Draft King Analysis|
January 13, 2013
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
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For at lackluster as the Saturday games were on Wild Card weekend this season, the Saturday divisional round games yesterday were both spectacular in their own ways. Even fans of the losing teams have to, at least at some level, marvel at the remarkable double OT Ravens win in Denver (first double OT game in the NFL since 2004) and how thrillingly back-and-forth it was, complete with Trindon Holliday setting the NFL record for the longest punt return and the longest kick return in playoff history in the same game, followed by the Aaron Rodgers grudge game plot being overshadowed by Colin Kaepernick having a performance for the ages for the 49ers. Not to be overlooked in all of the Kaepernick glory is how great 49ers WR Michael Crabtree is proving to be when he has a capable quarterback able to get him the ball. Yes, I'm taking a shot at Alex Smith with that... and you know I'm right.
One thing I can't help but mention: I found myself annoyed this weekend with broadcasters who wouldn't quit whining about how cold they were. Yes, I realize how uncomfortable it is to broadcast in uncomfortable weather conditions -- I've done it before many times. But between the Casino Del Sol All-Star Game and the CBS broadcast of the Ravens/Broncos game... the on-air guys mentioned their own situation an inordinate amount of times for my liking.
Hint for aspiring broadcasters: if you must bring up your own uncomfortable temperature status, apply it to what's going on down on the field. When I did color commentary in Nashville for the Father Ryan High School/Overton High School football game in August 2011, it was on a day with record high temperatures that stayed brutally hot well into the evening, staying ridiculously hot even after kickoff. My broadcast partner Rhett and I were calling the game from a crowded sweatbox of a booth, with assistant coaches and video crews for both schools and the Overton broadcast team all stuffed in there. And if you think that the Nashville Metro School system had air conditioning in there, guess again, pal.
That night I made frequent mention of how warm it was, not because of my own discomfort level or due to the fact that I was sweating like I had just run a half-marathon, but because I knew the hot, dry, taxing conditions down on the field would cause guys to start cramping up. I warned the audience to look out for it. And, sure enough, that's exactly what happened when the third quarter rolled around. By the fourth there were several breaks in the action due to guys cramping up -- it was applicable because it directly impacted the game.
It's also why Florida high school football has mandatory water breaks, since that sort of thing happens much more often there, not to mention furter into the season.
The year before, when I called a game by myself on top of the press box at Battle Ground Academy on a night where it was so windy that my rosters and notes were blowing around like crazy, I kept it together as best I could and only referred to the weather as it impacted the kicking game, possible field goal attempts, etc. Most broadcasters are like that, though, and the best pull it off to where you'd never know how hot/cold/wet/thirsty they may be.
There are more underclassmen declaring for the NFL Draft this year than ever before, the third year in the row this is true. Is there a direct correlation between that and the new NFL CBA that went into effect in 2011? You bet your ass there is. This great article by Mike Detillier of the Houma Today newspaper explains it better than I could, but in short it's because of less guaranteed money for the top guys, removing a major incentive for players going back to school trying to end up as a top 20 pick instead of a mid-level second rounder, or even guys who might go in round four this year instead of round two next year.
If you have the chops to cut it in the NFL, and you know that you can become an unrestricted free agent after four years, why not get the clock started now? You might hear whining from some corners of the NFL when this reality starts to set in for people in certain corners, but the NFL already has the greatest free farm system the world of sports has ever seen, one that has stood up to challenges in U.S. federal court. If the all-in move by Maurice Clarett and Fat Mike Williams (who must be referred to as such to differentiate himself from the other wide receivers named Mike Williams) failed nine years ago and nothing has materially changed, who's going to challenge the system now?
There's no better case to be made for it than South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney, who saw his NFL-ready but not NFL-eligible teammate Marcus Lattimore suffer a pair of major knee injuries while waiting for the arbitrary time limit to expire so he could run the ball in the NFL. Lattimore lost of millions of dollars in guaranteed money lost because of the system that's in place now. Millions. Not just in money he won't earn as a high pick, since he won't be going in the first round, but also money he would have had in the bank by late July/early August 2011 once the NFL lockout ended and draft picks that year were finally able to sign had he been eligible to jump to the pros after his true freshman season.
|Michigan RB Vincent Smith had no chance on the Jadeveon Clowney hit. None.|
(Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports)
Speaking of Clowney, I neglected to include a question sent my way on Twitter in my Friday Draft King article, which I have listed below.
12:51 PM - 7 Jan 13
@louisianajedi: @LouPickney Suggestion for your 2014 mock placeholder pics. Swap one out for a screencap of the Clowney hit vs. Michigan in the bowl game.
Lou: While Clowney easily set the bar ridiculously high for "Most Impressive Football Hit of 2013" with that play, I actually prefer what I have now for my 2014 NFL Mock Draft placeholder. Why? Because I like the May 2012 date stamp on there. Not that Clowney was some secret diamond in the rough that I found ahead of everyone else (I never do that, anyway -- remember, I'm an analyst first and a talent evaluator a far distant second), but it shows I've liked his NFL potential going back well before last season. Hell, I thought he was NFL ready out of high school, and I've never thought that about any lineman. But the freakish ability he has is something special.