Friday, April 29, 2016

2016 NFL Draft Thoughts.

The morning after the most interesting 1st round in the history of the modern era there's a lot of stuff on which to comment.

 - San Francisco 49ers: Also known as "my team". So I freely admit my bias here.

Let's get right to it.  I do not like the Buckner pick. On a team that has nothing resembling an offensive line to draft a questionable motor guy in Buckner, who just happens to have played his college ball at Oregon, is just more proof that Chip Kelly doesn't understand the difference between college and pro football.  I do like the Garnett selection, but I'm not sure if the team needed to jump back into the first round to get him.

The team, and local media, are trying their best to but a brave face on this but I've a bad feeling that what we're seeing here is the continued destruction of the team under inept GM Trent Baalke and a new head coach who's player evaluation begins and ends in the Pac-12.

 - Laremy Tunsil: I feel sorry for him.

Not for taking a bong hit, and being stupid enough to allow someone to record him doing it, but for obviously being surrounded by people who are petty and more concerned with themselves than him. We act as if these guys are sage, savvy veterans who are going to make decisions befitting their high-profile status when, in fact, in most cases they've been coddled their entire lives and (sometimes) develop a reliance on some fairly awful people.

On what should have been Tunsil's biggest night he had to sit in the public eye and watch people make fun of him for using a "gas mask" bong, question his password habits, and be roundly treated as the "worst person in the world" by gas-bags like Mike Mayock and Todd McShay.  Oh, and he admitted to taking money from Ole Miss.

If this IS a troll job by #HailState then it's one of the better ones ever.  Still, I feel for Tunsil and I hope he goes on to have a great career with Miami, except for the few occasions when they play the 49ers.

 - Ole Miss: Maybe the worst draft night ever.

Yes, they had three players get drafted in the first round, but two of the three went way later than they should have due to character issues and LaQuan Treadwell dropped due to his horrific injury suffered two years ago.  Nkemdichie could either be the steal of the draft, or a character bust. I'd say the odds are 50/50/

Oh, and one of their former players admitted in a press conference that they had been violating NCAA rules.


 - Houston Texans: My "hometown" team which means that I'm forced to follow them due to the NFLs ridiculous TV rules.

I like the Fuller pick. I would have preferred Treadwell because I think he's a much better WR, and that his speed is going to come back as he gets further and further away from the horrific injury he suffered in 2015. I also disagree with the "experts" in the media who say that the Texans need a "burner".

The Texans already have a deep threat receiver in Hopkins. What they need is a possession-type receiver because their TE play is atrocious.  Fuller is fast, and will "take the top off" of opposing defenses, but there's a question as to whether he'll catch what Oswieler throws his way. This is not the first time the Texans have rolled the draft dice on a slot receiver with questionable hands. It's never worked out in the past, maybe it will work out here.  One thing you don't want is your first round pick to be described as having "Ted Ginn hands" which is what happened to Fuller.

 - Sports Media: Mostly a group of older guys who are considered experts because they've offered bad analysis for a long time.

It was a bad night for the media.  Especially ESPN.  Of course, there was the usual stuff, Chris Berman saying that the Ohio State having three players taking in the first ten picks had "never happened before" (when in fact it had happened 12 times before) to Mel Kiper throwing his now-annual (and no longer entertaining) draft-day fit over the Cowboys taking Elliot and the aforementioned 49ers trading up to take Bennett, to Todd McShay chastising Laremy Tunsil for "throwing Ole Miss under the bus" as if there's some college football code of Omerta that Tunsil violated.  But the NFL Network wasn't without it's flaws as well. Notably Mike Mayock, who is rapidly transitioning from a solid draft analyst to a know-it-all scold, luddite character who, at first, piled on Tunsil (before having to back-track some) and then advised all football players to get off social media.

The legacy news folks hate (is there a stronger word than hate?) social media and internet outlets. If they had their choice they would shut them all down. In a media world where the message is massaged and unquestioned (often, as we're finding out, with the consent and advice of the teams) open forums such as social media and the internet run counter to everything they believe in. The worst thing to people such as Mayock, Kiper and McShay is not the action itself, it's the public being able to openly (and publicly) question their takes on it.

Here's the facts.  Despite assuring you something to the contrary. Kiper, McShay, Mayock et. al. are just as clueless as to who is going to work out for a team as the rest of us. Yes, they study a lot of film and are paid to do so, they have access to the Combine and pro-days that the regular fan or, the common internet reporter doesn't. They have resources and support teams and all of the bells and whistles.  And if you do a simple You Tube search there are hundreds of videos of them getting it 100% wrong on player after player, just like the rest of us.  They provide some good analysis, and can offer some insight, but they are not an authority on the matter just as I am not.  I could be 100% wrong about Fuller and Bennett or I could be 100% right, or 50%. Only a body of work spanning a few years will prove that out. (This is also why I don't do draft grades, silly.)

 - Houston Sports Media: Even worse than the National Media, if you can believe it.

Houston, the town where I live and work, is not a good sports town. As a matter of fact, it's a horrible sports town for college and a pathetic one for pro-sports.  Yes, the fans are loyal to the Texans, but to a fault. They're willing to accept mediocrity and continue to fill the stands when there's ample evidence the owner is quite content to finish 8-8 as long as the revenue numbers are in the black. The NBA and MLB only exist when the hometown teams are doing well, but College sports might as well not exist, unless UT-Austin or aTm-College Station are doing well in football.

That's not on Houston's media.  What is squarely on them is plain bad reporting. The worst offender is John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. In 7 of his 8 mock drafts he had the Texans picking Baylor WR Corey Coleman. Now, McClain is a Baylor grad and admitted, on AM 610, that a large reason for him doing this was a big dose of "Sic 'em".  That would have been OK if he would have said that's who he WANTED the Texans to pick, not who he thought they WOULD pick.

Because immediately after Cleveland selected Coleman McClain went on Twitter and said that he had heard all along that they were targeting the receiver, which means that all of his mock drafts were rubbish. At best.

At the worst they were a smokescreen for a Texans team who can rely on some at the Chronicle to provide unquestioning coverage.  Yes, McClain has some fun on Twitter saying the team is "pathetic" and "the worst he's ever seen" but that doesn't ever line up with his more mainstream media appearances.

When the Texans were melting down during the 2014 2-14 debacle McClain would tweet that the offense was awful and Schaub was 'playing terrible' and then, the next day, write columns and make radio appearances saying that Schaub wasn't the problem with the offense. This despite the fact that he clearly was. (To be fair though, that team had a load of problems and was a mess all around)

Look, I understand that you can't insult a team repeatedly and expect to have any access to them, and in the new world of team and league owned media they really don't need legacy reporters at all.

Which is why honest reporting is so crucial. Why dissenting opinions are so necessary.

Since their inception the Texans have operated as one of the most mediocre teams in the NFL. They rarely take chances, risks or anything that suggests that they have a burning desire to win.  Even their appearance on Hard Knocks was JJ Watt, O'Brien cursing and meh.

The thing is, I'm not sure that Houston fans have done anything to deserve better.

 - Today and tomorrow: Rosters are not built in the first round.

Now it gets interesting.  While the Rams are done until Saturday there are teams with huge talent gaps that need to knock some balls out of the park today.  Cleveland, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Houston. Cleveland and Tennessee still have a ton of picks which will allow them to do so, and Jacksonville seems to be a team on the rise.

Rick Smith and the Texans have a horrible track record when it comes to finding players who can play the game of football in rounds 2-4. If they ever want to get better, these next picks are key.

Which leads me to the 49ers, my team.  Concerns about the first round aside one of the defining characteristics of the Harbaugh era was his ability to find gems in rounds 2-5. With GM Trent Baalke calling the shots there's little evidence this is still the case (granted, we have a sample size of one year so the jury is still out). One year could be an aberration, but two starts a trend. And if the 49ers don't take steps to shore up their o-line, DB's, WR and LB corps then it's going to be another long year.

Oh, and they need a QB as well.

If the 49ers walk out of this draft with Buckner and Christian Hackenberg I might have to burn a hat. (I won't burn my Ronnie Lott shirt though, some things are timeless).

Enjoy the weekend.

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