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.

Time to Shake Up the Lines,

I’ve ranted and railed about the Raiders lacking any cohesive vision either on the Defense for years now. I’ve come up with my solutions, my long shot scenarios for how this unit is just a player or two away from being something special. I have argued for giving a much maligned DC the room to do what he was brought in for.

Then I read something like this:

“Tommy Kelly. is one of the best defensive linemen in the league. He’s an outstanding player…Kelly plays everywhere. He’s a little bit like Howie Long in that Howie Long was a guy that they would move along on the front. They would take Howie and mismatch him against whoever they thought the other team’s worst lineman was. There is a little bit of that with Tommy Kelly, too - find a guy that they want to go after and stick him there because he does have the flexibility to play outside and inside. He can pretty much play across the board. He can do everything. Play the run, rush the passer, he’s good in pursuit. He’s a very physical player. He’s pretty good.”

That quote is attributed to none other than Bill Bellichick. Now when Bill stated this is a mystery to me, I got this off another message board, and it could be a complete fabrication. As we all know, commenting about Tommy Kelly like this would likely constitute tampering (since the Raiders have held his rights since day 1).

But it got me to thinking. What the hell has happened to creativity when it comes to the Raiders defense?

I cut my teeth as a Raider fan watching Howie Long. Collected his trading cards, had his poster on my wall. Watching him implode in his final game as a Raider at Rich stadium, enduring the jeers of the Bills fans surrounding me…it hurt, yeah I said it, it hurt me bad.

But the thing about Long was he was used as a weapon. His trading cards listed him as a DT/DE, he never lined up in the same spot from game to game. Got a rookie guard, Howie will kill him, RT is an injury replacement, well now he has Long to deal with.

Now, Long had the great Greg Townsend at DE to compliment him, and a litany of good to great DT’s, who could also move around in complimentary roles. Something this Raider team lacks… or does it.

Here is the thing. Every game the Raiders come out with the same 4 guys up front, in the exact same position. I know some will blame Ryan, but this has been going on almost a decade. This past season (when everyone was healthy) you could read left to right, Burgess, Warren, Kelly, Richardson as your starting 4.

No match-up games were played, hell, barely a stunt was called. Here are our four, they are going to beat your five. Sure Burgess would line up over LT once in a blue moon, and when Sands came in, Warren might line up over LG. But there is no mystery to what the Raiders are going to do.

Thing is, this Raider front 4 is capable of more. And it all starts with the guy that Warren Sapp (I know, I put no stock into what he says either) called the best 3 technique in the league. The guy that Belichick reported called “one of the best defensive linemen in the league”. That right, Mr. Overpaid, Tommy Kelly.

Kelly has the Athletic ability to line up at either end, and the physical presence to line up at either tackle. It is time to start using this to create mismatches. No more of this “My gun is bigger than yours” bullshit. Time to try a little funny business.
It is time for Kelly to start earning that huge paycheck. Got a rookie guard, he should have Kelly lined up over him. Got a injury replacement at RT, let Kelly have his way with him.

Now I am not saying that Kelly is by any means Long’s equal. And Burgess, Warren and Richardson, are by no means Townsend, Davis and McGlockton. But there is enough talent there to get more done than what has been to date.

Brick is back...again

Well brick in the box fans, we are deep in the NFL’s silly season. Players are moving, teams are shaping their rosters for next season, and the draft is right over the horizon. And brick in the box has been strangely silent.

Well as my loyal reader knows, I write most of my columns at work. And our IT department has decided to block my blogging access. But I am now armed with a new memory stick, and will continue to write here at work, and will post when I get home.

So what will be the 1st Item to get my attention, well with the draft coming up, lets look at the explosion numbers for some of the defensive players who may be there for the Raiders in the 2nd round on.

Why this focus, well we all know the Raiders need help up front on defense, and in my mind, absent film study, these explosion numbers are one of the best indicators of future success for defensive front seven players.

Credit has to go to Pat Kirwan for bringing the explosion scores to my attention. Do yourself a favor and google his article from a few years back for a complete description of the concept ( is yet another site blocked here at work).

Short and sweet, you take the workout numbers in broad jump, vertical leap and bench press and add them up. Anything over 70 is considered excellent. Now you have to factor in other variables, is the guy a strict weight room guy with a huge bench and not much else, is he a jumper with no strength to finish, do the results on the field match the work in shorts and tees?

Past results speak for themselves, from the 2005 draft here are some standouts:

Luis Castillo – 77
Shawne Merriman – 75
Demarcus Ware – 75
Justin Tuck – 72

So who in this years draft who currently grades out as 2nd to 4th round picks have this rare combination of attributes that cause scouts to drool? Here are a few standouts in my mind:

DT – Ziggy Hood – Missouri – 76

He currently hold a mid 2nd round grade, but watching this guy and looking at his numbers, I would not be surprised if he finds himself in the late 1st round. Now if I am wrong and this guy doesn’t end up being a late riser in the draft, I would be all over him in the 2nd.

DT – Jarron Gilbert – San Jose State – 73

I won’t lie to you, I have not watched a single down of this guy. But the an excellent 40, a good short shuttle and an explosion score of 73 will get my attention, and force me to take a closer look at this 2nd round prospect. Could he project to a base DE?

LB – Conner Barwim – Cincinnati – 72

I think that the Raiders 2nd round pick is too high, and he will be gone by the 3rd. But if he is still on the board in 3 for the Raiders, I would be excited to take this guy as a fix to the SAM backer problems. Either by plugging him in at SAM or at MIKE and moving Morrison over.

LB – Cody Brown – Uconn – 72

See Conner, not as fast so he would be a better fit at MIKE, forcing the move of Morrison.

DE – Lawrence Sidbury – Richmond – 73

Small school standout, sound like something that Big Al would be all over? Well in the 3rd round he could definitely be there. I have seen some highlights which would lead me to think he may be taken as a Rush LB by a 3-4 team. The Raiders don’t need another light in the britches DE, IMO.

DT – Terrance Taylor – Michigan – 76

Now we are talking, I know it may be the Michigan fan in me, but I like what this guy does on the field, and with a late 3rd round grade, this guy could be just what the doctor ordered. He is not fast or quick, but he has the kind of explosion and size you look for in a 2 gap hole plugger. This would allow the Raiders to move Warren to the under position, move Kelly around (a future column will delve into this) and improve the line at 2 to 3 positions.

DT – Roy Miller – Texas – 77

Put this guy in the same category as Taylor. Better speed and agility numbers, less on the field production. Hence the late 4th early 5th round grade. Value Baby.

There are plenty of others, who fit the bill here. Workout darling BJ Raji scored a 74, my favorite of the USC backers, Brian Cushing got a 75, Mr. Shorts and Tee Shirt Michael Johnson blew everyone away with his balanced 77 to go with excellent speed numbers. But I just didn’t see the on field production, or value where the Raiders pick to go any further in depth on any of them.

So there you go, take a closer look at these guys to fix what Ails the Raiders as the draft progresses. And make sure to tell your friends you heard about them at brick in the box first.