Monday, April 25, 2011

The Daily Rant 4/25: Mocking Themselves

I hope everyone had a good Easter. Chizzy will have the "Quick Hits" coming up today. I feel like there's going to be a jab in there about his Cardinals taking 2 of 3 from the Reds. Since we're both fans of Ohio State Football we'll keep you posted on the breaking news. Needless to say, it sounds like they're about to be royally screwed thanks to Jim Tressel. Let me go on record right now and say that I personally think he's the most overrated coach in college football. That's my opinion, I'll stick to it. I love Ohio State for the tradition and the game day experiences I've been to since my grandpa took me to my first game when I was 8 (a 52-0 shutout of Houston). But Tressel can't coach his way out of a wet paper bag when Ohio State's down by more than 7 points after the 1st quarter...seriously, someone show me where he's done this. Ever. But I digress. It sounds like his cover-up of Terrelle Pryor et al is going to be his undoing as it's being reported they're going to face the "strictest penalties from the NCAA". Hope that doesn't mean they get the SMU treatment...stay tuned.

Now, for the Daily Rant. You've seen them both if you've watched Sports Center any time in the last 3 months. They hate each other, and you know you hate watching them. Mel Kiper Jr, and Todd McShay. Aside from Mel Kiper's hair, he's usually pretty solid. Todd "fake tan" McShay is horrible. I figured in honor of Draft Week, let's face it, the Draft is like Christmas in April for me, I'd give you a run down of both Kiper and McShay, what I think about them, and what you should be wary of if you're just a casual "draftnik". Let's start witht he living legend himself, Mel Kiper today. I'll have Todd McShay's up sometime this week.

Mel Kiper: Mel's been doing draft coverage since 1984, which is to say since before any of us actually cared about the draft. Mel's done it on his own, and has been covering it for ESPN since I can remember. He's been fairly accurate over the years (finished 3rd in accuracy last year based on all available mocks) and historically he's in the top 10 overall. He was once fired by ESPN, but was re-hired a day later - this was before Todd McShay and long before NFL Network.

Strengths: Hair. That one's obvious. Aside from that, and not counting other "draftniks", Mel's usually pretty solid when it comes to forecasting which players will go on to have successful NFL Careers. He's also pretty good at doing player comparisons, i.e. - he called Jake Long the next Tony Boselli at left tackle, and that's proven to be true. He's also very good at making Todd McShay (who if yo haven't figured out yet, I can't stand) look bad and getting him to backtrack in their draft "arguments". Kiper also pretty much coined the term "draft value". While I think it's a bit arbitrary to call someone a good value - how can you possibly say picking Cam Newton with the first overall pick is a good value? There's certainly going to be some 4th, 5th, or 6th round pick that contributes more than Newton will this season, albeit probably at a different position. That said, Kiper's essentially made a career for himself out of covering the NFL Draft. Who else can say they did that without Mel having done it first?

Kiper, who does his own research, often knows about the "little guys". I remember him knowing everything about William Hayes (a 4th round DE from Winston-Salem State) while NFL Network was left scrambling to find out who the guy even was and if Winston-Salem State was even a real school. It is, and Hayes, as Kiper said, is a solid contributor for the Titans.

Weaknesses: Knowing the NFL. Kiper is so invested in the college prospects and doing the leg work to find out everything there is to know about the college guys, he's not really in tune with what the NFL teams actually need. He often doesn't realize who currently rostered players are used by NFL teams and doesn't seem to take into account resource allocation. For instance, I doubt the Browns are going to spend the 6th overall pick on Julio Jones based on the picks they've put into the WR position over the past few years.

Assigning value. While I give him credit for coining this term, essentially, he abuses it. How can any pick be a "good value" until you've seen the player on an NFL field. The NFL game is the elite of the elite. Only 3% of college football players make it to the NFL, in which the average career is about 3 seasons. As I said before, if you take the best value at the 1st overall pick, and it's someone like Cam Newton who probably will need time to develop, how can you say he's a better value than a 4th round G prospect who is going to start from day one?

What you should know: Kiper deserves every bit of credit he's given, even if he's arrogant. He pretty much made the Draft into a TV event. It was once a continuous event going round the clock for 48 hours. There's even a story of one team trying to draft Robert Kennedy, yes JFK's brother, because their draft personnel were so exhausted from sleep deprivation. Now, it's a 3-day event that pretty much every sports fan tunes into at least for an hour or so.

While Kiper's not the greatest mock drafter (that honor goes to the Dallas Morning News' Rick Goesslin - check his mock Tuesday or Wednesday this week) he's still one of the top 5, and he's the most recognizeable one there's every going to be. Keep in mind he's not very in-tune to current NFL rosters, but he's very good at predicting what round players will go one, who they compare to, and prognosticating how they'll do in the NFL. Don't take him at his word if you don't like the grade he assigns your team right after the draft as he's been known to re-review his grades within a month and reassign a better one after he digests how your players will fit in. Kiper's going to stand on a table for guys he likes, and he's not going to admit he's wrong, because, well frankly, he's not very wrong very often.

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