers are going to be feeling in a few weeks as they watch pick after pick go by without hearing their names called.

The impetuous for this column was an interview I heard on Sirius NFL radio as I drove home yesterday. A young man who played for Texas was talking about how he expected to be a late 1st, early 2nd round pick. No, this wasn’t Limas Sweed or Jamaal Charles talking; this was none other than THE Jermichael Finley.

If right now you are saying “WHO?” you are not alone. If you missed the red river shootout this year, chances are you missed Jermichael. The dead air as the hosts searched for the right way to respond to the young man who had just shown his complete inability to access his own tallents was deafening.

Honestly, what do you say to this kid, and that’s what he is, a kid. Throughout the interview he gave off an air of naiveté, he came across incredibly poorly, if I were a GM and had heard the interview, I would have knocked him down another round on my board. The NFL radio hosts handled it as well as could be expected, 1st asking him if he had met with the NFL’s NFL's advisory board to get an idea of where he'd be drafted if he came out early. He stated that he hadn’t. After that Pat Kirwan tried pointing out that only the top TE prospects are drafted in the top 2 rounds. Jermichael wasn’t listening; the host quickly changed the subject to how he was going to handle being a rookie.

Knowing next to nothing about Jermichael, I went to the Internet to do a little research. Maybe he is a real stud who I just hadn’t heard of, I don’t watch a whole lot of Big 12 football. He is a 3rd year sophomore, meaning he red shirted his freshman year and still could play two more years of college ball. His combine showing got mixed reviews, with one source listing him as unimpressive and another as leaving scouts buzzing.

Well Jermichael better hope that the report of buzzing scouts is correct, and that they weren’t buzzing “what was this kid thinking”. Because there isn’t going to be a lot to look at on film, as Jermichael only played 2 seasons of college ball, only scored 5 touchdowns (2 in his final season). Sure he put up 947 yards in those two years, but 149 of those came in one game. There is nothing there that screams NFL TE. Add in that even Jermichael admits that he is a poor blocker, and well what is he thinking.

Listening to Jermichael, I was reminded of the kid who called his own press conference this year to announce he was going to UCLA. Despite never having been contacted by the school. As I read up on Jermichael, the idea was reinforced. In a report filed by Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal Jermichael claimed to have sat down with the NFL’s advisory board and that they advised him that he should expect to be a 2nd round pick, but that "a good workout would put me at the end of the first round. But you never know at the combine." A claim that he later contradicted in his interview with Sirius. Another Internet report claimed that the advisory committee had placed a 4th round grade on Jermichael.

As a comparison I pulled up Zach Millers stats through two seasons, and found that Jermichael was comparable in everything but TD’s. However Zach could block, and produced for 3 straight years. Looking further I found Jermichael ranked from 7th to 9th as far as TE’s go in this year’s draft. Last year only 8 TE’s were taken in the 1st 5 rounds of the draft. Jermichael is looking at the possibility of going undrafted or fighting for a special teams role just to make a squad. While he claimed that the Packers, Steelers, and Jaguars among others had shown a lot of interest I have to wonder how much is a figment of his imagination.

The funny thing is that after listening to Jermichael, and reading up on him I find myself rooting for him now. I will be watching for him name next month when the draft roles around. But its for the wrong reasons, its not because I like his game, or his attitude, its because I feel bad for him. Nobody is looking out for this kid’s best interests and making sure that he receives the proper guidance. He should have been sat down a long time ago and forced to look realistically at his prospects. He shouldn’t have a choice whether or not to meet with the NFL’s advisory committee. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe he has been given all the right advise and is ignoring it, but I believe an agent has gotten his ear and is telling him all the wrong things.

Its sad, it appears that from all the measurables that with a couple more years in college Jermichael could develop into a 1st day pick. However as Pat Kirwan stated, it’s too late for that now, he is in the draft. Good luck Jermichael, I hope you get that pony.

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