Kallas Remarks By Steve Kallas
The big day is coming: Saturday, April 26 – The NFL Draft. But what do you really learn from the “expert” analysis that comes at you from 1,000 different places. Do these “experts” really understand? Do they really know what they’re talking about? Does it really matter?
It says here that draft day “analysis” of picks, the dreaded “winners and losers” lists in the draft that will come out the day after and the ad nauseum “what a mistake that team made” analyses you’ll hear until you can’t take it anymore, are all virtually irrelevant in the days and weeks right after the draft. What I mean is, you really have no clue whether a draft selection (or a team’s entire group of selections) is good or bad until at least the next season. In reality, it often takes three or four years to really know the answer to what “experts” are guessing about on draft day. And the “experts” are themselves protected, because there is no answer as to whether they are right or not for months or, more likely, years.
My favorite proof of this the last few years is none other than Super Bowl-winning quarterback Eli Manning. Giant fans, for the most part, have been complaining for years that Eli was a poor pick, that the Giants gave up too much for him, that there were other QBs in the 2004 draft who were (and certainly played) better than Eli. The most a patient Giant fan could say was “give him time, he’s young.”
To look at his regular-season stats, even today, one would think it was a terrible pick. His lifetime completion rate is still only 54.7% (an unimpressive 56.1% in 2007). His career QB rating (an absurdly mystifying statistic – but that’s for another time) is 73.4 (an unimpressive 73.9 in 2007). Most fans don’t even know what that means – except to know that it’s not good.
But Eli Manning took the Giants to the Promised Land last season. He did what very few thought he could do – make big post-season plays to come out of the shadow of his brother and his father to win the Super Bowl. While we all still think that Peyton Manning is a much better quarterback than Eli (and, of course, he is), remember this – in the only real stat that counts (Super Bowl victories), the brothers Manning are tied at one. Does that make Eli Manning as good as his brother? No. Does that make Eli Manning an excellent number one draft pick despite poor stats? You betcha. And all the Eli critics have fallen by the wayside. After all, he won the Super Bowl and was a major factor in the post-season.
And speaking of the great Peyton Manning, have we all forgotten the pre-draft hysteria in 1998 over who would be the better pick – Peyton Manning or the forgotten Ryan Leaf? Yeah, all the Ryan Leaf “experts” are now hanging out with the Eli Manning bashers. You get the point.
Once in a while, you can answer the question on a draft after a season. An excellent example of this is the 2007 New York Giants. New general manager Jerry Reese, despite deflecting credit, has correctly been labeled a guy who had a brilliant draft for the Giants. All of his eight 2007 draft picks made the team and many made huge playoff contributions. Many of you know how good Aaron Ross (1st round) became at corner and many of you saw the huge post-season contribution of Steve Smith (2nd round – 14 post-season receptions for 152 yards). But how many of you knew about Jay Alford (3rd round – sack for the ages late in the Super Bowl) or Kevin Boss (5th round – five post-season receptions for 90 yards, including that unforgettable 45-yard romp in the Super Bowl) or Ahmad Bradshaw (7th round – leading Giants post-season rusher) or even long-snapper/linebacker Zak DeOssie (4th round)? Very few. And even fewer “experts” could even guess that this group would become this good this fast.
So remember, as your head starts to spin from people telling you how this team had a “great” draft or that team “missed the boat,” you really won’t know (and neither will they) for, probably, years to come.