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Draft “news” and mocks

Posted by Darren Urban on March 24, 2011 – 2:44 pm

As the news of the Cards’ visit with Blaine Gabbert blew up yesterday afternoon, the back-and-forth of Clemson DE Da’Quan Bowers’ knee has erupted and the travel schedule of Cam Newton has been documented, it made me think this column by agent Jack Bechta about the media and the draft.

As someone who has covered the draft and the league for a long time both on the outside as a newspaper reporter and on the semi-inside with this job (believe me, it’s not like I get to know everything just because I’m in the building), much of what Bechta says I understand. Does everyone? I don’t know. It’s a great read though, putting in perspective everything reported upon this time of year. Among the parts that I’d want to highlight:

– The media has very little impact on a team’s draft board. Writes Bechta, “What (the media) don’t have are the important pieces of the puzzle that have a huge impact on what decisions are ultimately made on draft day. The media lacks access to college injury files, Combine physical reports, first hand character reports from college coaches and teammates, and the whispers that come from college trainers and position and strength coaches who usually know more about the players than anyone.”

– Agents leak all this info to “drive up” draft stock (even though we just noted such stock doesn’t rise because of the media): “Agents right now are exaggerating 40 times, the amount of private workouts and visits, along with getting their clients multiple interviews in different markets with hopes of heightening their profile.”

– And finally this walk-off: “It’s been my experience since being in the business that NFL teams give very little clues as to who they will draft.”

I certainly don’t want to end pre-draft speculation — right now, it’s all I have to work with — but it’s not a science. This stuff is more an art, because science implies it can be figured out with facts, and I’m not sure that’s true. Last season, I mocked that the Cards would take Daryl Washington in the first round, because a) I had Dan Williams picked long before their choice even though I knew they’d look at him late in the first round; b) I knew they needed a replacement for Karlos Dansby, who left (and, in hindsight, still did leave, after Kurt Warner retired) the biggest hole of all the departures last offseason; and c) I had all the other top inside linebackers off the board by the time the Cards “picked.” They ended up getting Washington later, but there was obviously coincidence involved.

Take the Gabbert visit. Some wanted to jump on the fact the Bidwills attended the private workout. Not that Michael Bidwill didn’t want to go, but he was the pilot flying his father and the rest of the Cards to and from the owners’ meetings, so if Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves were going to piggyback the workout with the meetings, Bidwill had to be there, right? Doesn’t mean the Cards have locked in on the QB.

Again, everyone will (and should) keep talking about all this stuff. I took part in an NFL.com mock that will be put up Monday (and I will talk about it then). I’ll do a mock first round draft week. The Cards owning the fifth pick (and therefore being in the running for all the top names) and needing a QB only has intensified speculation this year. But there is a reason most mocks are in tatters once you get past pick four or five (OK, maybe seven) every year.

P.S. Here’s a really good blog item by Kent Somers breaking down the “elusive” ability of Beanie Wells, via stats from profootballfocus.com. In a nutshell, Beanie needs better blocking, but he also needs to break/avoid more tackles. But give it a read.


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