The NFL 2010 Draft Likely Bust Debate… There is No Use Crying Over “Spiller”ed Milk

April 30, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Sports Geek.

For teams sitting among the top ten picks of the NFL draft each year there are generally two schools of thought when it comes to deciding who to select when the pressure is on and your team is on the clock. Do you take the player who best fits your team’s needs, or do you take the best available player?

While a case can be made for both strategies, I tend to find myself leaning more toward the side of the greatest team need. The notion that certain players are “too good to pass up,” even if you don’t need them, just seems foolish to me. That is like using your rent money to instead pay for a trip to Vegas just because “the deal was too good to pass up.”

Sure, you MIGHT get lucky and win enough to buy a house in the Hamptons, but odds are that by the time the trip is over you will have just wasted a lot of your time and money on flash that brought no real substance to your life.

More often than not, it is better to pay the rent first, THEN think about luxuries like a trip to Vegas. But when the Buffalo Bills selected running back C.J. Spiller as the ninth overall pick in the 2010 draft, it appeared that Chan Gailey and Buddy Nix just could not resist the impulse buy of a perceived “great steal.”

And a luxury is all that Spiller will be for the Bills. With Fred Jackson (over 1,000 yards on the ground last season) and Marshawn Lynch (who WOULD be amazing if he could stay out of trouble) already in the backfield, the Bills now have a very serious logjam at the running back position. Granted, that would be a high-class problem for some teams to have, but when you consider the fact that the Bills essentially have no quarterback and their offensive line couldn’t protect the guy in the pocket even if he WAS Jim Kelly reborn, depth at the running back position should be the LEAST of their concerns. Heck, it’s not even a concern, and THAT’S the concern.

Instead of addressing one of their VERY SERIOUS needs coming out of a disappointing six-win season, the Bills essentially decided that they were okay living in a run-down trailer park, as long as they had three Cadillacs sitting out in the front yard.

Is C.J. Spiller a tremendous athlete with great potential in the NFL? Sure.

Could he be the next Chris Johnson? Of course. But he could also be the next Curtis Enis, and the Bills are in no position to take that gamble right now.

While the Bills sit back and wait for Spiller to hopefully develop into LaDanian Tomlinson, their unimproved 30th-ranked rushing defense will continue to give up more points than their anemic, one-dimensional offense can match.

This creates a no-win situation for the Bills. Failure on the field will speak for itself, but his success will also detract from the team more than it can help it, because it will only come at the expense of an already successful running back (possibly two, if Lynch can keep his head on straight).

Even if Spiller develops into a Pro-Bowl caliber athlete for the Bills, he is ALREADY a draft bust. Not necessarily because he will fail on the field, but instead because he was the wrong choice for a team that will be unable to FULLY maximize his potential. He was not what the Bills needed, nor should he have been what they wanted. He is an unnecessary accessory that will simply distract from the real problems facing the Bills, rather than help to turn them into a legitimate contender in a division that features the Jets, Patriots, AND the Dolphins. He will be unable to solve any of the problems for the Bills, and will therefore ultimately fail to be a real contributor for the team.

I hope C.J. Spiller likes a part-time job on a last place team, because that is exactly who drafted him.

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The NFL 2010 Draft Likely Bust Debate… Everything’s Bigger in Texas, Even Draft Blunders

April 30, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Bleacher Fan and Sports Geek.

“And with the 24th pick of the first round the Dallas Cowboys select… Slow-y McPersonal-Baggage… excuse me, I believe I may have read that incorrectly. I meant to say Dez Bryant.”

While those weren’t exactly the words NFL commissioner Roger Goodell uttered into the microphone, I believe they might as well have been. The Dallas Cowboys traded up to get the embattled former Oklahoma State wide receiver, but the move may have been more about making a splash than anything else. The simple fact that he is a Jerry Jones era acquisition makes me question Bryant’s potential. Additionally, Dez Bryant’s physical game is far from being the complete package as he lacks experience playing in a pro-style offense. Add to that the fact that he comes to Big D with more drama than a Jersey Shore marathon, and we are talking about a potential bust bigger than a Dolly Parton statue the size of Mount Rushmore.

In 2008, Dez Bryant proved that he was a talented receiver racking up 1,480 yards and 19 TDs, but that was then, and this is now. Bryant sat out most of last season with a suspension. A year off can put some rust on the machinery, and his game was far from flawless to begin with. In spite of Dez Bryant’s obviously gifted hands and his nose for the end zone, he lacks serious speed. Scouting reports have criticized Bryant’s lack of burst and deep speed. The NFL is all about speed. It is often said that the NFL is a much faster paced game than college football. I question the ability of Bryant to make the jump to the NFL as a result. On top of that, he has suspect route running. Dez Bryant did not play in a pro style offense in college. All of this means his rookie season will consist of him adjusting to the speed of the game, a different offense, a new playbook, and he will no longer be a big fish in a small pond – even more reason he looks like he will bust as quickly as a dollar store water balloon.

Dallas’ selection of Bryant can be described as a desperate reach at best. Jerry Jones can deny it all he wants, but the Dez Bryant pick was an attempt to make up for passing on Randy Moss. Unfortunately for Jones, until they build a time machine (which undoubtedly he would purchase and hang too low over the playing field at Dallas’ new stadium) he can never undo what was done. Instead his meddling seems to be making it worse. He has chalked up mistake after mistake with his pass catching personnel decisions (i.e. passing on Moss, bringing TO in, letting TO go, and trading for Roy Williams), but this one may take the cake. In an NFL that is increasingly airing things out, teams are feasting on a boomer crop of talent. Teams are signing and trading for difference making wide receivers at will, but Jones still attempted to fulfill Dallas’ need through the draft. While it is easy to say that drafting and developing a wide receiver is cheaper than over paying for an established talent, Big D has the money to do exactly that. At least you know what you are getting at the professional level instead of putting all your eggs in the basket of a player who sat out most of last season. Jones and company are also ignoring the fact that rookie wide receivers face an incredible learning curve in the NFL. This may make things harder on Bryant who will be saddled with huge expectations to perform immediately under the big bright lights in the Lone Star State. Maybe Jerry Jones does believe in him or maybe he just drank too much of Kiper Kool-Aid, but I simply do not believe in the upside of Dez Bryant.

But probably the biggest reason of all Dez Bryant will be a bust is his dramatic antics. Normally one might expect Babe Ruthless to love a notorious figure like Bryant simply because he is so controversial, but there is a big difference between Bryant and other dramatic players that have earned my respect. The difference is proven talent at the professional level. Players like Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinqo can be as crazy as they want and show it on the field and off, but they have earned the right to do so by proving they are better than average. Bryant hasn’t done that, yet more drama surrounds him than a high school cheerleader. These days Bryant is getting more press coverage than Tim Tebow because of Momma-Gate 2010. Stories about Bryant being asked about whether his mother was a prostitute have flooded sports media outlets. While admittedly he is not at fault for creating this commotion, he has not really tried to put an end to it either. Why? Because he’s dramatic. Just look at the whole Neon Deon fiasco. If he had been truthful and followed the rules he might have gotten another shot at winning the Heisman and improving his draft status. Instead the public is subjected to his protest about fairness. And this is the future of the Cowboys? I do not think so. This guy is draft joke fodder of Tim Couch and Akili Smith proportions. He is a mistake and will prove it to the world soon enough.

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The 2009 Heisman Voting Debate – Spiller Made a Charge….Is It Enough?

December 7, 2009

Read the arguments by Sports Geek and Bleacher Fan.

Last week, I argued that Colt McCoy essentially won the Heisman with his performance against Texas A&M. I said that it was his to lose. Based on what happened in the Big XII championship game, I think he lost it. What a dreadful game by McCoy. He and Mack Brown nearly threw away a chance to go to the national championship game with poor clock management at the end of the game. At the end of the day, I think McCoy possibly threw away the Heisman

I had a chance to go down to the ACC Championship in Tampa, Florida Saturday to watch Georgia Tech’s high powered triple option offense against Clemson. It was a very entertaining game to watch in person and something, quite frankly, that the ACC needed. However, there is one player in the game that I came away most impressed with, one that I think signifies what the Heisman trophy means. That player is Clemson running back C.J. Spiller.

Obviously, you and I have heard of C.J. Spiller. He plays in a BCS conference for one of the top programs in the ACC. I have had the pleasure of watching a good bit of him over the past four years, but Saturday night was the first night I have watched him in person. Watching Spiller live gives a greater appreciation for him. I think he is the most electrifying player college football has had since Reggie Bush.

He single-handily almost won the game for the Tigers. He finished with 233 yards on 20 carries and four touchdowns. Those numbers earned him the MVP of the game, even in defeat (editor’s note: This is the first time the game’s MVP was awarded to a player on the losing team). Tech fans were outraged at this after the game, but I think it was the right decision. Sitting at Raymond James Stadium, you just felt all the Tech fans on edge when Spiller had the ball in his hands. Out of all the candidates, did anyone close the season better than Spiller?

For the season, his numbers speak for themselves. He has 1,145 yards rushing on 201 carries and 11 touchdowns. He has 445 yards receiving and four touchdowns. Those are excellent numbers. What takes him to the next level are his numbers in the kicking game. He has four kickoff returns for touchdowns. In total, he has over 900 return yards, which includes kickoff and punt return yardage. He is a legitimate threat to score every time he touches the ball. He also is the only player this season to score at least one touchdown in every game.

I realize people are dead set on giving the Heisman Trophy to McCoy, Mark Ingram, or maybe Tim Tebow. But Spiller deserves an invite to New York, at the very least. If I had a vote for Heisman, my vote would be for C.J. Spiller. And memo to those who coordinate the Heisman trophy – Loyal Homer really want a Heisman vote!

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The Biggest Game of THIS Weekend Debate – A Good, Present and Future ACC Battle

October 23, 2009

Read Loyal Homer and Bleacher Fan’s argument about which game they believe are the best of the upcoming weekend.

A big part of me does not want to pick an ACC football game as the best of the weekend. An even bigger part of me does not want to choose a game that appears very lopsided on paper (or on a computer screen… let’s face it, the clock is ticking on the whole “paper” metaphor thing). The biggest part of me does not want to pick a game that includes the Clemson Tigers, a team that seems to always generate buzz just so the fall from grace hurts so much more.

Despite those obvious drawbacks, I believe the best game of THIS weekend happens in Miami when the eighth ranked Hurricanes play host to the Clemson Tigers.

Clemson still has a chance to win the Atlantic Division in the ACC. It seems hard to believe, but the math is clear. Clemson trails Boston College by a half-game in the ACC Atlantic division right now. And, the teams that bookend Clemson in the ACC Atlantic division are the teams Clemson has beaten and owns a tie break over, Wake Forest (a 38-3 cathartic stomping last weekend) and Boston College. The remaining teams in the division – North Carolina State, Florida State, and Maryland – have a combined one conference win. Obviously that is not very good. While anything can and seems to happen in the ACC, Clemson is in the ideal position to play its way into the ACC championship game. A win over Miami certainly helps the team’s cause.

Even though Miami is playing this game at home, the program historically has very little home field advantage. The school has a lot of fans across the country because of the national exposure the program has gotten from its dominant seasons in the 1980s, but fans in Miami have not turned out in droves for the team. Therefore the home crowd may not become a big factor in rattling the Tigers’ young starting quarterback.

Speaking of which, just as both teams are playing for a common goal (the ACC championship game appearance), both teams share many similar traits. For example, both teams have young quarterbacks. Clemson’s redshirt freshman starter, Kyle Parker, has shown grit, toughness, and some leadership – but has failed in intense situations when trying to lead his team back in the waning moments against Georgia Tech. Miami’s true sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris has shown athleticism, a strong arm, and precision in execution – but failed on the road against Virginia Tech to mount anything resembling a pulse under center.

Both teams also have tough defenses. Clemson allows an ACC second best 270.2 yards per game while Miami allows a fourth best 305.7 yards per game. Clemson also leads the ACC with a total of 10 interceptions as a team. Miami has a league low three team interceptions. It appears, from the statistics at least, that if any team has a better shot at overcoming defensive pressure it is Clemson’s offense.

Both teams blitz a lot on defense, and both teams have the opportunity to force the opposing offense’s quarterback to make the plays necessary to win the game, regardless of team interceptions. The defenses are good, perhaps even SEC caliber. The defenses will set the tone for what is sure to be a low scoring game.

So, when two teams are entering a game that is expected to be low scoring, what is often the deciding factor? Good job, you guessed it – special teams. No program in the ACC has a more “special” player than Clemson running back C.J. Spiller. Spiller leads the league with three special teams returns for touchdowns already this season… two kick offs and one punt return. Spiller may be the deciding factor in this game.

This game is interesting because, as important as it is to both teams involved, it is also an even match up on offense and defense. Clemson is 2-2 in the division and Miami is 2-1. Both teams need to win to gain some separation in their division and take command on their own destiny so the teams may be able to meet again in Tampa this December. If you are a football fan that likes good defense, big plays, and surprising endings… this is the best game of THIS weekend.

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