National Football League
December 11, 2011
Draft King Analysis
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
Reader feedback is always welcomed here. Send your thoughts to Draft King at LouPickney@gmail.com.
With 13 games completed for every team but Seattle and St. Louis, the postseason draft order for the 2011 non-playoff teams is taking more and more of a shape. Indianapolis, at 0-13, will end up at #3 at the very lowest since they can win no more than three games this season and every team except for the Rams and the Vikings has at least four wins. This has been the ultimate "Told you so!" for me, by the way, since I was saying last year that Manning deserved the MVP and caught some flack over it. Brady was the Most Outstanding Player, but no way was he more valuable to the Patriots than Manning was to the Colts. To point, the 2008 Patriots went 11-5 with Brady going out for the year in the middle of the first game of the season.
Please don't misunderstand: I don't want the Colts to go 0-16. It would dilute the joy I gain in yelling "0-and-16!" at the TV whenever Matt Millen starts talking about the NFL potential of a college player when he's doing color commentary for ESPN. Plus, I would hate to see Indianapolis middle linebacker Pat Angerer not be part of at least one victory this season. He has recorded 118 tackles through 13 games and is easily the most underrated player in the NFL, at least in my opinion.
The saga continues with Tim Tebow in Denver. The TV NFL talking heads are beyond being exasperated with the situation at this point, like how Peter Tomarken became more and more incredulous when Michael Larson avoided the Whammy on 45 consecutive spins on Press Your Luck in 1984. It's a mix of disbelief and amazement topped with the slightest touch of disdain.
|Stunned Peter Tomarken represents how much of the media is reacting to Tim Tebow. (CBS)
Why the disdain? Because Tebow has completed less than half of his pass attempts this year. Bcause he is the antithesis of the modern NFL QB in a season where accurate passers are zipping the ball all over the field with impunity. Because most of the sports media (myself included) didn't think his skillset would allow him to become a successful NFL quarterback.
The Tebow phenomenon has crossed over into pop culture, as evidenced today by the Drudge Report putting a picture of Tebow up and a link to the game information as the site's lead story... and that was before Denver's improbable comeback, as the screencap below reveals.
Something that has been overlooked by many within the Tebow hype is how well Denver rookie OLB Von Miller has been playing. Despite missing the Vikings game due to injury, Miller has 11½ sacks on the year, just three shy of the all-time rookie record of 14½ held by Javon Kearse. To contrast Miller with other recent 3-4 OLBs who became stars right away, Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware had eight sacks in his rookie year of 2005 while Packers OLB Clay Matthews recorded 10 as a rookie in 2009.
Miller has helped others in the Broncos front seven to raise their performance level, most notably Elvis Dumervil. Next Sunday's Patriots/Broncos game in Denver will be interesting, to say the least.
Here's a letter from the Draft King mailbag that I am late in posting but which is still very relevant.
From: Ken Swandog
Date: Wed, Nov 16, 2011 at 3:58 PM
Subject: mock draft april 6
Read the latest mock. I really like the idea of Toon to the Bears (although truth be told I think I'd like one of the top three WRs even better). I wouldn't put offensive line as a need, though, as the line has improved recently and has too many young projects on it anyway IMHO. My other choice for the Bears' first rounder would be a defensive playmaker--almost anywhere on the defense. The defense has been very solid this season, but it is undeniable that the stars are aging and the young guys on the unit are not considered high-ceiling impact players. I think the Bears could really use someone that could be the next force on the defense for years to come, whether that was a DE, LB, S, or even CB. Obviously, the chances of finding someone like that are reduced towards the end of the first round (where I hope the Bears will be picking!), but do you have any suggestions for someone like that the Bears could target?
Thanks, and love the site!
Lou: You make a fair point about the offensive line not necessarily being a spot of great need, particularly with the Bears selecting Gabe Carimi in this past April's draft. Carimi is on injured reserve now, but he'll be back for 2012 and beyond. But there are some talented interior offensive line prospects who are likely to be in this upcoming draft, and one of them could end up being a surprise choice for Chicago depending on how things break for them between now and late April.
Chicago is in an interesting situation relative to the 2012 NFL Draft since what the team needs will be predicated in many ways on what they do with some upcoming contract decisions. Brian Urlacher, who will turn 34 this off-season, is slated for $8,000,000 for 2012 in the final year of his current deal. It could be one-and-done for DT Amobi Okoye, who signed a one-year deal this past off-season after spending his first four seasons with Houston. With 2011 second round pick Stephen Paea having recovered from the torn lateral meniscus in his right knee in practice for the 2011 Senior Bowl, the insurance policy Okoye provided won't necessarily be needed in 2012.
|Matt Forte is averaging five yards per carry this season for Chicago. (Icon SMI)|
The big free agent situation involves fourth-year RB Matt Forte. He has made it clear that he wants a new contract, with him being a bargain with a $600K base salary for the Bears in the final year of his contract. It's been a distraction, or at least a talking point, for Chicago this year. Unless the Bears franchise tag Forte, I doubt he will be back for 2012. His recent injury hasn't helped bring the sides closer together, either.
Chicago hasn't had a 1,000+ yard receiver since 2002. And, since the merger, only five players have topped the 1,000 receiving yards mark for the Bears in a single season: Dick Gordon (1970), Curtis Conway (1995-1996), Jeff Graham (1995; yes, they had two 1,000 yard receivers that season), Marcus Robinson (1999), and Marty Booker (2001-2002).
That 1999 performance by Robinson (an even 1,400 yards in receiving) set Chicago's franchise single-season record, which still stands today. It's too bad that injuries derailed his career; it would have been interesting to see what he could have done if he had been able to stay healthy.
I provide all of this detail to emphasize that, in this current era of the passing game exploding in the NFL, and even with Mike Martz not expected to be running the offense in 2012, the Bears would be well-advised to add a highly-rated wide receiver prospect. Landing an elite talent might be tough, unless someone like Alshon Jeffery drops (unlikely but possible), but someone like Wisconsin's Nick Toon or Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller might warrant consideration by the Bears either as a late first-round pick or perhaps as a bargain pickup somewhere in round two.