With the first round three quarters done and the NFL failing to make any news in weeks, it's time we play that game I so love and look forward to: Rate the mock draft picks. I've fallen behind, so I won't cover everyone's picks, but here's a short list of the three best and two worst picks thus far. Natch, this is only my opinion, but I'll try and provide solid, logical reasoning and back up my claims when possible. Here we go.
Miami, Brady Quinn QB: In 1998, the scouting public spoke of Ryan Leaf's greater upside than Peyton Manning. What would be greater upside than Peyton Manning? A Pass-O-Matic with laser sight? A Chimera formed from Michael Vick's legs, Joe Montana's Head and Jon Elway's arm? Scouts, seemingly incapable of scrapping the upside fallacy, have once again put a superior player behind an inferior player because Jamarcus Russell's upside is black Bill Bratzke and Quinn's is merely Carson Palmer. David Lewin created a very good college quarterback projection system that found the only two stats that correctly predict NFL success are games started and completion percentage. Quinn Started 47 games and completed 57% of his passes, that puts him a couple notches below Palmer who started fewer games (45) but had a better completion percentage (59%). Much of Quinn's low completion percentage can be blamed on his freshman year when he played for an absolutely awful Irish team (5-7) and completed only 47% of his passes. Quinn has all the markings of a franchise quarterback and Miami gets him at a bargain pick for the relative bargain of ninth pick bucks.
St. Louis, Amobi Okoye DT: I'm not certain if this is a conscious admission that St. Louis has entered a rebuilding phase or just best available talent thinking, but I don't think Okoye is destined to make a big impact in 2007. Is that a knock against him or this pick? Absolutely not. Okoye is an incredible talent and the importance of his age can not be overstated. At 19, Okoye is entering the NFL when most defensive tackles are fighting for playing time in college. A huge amount of physical growth occurs between the ages of 18 and 23, and the list of players in major sports who have been able to start with a pro club at 19 is short and prestigious. Scouts talk about upside, but Okoye is essentially still a prospect. Short of injury, Okoye has little chance of not being an impact starter and just may become an NFL legend.
Houston, Joe Staley T: Not only does Staley look like a fine talent (the best prospect at tackle in my opinion), but Houston was able to grab two additional first day picks in the process. I disagree with Tim's assertion that Matt Schaub is anything but a mediocre backup (O he of 52% career completion percentage), but a franchise left tackle and two extra first day picks is a good start for a team that needs almost everything.
Pittsburgh, Jarvis Moss DE/OLB: Pittsburgh can't help their draft position, so I'm not going to knock them for drafting a player a few picks higher than he deserves. I will knock them, however, for reaching for a player who absolutely doesn't deserve it. Pitt could use a cornerback or a wide receiver and had good value available at either position, but instead picked a weak (his 16 reps on the bench were bested by 8 by Brady Quinn), very injury prone player to fill a position of minimum premium (57% percent of starting OLBs were drafted in the 3rd round or later). A very high risk pick that might not work out for multiple reasons, exacerbated by the fact that a pass rushing LB could have been had in later rounds in the form of Quentin Moses, Victor Abiamiri, Justin Durant or Zak DeOssie.
New England, Eric Weddle S: You know how I wasn't going to bash Pitt for reaching, well, New England, you get no such courtesy. Weddle is not considered a first round talent by, basically, anyone. Plus, Utah played a very easy schedule and still sported the 78th ranked passing defense in D1 football. Very few safeties are considered first round talents, and serviceable options can be found throughout the draft. Tommasse preemptively responds to the idea that Weddle is a reach by pointing out that the Pats have no second round pick and that Weddle wouldn't reach them in the third. The problems with that argument, is A: So what? Picking a player super early because he's your guy is always bad draft strategy, and B: You have a second first round pick. That second point is the biggest factor in making this such a baffling pick. With an aging LB corps and a star CB who may refuse to play, New England is not without needs. If you feel you absolutely must have Weddle, your first pick should have been used on best available talent, while you attempted to trade down the second pick. No one was going to draft Weddle in the next three picks; New York, New Orleans and Philadelphia have no pressing needs at safety. If you couldn't find anyone to trade your pick at 28, then you can select Weddle. It's still a reach, but it's at least justifiable.