Every stoner I've ever known thinks everyone smokes pot. That the cops cop their stash and smoke up at precinct. This is an example of false consensus. NFL front offices suffer from false consensus. Perhaps it's part and parcel with the fact that NFL front offices overestimate their ability to rank talent. When you're convinced your guy is top of the pops, it's easy to fall into paranoia that other teams are onto you and want your guy. It's one of the key findings of Cade Massey and Richard H. Thaler's essential draft study Loser's Curse. As they put it:
Teams overestimate their ability to discriminate between the best linebacker in the draft and the next best one, and to overestimate the chance that if they wait, the player they are hoping for will be chosen by another team.
I think Patrick Chung is the bee's knees. I love his youth, his fierce determination to get better, his skill-set, athleticism and versatility, but above all I love that he was a successful starter for the 26th ranked Ducks pass defense at just 18. But I know his weaknesses and I've seen his weaknesses and I know it's not worth taking Chung at 37 when Michael Hamlin should be there at 68. Or Chip Vaughn, or William Moore, or Darcel McBath, or Chris Clemons - but I'll take Hamlin.
I'm not as wild about Hamlin. He turns 24 this November. He's rather slow. Three of his six interceptions in 2008 were against the Citadel's Bug Company and their bolo quarterback Bert Blanchard*.
But for every knock there's a counter. Hamlin is a more complete, polished player with better cover skills than Chung and has a much better chance to start right away. He was the best player and team captain for the best secondary in college football. In the past two seasons, Clemson has ranked 10th and 13th in pass efficiency defense despite being ranked 108th and 54th in sacks per game. Hamlin would have a very good chance to unseat Brian Russell and start the season at strong safety. The value of that can't be understated. He shows good or at least adequate football speed and maximizes his talents with great instincts, great awareness and sound lines. He's a dependable tackler and capable of both the open-field wrap and the fumble forcing strip.
Hamlin isn't real flashy and his upside isn't much more than a capable starter. But teams, defenses, even elite defenses, need both flashy, expensive superstars and dependable, undervalued starters. Hamlin is more likely the latter, but he should be that this year, next year and as long as he's in the league.
*Blanchard is actually not that bad, but you got to love the slang.