Previously I have written about the anatomy of a draft bust. Excluding of course medical issues which is outside of the players control I discussed the obvious reasons other reasons which included forcing a draft position, acting like the smartest man in the room, the splashy move, combine and stats, group think and of course lack of a plan. IT is of course more fun to discuss the failures but lets dive into what really makes a draft success.
1.) Understanding few players are capable of success in and of itself: Some NFL players are so good, so talented, so driven, so emotionally intelligent they will have success no matter where they are drafted. This is of course, the rarity. As a franchise to have success they must not leverage a belief all young players will have this capability.
2.) Have grown ups in the organizations. I mentioned emotional intelligence in main point one, well here I am discussing the rookie season of Baker Mayfield and the hard knocks episode where at the time Head Coach Hue Jackson told congrats to Baker Mayfield in his office he is no longer the 3rd string QB, but beat out the 2nd stringer QB. The back story was Baker was having a conflict with Jackson, no shocker there, but the way it was handled by Hue Jackson it was trivial and seemed Hue was more concerned over the idea of being in control instead of leading Baker Mayfield. Having grown ups are even keeled, they don't get too high or too low, they have a steady hand, they lead by example and understand different strokes for different folks but all have to be within the ball park. Example, Jacksonville from Meyer to Pederson.
3.) The Sky is Blue, remember when I mentioned draft busts and not being the person who wants to be the smartest in the room? I have one sentence to think about "The sky is blue." It's a simple sentence however, do not be the person running in and saying "Actually, it is violet, our eyes just make the appearance as blue because of infrared waves". It just is so over the top and everyone knows it's a reach. This to me is best represented by Clelin Ferrel the huge draft bust by the Raiders. Hearing them discuss the pick afterwards it became evident they completely felt like the smartest person in the room. So if the organization understands the sky is blue they will not over draft.
4.) Organizations placing players into systems where they can have success. Few players can play in every single system and have success. It is possible but it is rare. Looking at QBs in the league and probably 4-5 at most can play in every offensive system and have success. So if a team drafts for example a smaller WR, say Zay Flowers from Baltimore is being asked to run a fade route in the end zone is probably moronic. Why? He is 5'9" and fade or corner routes to the back of the end zone historically are for larger WRs to have success. This happens more than people think where players are asked to do something they physically will not be able to do or will struggle.
5.) Realistic expectations: Everyone wants to be running as fast and as hard as ever. But it is not realistic, I have always said that with QBs I wouldn't draft them for year one but rather for year twelve so if that means having them sit for a year is far better than forcing them into the game. We have seen QBs be pushed in way too soon and the results were less than desired. So if teams need to temper expectations, or limit exposure for a bit, to ensure the correct evolution of a player I say do it. Sometimes it does not work as planned, as Nathan Peterman fully showed he could Nathan Peterman for against any team and the regime quickly switched to Josh Allen.
6.) Support structure: Does the team have a structure to guide and bring a young player along. This is a legit concern and especially a huge concern for teams who have been in the cellar for a few years. Example is how the Bills and Josh Allen have made some missteps but for the most part they go out of their way to make the QB room exactly as Josh wants it to ensure he has the most learning and performance oriented environment possible. Compare this with a weaker locker room with Baker Mayfield and the Browns were shown to not guide Baker from college fiery QB who would say and do whatever he wants to a calculating NFL QB who is very much PR oriented.
Random Bills Thoughts:
1.) The Bills re-signed Ed Oliver at a tune of 45 million guaranteed and he will be an unrestricted free agent in 2028. I will only discuss the contract in terms of guaranteed money because the rest is of course funny money or they do things that make one happy and it is performance base and you're fine with the extra money. Here is some thoughts on the Ed Oliver contract:
1. McD I believe will be using Ed Oliver differently, specifically I believe they are going to fully embrace Ed Oliver's strength which is being a human missile instead of being a two gap DT which I believe they did a ton with sometimes and that simply isn't what Oliver is all about.
2. The Bills are banking on Oliver having a good season. Ed Oliver has the talent to be great but a telling quote from the Bills DT coach is that to paraphrase, Ed needs to play a little smarter. So if this is the idea then they expect Ed to have a career year.
3. Getting ahead of the deal is huge because some huge contracts are coming up for multiple DTs. His roughly 17 million a year would place him around the 12th-13th highest paid DT/DE. Now add in the fact the following contracts will be made in the next few years. Montez Sweat, Chase Young, Christian Wilkins, Quinnen Williams, Daron Payne, Derrick Brown, Jeffrey Simmons, Jalien Phillips. Here are eight players who will be given hefty contracts in the next year or so and then the Ed Oliver deal will be around the 20th overall DT/DE and frankly, I'm ok with that.
4. Never guarantee who the Bills draft will be better than Ed Oliver. This is where NFL fans really struggle because fans will say replace blah, blah, blah, and they are not equal to the person who they tried to replace. So the Bills are looking at this and saying to themselves, we know what Ed Oliver is, we know he is a team first kind of player, he has stayed for the most part out of trouble, we don't know if we try to replace him if the replacement will be better, and in a year or two the contract is going to look a lot better.
5. The injury with his ankle was far greater than we knew last year. Injuries and the NFL go hand in hand and perhaps the Bills feel he will be fully healthy this year and rebound.
2.) Are the Bills out on the Hopkins chase? I'm not sure but I know the Bills are going to have discussions because Brandon Beane is a kind of GM who is in on every deal to at least have a conversation. With that said rumors are that Hopkins has lost his speed and isn't the weapon he once was, duh, Hopkins was never the WR with blazing straight line speed. He won with his size and catching radius. This is why I always chuckle when "sources" say randomness.
3.) Lazy sports writers have linked Austin Eckler and Dalvin Cook to the Bills. Just stop, just stop because the Bills are kind of set at running back. But, with the Sports media being a 24/7 kind of industry they need to have clicks. So they don't really look at what would need to happen. Well, the Bills have Cook, Harris and Hines who will be on the starting roster. Add in some special teams players and where are the roster spots? It doesn't add up.
4.) DOOM! The Bills are DOOM to regress? What, wait, why? Figuring out this is of course going back to main point #3 with lazy takes. Lets discuss some obvious themes because it is far to ask. Has the Bills not been in the divisional round in the last three years? Do the Bills still have Josh Allen? Did the Bills have one of the hardest off the field seasons in the history of the NFL? Did Josh Allen have a severe UCL injury? Seriously, the Bills may not win it all next season but to say DOOM is just silly.
NFL Random Thoughts:
1.) Anthony Richardson from what I have heard is looking good. The issue I have is the Colts owner Jim Irsay may be breathing down the coach to start him earlier than he needs. Remember Richardson is a physical elite player with the best physical traits since Josh Allen. However, he was all over the place in his mechanics not just from game to game but play to play. When he put it all together it looks amazing, but he has also thrown with an base, no follow through with his feet. Simply put, the Colts have to be careful with pushing out a QB before he is ready.
2.) The team with by FAR the most pressure on them this year in my opinion is the Miami Dolphins. I know a lot are saying the Buffalo Bills, but the Bills fully know Josh Allen is the franchise QB. The Dolphins however, I believe have more pressure and I'll explain why.
1. They have to answer the Tua question. They are giving him another season to prove himself but Tua is the player that comes with some major concerns. The first one is obvious, he is injury prone. Second, he has physical limitations, he can move inside the pocket and get some yards but he will never have a LB "spy" on him, and he is not that gifted when it comes to playing off of the script. In fact he needs A LOT to be correct for him to have success. So Tua to me, can have success because others bring him up but he will need bring players up.
2. Stephen Ross is the owners of the Dolphins and he is in his 80s. That's a lot of pressure which explains why he has tampered with Tom Brady and Sean Peyton. He wants to win and he wants to win now. This puts a lot of pressure because GMs and HCs may not have a three year plan but a one year to one year plan. That doesn't give a long term vision.
3. A whole lot of egos on the Dolphins. Tyreek Hill, Jalen Ramsey, Christian Wilkins, to name a few but the Dolphins have BIG EGOS. They're led by Mike McDaniels who is a good play designer and play caller but the question remains if the team starts struggling can he keep his players attentive.
4.) The Dolphins have a TON of pressure and it will be interesting to see how they handle business. Oddly enough, the most important player for the Dolphins is Terron Armstead who is injury prone. But due to the fact Tue needs more than most QBs to have things going right if Armstead misses time it affects Tua and thus affects the weapons.
3.) The Kirk Cousins effect is one of the worst feelings for a team. The idea of being good is good enough. With Kirk Cousins the Vikings will not be embarrassed, they'll have some wins but do you really think "Superbowl winning QB" and Kirk Cousins go into the same sentence. This is the idea of hey, we're not terrible, we can manage to win but unless you have a truly great QB the margin of error is so much smaller. I'll give an example, Tyrod Taylor has had a good NFL career, but he is never going to wow any fan base with his passing. The Bills knew this, they did everything in their power to get their dream QB, they did and the rest is history. I'm looking at QBs in the league and saying... good, but is it good enough?
4.) I want Lamar Jackson to have success, I think he is under-appreciated as a passer and as we know Greg Roman is great on run concepts but he struggles with making passing concepts. With that said, the Ravens have done quite a bit to help Lamar Jackson with his development. They have drafted Hollywood Brown, Rashon Bateman, made sure to keep Mark Andrews was his TE, brought in JK Dobbins and now they have drafted Zay Flowers, a shifty WR which some are calling the next Steve Smith Sr. So at this point, Lamar needs to stay healthy and he needs to have a good passing year when he can't sneak up on any team.
5.) The only player that matters to join OTAs is the QB. So if a player skips OTAs don't care as long as it isn't the QB. The QB is so important to the team and franchise they need them there, I know some of you will say double standard. It is, don't care, them the perception rules. QBs are completely given more safety and money than any other player, so they need to be at OTAs, everyone else? Don't care.
Have a great week!