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Where There's Smoke...


Where There's Smoke...

Matt Milligan

Well, the NFL has done it again – on the eve of the 80th draft, people’s attention is glued to their teams blogs in hopes of landing a prized prospect (or in some cases in hopes of avoiding yet another complete dud (good luck Jacksonville!)).  EDIT (5/13): Jacksonville's 1st round pick (3rd) tore his ACL last week during his first NFL practice... wow. 

This year’s draft seems to be loaded with explosive play-makers on both sides of the ball; the wide receiver pool is super deep and the talent level of some of these defensive lineman is astounding.  That said, not all these picks are locks.  Every year we see teams reach, and every year we see those picks fall flat on their face at the professional level.  The Seahawks and Patriots have been on fire the last few years, while the Raiders and Jaguars continue to come up with answers that wind up turning back into questions.   

As GM of Millyville, here are a few players I'd generally be avoiding in the 1st round of the 2015 NFL draft (all while avoiding pun opportunities of pairing my blog title to players with pre-draft marijuana charges).  Hold onto your butts... 

Jameis Winston

For reason’s still unknown (fate?), on September 3rd of 2013 I was sitting back mindlessly watching the Seminoles take on Pitt.  A young Jameis was taking the field for the first time having won the job in camp and…  I gotta say: I was instantly a fan – he lit Pitt the f*** up for 4 TDs and 356 yds passing (topped off with a rushing TD).  I texted a friend before halftime: “are you seeing this?”  The reply: “yes.  Unreal.”

That’s been the story of his college career – completely unreal.  A National Championship, Heisman trophy, and 27 straight wins until getting taken down by Marcus Mariota and Oregon in the first year of the NCAA playoff format - it’s hard to imagine ever seeing something of that magnitude for quite some time. 

And yet with some $36 dollars’ worth of crab legs, rape allegations, and a suspension for screaming a phrase a potential 1st rd. draft pick should probably keep to himself,  I feel at times I’m on an island when I think to myself: “Who in their right mind would invest in this guy with their number 1 overall pick?”  Can you think of anyone in recent years drafted #1 overall with more character flaws going in?

Character aside, prove to me this mobile quarterback formula can work!  Fine you point me to Russell Wilson – he’s a game manager, he came at the cost of a 3rd round pick, and Seattle’s defense is otherworldly (his last NFL pass was also an interception in some game in February… can’t remember which).  I love the guy, but Jameis he is not.

Point: he’s not Andrew Luck, he won’t save your team, and you’ll lose your job over it eventually.  Trade your pick and get more value for this year and future years, and let someone else make the mistake.  He will not pan out – PERIOD.

Suggested Picks:

NONE - trade the damn pick to some other idiot!!!  Or take Mariota and suffer less.

Melvin Gordon & Todd Gurley

I get the hype – on paper these guys are no brainers.  On tape, they're even more convincing... anytime you get compared to Jamaal Charles out of college, you're probably pretty damn good.  

Since 2010, only 1 running back has been taken in the first 25 picks of the draft.  Count those: 124 of the last 125 picks in the top 25, teams have elected to pass on the position with some of the highest turnover in the league.  And for good reason!  That one pick was Trent Richardson, and we all know how that turns out.

Todd Gurley has strung together some great numbers when healthy, but is the risk worth the reward with already one ACL tear under his belt?

Last year, Gordon’s Wisconsin predecessor Montee Ball, who ran behind a similarly dominant offensive line, got handed the keys to the kingdom on an electric Denver offense where all he had to do was close his eyes and hold onto the ball.  We won’t get into the specifics, but anyone familiar with the situation can tell you: he was awful, and wound up being the 3rd (possibly 4th) best back on that Denver team in the end. 

I am not saying I am down on Gordon or even Gurley (Gurley worries me much more) – to go against the historical nature of the pick, I believe they'll both probably have a very successful careers.  But the fact of the matter remains: 14 of the top 15 rushers last year were drafted outside the 1st round.  The exception: Marshawn Lynch, an absolute nutjob who took 5+ seasons to reach an elite level and who isn’t with his drafting team.  Murray, Bell, McCoy, Foster, Lacy, Hill, Forte, Charles… the absolute best talent at toting the rock in the NFL can be had outside of the 1st round of the draft.  Wasting your first pick on the running back position is not only foolish but extremely uncalculated – I don’t care if you haven’t had a 1,000 yard rusher in 10 years.  Find your guy in the next couple rounds, trade for him, or fire your GM.  It’s that simple.  If your team's only positional need was RB, you would have won a Super Bowl by now.

Suggested Picks: 

You're telling me you wouldn't take TJ Yeldon to head up your RB corps in a particularly RB heavy year and address another weak position in the 1st?  You're insane!  Jeremy Langford, Ameer Abdullah, Duke Johnson, and even Ajayi from Boise State may all wind up being just as sound investments.  Tevin Coleman looks to be the guy with the considerable question marks, but at the price the reward could far outweigh the risk.  

Trae Waynes

The more I read, the less I understand about the CB position this year:

The toughest: Kevin Johnson

The most well rounded: Jalen Collins

The most physical: Byron Jones

The most talented: Marcus Peters

Biggest coin flip: Ronald Darby

The smallest: Senquez Golson

That leaves us with Waynes, the only consensus top 15 pick @ cornerback that will be drafted… the fastest (top 3 fastest 40 time at the combine)?  The most consistent (35 tackles/3 INTs 2013, 34 tackles/3 INTs 2014)?  The most NFL ready cover corner?

Time will tell, but one thing is for sure: he ain’t that big.  Coming into the combine at 183 lbs @ 6 foot nothing and with an anticipated draft slotting to the Minnesota Vikings, it’s hard to imagine him gritting his teeth and accelerating towards an Eddie Lacy two Sundays a year.  If the projection holds true and Waynes is relied upon to stop runs on the edge all while keeping an eye on Calvin Johnson, Jordy Nelson, and Alshon Jeffery, I think we’ll know fairly early on how effective he’ll ultimately be. 

I don’t have the answers at the CB position; the class is incredibly thin and even less predictable.  But with the talent/instinct of Marcus Peters, or the competitiveness/instinct of Kevin Johnson on the board potentially 10+ picks later, I’m finding it harder and harder to justify not trading back in the draft to acquire an equally serviceable CB while gaining value elsewhere (potentially another 1st rd. pick next year?). 

The talent is there, no question.  My concern – will that talent hold up at the next level?  Possibly, but not justifiably where he will be drafted.    

Suggested Picks: any of the guys above minus Jones.