Friday, April 28, 2006

Draft Experts afraid to go out on Limb.

Every year we get bombarded by NFL draft coverage. Everybody is breaking down players and rewriting somebody else's scouting report so they can get their face on TV. Sadly, nobody is taken to task four years later when the first two quarterbacks taken in the draft put their applications in at Wendy's. The worst is Mel Kiper Jr. who seemingly monopolizes the airwaves with his stolen expertise and hideous, Wayne Newton hair.

Give credit to Merrill Hodge for putting himself out there. Hodge is aggressively stating his case for draft day darlings Vince Young and Matt Leinart to be passed over until later rounds. Other commentators have bristled at his opinion, choosing to protect themselves by rating players exactly the way NFL scouts have them rated, but anybody who has paid attention to the draft knows that the experts are idiots. How else do you explain Brian Bosworth?

I like Vince Young. He's big strong and stood tall in the face of intense pressure. He was the only weapon Texas had against USC and he still managed to win that game, almost single-handed. I know he's a little raw and his accuracy is in question, but I have to defer to the big performances he turned in against Ohio State and USC. He might be a bust, but I think he's a gamble you have to take.

I'm not enamored with Matt Leinart. The guy is soft. He's what my mother would call a candy ass. Every time he's been hit hard he has shown cowardice. He crumbles like that sweet cracker crust on a nice cheese cake. That's facing the buttery soft defenses of the Pac-10. What happens in the NFL when Ray Lewis bloodies his chin on an ill-advised scramble? What will pretty boy do when Warren Sapp lays into him with all 330 pounds? Making matters worse, is the fact that Leinart throws like a sissy. He might be accurate, but if you can't throw a frozen rope 20 yards out, NFL DB's are going to eat you alive. Leinart's lobbing rainbows five yards down field.

Hodge has drawn a line in the sand and declared both QB's as potential busts. He could be proven wrong and people will hammer him for it. That's too bad. Mel Kiper Jr. spoke highly of Ryan Leaf and Tim Couch, but Mr. Draft Guru never took himself to task for failing to see the downside of those players. A year later he's telling the world how great Courtney Brown is going to be. Kiper's not an expert. He claims to be, but what he really does is picks the brain of NFL scouts and reports back on it. He talks about talent and potential, but he wouldn't know talent if he walked in on it sleeping with his wife. The guy is a clown.

Hodge might be too, but at least he's got the huevos to break from the crowd and take a stance on his own. It's easy to split hairs over whether Leinart or Young should go first, but to declare both of them washouts in waiting demonstrates that Hodge is doing his own work. And if history has anything to say about it, he'll be half right. That's more than you can say for the rest of them.

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