This week is a really bad week to be a Bills fan. Yesterday’s game was a horrible reminder of the fact that we pay only a fraction of the cost of a real coaching staff and once again it found a way to come bite us at the end of the game. At this point the only hope we seem to have is for Mr. Wilson to actually take some action and clean-house but even that seems quite uncertain at this point. There is no logic at all to what I’ve been hearing and reading so I prefer to wait and see.
So I am now focusing on something certain, a good draft position next April. We’ve had many heated discussions in the past few weeks regarding what we should do with our first round pick and I wanted to explore both options in a little more detail to see which one was a better long term investment to our club while keeping our current situation fully in context.
On the one side, I like many others at Buffalo Rumblings would like to see our Front Office (hopefully upgraded at the conclusion of this miserable season…) choose Alex Mack (Center) from Cal’ Golden Bears, a 6’4” 316lbs specimen.
Here are some quotes from various scouting sites:
“Mack is a very intelligent player who is capable of making all line calls. He always plays with his head on a swivel and is the anchor for one of the top running attacks in college football. Mack has a very strong lower body and uses great technique in run blocking to drive defenders off the ball. He does an excellent job of getting to the second level as a blocker to help allow running backs to break longer runs. He is also excellent in pass protection as well he shows good footwork to stop both strong and quick defenders….As long as he stays healthy, he will be a mid-to-late first round pick in the 2009 NFL draft and could start immediately.”
“I don’t see any contest between Mack and anyone else for the title of best center prospect. In my opinion, Mack is the top lineman in 2009, period. He is already one of the most decorated college centers of all time (2-time first team All-Pac-10 selection, 2007 Morris Trophy winner and 2007 Remington finalist, among other awards and nominations) and should add to his list of hardware after this season. He has the ability to play center in any offense and should be one of the few centers ever to be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft.”
The other position of need is Defensive End. Many believe that a high first round draft pick cannot be wasted on a Center and that we should instead draft a “STUD” Defensive End. Many people like to quote Kiper who says that quality centers can be found in later rounds.
As much as I agree that Defensive End is a position of immense need I think that Center is an even greater need. What I decided to do is look back the last two years to see the early success rate of drafted Defensive Ends, so in other words the impact they have to their teams. Also I wanted to see how many turn out to be duds.
2008 Draft Class
Rk Name Tackles (y1/y2) Sacks (y1/y2)
#2 Chris Long 38 4
#6 Vernon Gholston 12 0
#8 Derrick Harvey 12 1
#28 Lawrence Jackson 29 2
---- Round 2 surprises ---
#52 Quentin Groves 12 2.5
---- Round 3 surprises ---
#66 Kendall Langford 29 2
#92 Cliff Avril 18 4
---- Round 7 surprises ---
#231 Alex Hall 25 3
2007 Draft Class
#4 Adam Gaines 38/34 6/5.5
#8 Jamaal Anderson 30/26 0/2
#13 Adam Carriker 30/17 2/0
#17 Jarvis Moss 12/12 1/2.5
---- Round 3 surprises ---
#83 Charles Johnson - / 20 - / 5
This sampling is only two years but what it clearly shows is that the odds of finding a game changing Defensive End are fairly slim even when you pick the “hot scouting picks”. What it also shows is that if you scout well there always seems to be hidden gems in later rounds.
Unfortunately due to the fact that few Centers are ever drafted in the first round it is impossible to compare the two. The last center to go in the first round was Nick Mangold and he made an immediate impact on his team by starting that same year. Before him it was in 1999 that the Patriots took Damien Woody at #17 he also started that same year (later went on to win 2 superbowls while securing their O-Line). What I did notice is that great centers, top rated in their draft class normally are safe bets to start the same year (ie Andre Gurode, Kevin Mawae, Lecharles Bentley, Raiola, Kalil, etc) and more importantly there seems to be very little risk unlike DEs. I know that there are a few examples of guys that were drafted late or even undrafted like Jeff Saturday but those are hidden gems that are not easy to predict but again when you have great pro-scouting then sometimes you hit the jackpot.
From what I can see the Defensive End position is a risky proposal where we have more chances to wind up with an overpaid under-achiever than a solid starter the first year. I also conclude that given the high risk of wasting a high pick on a “dud” it seems the more appropriate route to shop them in Free Agency like Jared Allen (BTW he was drafted in the 4th round) Interesting to note that Justin Tuck was drafted in the 3rd round, Osi Umenyiora was drafted in the 2nd round and so was Michael Strahan, so what does that tell us? Maybe that our Front office is not as good as we think at evaluating talent? Maybe the Giants have fantastic D-Line Coaching?
The purpose of my research was to determine how to best spend our first round pick and clearly I remain convinced that we should grab the top rated Center because chances are excellent that he’d start next season and be with us for 10+ years. He would be the missing piece to our O-Line and I can assure you all that Marshawn Lynch would be one hell of a happy camper on draft day!
This post was mainly meant to shed some light on the two main positions that we’ve all been arguing about for the past couple of weeks. Unfortunuately if Jauron is still our coach come April there is a fairly high chance that we will waste it on another DB…
Anyways I invite you to vote and weight in on the debate!