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Draft King Analysis

December 4, 2008
Lou Pickney,

Reader feedback is always welcomed here. Send your thoughts to Draft King at

If you don't think that the fix is in on college football BCS bowl slotting, then just watch as Ohio State goes to a BCS bowl game ahead of Boise State despite 12-0 Boise State being ranked ahead of 10-2 Ohio State in the BCS standings. Think that won't happen? Then take a look at what ESPN is projecting, with both Mark Schlabach and Bruce Feldman predicting Ohio State playing in the Fiesta Bowl.

This isn't a knock on Ohio State -- the school has an excellent football program. But it's not even close in the BCS rankings as of this writing:

9) Boise State .7034 BCS average
10) Ohio State .6340 BCS average

The Fiesta Bowl is projected to pay out $17.5 million per team. The Poinsettia Bowl (Boise State's likely destination) will pay a mere $750,000 per team.

I'm going to keep repeating the Wikipedia quote that I think explains this mess of a situation better than anything: "The major conferences... believe they gain monetarily from the current structure, and are quite unwilling to risk changing the system, even if a playoff system is fairer or leads to better football for the players and the fans." Now, onto the mailbag...

From: Bryan Cunningham
Date: Mon, Dec 1, 2008 at 12:13 AM
Subject: Mels Bid Board

Actually Mel doesnt include underclassman on his big board. I know on the board itself for some strange reason he has a few players listed as juniors, but they are not. If you notiice on his top 5 position lists he has all those players as seniors. Simplie noticing that A.Smith,Stafford, Bradford, Beanie, moreno, crabtree,v.davis and taylor mays to name a few, are not ranked makes this obvious.

that being said, how do you feel about bradford?? I actually believe that if all the qbs came back next year, Bradford, Stafford, Sanchez, Freeman, McCoy and N.Davis people would be calling it one of the best qb drafts ever, if the same guys are in the draft just a year early, is it really much different. I think Bradford is the next dan marino( only he can move)

Lou: Mel Kiper's Big Board, as of this writing, includes only seniors. I strongly suspect that the Big Board not listing potentially draft eligible underclassmen is some sort of mandate from ESPN, though that is only speculation. Never forget: ESPN has a vested interest in not pissing off the NCAA (or the NFL).

I have the highest of respect for Mel and the many years of hard work he has put into his craft, and I know that he is already very much ahead of the game in rating underclassmen. Something tells me that if he could put the underclassmen on there, he would. As it is, ESPN seems to enjoy forcing Mel to argue on TV with Todd McShay (who I also respect) more than anything.

Dan Marino
It's unfair to compare any college quarterback to Dan Marino. (Albert Dickson/TSN/Icon SMI)
As for the notion of all of the sophomore-eligible and junior quarterbacks returning to college next year, that would put the 2010 NFL Draft in a rarified position, perhaps ranking behind only the 1983 QB class (which remains the gold standard a quarter-century later). That won't happen in all likelihood, not with guys like Matthew Stafford with so much experience already potentially being ready to jump to the pros. But we won't know for sure on that until next month.

I think very highly of Sam Bradford and his chances at the NFL level. Calling him the next Dan Marino is a bold statement, and really that's not a fair title to put on any college quarterback. But Bradford has great accuracy, and the only real knock on him is that he doesn't have an elite cannon arm, though it's not like he can't uncork a long throw when he needs to do so.

What impresses me the most about Bradford is his calm demeanor in the pocket. Yes, he has a capable offensive line (with offensive guard Duke Robinson in particular a great player and also a great NFL prospect in his own right), but Bradford seldom looks rattled even with defensive linemen closing in on him.

The scary thing on Bradford is that the best is yet to come for him. Yes, he could go pro after this year, but I strongly suspect that he will return for his redshirt junior season at Oklahoma. If that happens, you might want to pencil Bradford in at the top of the preliminary 2010 NFL Mock Draft. But first things first; Bradford has the Big XII Championship Game to play in and a bowl game, which will in all likelihood be the BCS Title game.

From: lthomp5490
Date: Tue, Dec 2, 2008 at 3:25 PM
Subject: Your most recent mock draft....

projects the Jaguars, picking 10th, selecting Ohio State LB James Laurinitis, citing the Mike Peterson fallout.

While I think Laurinitis is a fine player and I understand the rationale behind the pick, the logic falls for several reasons.

First, LB Daryl Smith played MLB in college, and filled in well for Peterson at MLB when Peterson missed most of 2006 and 2007 due to various injuries. He (Smith) is currently the starter at MLB and has signed an extension thru 2011. The team is fine at LB overall.

Secondly, the team's biggest needs are in the OL. C Brad Meester missed the first 6 games after tearing his bicep early in training camp. Guards Vince Manuwai and Mo Williams were lost for the season in week 1. Backup OT Richard Collier was shot, paralyzed, and had his leg amputated. The team signed G Chris Naoele off the street after cutting him in the offseason, only to injure himself in the pre game warmup of the game in which he was to return and landing on IR having not played a down this season. LT Khalif Barnes, after starting off his careeer well with the Jaguars, has bottomed out and has now become a liability. His contract expires at the end of the season. He wants out, and the team does not want to re-sign him. RT Tony Pashos is a huge liability in pass blocking, especially when the team does not have the viable threat of play action. He was called four times for holding in the loss tot he Vikings and was beaten several times that game, as well as the Texans loss last night. He is better suited inside. Minimally, this team needs to come out of the draft with no fewer than 2 OLs, with at least one OT.

Furthermore, other offensive needs include WR, where Reggie Williams and Matt Jones have failed, and Jerry Porter has been almost non existent in the offense, a young QB prospect, and depending upon what happens with FT, a bruising RB to complement Maurice Jones-Drew.

Finally, if you are convinced the team needs help defensively-and make no mistake it does-a CB to play opposite Rashean Mathis (or replace him if his injury is severe), a run stuffing DT to play next to Henderson, another DE or two and a S are better fits than a MLB, and are typically better values in the top 10 of the draft than a MLB.

Lou: You make some very valid points, and you could be on the money about the Jaguars passing on James Laurinaitis at #10.

Daryl Smith is in the prime of his career; he's 26 years old and under contract through the 2012 season. He has played quite well at the middle linebacker spot, both this year and in 2007 when Mike Peterson suffered a season-ending injury. If the Jaguars feel that Smith is a strong long-term answer at middle linebacker, then it would make sense for the team to look elsewhere in the first round.

You are exactly right that Khalif Barnes has expressed his desire to get out of Jacksonville. His DUI arrest in November 2006 did not go particularly well, with Barnes making some detrimental comments about the city of Jacksonville. He's gone. So, with such a strong group of players available at offensive tackle, that probably makes the most sense.

(This is yet another reason why I love my readers. If I make an illogical projection, you guys aren't shy about letting me know about it, usually politely.)


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