A Foolproof Plan To Getting The Best Players in the 2011 Draft; Just Let the SEC Lead The Way
Why should teams spend the time going through the combines, personal days, team days and all the other analysis and evaluations when it comes time to choosing the next star and, perhaps, a future Super Bowl winner?
There’s an easy way to do it, and it’s as simple as an off-tackle handoff. Still, most teams treat it like a complicated on-sides kick.
The National Football League 2011 Draft Day is Friday, April 29 in prime time (ESPN & NFL Network, 8 p.m. ET, with other rounds going throughout the weekend). NFL teams are sweating their decisions on which players to select, praying they don’t get a colossal bust and hoping that maybe – just maybe – they land a franchise-type of player.
Here’s Surfside Sam’s foolproof guide for having a successful NFL Draft:
1.) Draft Marquee Players From Marquee Teams. Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, USC, Nebraska, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and, occasionally, Auburn have pretty much done the NFL’s work for them by evaluating and recruiting talent, giving them solid coaching and having them play against big-time competition in big-time settings. This year’s long list of big school-produced talent includes the last two Heisman trophy winners, Mark Ingram and Cam Newton, plus A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Marcell Dareus, Patrick Peterson, Nick Fairley, Mike Pouncey, Prince Amukamara, Tyron Smith and Aaron Williams.
The last two top picks, Matthew Stafford of Georgia and Sam Bradford of Oklahoma, were able to step in immediately for Detroit and St. Louis, respectively, and appear to be long-term NFL successes.
Tim Tebow, you mention? Well, teams spend too much time focusing on the “mechanics” of certain players rather than on their brains. Think to the many times during the NFL season when players dog it against inferior opponents and lose games. Tebow is a winner, plain and simple. That’s the kind of attitude NFL teams should be seeking, not avoiding. (Plus, he’s one of the top sellers in NFL jerseys, so that helps a team’s bottom line, a very important factor for revenue-minded owners.)
2.) Stock The Roster With Players From the SEC. The Kansas City Chiefs followed this philosophy in the 2010 draft, selecting Eric Berry of Tennessee, Javier Areans from Alabama and Dexter McCluster from Ole Miss. And they went from 4-12 to 10-6 and making the playoffs. Plus, the electrifying play of Areanas and McCluster electrified a fan base and put excited butts back in the seats.
The best conference in college football produces, top to bottom, the best players. These guys know the game, have received outstanding coaching and played on the best stages in the game. They know what it takes to win, and in fact have won – the SEC has produced the last five national champions. From four different teams!
Why would teams in need of defense not be falling all over each other to be the first to run to the podium and claim Dareus, who played for Nick Saban’s complicated (and suffocating) defense? Or Peterson, the studly cornerback from stud-packed LSU?
Need a receiver? There’s two, Jones and Green. How about a running back? Ingram is a bull with shifty moves.
The SEC produces football players, plain and simple. Perhaps more than the Chiefs read this article last year, for 48 players were taken from the SEC in the 2010 draft.
3.) Sprinkle In a Few Players From Small Schools. There’s always a skill player or lineman or two from an obscure college that, for whatever reason, did not wind up at one of the “big boys.”
Ben Roethlisberger Jerry Rice went to Mississippi Valley State. Tony Romo came from Eastern Illinois University. Ray Rice went to Rutgers, which may not exactly be an unknown but hey, it’s Rutgers!
Remember, Larry Bird went to Indiana State and not Indiana because he did not like big cities and while that’s basketball and not football, it’s an example of how a huge talent can be just about anywhere.
4.) Fill the Roster With Talented Players From Other BCS conferences. The ACC has talent sprinkled throughout the league; guys that are not first-round worthy but are fine second- and third-round finds. Same for the Big 10 and second-tier Big 12 schools like Missouri.
This year, everyone is drooling over defensive end Da’Quan Bowers of Clemson. But be warned – Clemson players, tho certainly talented – traditionally lack the play-to-play and game-to-game consistency of those from the SEC.
5.) Draft Players From Alabama. Saban is stockpiling more talent than American Idol and the Tide is providing top-flight NFL prospects. Last year the draft produced Areans and Raiders linebacker Rolondo McClain. This year the Tide pool is stocked even higher with Ingram, Jones, Dareus, plus safety Mark Barron and offensive lineman James Carpenter. Heck, any team needing a backup quarterback should take Greg McElroy with a third-round pick; he’s not the stud that is Newton, but he’s brainy and could well last a long time in the league.
And next year is backed up by incoming junior Trent Richardson, who is as nearly as good as Ingram. and a McClain clone, linebacker Dont’a Hightower.
6.) Proceed With Caution When it Comes to Auburn Players. Newton is a physical beast, to be sure. He’s so natural it hardly seems as if he’s working at it while he’s playing. But he does have character issues (throwing a stolen laptop out of a window when the police arrived, accused of stealing another student’s test while at Florida and what of all the pay-for-play accusations). At best, he will turn out to be another Jason Campbell (who also went to Auburn) or, worst case, 2011′s Alex Smith or Jamarcus Russell.
Fairley? He’s a dirty player. Let’s see how that plays out in the NFL. If you look back through history, you’ll see a number of Auburn players who have been drafted by NFL teams, but very few who have excelled.
So that’s Sideline Sam’s framework for building a winning team. It’s not like the NFL Draft is exactly precise anyway. All the combines, draft days and endless analysts produced Russell as the #1 pick (yes, he went to and SEC school but any LSU fan could tell you he was far from being a first-round player). And Alex Smith. Akili Smith at #3. Ryan Leaf over Peyton Manning. Tom Brady was not even drafted until the 6th round.
At least by following Sideline Sam’s method, teams would reduce their risk for landing a bust while stocking the roster with solid talent, some of whom may prove to be big stars.
In NFL speak, this is what they mean by haaving a “huge upside.”