Thursday, September 17, 2009

3rd Year Rookie QB

Dear Raider Nation,

It has become apparent to me that I have been too harsh on JaMarcus Russell, I have erred in my judgment and become a hater. But I am here to pass my new found knowledge to my loyal reader:

I have learned over the last couple days that since JaMarcus came out as a Junior we should expect less progress than with other QB’s(- 1 year).

We all already knew, that even though he was on the team his rookie year didn't count thanks to the holdout (- 1 year).

Last season had the whole Kiffen fiasco until week 4, then he had to relearn everything with Cable so lets be fair to JR and call it half a season lost (- 1/2 year).

So if you do the math, JR isn't actually a 3rd year player with 2 seasons of experience, you have to subtract 2.5 years from his experience due to circumstances both in and out of his control.

So when you do the Math, Russell is now in week 7 of his senior season of college. You have to understand that there is a huge jump from college to the NFL. You wouldn't expect a College senior to jump right into the NFL and produce.

That is why he is making the same mistakes and problems we saw in his 1st games in the NFL, the same mistakes and problems some of us who watched more than the ND game pointed out prior to the draft.

Anyone who expects progress at this point is clearly just trying to spin this incredible story of a College senior competing (albeit poorly) at the NFL level in a negative light. Which makes them a hater.

Please don’t be a hater Raider Nation, remember this is only Russell’s 3rd rookie season, if he is still not showing progress after about half way through his sophomore season as an NFL QB, then it would be ok to be critical.

So if you do the math, criticism of Russell can fairly begin after at least 2 seasons following this one (~2012), because this year is obviously a wash due to having rookie WR’s starting (- 1 year).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Brick's NFL Season Preview

Football is back, thank God. Tonight kicks off the NFL season with the Titans visiting Pittsburgh. I’ll be avoiding heading downtown despite the fact that Tim McGraw and the Black Eyed Peas (Isn’t that the punchline to “What happens in Tila Tequila’s bathroom?”) will be performing. I know, hard to resist shitty pop music.

So with the return of the NFL season, it is time for the 2nd annual Brickinthebox NFL season preview. Where I tell you next seasons draft order, because, how else would you want to look at the NFL season, then by who will suck the most to the least.

Enough preamble, on with the show.

#1 – Detroit Lions (2-14)

A huge step forward for Detroit, as I have them pegged for 2 wins this season, OK, not a huge step, but they have a killer schedule, tough luck Detroit, maybe next year you can pick a Franchise QB, instead of settling for the top rated one.

#2 – Denver Broncos (3-13)

You know, if you look back in the archives, I said that I didn’t think that losing Cutler and adding Orton would kill this team. Fortunately bad draft picks, free agent acquisitions and Brandon Marshall will. And hey, look at that, they have already traded out of the top 10.

#3 – New York Jets (3-13)

I honestly don’t think the Jets are that bad. I like their defense; I like their run game. But they have a brutal stretch to kick off the season, and I just don’t think a rookie QB is ready, and the bad early season momentum could kill this team.

#4 – St. Louis Rams (4-12)

Their left tackle of the future is playing right tackle, there are no weapons for Bulger to throw to, and I don’t think Bulger will be upright long. Hey, at least next year’s draft is deep in QB’s.

#5 – Kansas City Chiefs (4-12)

Matt Cassell is about to get a rude awakening. The offensive line is in shambles, Dwane Bowe isn’t bad, but isn’t Randy Moss, and there is no Wes Welker on the squad. The Defense won’t be horrid, but this team should have just finished the job and traded Larry Johnson, so they could complete the gutting.

#6 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)

Thanks for being interm coach Mr. Morris, now the Glazers can continue their obsession with big name coaches and try to lure Shanahan and settle for Shotenheimer.

#7 – Cleveland Browns (5-11)

Brady Quinn is going to be the staring QB, I though new coaches and GM’s didn’t have to live with the previous regimes mistakes.

#8 – San Francisco 49’ers(6-10)

If the 49’ers had a QB I would be projecting them much higher, hell they would be a playoff contender. But Joe Montana is not walking through that door.

#9 – Buffalo Bills (6-10)

The recent firing of the offensive coordinator leaves me with no confidence in this team starting strong with some tough early games. Early losses should lead to the return of the T.O. show.

#10 – Chicago Bears (7-9)

The 1st big surprise on my list, I have huge questions about the defense. With Tommy Harris looking like he is done, the middle is open. And I other than at TE and RB, Cutler just doesn’t have the weapons, oh and he is very overrated.

#11 – Dallas Cowboys (7-9)

The Cowboys are going to get Wade fired this season, Jerry isn’t going to put up with empty seats in his shrine to his own ego.

#12 – Houston Texans (7-9)

I keep hearing how this will be the season that Houston gets their shit together and produces a winning season. To me this looks just like the 8-8 team from last season, with a worse back-up QB, which is important when the starter is made of glass.

#13 – New England Patriots (7-9)

Well Holy Shit, I shocked myself when I totaled up the wins and losses at the end of my predicting exercise. Here is what it came down to, I don’t have a lot of faith in the Pat’s offensive line, and the linebackers and secondary are extremely shaky. If a team can rush the passer and throw the rock, I kept finding myself giving them the edge over the Pats. I’m most likely wrong, but would love to be right.

#14 – Arizona Cardinals (7-9)

Face it, the Cardinals got hot at the right time last season, and had some great luck with injuries to get to the Super Bowl. I don’t see Warner staying healthy all season, and I don’t see a return trip to the playoffs for the Cardinals.

#15 – Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8)

The 1st of the two teams I completely whiffed on last season. Injuries were the excuse last season, but I think there was also a huge character void, as some key vets were jettisoned, and turds like Jerry Porter were brought in. They should return to respectability this season, but I don’t see playoffs.

#16 – Oakland Raiders (8-8)

Hey, it’s not a losing record. Raiders fan’s rejoice. There is some good young talent on this team, but the lines need major upgrades. This team is a year away and another reasonable off-season from contending for the division.

This is a long post, take a Random Hottie break

#17 – Carolina Panthers (8-8)

Those who don’t improve themselves will watch everyone else pass them by. That will be the story of the 2009 Carolina Panthers, as they have watched Atlanta and New Orleans improve while they have stood pat.

#18 – Washington Redskins (9-7)

The 1st of the 9-7 teams, and the 1st of those to miss the playoffs on a tie-breaker. I like the D with the exception of (D)aGello Hall and I think Campbell takes the next step, but they will still come up just short.

#19 – Atlanta Falcons (9-7)

If this prediction is right, I may have to admit that I was wrong about Matt Ryan. So pretty much I can’t win here. At least I can break even.

#20 – Minnesota Vikings (9-7)

But Lord Favre is in Minnesota; they have to be better than last year. Sorry, but Favre is just as likely to cost a team a game in the crunch at this point in his career, and the temptation will be too great to put things into his hands when things get tough early, instead of sticking to the run game as in the past two seasons. Still I have them sneaking into the playoffs.

#21 – Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)

The injury bug is already biting this team, and the loss of Jim Johnson will be felt all season long. Playoffs – yes, Vick in a Super Bowl – NO.

#22 – Miami Dolphins (9-7)

The last of the 9-7 teams, and the only Division Winner, Last season wasn’t a fluke, the Dolphins have put together a slightly better than .500 team. Which, in a down year for the AFC East, is enough to get into the playoffs.

#23 – Tennessee Titans (10-6)

You know, I look at this record, and wonder what I was thinking making the picks. The loss of Haynesworth means nobody to dictate protections for the opponent, and that there will be more blitzing from the Titans, which to me will be too much for this team to overcome. So no playoffs this season, but still a damn good team.

#24 – Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)

Hold on, hear me out. The Defense is much improved, and could be middle of the pack, and I like what I am seeing from Coles and Henry meaning if Palmer is healthy, I see playoff for the Bengals.

#25 – Seattle Seahawks (10-6)

The other team to really screw me last season, the Seahawks were also decimated by injuries. I think this is a bounce back year, with a weak NFC West helping the cause, the lack of a real running game kills them in the playoffs.

#26 – Indianapolis Colts (11-5)

Eleven wins, that sounds about right for the Colts. Moore and Mudd are still with the team as consultants, so the offense should continue to click under Payton. The Defense will have some growing pains as they transition to a more traditional 4-3, but it will be the health of the team that determines how far they go.

#27 – New York Giants (12-4)

This team is built the way that I would build a team, from the front lines out, with a power running component. So it is no wonder I like them to do well. But the lack of a #1 WR leaves them a game short of home field advantage.

#28 – San Diego Chargers (12-4)

This is perhaps the most talented team in the NFL, but they do have a hole on the offensive line, and at the helm. San Diego fans will be treated to yet another season of winning, followed by a post season of disappointment.

#29 – New Orleans Saints (12-4)

If Greg Williams has the right pieces to run his defense (which I think he does) this team will be tough to compete with. Drew Brees and his WR’s are just on another level right now. This will be a fun team to watch, unless your team is playing them.

#30 – Green Bay Packers (12-4)

They were close last season, but a few key loses both of players and games kept them from being a great team. This squad takes the next step this season, and with the right personnel to run the 3-4 they are switching to, they will be a force in the NFC.

#31 – Baltimore Ravens (13-3)

I actually got phone calls last season when I predicted that the Ravens would make the playoffs. But great defenses, good running games, and managing the game passing is a winning formula. As long as the defense stays great, I see this team being dangerous, and I like what I am hearing about Flacco’s development.

#32 – Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3)

No, I haven’t gone soft on the Steelers since moving to the Burgh. But when you play the AFC West and get your toughest non-division games at home (Tennessee, Green Bay, Minnesota, San Diego) you get a leg up. Throw in that the Steelers are built right, and you are looking at another Division Crown for the Steelers.

Quick and Dirty Playoffs

In the AFC, Baltimore and Pittsburgh advance to the Championship, with Baltimore winning the rubber match.

In the NFC, The Giants travel to Green Bay in a rematch of two seasons ago. This time Aaron Rodgers leads the Pack to a win.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Playing Chicken with Richard

Richard Seymour is a Raider…or he could be soon…or he might not be. Depending on which side of the debate of the merits of this trade you stand on, you are either elated, or disappointed at this point, and your feelings have most likely changed 10 times in the last three days.

IMO, if the Raiders can sign Seymour to a long-term deal, it is a fair trade for both sides. And most would agree, if they can get by the intellectual dishonesty being spewed by the Boys at Bristol, more on that another time, if the trade goes through.

The thing is, I no longer believe that this is a high stakes game of chicken between Seymour and the Raiders. I think this is a game between the Patriots and Seymour, with the Raiders just willingly going along with the charade, with the hopes that they can reap the rewards should the trains collide.

The leaks of strange information the past few days are what have lead me to this conclusion. Cable’s slip that there are financial issues to deal with in New England, the reports today that Seymour though he was close to signing an extension to stay in New England. Then you take into account that Seymour is the one player who, along with his agent, Eugene Parker, has actually won a stare down with Belichick in the past, and you have the ingredients for something different.

My theory is that Seymour and the Patriots were in discussions on an extension, and things were not going as well as Seymour thought. The Pats, tired of dealing with the unreasonable demands of Parker issued a take it or leave it deal, and Parker thought they were bluffing.

The Patriots then put together a deal with Oakland to send Seymour there for the 1st round pick in 2011, they also gave the Raiders the parameters of the deal that Parker and Seymour were looking for, and the Raiders found it acceptable.

The Patriots have flipped the table and called Parker and Seymour’s bluff.

“You say if you can’t get this deal here, you’ll take it somewhere else, well take it in Oakland”.

Now it is a full-fledged game of chicken between the Patriots and Seymour. Will Seymour blink 1st and accept the deal the Pats have on the table? Will Seymour take the offer in Oakland and report?

One of these sides is going to lose; if Seymour goes to Oakland the Patriots loose a key clog in their attempt to get another ring, a 2011 pick is no help to the team this year, and the window of opportunity in the NFL is too short to count on anything that far down the line.

If Seymour returns to New England at the reduced rate, yet another player will have lost the stare down with Belichick. His last chance at a big payday will be gone, sure he will be well paid, but he could have had more.

And where does this leave Oakland, if Seymour doesn’t come, well the fans will be let down, but the team will be about where it was before, a 6 to 8 win team needing line help. If he does come, the Raiders will be a 7 to 9 win team, needing a little less line help, but with less amo down the line

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cable Makes A Rookie Mistake

I’d say it was his 1st big mistake as a rookie head coach, but I’m sure some one will bring up breaking jaws, or sticking to long with Kwame, or taking a job in Oakland. But the move that Cable made last week shows that he is new at this whole scheduling thing.

There is a reason that the vast majority of teams broke camp about a week prior to the Raiders leaving Napa. Most teams want to simulate a game week in the days leading up to their 3rd preseason game. Installation, game planning and walkthroughs, all done in the same manner as what will happen in the regular season.

Cable may have run practices, and installed a game plan the same way that he will during the season, but there was one major difference. The players didn’t go home to their wives, kids, girlfriend and strippers each night. Instead they were sequestered in Napa at the Marriott.

Then, following the final walkthrough, Cable released the inmates from the asylum. If you have ever gone through a football camp, you know the feeling of freedom you have after being under lock and key for weeks. Sure you have a couple hours a day to yourself each day, but for the most part you are little more than a prisoner, one who has to work out until you puke.

So it was not the least bit surprising Saturday that the Raiders looked and played like they had hangovers. Chances are many of them did. As noted by recent Raider addition Greg Ellis, who chastised his teammates for being unprofessional.

True it was unprofessional, and lead to being embarrassed on televisions all across the county, but it should have been far from unexpected. This is one of the youngest teams in the NFL, and has little on field leadership. Cable’s scheduling of camp set them up to fail, and fail they did, in a most embarrassing fashion.

One can only hope that Cable knew exactly what he was doing; after all he has been around football his entire adult life, as both a player and coach. Maybe, just Maybe, having the players embarrass themselves was the point. It’s better that they do so in the 3rd preseason game, than in week 1 on national TV, as they have in 3 of the last 4 years.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Is JR Busting out, or just Busting

I should be the last person to criticize someone for being a little out of shape, I’m not obese, but I sure could stand some time in the gym. But what I should do, and what I will do are two different things. So why not blast JaMarcus Russell for being a fat ass.

Yeah, that was the aptly nicknamed JaDummy telling reporters after the 1st day of practice “I am a little heavy, but I am not 300 pounds like you all said the last time.” Well congratulations JaMarcus, you aren’t pushing for the starting LT spot this season; that is quite an accomplishment.

I know what the Russell apologists will say, this is only the 1st day of camp, there is plenty of time to get into shape. Problem is, this was the same thing they said when those party pictures showed up a couple months back, same thing they said last season, same thing they said when he was drafted.

It is becoming increasingly clear that JR just doesn’t get it. His coach, Tom Cable, publicly called him out a couple times during the off-season, and he missed the 1st week and a half of OTA’s. Now I know his mother had surgery, but how many of you would miss a week and a half of work due to a preplanned surgery for a relative.

He made the gesture of inviting his WR’s to come down to Louisiana to work with him for a week, a move that was generally praised throughout the Raider Nation as a sign that he was turning the corner. But whatever credit he would have gained with this writer was more than negated by the reports that after doing so, Russell cut out of OTA’s a day early.

Not that that should have come as a surprise to those who follow the Raiders closely. Thomas Howard was interviewed in the middle of OTA’s by Sirius NFL radio and refused to comment on how often JaMarcus was attending. Not something you do if your team leader is there every day.

Sure there have been some positive quotes as well, as Michael Bush has stated that JR has much better control of the huddle, and Lewis Murphy has compared Russell’s on field demeanor in practice to Tim Tebow. But unfortunately the news coming out of Russell’s passing camp send a different message.

At this time, it appears that only 4 WR’s attended Russell’s camp, of them, only Murphy appears to have a chance to make the team. Now Walker and DHB had health issues, but of the remaining players projected to make the roster (Higgens, Schilens, Miller etc…) no one seemed to be able to make the time to work with their anointed leader. Hell, Schilens was able to make the time to go play catch with Jeff Garcia, but not Russell.

Now this could say something about the dedication of those players, and how serious they are about winning as Raiders, but I think it says more about how Russell is seen by his teammates. To me it says that Russell has lost the respect of a good portion of this team, if he ever had it to begin with.

Look around the league, the premier quarterbacks all seem to get in extra work with their receivers, be it McNabb bringing everyone down to Arizona, or the Mannings spending extra time in their respective cities. What is the difference between these guys and JR? When they say lets get together, their teammates jump. When JaMarcus says it, they are free to ask, why weren’t the OTA’s a good time to get this work done?

That to me is the worst news to come out of this off-season for the Raiders, if JaMarcus has lost the attention of this team, it will take a hell of a lot of effort and dedication for him to get it back. Problem is, JaMarcus has always seemed content to get by on his incredible physical ability going back to college. Dedication and effort seem to be a foreign concept to him.

A man once said “Fat, Drunk and Stupid is no way to go through life”, and while I may try to prove this wrong, it is not the moto that I want to see the starting quarterback of the team I live and die with in the Fall try to prove wrong.

Other Stuff

OH NO, DHB dropped the 1st ball thrown to him in camp, THE SKY IS FALLING.

Damn, some people are so eager to label this guy a bust, lets let this guy get his feet wet before we crucify him. Take a look back at some of the great receivers (Rice and Brown would be a good start) few light up the league from day 1. I’m not saying that DHB is hall of fame bound, but it is a little early for the Troy Williamson comparisons.

Cutting a 6th round pick

Sure cutting Stryker Sulak before camp even opened was a little strange. And wasting any pick pisses me off a bit. But I have a feeling that more draft picks than normal will not make their team’s final 53, the Raiders just started the process earlier than most.

The thing is, most teams have plenty of Cap room this offseason. Where in past years a vet would get the ax before a rookie for financial reasons, team will be able to have more experienced players make up the back end of their roster now. It should make for better special teams play across the league, which is a good thing for football fans.

Goodbye Andrew Walter

I’ve always felt a little bad about the way Walter’s career with the Raiders has gone down. From being thrown out to the wolves under Shell, to being relegated to back-up behind Culpepper and McCown, even if he looked better to me on the field. It seems like he just never got a fair shake.

Well, with DHB signing, the Raiders made the long awaited roster move of cutting Walter. Why this couldn’t have been done months ago, when he could have gotten a full off-season in with his new team, is beyond me, and a black mark on the Raiders. I hope he catches on somewhere else and does well, at least when he isn’t facing the Raiders.

My guess is that he hooks back up with his old College coach, Dirk Cutter, in Jacksonville, and puts some real pressure on David Garrard.

HOF here I come

I’m sure it will be a couple years until I am inducted into the media wing for my outstanding writing, but I will be making my 1st visit to the Hall of Fame this weekend. That’s what the lovely Mrs. Brick gets for leaving the planning of our weekend up to me.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Facebook kinda Sucks

I’m not real big on the newfangled communication tools out there, and by new fangled I mean anything developed in the last 15 years. I carry a cell phone only because it is required by my job, and they provide it. You won’t find me on any instant messenger, I have sent one text message in my life, and I had to borrow some one else’s phone to do so. To me the internet is for reading about football, fantasy sports and porn, maybe not in that order.

So it was a big surprise to not only myself, but my close friends when I signed up for a Facebook account the other day. I blame my brother, who is the complete opposite of me when it comes to being social. It turned out he knew an old friend of mine who I hadn’t talked to in years was sick thanks to Facebook. So I decided to sign up just to get an update, turned out it was nothing serious.

Much to my surprise, I didn’t stop there. I looked up the names of a couple of other friends and sent out friend requests. Even if a “friend request” sounds like the most pathetic thing a grown person can do to me. “Will you be my friend, I need some sort of public affirmation to make myself complete”. You are probably figuring out real quick why I can count my close friends on one hand, I’m just a little cynical, as if you hadn’t already gathered that from this blog.

So with my 5 or 6 friend requests sent out, what did I do? Well other than putting a picture of myself up, nothing. Chances are with the information that my old friend was cool in my pocket I would never have looked at Facebook again. But then my inbox started getting hit, and my interest grew in this Facebook thing.

See I wasn’t just getting Friend Requests from… well… friends. I was getting them from people I had quite honestly forgotten about. Not sure what that says about me as a person. Most of them I was pretty cool about getting in touch with, however superficial, but some of them left me scratching my head.

I was getting requests from names I didn’t recognize, I had to go to their page and look at the pictures to get some sort of idea if I even knew this person (I drank a lot in college and we referred to everyone by nicknames, so I do have some excuse). Once I figured out who they were, I gladly accepted.

I got friend requests from people I not only had forgotten about, but people that I never would have considered myself friends with in the 1st place. What do I do about these people? Do I accept their request, it’s not like having them in my friend list is going to hurt me in any way. Would it hurt their feelings if I reject them? Do I care since I didn’t consider them friends in the 1st place?

And how did an ESPN writer get a hold of my name? Has my constant bashing of the four-letter network earned me the attention of some one there? Don’t bother checking my friend list for who it was, I haven’t accepted them. Now if they can get me a copy of that Erin Andrews video, they would get instant acceptance.

Now I am putting way too much time and thought into this stupid Facebook thing. It is taking away from important Internet porn time as I read through the newsfeed on my homepage, looking to see if one of the people I am close with has posted something, or if it is just drunken notes and quiz scores. Too much time is being spent looking up who the hell this person requesting to be my friend is, and I don’t even think I have passed the 30 friend threshold, what the fuck are people with hundreds of friends doing? Do they even know or care about half the people on their list?

I knew I never should have signed up for this thing, I was much happier walking around with my Zach Morris phone and having no contact with anyone that isn’t family or living within walking distance. Fuck you bro, I should never have sat around that fire drinking with you, now the Internet time I use looking for celebrity up-skirt shots has been severely compromised.

Vick in Silver and Black?

et’s start this posting off right, with a hearty Fuck You to Rodger Goodell. See I was putting the finishing touches on a piece about Mike Vick yesterday when the news broke that Goodell had conditionally reinstated the quasi-QB. So that piece just gets scrapped, no reason to belabor that point anymore.

Instead, lets look at what Vick could do for the Raiders. I know, as a Raider fan I am tired of the team being linked to every malcontent and diva that hits the market, but while the press focuses on Washington, Miami and New England as potential destinations for Vick, why not examine the Pro’s and Con(Vicks) of Mike in Silver and Black.


The Raiders have been without a True Playmaker for Years

This has been a constant theme in my writing. The Raiders have lacked anyone who forces Defenses to alter their game plan since Moss gave up on the team. Sure Nnamdi takes away one WR, but the reads remain the same for the QB. No one on either side of the ball affects coverage or protections. McFadden has the potential to, but has yet to show it consistently.

If he can come back at anywhere near his previous form, Vick would force a LB to spy him at minimum. That takes one defender out of the equation, which is all you need. If the WR’s or McFadden can develop, this will create openings across the field.

Now, I recognize that there is a huge question mark when it comes to his current skill level, but the possible reward here is huge.

Russell has yet to Prove himself to be anything but Vick without the wheels

I’m in danger of being labeled a hater when it comes to Russell, but I take the hater label as a badge of honor, it means the other person can’t refute anything you have to say, so they use the hater crutch.

Face it; even with the progress Russell showed at the end of last season, he has yet to prove himself as anything other than a cannon armed, inaccurate, and slow to read defenses QB. Which is pretty much how you would sum up Vick prior to his suspension, with the added factor of Vick’s scrambling ability.

I’m not advocating giving up on Russell for Vick, but Vick would be an excellent compliment to Russell on the depth chart, as you could prepare virtually the same game plan for both. Where as with the current back-ups (Garcia and Gradkowski) you have to adjust to their weaker arms.

He will come cheap

Just look at the Franchise numbers to see what the current going rate is on game changing players. It is a steep price to pay; especially when there is no way of knowing if the guy will produce for your franchise.

Vick won’t get anywhere near franchise money, but he will get much more than the NFL minimum that most columnists seem to be projecting. Why, because the potential to be a game breaker is still there. Now potential gets coaches fired, but when have the Raiders been averse to firing coaches.


Damn, I hate writing that word. The media has blown the whole wildcat thing so far out of proportion. Oh yeah, the Dolphins were the 1st team to have a running option get a direct snap. Tell that to Kordell Stewart, or Randel-El, or Cunningham, hell Darren McFadden lined up at QB in the preseason last year reviving his WildHog roots. But no, the Dolphins unleashed this previously unknown formation on the NFL.

But it brings me to what I see as the best reason to bring in Vick; The versatility that it would afford the offense. With Vick on the field, he, McFadden and Bush would all be threats to run or throw on any play (remember Bush played QB in HS).

This is the kind of thing I want to see in an offense, the ability to put a defense on its heels. The Raiders have been trying to do this with guys who stretch the field for years, and I’m not advocating going away from that, but just adding another element, remember Vick can get the ball down the field, the vertical game won’t go anywhere, it will just have more going on underneath. The more options you have, the more the defense has to account for, and the more likely they are to fuck up.


He may well be done

One of my points in the aborted posting from yesterday was that quite simply, I think that Vick will be out of the NFL in three years. He has already missed two seasons in what should have been the prime of his career; the uncertainty regarding the length of his suspension will prevent teams from putting too much time into him this season. He will be nothing more than a limited package player this season. Meaning it will be three full seasons of Vick not being a NFL QB before he competes for a starting job next season.

Chances are, this means his career is as good as over. He was already limited when it comes to QB skills, now he has missed two years of training, Mike being anything more than a gimmick player is a long shot.


Oh they will protest, they will be at the training camp of whatever team signs him, and they will be at the games; Anything to get themselves on TV. The Raider’s previously relatively calm off season will suddenly revert to the circus tents of the last few years.

Personally, I could give a fuck about PETA, they serve no real purpose, and there are few groups I look on with more disgust. And I have donated to my local animal shelters, love my dog, and think what Vick did was inhuman. But kowtowing to these nut jobs in any way pisses me off. The fact that Goodell even met with these assholes to discuss Vick has made me lose some respect for him.

As far as the Raiders, they are used to distractions, I may not wish another one for them, but this could serve to take some of the heat off of Russell and the much-maligned draft picks of this year.

Where does he fit / Who do you cut

This is a tough one, who do you cut to make room for a part time player? The Raiders just don’t have the depth anywhere to take a chance on Vick. They need three RB’s due to the inability of any of them to stay healthy. The WR’s are young and need time to develop. The Defense needs all the help it can get.

You can say that you would make him the 3rd QB, but that would make him ineligible on game day. It may be the 3rd QB who gets the pink slip, but someone else would have to be inactive on Sunday.

IMO, it would be a WR getting the pink slip. For the simple reason that the team could get by with 4 on the active roster thanks to the versatility of McFadden and Miller. Both of them could split out as a WR when needed. But who do you cut? You can cross Bey, Schillens, Higgens and hopefully Murphy right off the list. Can you afford the cap hit to cut Walker?

Vick will miss the start of the Season

The Raiders start the season with three straight against divisional foes. Having a winning record in division has to be this teams primary goal, as they are still a year or two away from competing against the premier teams in the league.

Signing Vick, when he will miss these games, will do nothing towards achieving that goal. He could provide a nice mid-season boost, but if the Raiders once again fail to come out of the gates hot, it may well be too little too late.

When I add it all up in my mind, I am advocating something I never thought I would. I would like to see the Raiders be the team that gives Vick his 2nd chance. I have written before that I think he should be able to earn a 2nd chance (he deserves nothing) but just not with the Raiders. Well I am officially softening my stance.

IMO, the Pro’s to signing Vick slightly outweigh the Con’s. Due to the potential more than anything else. But there is one other factor that does weigh in this equation for me. The NFL players who have spoken up, have come out strongly supporting Vick’s right to play again. While the media would crucify Al for the move, it would be huge for winning the hearts and minds of the NFL’s players. And with the backlash the organization has experience from former players such as Worthless Sapp, the team could use the positive vibes among the players. I know it is a weak stance, but it may be just enough to sway some potential free agents.

So how would I go about this? Three year, incentive laden deal, if he can push JR to the bench, he would have earned a starters salary, and the contract should reflect this. It would have to be made clear that he is being signed as a limited package player in year 1, the #2 for year two, with the potential to fight for that starting spot.

He would have to be on board for learning the receiver tree, as the best fit for him at this time is being on the field with JR at the same time. Along with McFadden and Bush at other times. He has to be more than a decoy for the defense to respect him when he is on the field.

Can he do all of this, I have no idea, but if he can, I would like to see him do it in Silver and Black.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different

I am of that age where all of my friends are married and having kids. The lovely Mrs. Brick and I have not yet taken that plunge, and while we talk about it on a regular basis, there is always a reason to put procreating off a little longer.

Of course, being a red blooded American male, there is always that nagging little voice in the back of my head asking me “Why would you want to burden yourself with a child?”

I have to say, that nagging little voice is a wise man. I mean its enough of a pain in the when you have a pet. You have to feed him, pay his bills, clean up his shit and god forbid you want to travel, then you have to make separate arrangements for the animal.

As far as I can tell a kid is like a pet on steroids. Not only do you feed, cloth and raise them, but you have years of worrying and the expenses are much greater. My dog was trained to shit outside in a matter of a month or two, a kid, fuck they are in diapers for fucking ever. Then they get older and hate you, my dog loves me no matter what. Fuck as teenagers you have to worry about paying for college, drinking, drugs. And god forbid I have a daughter, my only goal in life at that point will be keeping her a virgin until at least 30, and off the stripper pole. Fortunately I have a shotgun.

Then I saw a phrase the other day that made so much sense to me. A light went off in my head. Two words explained how so many of my male brethren got over these nagging thoughts and did their part towards having a child.

No they weren’t “Busted Condom”, although that does explain many, or “Catholic Faith” it was something much more basic.

See as males, we are in competition from day 1. Nobody wants to be the last guy picked for the pick up football game. Getting cut from a sports team is a fait worse than death. The ultimate goal is a championship, in whatever you are doing. The best rise to the top they get rings, they get accolades. No one remembers the guy in 2nd place. They remember the guy who gets the trophy.

Parenthood for the man is the means to obtaining a living-breathing trophy. That’s right, bang the little lady, knock her up and 9 months later you are at the finish line, able to hold your new trophy for all to see. Friends and family shower you with gifts and accolades as you pass your personal Stanley Cup around to be kissed. Only you didn’t get this trophy for playing Hockey, you got it for Fucking. That’s right my friend you just won a:


Yeah, laugh if you want, I know I did when I first read those words as they related to having a child. But let it sink in a little, it is starting to make sense isn’t it. From day 1 what have those competitions been about? Has it been being the best baseball, football or basketball player, or has it been something more? Has it been about positioning yourself as the alpha male. The top dog who attracts the primo pussy.
The thing is, 99% of us never attain that alpha male status. We read about the exploits of our favorite athletes, musicians and actors. The piles of money, the jet setting life style, the beautiful women throwing themselves at their feet. We are forced to look elsewhere to obtain our champion status. And at my age, there is one surefire way to obtain the adoration of friends, family and colleagues. Get yourself a Fuck Trophy.

And there is more to it than that. Sure its nice to get the gifts and the congratulatory backslaps. But that little Fuck Trophy is something more. It is a permanent record of the fact that you have had intercourse at least once. Since your first kiss, your boys, no matter how tight you are, have doubted that you are actually scoring as much as you claim. With good reason, everyone exaggerates. But now there is no doubt, pending a DNA test, that you have in fact put your penis inside that woman.

You are a man now, fuck your bartmizfa or commencement, this is the day when all doubt is removed. You got your trophy.

This is not limited to the everyman either. Just take a quick look at the celebrity ranks, and you can see that the pursuit of a Fuck Trophy is universal.

Why would Brad Pitt want to risk ruining Angelina Jollie’s perfect body? They had plenty of kids running about thanks to 3rd world countries. There was no reason to risk marring that figure with stretch marks and sagging breasts. No reason except that Brad needed a Fuck Trophy to prove that he was in fact banging Angelina.

Tom Cruise gets pelted with questions about his sexuality. But what does he have that none of us do? Fuck Trophies from multiple Hollywood actresses.

Hell, even Michael Jackson, as strange and perverted as he may have been, went out of his way to get not one, not two but three Fuck Trophies to hold aloof (and almost drop) for the world to see.

Think about it, everyone knows at least one guy who is way out of his league with his woman. Fate has smiled upon that poor sap at least once in his life. I like to think that some of my friends think that way of me. But I know for a fact that one of my friends is in this boat. Motherfucker stepped up in the bottom of the ninth and hit a grand slam.

So it was no surprise that he quickly went about getting a trophy. Less than a year later his beautiful wife was with child, and he was strutting about like a peacock. But my man was not satisfied. He had his proof that he was hitting that, but he went for the back-to-back championships. Sure he claimed that the 2nd child was not planned, but now that you and I know about the status that comes with a Fuck Trophy, what do you think.

I think that lucky bastard was poking holes in his own condoms. What better way to prove to all that he not only was having sex with a knock out, but was having it on a regular basis. That’s right, multiple Fuck Trophies.

Of course it doesn’t end there. Soon the newness of your Trophy fades, someone else steels the spotlight with a Fuck Trophy of their own, and you are temporarily on the sidelines. But then, if you are lucky, your Trophy enters another phase. Where once again you feel the pride of everyone adoring you seed. That’s right, he or she makes something of himself or herself.

How often do you hear about your coworker’s kid’s exploits on the field, the ice or in school? “That’s my boy” might as well be “That’s my Fuck Trophy”. The old man wants the praise heaped upon his offspring, because it is his way of showing his Fuck Trophy is better than anyone else’s. The better your Fuck Trophy, the better you look, the happier you are.

Do you think Tom Brady’s father is having a mid life crisis? Fuck no; he has the ’86 Bears of Fuck Trophies. His Fuck Trophy has its own rings, millions of dollars and a Super Model wife. You can put that Fuck Trophy up against the greatest of all time, and hold your own.

My old man, well lets just say he bought a Harley.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


According to the Kipers of the world, I should be posting about how I am a beaten man today. The draft is a holiday on my calendar, and that Grinch, Al Davis, stole the tree and all the presents for Raiders fans. The Raiders must be the stupidest team in the NFL, since they didn’t draft according to the experts boards, they reached, and passed up can’t miss players for boom or bust types. Yep, according to them, I should be here ready to turn in my Silver and Black.

I’m guessing if you have read this site before, you know what my answer to that is…


Sure I have been expounding on how teams need to maximize the value they get in the draft. Hell, I have spent hours on putting together a chart, and explaining that chart right here. But as a Raider fan, I had no expectation of the Raiders doing that in this years draft, I may be dumb, but I’m not stupid. Al hasn’t hired me yet, I’m sure things will be different once he brings me into the draft room.

So, all that out of the way, lets take a look at the Raider’s 1st day draft picks, I will talk value here, but there are some outside factors to take into consideration, which I will also try to address.

Round 1, Pick #7 – Darrius Heyward-Bey

Right off the bat, the Raiders are the laughing stock of the NFL. I was only watching the NFLN’s coverage, but have read more than enough about BSPN’s coverage. Heyward-Bey, with Crabtree and Macklin still on the board, what the fuck were the Raiders thinking.

From a Value perspective, the pick stinks. Bey was the 3rd ranked WR, I have a hard time believing that any other team would have selected him before 20. This is a classic trade down position if you are drafting for value. Raider apologists keep harping on the “fact” that there was no one to trade down with; Cable claimed in a press conference that the Raiders were reluctant to trade down, since there were teams trying to trade up ahead of the Raiders to grab Bey.

I’m not sure I am completely buying either claim. With all the teams needing an OT, I can’t see Monroe not having enough value to garner a 1 and a 3, but we’ll never know for sure since he went next. As for other teams looking to jump up for Bey? With everyone reportedly looking to trade down, this one is hard to swallow as well.

There was better value to be had, but it is hard to say just how much. The same factors preventing other teams from trading out of the top 10, also affected the Raiders. At some point you have to man up, and play the cards you have been dealt.

Now from a BPA perspective, it all depends on how you rank your board. I could care less who the Kiper’s of the world feel is the best player at any given position. Because, truth be told, they are wrong as often as they are right. Lets think back to some recent drafts, and how the players were ranked, or hyped:

Cutler was ranked behind Leinert and Young
Gallery was a 10 year lock at LT
Jones-Drew wasn’t mentioned in the same breath as Bush
Charles Rogers was ranked ahead of Andre Johnson
Mike Williams was a future HOF WR

I could go on and on, but I won’t. The “expert” rankings of guys like Kiper are great for adding a talking point to the coverage, and handing out instant grades afterwards. But in the end are meaningless. If these guys were really such great scouts, they would be working in the NFL. Instead they stay on the sidelines, with their bad hair, and one size fits all rankings.

One size fits all rankings, now there is an interesting point, glad I thought of it, and it fits what we are talking about to a T.

What do I mean by one size fits all rankings, that’s easy. Kiper comes up with his big board of prospects. Grades them, ranks them, and then rips teams that don’t select players where he sees them.

No consideration is given to scheme, personnel fit. Sure he looks at need, as in the Raiders need a WR, Crabtree is the best WR, the Raiders should take Crabtree. Doesn’t matter that what Crabtree’s skill set lends itself to is a short to intermediate control the ball through the air attack. Not what the Raiders run. In the world of one size fits all rankings, he is the best, so he is the best for the Raiders.

Thing is, the NFL is not a one size fits all league. If it were, there would be no free agent busts. DeAngelo Hall would look just as good in the Raiders man press, as he does in the Redskins off man/ zones.

So that all brings us back to the Raiders, every team ranks the players based on their scouting, their criteria and how they fit their scheme. There is no question that the Raiders had Bey ranked as the best WR on their board. He was the first WR taken in the draft. The Kiper’s will laugh it off as Davis’ fascination with the stop-watch rearing it’s ugly head again. But there are other factors that should be looked at.

Bey played in a pro-style offense at Maryland. He may not have had much pro level talent around him, but there are three key factors that separate him from Crabtree and Maclin.

1 – He blocked in the run game. Bey is given excellent marks in this regard. I have seen his blocking compared to Hines Ward in a couple places. In a run oriented system like the Raiders, this is invaluable.

2 – Playing in a pro style offense, he faced defenses similar to those he will see at the next level. No spread out defenses to be seen here, take away the #1 WR with rolled coverage, press at the line. The Texas Tech offense is designed to defeat this and take the defense out of its comfort zone. Bey did not get this advantage.

3 – Ran a complete pass tree, perhaps the most important of the three. Of the top WR’s, only Hicks in North Carolina can say the same. Bey spent most of his time running the deep stuff, but that is what the Raiders are going to ask him to do. The learning curve has been made significantly less daunting.

Add in that Bey is the ideal combination of Crabtree’s size (actually a little bigger) and Maclin’s speed (actually a little faster), and to just use the one size fits all rankings, and declare that the Raiders made a mistake selecting Bey, IMO, is in itself a reach.

So, while I swore at my TV when the Raiders selected Hayward-Bey at 7 instead of Monroe, Raji or even Orakpo or trading down, after I took a step back. I am satisfied with the pick, not my 1st choice, but as the draft unfolded I felt better and better about it.

So why did I come away feeling better about it. Easy, look at the WR’s available when the Raiders were back on the clock at 40. Mohamed Massaquoi was the best WR still on the board. I had WR ranked as the Raiders number 1 need coming into the draft. Had they come away with Massaquoi and Louis Murphy, I would be very pessimistic about the Raiders having the horses to get JaMarcus to the next level.

So that brings us to the 2nd round.

Right off the bat, the Raiders do the smart thing and trade down. If we take Cable’s press conference at face value, Mitchell was the pick, he was on the board at 40, but the Raiders read the tea leaves right, and got themselves some extra amo later in the draft. Just what this team needed. But at this point, I don’t know who the target is, I just feel better about having a couple more tickets to this year’s lottery.

Then the Raiders send the card up to the table and the announcement comes over the loud speaker:

Round 2, Pick #49 – Michael Mitchell, S

Queue the laugh track from the talking heads. Brick commences swearing at his TV, the lovely Mrs. Brick asks why I am watching this if I am just going to get angry.

God Damn, I knew that Mitchell was a classic Davis pick, he fits the Raiders hard hitting secondary image like a glove. I expected the Raiders to take a flyer on him at some point, but not this early. My slowly growing warm and fuzy feeling with Bey and the trade down for picks was squashed.

I fumed about this for a couple hours, then the reports started to come out. Mitchell claims that the Bears had told him that he would be their pick at 49. Funny, I had missed the fact that the Bears had traded out of their one 1st day spot shortly after the Raiders took Mitchell. But that was just a coincidence…right?

No, the Chicago tribune verifies Mitchell’s story. Holly shit, the Raiders did play this just right. They came within two picks of missing their target. They took the player they wanted at just about the optimum position. That is Value, screw the one size fits all charts, screw the talking heads (credit does go to Mayock for eating crow the next day). Rarely do you get this much info on the inside of the 2 day poker game that is the draft, but damn it feels good when you do, and you team just played their hand perfectly.

In the end, I have to say that I am pretty happy with the way the Raiders handled the 1st day of the draft, all things considered. Two players, who filled a need, fit the scheme and seem to have the work ethic that Cable craves.

Sure it sucks to listen to the callers on NFL radio blast the Raiders. Suck to listen to Adam Schein (well it always sucks to listen to Schein) give the Raiders a “G” since “F” is too high of a grade. But you know what, if there is anything that has proven true about the draft year after year. It is this; nobody knows how these teams did for sure for a couple years. Anyone who claims to know any different is a blowhard.

So for now, I welcome Heyward-Bey and Mitchell to the Silver and Black. Keep that chip on your shoulder, and use it to prove once again that the best use for Kiper’s head is holding up that strange hair, and that the hot air coming out of guys like Schein should be filling balloons for tourists somewhere, not polluting the otherwise outstanding NFL radio airwaves.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

QB & OT to drive the draft

Taking a break from the draft value chart today, to look at how some recent player moves could affect the draft, and how this potentially sets up the Raiders.

There are two positions driving this year’s draft, and it should come as no surprise that they are QB and OT. The face of the franchise and the guy who protects his back, there is a reason that NFL teams place a premium on these two positions.

So how have the recent moves affected these two positions? Lets start with the QB.

IMO, the moves to date don’t affect the QB class. Sure there are some that think that the trade of Cutler to Chicago puts the Broncos in the running for a QB, but I don’t see it. Not with Orton being a great fit for McDaniel’s offense and the large contract given to Chris Sims. I see a late round pick at QB for the Broncos, and the Bears would have been set running with Orton had they not acquired Cutler.

The QB position will drive much of the draft, but the moves are yet to come. So what teams potentially could draft a QB in the 1st round? To me the list looks like this:

Detroit (1, 20)
San Francisco (10)
New York Jets (17)
Tampa Bay (19)

At first glance not a whole lot of teams desperate for a QB, and, IMO, you can take the Jets off this list, as they have 2 unproven youngsters on the roster already, I think they are far more likely to be in play for a veteran.

The intrigue here comes from the potential for a dark horse or three to jump into play. Some of the potential dark horses include:

Seattle (4) – are they sold on Hasselbeck being healthy enough to make another run, or the potential of Wallace to take the reigns if Hasselbeck can’t? Or does the new staff want to start fresh with their own franchise QB?

Cleveland (6)– Is Brady Quinn the future? Giving Anderson his roster bonus this season tells me they aren’t sold yet. Could Quinn be traded, resulting in the Browns taking another 1st round chance on a QB?

Washington (13) – I’m hesitant to throw them in this mix. Snyder is anything but patient, and QB’s take years to develop. Giving up on Campbell now signals that the team is looking at a couple rebuilding years on offense. This hardly matches what their off season moves thus far have indicated.

St. Louis (2) – See Seattle, but without a potential back-up plan in place. Back to back 2 win seasons, and a new coaching staff tells me that this could be a very likely landing spot for a QB.

Add these teams to the potential mix, and you see why there could very well be some movement in the top 10 to get into position for either Stafford or Sanchez, and why Freeman is looking like a top 15 pick, and not a 2nd rounder.

This also points to why things could get a bit complicated. Lets just say that Detroit is willing to send their 20 to Cleveland for Quinn. There is no guarantee that Sanchez or Stafford will still be there when Cleveland drafts at 6. So could the Lions select Sanchez #1, then trade him and the 20 to Cleveland for the 6 and Quinn, well not until the Browns are on the clock and the Lions can safely say that the OT they want is still on the board. In order to get a handle on that, you have to look at the OT class.

Much like the QB class, there are less premier tackles than there are teams that need one. The Bills trade of Peters just adds yet another team with a huge hole to the list. Those that stand out as needing an impact player here are:

Detroit (1, 20)
St. Louis (2)
San Francisco (10)
Buffalo (11, 28)
Washington (13)

Then you add the following teams that may not need one today, but can’t wait much longer to address the position:

Seattle (4) – Walter Jones is nearing the end, the time is now to bring in his replacement.

Cincinnati (6) – Carson Palmer needs to stay upright if the offense is to get back to where they were three years ago.

Oakland (7) – Retreads and projects litter the line.

Jaguars (8) – IMO, the failing of this team last season started on the line, putting this unit back together has to be a priority. Signing Holt opens up the option to pass on a WR.

Green Bay (9) – Free agency has opened a hole here.

This should tell you something about the value of a LT, 10 of the top 15 drafting teams have a need here (sure Buffalo’s need is due to trade, but Peter’s play last season screamed need already). And with only 4 tackles having top 15 grades, demand is much higher than supply.

The top 2 picks are going to go a long way to shaping this draft, and what shape it takes hinges on when the QB’s and OT’s go. If Detroit selects a QB, there will be allot of jockeying to get into position to take the next two guys. However if they select an OT, chaos could result as teams try to jump up. St. Louis’s follow up to Detroit’s 1st pick will cement the start of either the run at OT, or the maneuvering for a QB.

So how does this all affect the Raiders?

As a Raider fan I have to give credit to Davis and Cable, the number of bodies they brought in at OT allows them the flexibility to either stay out of this fray, and select one of the players who could slip due to inordinate demand at other positions. Or to be a player should a team get desperate for that #7 pick as there could very well either be just one OT left or someone could be in love with Sanchez. Or, they could very well grab any one of the 4 OT’s who could be there, with the flexibility to play him at either LT or RT depending on how the others already on the roster shake out.

For once the Raiders have set themselves up very well in the 1st round.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Drafting for Value, Part Two

First off, I would like to thank the guys over at for their feedback on the 1st column about drafting for value. Allot of what you are about to either read, or scroll past, is in response to their comments.

One aspect that definitely needs further clarification from the last column, is the Team Need Factor.

Determining a teams needs is very subjective. You would have a tough time getting 10 Raider fans to agree on the order of need for the team. And good luck getting behind the shield and finding out the only opinion that counts, Big Al’s.

The Team Need Factor for the Raiders that was used is my opinion. I based that opinion on carefully looking at the depth chart taking into consideration age and contract status. But I can easily see how some may have a completely different ranking when it comes to what the Raiders need. I don’t claim that my ranking is correct; I just think it is better than yours.

Next is the chart itself. I fully admit that this is far from a completed project. In order for the chart to become fully functional as a tool, the needs of every NFL team would need to be entered. You would have to fully stock the talent board (I have only the top 150). Then you could have a tool that is truly useful. Right now, it is nothing more than a concept and a means for explaining the value principle of drafting.

Furthermore, the chart is not intended to be a stand alone tool. There is allot more that should go into draft prep than ranking the players, determining their value in relation to one another, and then determining their value to the individual team. A major outside item would be mock drafts. There is a reason that NFL teams spend weeks with their coaches and scouting staffs locked down, running mocks and various scenarios to see what could happen draft day. This is valuable planning that can be used to prepare a team for what they may see when they are on the clock. Where the chart comes in is to help evaluate how a pick at 40, will affect your value at 71.

So if that is what it would be its best use, lets run through a scenario, a mock draft using the chart as a tool. I will be using the free mock draft from as the basis for the mock. Stopping at each Raiders pick to discuss the options on the table, and how different pick would affect the potential value of the draft.

And we are off:

1)Detroit – Matt Stafford
2)St. Louis – Aaron Curry
3)Kansas City – BJ Raji
4)Seattle – Jason Smith
5)Cleveland – Malcolm Jenkins
6)Cincinnati – Eugene Monroe

So what do the Raiders have staring them in the face right now. By the Raiders player value chart here are the top 5 options with the 7th pick:

Grabbing Crabtree right here looks like a no brainer, his Raider Value is 370 points above the next available option. But, the point of this exercise is to look at the draft as a whole, simply running up to the podium with Crabtree scribbled on a card is not looking past the obvious.

So let’s dig deeper. 1st we will assume that the Raiders stand pat, don’t trade down and take Crabtree, how could that effect their next two picks? Right off the bat, due to the selection of Crabtree, you decrease the Raider Value of any future WR. For this sample’s purposes we will lop 200 points of their value. And we are going to be a little conservative in our projections, and assume any player who’s ranked above the Raiders selection will be gone. So what would the options potentially look like in the 2nd and 3rd round with the value of WR downgraded?

2nd Round Prospects

3rd Round Prospects

Things aren’t looking too bad from a Raiders prospective. With the remaining glaring needs for the team being at OL, DL and S, there are plenty of high value picks projected to still be there in the 2nd but the value potential for the 3rd is limited as there are only 2 picks with values over 700, and by maximizing the 2nd (selecting either an OT or DT) you are counting on a player at a high demand position not jumping. The Raiders can feel confident that they can exceed their target of 6604 value points selecting Crabtree 1st, but can they do better?

Say they select Orakpo 1st, there is more depth at WR in this years draft, so not downgrading the Value of the position opens up many more options in round 2 and affords more flexibility in round 3. The value point ceiling may not be as high, but the floor isn’t as low.

Then there is the large and in charge Andre Smith. The value point hit in the 1st round and subsequent limiting of options in 2 and 3 makes him a bit unpalatable.

As this column is getting a bit long already, and we are only at pick 7, we’ll hold off on trade down options for another post. And acting as the Raiders, we’ll swing for the fences and attempt to maximize our 3 round value by selecting Crabtree at seven.

1)Raiders - Michael Crabtree
2)Jacksonville – Jeremy Maclin
3)Green Bay – Brain Orakpo
4)San Francisco – Andre Smith
5)Buffalo – Everette Browm
6)Denver – Tyson Jackson
7)Washington – Michael Oher
8)New Orleans – Rey Maualuga
9)Houston – Chris Wells
10)San Diego – Eben Britton
11)NY Jets – Mark Sanchez
12)Denver – Brian Cushing
13)Tampa Bay – Josh Freeman
14)Detroit – Peria Jerry
15)Philadelphia – Percy Harvin
16)Minnesota – Darrius Heyward-Bey
17)New England – Aaron Maybin
18)Atlanta – Robert Ayers
19)Miami – Vontae Davis
20)Baltimore – Hakeem Nicks
21)Indianapolis – Kenny Britt
22)Philadelphia – Knowshon Moreno
23)NY Giants – Clay Matthews
24)Tennessee – Darius Butler
25)Arizona – Brandon Pettigrew
26)Pittsburgh – Michael Johnson
27)Detroit – James Laurinaitis
28)New England – William Beatty
29)St. Louis – Brian Robiskie
30)Cleveland – Larry English
31)Seattle – Alex Mack
32)Cincinnati – Max Unger
33)Jacksonville – Alphonso Smith

The Raiders are back on the clock with the 40th overall pick. Crabtree is on a plane to Oakland for a Sunday morning meet and greet with the media. And it is time to get serious again. The Raiders are feeling pretty good right now, and one look at their top 6 remaining players by Raider Value shows why.

Now conventional wisdom may tell you that Delmas is the highest ranked player, and has slipped 6 spots to the Raiders, grab him now. But when you look at the chart, even if he is the highest rated player, his value to the Raiders isn’t as high as the DT who is still there. And a quick look at what remains of the potential 3rd round picks should clear things up.

Selecting Delmas in the 2nd would cause the Raiders to take a 600 point value hit. Without opening up the possibility of making that up in the 3rd. If the Raiders truly want to go with a combination of S & DT in the 2nd and 3rd, Hood and Vaughn gives a value of 2321, while Delmas and Moala gives a value of 1990. And there are higher score possibilities than Hood and Vaughn, Delmas and Moala just about maxes out your potential.

So of course, since we are riding with Big Al, once again we swing for the fences and select Ziggy Hood at the 40 spot.

I’ll save you recapping the rest of the 2nd round and the 3rd, and just point you to:

It has been entirely coincidence that my Raider picks have matched up with theirs. Lucky for me as it has made this easier. Since my board is currently only good through 3 rounds, we’ll take a look at what is still there for the Raiders, and see how we did.

So based on their mock, what is there in terms of best value for the Raiders at 71?

Some surprises to say the least, conservatively the Raiders had been hoping to get around 700 points of value out of their 3rd round pick. They can now max it out at 1278 by selecting Sidbury (remember since we have already selected a WR, we cut 200 points off their value).

Crabtree – Hood – Sidbury

At 8258 points on the Raider Value board, it would be hard to imagine the Raiders having a better 1st 3 rounds (ok I admit, I have already come up with ways to top it). Having the values predetermined made it easy to decide if you should pass on a sliding player (Delmas) or jump on them (Sidbury) on the fly.

Of course, this is the Raiders I am drafting for, so just before making the call to NY to send in the Sidbury pick, Big Al wakes from his nap, sees Asher Allen on the board and overrules, selecting the CB with great speed.

Crabtree – Hood – Asher

7746 points, still a solid 1st three rounds, but once again Raider fans are fuming as the old man puts the secondary needs in front of building a solid line.

Hope this helped clarify how I see this chart working as one tool among many in evaluating a team’s options in the draft. There are still plenty of things to look at as far as uses for this chart, including trade evaluation and a request for what happens when a premier player slips to the 2nd.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Drafting For Value, A Different Way of Evaluating The Draft

(Note this is a long one, I suggest you print it out and take it with you to the shitter, thanks goes out to Rupert, for reviewing the 1st draft of this and providing valuable feedback)

For the last couple years I have stressed that teams should not simply draft the Best Player Available (BPA) or to fill a need. I have stressed maximizing the value of a team’s picks, but quantifying this when trying to argue the point with others has been difficult.

Sure it is easy to debate if a RB should ever be taken in the top 10 by a team who isn’t drafting that high due to injuries or trade (the answer is no, and I will argue this until blue in the face, sorry McFadden fans). But to expand this across all positions as a starting point for any team looking at the draft, that is more difficult.

With that in mind, I have tried to come up with a system, one that assigns values to players based on a number of factors, and weighs that against a value chart for the draft and the team’s needs. The goal is to be able to look at the chart and come up with the best case for the Raiders to maximize their value in the 1st three rounds of the draft.

First thing first, I scrapped the traditional draft value chart. The NFL was a different monster when Jimmy Johnson and his brain trust came up with the chart in the 90’s. There was no salary cap, plan B free agency was a joke, and the players at the top of the draft got paid well, but not the absurd sums they do today.

What I came up with is a system where the #1 pick is worth 5000 points, and every subsequent pick is worth 97% of the previous picks value. Then I added some modifiers. IMO the 11th pick of the draft is more valuable than the 10th, since once you get out of the top 10, the salary demands become more reasonable. But the value goes down more after 15, since you then enter the realm of 5 year vs. 6 year deals. Further modifications were made at the 33 spot, as, IMO, 33 is more valuable than 31 & 32 since you get an equivalent player, at a 2nd round price tag.

(Yes I know there is no 8th round, but the NFL hands out about 32 compensatory picks on average, adding the equivalent of an 8th round to the draft, hence the 8 rounds on my chart).

Revised Pick Value Chart

There is no reason that a team wanting to jump from the 3rd pick to the 1st should have to give up a 2nd and 3rd rounder. Under my revised system the value is simply a 3rd rounder. There is a reason so many of the trades in recent drafts make no sense to the talking heads on ESPN as they consult their charts. Their charts are out of date.

So now I have, at least in my mind, my value chart for every pick in the draft. The next step is to stack the draft board regardless of team need. I don’t claim to watch every game, or be very good at evaluating players who are outside of the box. So I grabbed a ranking from a popular site. The Key was to find a ranking that was by grade, not by projected draft spot, or weighted by the value of the position (we’ll do that adjustment ourselves).

Then that ranking was combined with the value chart above, resulting in the following ranking with trade chart value and player grade.

Top 15 Prospects by Grade W/ Pick Value

Still with me? Because now it gets complicated.

Now 3 factors are taken into account to get the players value modifier:

1 – Grade. The most important factor of the rankings I found. The higher the player’s grade, the better the chance that they produce at the next level, in theory anyway. (Well, much better than the ranking by position I originally used).

2 – Number of player at your position in the next 32. This is important for determining the scarcity of players at your position in the draft. For example after Stafford, there are only 2 other QB’s with rankings in the next 32 overall, while Jason Smith gets hurt since there are 4 more tackles in the next 32.

3 – Positional Value Differential. This is used for determining the difference in value between the players at the same position. While there is only a 2 point differential between Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe, there is a 16 point difference between B.J. Raji and the next ranked DT.

Those 3 factors are put into a formula to obtain the player’s value modifier. With the depth of OT’s in the 1st round, Jason Smith only gets a modifier of +4, while Mark Sanchez, due to there being only one more QB with a 1st round grade, gets a huge 113 point boost.

After that the player gets an NFL position modifier. This is based on the scarcity and importance of the position in the NFL game. The highest value goes to QB, as is fitting for the most important position in the modern game. Then from there it hits the other key players on both sides of the passing game (offensive tackles, and the pass rushers who go against them) down to the plug and play positions (RB, FB, S). Look to the franchise numbers assigned to each position to get a good gauge of that position’s value to NFL teams.

The value modifier is added to the original value and the total is multiplied by the positional modifier to get the adjusted player value:

Top 15 Prospects by Adjusted Player Value

Feel like you are reading Pro Football Prospectus yet? I am guessing I have put half my readers to sleep by now. Leaving one of you who has gotten to this point.

As you can see, Jason Smith remains the top rated player in terms of value, but my personal favorite player in the draft, Aaron Curry, drops to 11th.

Curry’s drop should not be surprising. There are 5 other LB’s in the draft with 1st round rankings, and the linebacker position is not valued as much in the current NFL as evidenced by the franchise number for the position when compared to the franchise numbers for QB’s, OT’s and DE’s.

Then there is Josh Freeman, who jumps up to 13. This illustrates both the premium put on his position, and the scarcity of viable quarterbacks in this year’s draft.

All this is great, but we still have to get to the key point. How do you maximize the value of the draft pick for your team? You have determined the player’s value at this point with no consideration for team needs. Now is the time to add in that one final factor.

The team need modifier is based on the same sliding scale as the NFL positional modifier, but of course taking into account the team’s current depth chart and the remaining years of the contracts for the players at the position.

Since I claim to be a Raiders blog, I will obviously use the Raiders for my example. The Raiders low modifier is RB. With Fargas, McFadden, Bush and Rankin already on the depth chart, the Raiders have both depth and youth. The high modifier is WR where the Raiders have plenty of unproven youth, but no depth. WR is closely followed by DT, DE, S and OT. So now with the Raiders needs added in, the Raiders player value for the top 15 players in the draft looks like this:

Top 15 Players By Value to The Raiders

With a revised value chart rating of 4165, the Raiders have plenty of potential picks that represent great value in the 1st round. Not a bad position to be in. The Raiders can stand pat at 7 and easily expect to get no worse than the 6th player in terms of value for their team, and more likely should better that, as both QB’s and Curry could go before the Raiders select.

But the draft is not a one round animal. In order to maximize the value you get in the draft you have to project further than the 1st round. In order to keep this simple (HA, if you are still reading this I am impressed) I will just add in some information on 2nd and 3rd rounders.

With the Raiders drafting at 40, let’s stick to the players ranked from 35 to 50 in adjusted player value to get a realistic feel for who may potentially be there:

Potential 2nd Round Picks

The Value of the Raiders 2nd round pick is 1756 based on my revised value chart. There is far less value for the Raiders at positions of need in the 2nd than the 1st.

So what does that tell you, it indicates to me that this is a very tradable pick for the Raiders. The key is how do you react as the draft unfolds? Do you try to jump up to get a player like Ziggy Hood or Kenny Britt who fills a need and represents great value? Do you stand pat and hope that a value player drops to you and take that player or reach? Or do you wait, see that the value isn’t there for your team, and trade down?

Before we try to answer that, lets look at what may still be there in the 3rd round. And take the 1st three rounds in as a whole.

Potential 3rd Round Picks

With a pick value of 683 for the 71st pick, based on the revised chart, there once again is not allot of value for the Raiders at this position. But, you cannot look at the draft in terms of one round at a time when trying to maximize value. You have to look at your draft as a whole.

When you combine the Raiders 1st three picks this season, you get a total potential value of 6604 on the revised value chart. So lets look at some of the more popular 3 round series that Raider fans and draft experts have thrown out there, and see how they compare to the target value of 6604.

1)Crabtree, Brace, More – 7250 points
2)Raji, Delmas, Robiskie – 6396 points
3)Orakpo, Britt, Chung – 7397 points

Now I am not trying to argue against Raji or for Orakpo at this point, I am merely illustrating how one pick starts the dominos in motion and effects the potential overall value of the draft for the team. We still have two weeks until the draft to discuss potential trades, and who I feel the Raiders should draft 1st to maximize their potential value in this years draft.

That’s right, this column checks in at 7 pages, almost 2000 words and 6 charts, and we are just getting started.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Fuck You very much

Fuck you very much Peter King. I had this column in my head and was planning on putting finger to keyboard this morning, then I turned on my Sirius NFL radio on my way to work this morning, and you are discussing your latest column, where you express many of the same opinions.

I can’t believe I agree with Peter King, I feel dirty. I still won’t read your column though, I prefer to get my Peter King fill from KSK, they make your drivel much more palatable.

Anyway, on to the Trade of the Decade (for this week anyway).

So little bitch Jay Culter forced his way out of Denver, something he claims to not have wanted all along, and now finds himself in Chicago. Lets play winners and losers, because I have nothing better to do at work this morning.

Winner – Denver Broncos

Sorry Raider fans, but I would not be so quick to crow about the Broncos losing a Pro-Bowl QB. The Denver Broncos are potentially stronger today than they were yesterday morning.

First, lets compare Orton and Cutler. Based on the media’s fawning, you would think that Cutler has 3 rings on his fingers already. The guy has been to one Pro Bowl, and if you have read this blog at all, you know what a joke I think the Pro Bowl is.

Cutler has rare talent, the kind of talent that only comes around once every draft…

Cutler is a strong-armed, pin brained QB. He has done well in Denver so far, but the mistakes you saw day 1 in judgment are still there 3 years later. Rumors abound about his drinking and lack of work ethic.

Orton has ordinary talent, the kind of talent that comes 4 to 5 times every draft…

Orton is an ordinary armed, smart QB. Orton has progressed well, look at his play last season before he was injured, and the last couple weeks as he recovered. This is a QB who has come a long way since being drafted in the 4th round. Sure neck beard has some embarrassing photos out on the Internet showing him drinking, but he was regarded as the hardest working Bear last season.

So the Broncos just went from a scatterbrained strong-armed QB, to an accurate smart QB. What has McDaniel had great success with, that’s right smart QB’s who know how to distribute the ball. Then you through in 2 first round picks and a 3rd. The Broncos lose little if anything on offense, and have the potential to set themselves up well for years to come.

Loser – Chicago Bears

Once you get past Jersey Sales and some good press, I have to ask what the fuck were the Bears thinking.

You can see the Broncos section for how I feel about the quarterbacks. But the Bears have now hamstrung themselves for years to come.

The Bears defense is getting old. They have gone from a top 5 squad, to a middle of the road squad, and they are in desperate need of an infusion young talent. Then you look at the offense, and with the exception of running back and quarterback, the cupboard is bear.

IMO, they have just traded a QB who could manage a game, and allow their defense to perform at their best, for a QB who will lose as many games as he wins, and taken away some of their ability to reload for the future.

Then you throw in that Cutler is a crybaby with Bus Cook for an agent, and the potential for more drama down the line is huge.

Winner – Kyle Orton

The pressure on Kyle is going to be huge. Until he wins a playoff game, every time he throws an errant pass, the Broncos fans will bemoan the fact that he isn’t Jay Cutler.

The thing is, Orton is in a much better position to succeed today than he was yesterday. He has an offensive line in front of him with probably the two best young OT’s in the league. He has outstanding targets at WR now. And while no one Denver RB is as good as Matt Forte, the committee they have is more than capable of moving the rock.

Orton also now gets a chance to work with the best offensive mind of his career in McDaniels. As long as Kyle doesn’t celebrate too hard with the bottle of Jack he has been infamously pictured with, he is set up with the best opportunity of his career to take the next step and become a top 10 QB.

Loser – Jay Cutler

Where to start with Cutler? His image has taken a huge hit. He has gone from young promising QB, to malcontent crybaby. He has alienated one of the most respected owners in the league in Pat Bowlin, and has damaged his future earning potential if he doesn’t turn the Bears offense around.

So with so much of Cutlers future dependant on how the Bears perform under his leadership, lets take a look at that Bears offense.

The offensive line is a mess, their number 1 pick of last year is an OT with back issues. They have brought in a stop-gap in Orlando Pace, who can no longer run block or stay healthy, and a RT in Kevin Schaefer who isn’t a great fit for the Bears power run scheme. The strength of the Bears line is Olin Krutz, who will be 32 when the season kicks off.

The Bears receiving core is a mess, their top receivers last season were two tight ends, a running back and Devin Hester. They need a 1 and a 2 at WR, and don’t have the draft ammo this year or next to address this need, their line and reload the defense. The Bears are going to be forced to go the free agent rout to address these issues, and with the team being notoriously tight fisted when it comes to finances, I don’t see any long term help coming soon.

The expectations in Chicago are going to be sky high now that they have “the best QB in Chicago History” but baring a playoff win this season, and a Super Bowl win under Cutler, this will go down as one of the worst trades in NFL history. Have fun Cutler.

2009 Mock Draft - V1

(Brick's note (I would say editor, but who would believe I have an editor) this was written a week ago, but I felt like posting it anyway, even with the Broncos trade fucking things up).

Here is about a month until the NFL draft, and since I love the draft, I figured why not do my own Mock Draft. That’s it, just another way to waste time at work and provide some filler so the site doesn’t look dead. No trades, just picks and worthless opinion.

1) LIONS - Jason Smith, OT, Baylor
So much of what the Lions do makes no sense to me, so they very well could go Stafford here, but I’m going to go with logic here, and say they feel they will have a change at a QB later. So the pick is the Franchise LT.

2) RAMS - Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia
Pace is gone, and nobody on their line looks like an NFL LT to me. They need to keep Bulger healthy and provide holes for Jackson. Monroe may not be a mauler, but he will improve their line from day 1.

3) CHIEFS - BJ Raji, DT, Boston College
This will be a surprise to some. Sure they took Dorsey last season, and they are shifting to a 3-4. But look at Pioli’s history in NE. The Patriots D works because of the big boys up front, Raji provides the Chiefs with their Ty Warren to Dorsey’s Seymore.

4) SEAHAWKS - Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest
It was a toss up between Curry and Crabtree for me, but Curry wins out due to the trading of Peterson and the signing of T.J.

5) BROWNS - Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
I was all set to peg them for a Pass Rusher here until the events of the last couple weeks. Stallworth is facing jail time, Edwards is unhappy, Winslow has been traded, Jerivicios has been cut. The Browns have gone from an embarrassment of riches on the outside to a huge question mark. Crabtree is the answer.

6) BENGALS - Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas
Some have the Bengals pegged for a WR, but they spent a couple picks there last season, and the passing game will have its biggest weapon in Palmer back. There was thought of Smith for RT, but I think the character issues will give the Bengals pause. So it is a pass rusher to address the weakness at DE.

7) RAIDERS - Everette Brown, DE, Florida St.
A. Smith doesn’t fit the zone system, Oher may not be able to grasp it, Macklin’s twin Higgins is already on the squad. With Burgess in the last year of his contract, and Al still having the mantra of “The quarterback must go down, and he must go down hard” the Raiders get their Dwight Freeny clone.

8) JAGUARS - Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi
Most sites would have the Jags picking either Maclin or Stafford with what is still on the board. But what I saw in Jacksonville last season was a failure up front. Oher will start somewhere from day 1, and grow into the LT of the future. WR will be addressed later, and I think Garrard has one more season to prove himself.

9) PACKERS - Brian Cushing, LB, USC
The switch to the 3-4 dictates the need for a LB they can leave on the field all 3 downs. And overrules the needs on the offensive line. Cushing is the 1st of the big 3 USC LB’s off the board.

10) 49ERS - Andre Smith, OT, Alabama
Character be damned, the Niners need help up front, and they will feel that Singletary can straighten this young man out.

11) BILLS - Aaron Maybin, LB, Penn St.
The Bills get the pass rusher they so desperately need at the 11 spot. He can play LB in the base and put a hand down on passing downs. Based on their success with Paul P., the Bills don’t hesitate to go to the Penn St. well again.

12) BRONCOS - Rey Maualuga, LB, USC
The Bronco’s D has been rudderless since they lost Al Wilson. The Bronco’s brass will see Rey Rey as the leader they need and the thumper to close the running lanes.

13) REDSKINS - Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
Portis is on his last legs, and the run game has stalled whenever he has left a game. With the Big 4 at OT off the board, the Redskins look to address the run game with some fresh legs.

14) SAINTS - Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio St.
I am torn with this pick, going back and forth between Ohio St. products. The Saints need a replacement for McAllister, but due to their quick scoring offense, need more help in the secondary, and despite the additions through free agency, Jenkins makes too much sense in their scheme as he can provide help at either CB or S.

15) TEXANS - Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois
Injuries and deficiencies in the CB core make this a good pick for the Texans. And when you play in the same division as Peyton Manning, can you have enough good corners?

16) CHARGERS - Jeremy Maclin, WR, Missouri
The Chargers are as surprised that Maclin is here, and the pundits are that they drafted him. But the Chargers are always seemingly looking for an upgrade to their WR core, and Maclin would be that.

17) JETS - Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia
The cupboard is bare at QB with Pennington and Favre gone. The Jets brass is estatic to get their QB of the future at the 17 spot.

18) BEARS - Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland
For some reason the Bears think they are set at QB, so they get a weapon for Kyle Orton. Opting for Heyward-Bey over Harvin due to size.

19) BUCCANEERS - Mark Sanchez, QB, USC
Wait a minute, I thought they fired Gruden. The QB position has been a revolving door in Tampa since the Super Bowl win. They look to stop the madness with a long term solution.

20) LIONS (From Cowboys) - Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi
The Lions are kicking themselves as they watched QB’s go in 2 of the last 3 picks. Instead they look to reload a DL that has lost two outstanding performers through trades in the last 2 off seasons.

21) EAGLES - Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma St.
The loss of their TE through free agency has the Eagles looking to upgrade. Pettigrew is an outstanding blocker who will open more running lanes for Westbrook.

22) VIKINGS - Percy Harvin, WR, Florida
The Vikings pass game is just sad. Harvin will provide an excellent complimentary weapon to Purple Jesus.

23) PATRIOTS - Clay Matthews, LB, USC
Every year I think the Pats will select a LB, well they did last year but I got the wrong one. They continue to replenish this aging unit with a USC product.

24) FALCONS – James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio St.
With the departure of Brookings, it is obvious the Falcons are looking to go another way with their LB core. That starts with drafting the Road Warriors kid.

25) DOLPHINS - Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
Jackson has the size to play DE in Parcel’s 3-4 scheme, he fills a need and is the highest ranked player on their board. Easy pick.

26) RAVENS - Alphonso Smith, CB, Wake Forest
Right now the Raven’s depth chart at CB has Chris Carr at 2 or 3, see a problem there?

27) COLTS - Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
The Colts have watched as player after player has disappeared from the top of their board. This is a prime spot for a trade down, but I’m not doing trades, so Harrison’s replacement is the pick.

28) EAGLES (From Panthers) - Eben Britton, OT, Arizona
The Eagles took their chances, and still got the help they wanted at OT seven spots later. If you want to know why OT is an issue, take a look at the last time they played the Giants with their current LT.

29) GIANTS - Louis Delmas, S, Western Michigan
Safety was a weak spot on last year’s team. A spectacular DL will make the learning curve easier on the youngster.

30) TITANS - Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers
The defense will survive the loss of Haynesworth, but the offense is too one dimensional with no outside threat. Kenny Britt will make the opposing defense play more honest.

31) CARDINALS - LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh
With Edge looking to get out of town, the Cards need another back to compliment Hightower. LeSean gets the nod over Wells due to his ability to provide an outlet in the passing game.

32) STEELERS - Robert Ayers, DE, Tennessee
The D-line core is aging in Pittsburgh, and this team likes to have their replacements on board a year early.