A Few Thoughts on Rounds 1-3

A Few Thoughts on Rounds 1-3


April 27, 2019
Devin Bush, Jr. (image via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Devin Bush, Jr. – LB – Pittsburgh Steelers (Round 1, #10 overall)
I think Pittsburgh is a great fit for Bush. When Bush was projected to go to the Steelers at #20, I thought it would be a good fit, but I didn’t know if he would last that long. The Steelers traded up to #10, and for good reason, because he would have been gone. I think Bush will become a cornerstone of that franchise.

But his draft night suit was awful:

Kyler Murray compared to Bush (image via MSN)

Hit the jump for thoughts on the other three picks to go off the board so far.

Rashan Gary – DE/OLB – Green Bay Packers (Round 1, #12 overall)
Gary is a bit of a strange fit with the Packers, especially now that they announced he’ll start off in the outside linebackers room. At 6’4″ and 277 lbs., he does have the athletic traits of an outside linebacker, despite having the size of an end. On the plus side, he has the flexibility to move to end if outside linebacker doesn’t fit. I think Gary is a good cultural fit in Green Bay, and the fans will like him.

Chase Winovich – DE/OLB – New England Patriots (Round 3, #77 overall)
This is another great fit. I thought Winovich would do well with the Packers or Patriots, along with a few other teams. He’s a hard worker who plays with passion, and I think Bill Belichick will find some different ways to use him, maybe as a package player. He’s shown the ability to come off the edge with his hand down, or stand up and blitz.

David Long, Jr. – CB – Los Angeles Rams (Round 3, #79 overall)
The Rams needed some young help at cornerback, so this is a good pick from a team need standpoint. It’s also good news for Long, who played his high school ball at Loyola in L.A. He graded out as one of the top few corners in the country, and there were some (including me) who thought he would go in round two. Instead, he went in the middle of the third round, which is still pretty solid. He’s going to a team that has had success over the past couple years, and he’ll be playing under a defensive coordinator with a very good track record.

BONUS DETROIT LIONS HOT TAKES

Yes, I’m a Detroit Lions fan, and their draft sucks so far.

They picked Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson at #8, which was one of my fears. They should have picked offensive lineman Jonah Williams (Alabama), who went to Cincinnati at #11. Even Bush would have been a better pick. They signed Jesse James as a free agent. The Lions can do just fine in their passing game with mediocre tight ends. Quarterback Matt Stafford is a guy who does a better job throwing deep to speedy wide receivers than working tight ends, which we saw for a few years with Eric Ebron, who apparently was just fine as a talent, because he went and caught 12 touchdowns with Andrew Luck as a QB. I like Stafford, but I’m not convinced that tight ends are his thing. The Lions were just fine with James and whoever else.

Then the Lions grabbed Hawaii linebacker Jahlani Tavai in the second round, a slow, run-stopping prospect with a recent shoulder injury. Sure, he’s tough. Tough and slow guys are a dime a dozen. The Lions could have picked him later in the draft, or at least someone approximating his talent.

I’ve seen some people suggest that Michigan could have grabbed Bush at #8 and Alabama tight end Irv Smith, Jr. in the second round, which makes a whole lot more sense. You get a better, more versatile inside linebacker, and you get a pretty talented tight end (again, who probably doesn’t matter much to Stafford).

That would make too much sense, though.

The Lions’ third round pick, Boston College safety Will Harris, is probably the most sensible pick so far. He can run, but he’s probably not ready to play immediately. Again, the Lions probably could have nabbed a better safety in the second round and picked up a tight end later.

31 comments

  1. Lanknows
    Comments: 4576
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    Lanknows
    Apr 27, 2019 at 9:57 AM

    Great to see the alumni land in seemingly good situations. 4 picks in the first 3 rounds — not bad. Go Blue.

    DE in a 3-4 seems like an ideal fit for Gary. OLB not so much. We’ll see.

  2. Avatar
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    Roanman
    Apr 27, 2019 at 1:53 PM

    Anybody else think they’re gonna snap Kyler Murray like a twig?

    Josh Rosen for pick #64 … I think … is the best pick in the draft. Although Arizona, with the crap line they stuck in front of the poor bastard is lucky he was alive to trade.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2914
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Apr 28, 2019 at 7:14 AM

      I actually think Kyler Murray is going to do pretty well, and I think Josh Rosen is destined for failure, whether in Arizona or Miami (or anywhere else). I’m guessing Miami is going to be drafting a QB in round 1 in 2020, and Rosen’s going to find himself in a very familiar position.

      • Avatar
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        Roanman
        Apr 28, 2019 at 8:01 AM

        I can’t agree there. By accident, I watched two Cardinal games last year and was stunned at just how lame their O line was. Kid was running for his life from the snap. Then he’d deliver some nice balls downfield 15-18 yards that could have been caught. Then there’s the coordinator change after the fourth or sixth game … that’s never helpful. I thought the Cardinals flashed all kinds of signs of rampant Lionism.

        Maybe the kid is Joey Herrington two/too, but with a second or two to actually look downfield, I think he has a chance.

        I think Murray is a great QB, but the NFL is a man’s league, and a big man’s league at that. Somebody is going to get him lined up and rules protecting the QB or not, they’re gonna drill him but good. I think he’ll break.

        • Avatar
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          Roanman
          Apr 28, 2019 at 8:06 AM

          Also, and I didn’t check, somebody said that Miami isn’t paying his entire contract. Rather, Arizona is still on the hook for some of it. If that is indeed the case, I think Miami will be drafting pass protection and playmakers in 2020.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 2914
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Apr 28, 2019 at 8:16 AM

            Yeah, I think it’s only $6.2 million that they’re paying Rosen for the remainder of his rookie contract, so he’s pretty dang cheap.

            • Avatar
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              Roanman
              Apr 28, 2019 at 8:21 AM

              Nice chatting with you Thunder. I’ve missed you, but now, it’s back to the submarine.

              • Thunder
                Comments: 2914
                Joined: 7/13/2015
                Apr 28, 2019 at 8:22 AM

                Okay. Say hi to Jim Harbaugh for me!

        • 17years
          Comments: 134
          Joined: 2/6/2018
          17years
          Apr 28, 2019 at 12:58 PM

          I had posted a long comment about Murray being small. It didn’t show up on this thread. Glitch or something.
          It’s hard for guys the size of Brett Favre to take 320 pound guys belly flopping down on them. And 270 pound DEs hitting them so hard their head snaps. Murray is just under 5’10”, and 204. I think he’s going to get knocked backwards 2 yards or more when a fire breathing blitzing LB hits him. He might be out with injury kinda often. But he does look solidly built. So maybe he can last.

          To be honest, I would not have passed up Quinnen Williams. If I had the 1st pick, it would have been him. I would have passed up taking Bosa too to get him, even if I needed a DE. To me Quinnen Williams is someone you HAVE to take if you can, unless you already have 2 Quinnen Williams type guys on your D Line, and nobody does.

      • 17years
        Comments: 134
        Joined: 2/6/2018
        17years
        Apr 28, 2019 at 12:37 PM

        I remember very well ALL the sports channels were saying, “Josh Rosen is the most pro ready QB in the draft.” “Josh Rosen is the most pro ready QB in the draft”. I saw it all day on every channel. About 1 in 20 guys on these tv shows know what they’re doing. Maybe it’s 1 in 50.
        Now there’s all the talk about Rashan Gary, his measurables being so great, how the coaching held him back, how he’s got a better 40 time than most RBs, etc. I watched him play. We’ll see if they are right.

  3. 17years
    Comments: 134
    Joined: 2/6/2018
    17years
    Apr 27, 2019 at 7:12 PM

    Kyler Murray is just under 5’10”, and 204 lbs. He’s going to be belly flopped on by 300+ lbs D linemen, just like every other QB. And he’s going to be jolted hard, where his head snaps, just like every other QB, by fast, 270 lbs DEs, who, because of his size, at times will knock him back probably 2 yards, or more, when they get a clean shot, before grinding him into the ground, and sliding on him like a snow sled. How long can he last? It does look like he is very solidly built. But the NFL is unforgiving.
    I wouldn’t have drafted him with the #1 pick. I would have definitely taken Quinnen Williams. There will be other QBs as good or better than Kyler Murray. There are not many Quinnen Williams type players. At least that’s what I think.

    I am curious to see how he gets up after a 330 lbs. D lineman falls full force on him.

  4. Avatar
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    michymich
    Apr 28, 2019 at 12:06 AM

    So where did Speight get picked?

    Surprised Gentry got picked. Good for him.

  5. Avatar
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    michymich
    Apr 28, 2019 at 12:10 AM
  6. Avatar
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    WindyCityBlue
    Apr 28, 2019 at 6:55 AM

    Taking a TE with a top ten pick is just objectively dumb. It’s not that critical a position.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2914
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Apr 28, 2019 at 7:12 AM

      I wouldn’t have a problem with it if, say, the Patriots happened to have a top-10 pick (due to a previous trade) and wanted to get a guy to replace Gronkowski. They’ve proven that they know how to use tight ends well, and they have a solid enough roster to do something like that.

      But when you’re in the top 10 because you’re one of the 10 worst teams in the NFL, then yeah, you don’t a take a tight end.

      • Avatar
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        WindyCityBlue
        Apr 28, 2019 at 5:14 PM

        Of course, even Gronkowski was a 2nd round pick. Taking a TE at #8 overall is badly overspending, no matter what you’re going to do with them. There are probably only 4 positions that you should pick that high, and TE isn’t one of them.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 2914
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Apr 28, 2019 at 9:16 PM

          Meh, I disagree. Gronkowski was a 2nd round pick, but he played like a 1st rounder. There are some tight ends (Tony Gonzalez, Gronkowski, Antonio Gates to name a few) who would be worth a 1st round pick if you have the right roster makeup. Nobody really knew Gronk was going to be Gronk until he was Gronk, in the same way that nobody knew Tom Brady was going to play like a Hall of Famer, that Drew Brees was going to be a Hall of Famer, that Terrell Davis was going to be a superstar, etc.

          • Avatar
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            WindyCityBlue
            Apr 29, 2019 at 6:15 AM

            Sure, in hindsight you can look back and find guys at every position that weren’t picked that high, but tat would have been worth a first round pick if you’d known how they were going to turn out. The problem is, you don’t draft with that kind of hindsight. You draft based on how much impact a player at position X is likely to make on your team’s success, and how likely it is that you can get a quality player at that position in later rounds. That’s why it’s also foolish to take a RB high in the first round. No matter how good they are, it’s overspending.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 4576
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              Lanknows
              Apr 29, 2019 at 12:51 PM

              I agree with you. Of course it can work out, like any pick can work out, but the odds are so long that you’ll get value out of your TE or RB.

              An average starter at that position is significantly less valuable than an average starter at most others. The salaries reflect this. By drafting him in round 1 you’re fighting an uphill battle that you can beat the odds and develop an all-pro compared to an average starting OL/DL or even a below average starting QB.

              When most other teams are getting starting production on rookie scale for premium positions you are immediately falling behind the competition with a RB or TE. No margin for error – your guy needs to be really good and he needs to be really good fast.

              The whole Lions angle aside, it’s a tough spot to put yourself in as a franchise. And while I agree the pick would look better if it was New England — that really goes for other positions too.

              On a related note — I’m sure these scouts generally know what they are doing but can it really be true that Iowa happened to have 2 first round talents at TE? It seems exceptionally unlikely it will work out that way in the NFL. Color me skeptical.

            • Lanknows
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              Lanknows
              Apr 29, 2019 at 12:55 PM

              There are exceptions and Hockensen might be one like Saquan Barkley appears to be one. But that illustrates the point — you need that guy to be one of the best at his position in the league to justify the pick and that’s a huge risk to take.

  7. Avatar
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    WindyCityBlue
    Apr 29, 2019 at 1:27 PM

    The issue with running backs is not that you can’t GET a great running back with a high first round pick, but that you don’t NEED a great running back to be consistently successful in the NFL. In fact, in today’s NFL, you probably don’t want to be running the ball as much as you’d need to to take full advantage of a top-flight RB. You’re better off with a couple of good RBs, the kind you can get in the 2nd or 3rd round. On top of all that, NFL RBs have a relatively short average life span compared to other positions, and even in fairly good circumstances, they don’t usually do much past the age of 30. All good reasons why taking a RB in the top 10-15 is overspending. Lots of teams do it anyway, I know, but I think it’s usually to excite a fanbase that watches a lot of college FB, where the running game is more important. My theory is that your pick at RB should please your fanbase, but not excite them.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 4576
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      Lanknows
      Apr 29, 2019 at 4:16 PM

      I think you’re understating it. The first 2 rounds only had 2 RBs taken. The last 2 rounds had 10. It seems like most NFL teams have figured out that even spending a 2nd round pick is dubious. Except for the famous geniuses in Oakland.

      The short career of RBs is an argument FOR drafting them higher. Get them on rookie contracts and you get production for a bargain and less likelihood of paying them while they are hurt. But even that isn’t driving many high draft picks because teams realize that most backs are commodities – replaceable parts in the machine.

      I think it’s less about the relative importance of running vs passing — they work hand-in-hand — and more about how much impact a quality RB can have. Is the running game a function of the RB or moreso the guys around him? How many more wins would your team get with the 5th best RB vs the 35th or 45th best? Is it worth the salary difference or is that money better off going to OL, CB, or DE? Salaries tell the same story the draft does.

      If you think the Jets are going to make the playoffs because they’ve signed one of the greatest RBs in the game (supposedly) I’ve got beachfront property in New Mexico to sell you.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 4576
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        Lanknows
        Apr 29, 2019 at 4:27 PM

        I haven’t seen them all, especially the small school guys, but the only back that really stood out to me in a college uniform was Bryce Love. He went in the 4th round. That seems like a good pick if he is healthy but for most of these guys — if I can get Myles Gaskin in Round 7 or guys like Karan Higdon off waivers I probably live with that.

        Maybe it was just a down year for RBs. There were certainly a lot more taken in high rounds last year.

        One another RB observation: only one back selected was over 6 feet tall out of 23 total. The number of backs who are 5’8 or 5’9 and weigh around 200 pounds continues to increase while the jumbo dinosaurs are creeping closer to extinction.

        • Avatar
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          WindyCityBlue
          Apr 30, 2019 at 6:30 AM

          That surprises me a little. I would always want at least one RB who can pound out a few yards reliably almost every time you call his number, even if they aren’t a big play threat. No matter how good your passing game is, you need to be able to run the ball effectively in the red zone and in short yardage situations.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 4576
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          Lanknows
          Apr 30, 2019 at 12:09 PM

          Conventional assumption that bigger is better might not be correct.

          https://www.numberfire.com/nfl/news/7705/the-most-and-least-efficient-short-yardage-running-backs-of-the-2015-nfl-season

          https://www.bleedinggreennation.com/2017/5/4/15546406/does-size-matter-a-running-back-analysis

          The second link, while oriented around PHI Eagles, is quite interesting all around in the robust league-wide data it provides.

          ‘The [graphic] shows that if you want to convert a 3rd or 4th and 1, you really should just QB Sneak it or give it to the fullback. Almost all the top performers with at least 10 attempts in this situation are quarterbacks. Most of the rest are fullbacks. My conclusion is that it matters more where they start from in the backfield than the size of the back. In fact, from the above we really can make no correlation. Not only is the difference in the top and bottom small in percentage of conversion, the size sets are all over the place.’

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 4576
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          Lanknows
          Apr 30, 2019 at 12:14 PM

          Beyond short yardage, if you’re a YPA guy (ahem…) then you might note that backs in the over 6′ bins are all below the overall average while backs 5’9 or less are above the overall average.

          The trend is even stronger if you sort by weight. Backs in the 190 pound or less bin have significantly higher YPA than the big boys.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 2914
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Apr 30, 2019 at 12:41 PM

            That’s the nice thing about yards per attempt – it doesn’t matter what size you are.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 4576
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              Lanknows
              Apr 30, 2019 at 1:02 PM

              The data seems to indicate that there is a relationship. Less is more.

          • Lanknows
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            Lanknows
            Apr 30, 2019 at 1:01 PM

            That goes for every stat.

            I look forward to when these success rate numbers get published more accessibly.

            https://www.profootballweekly.com/2018/10/03/mosher-who-are-nfls-most-successful-runners-in-2018-hint-dont-look-at-yards-per-carry/ab8ot1s/

            • Thunder
              Comments: 2914
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Apr 30, 2019 at 2:45 PM

              Meh. I’m not a fan of that stat, either. There are a lot of problems with it.

              If I get the ball on 1st and 10 and run 34 yards, that’s 1/1 successful runs. If I then get the ball on 1st and 10 and gain 3 yards, that’s 1/2 successful runs. So I’ve just gained my team 37 yards on 2 carries, but I’m only 50% successful? Meanwhile, a guy who gains 4 yards every time is virtually 100% successful.

              I realize alternating 34- and 3-yard runs is unlikely (as is gaining 4 yards every single play), but give me the guy who can average 18.5 yards per carry and you can have the guy who averages 4.

              Also, if it’s 4th and 1 and I break off a 50-yarder, all I get is 1/1 successful runs added to my column?

              I understand the garbage-time concept, so you have to compare apples to apples. Gaining 6 yards on 1st and 10 when you’re down 35 points isn’t the same as gaining 6 yards on 1st and 10 when you’re down 4 points and on a game-winning drive. Generally, the more carries you get, the more things start to shake out. That’s why I don’t sit here and say Michael Cox was the greatest Michigan running back of the last 15 years, because he played in garbage time. What I DID say about Cox was that he deserved more playing time than he got.

              This is the way a lot of things work. “Hey, you were a good high school coach, so now give college a shot.” “Hey, you were a good salesman. How about being a manager?” “Hey, you were a good amateur boxer. Why don’t you jump in the ring with the big boys?”

              “Hey, you just ran all over the scrubs of [Directional Michigan School]. Now see if you can do it against Maryland.”

              There’s no one, single stat that shows whether a running back is good or not. Yards per carry isn’t perfect, but neither is this “successful run percentage” stat.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 4576
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Apr 30, 2019 at 3:49 PM

              Agree there’s no perfect measure. Also agree that having playmakers is important. They have value to the offense beyond their own production.

              But if the question is YPA vs Success Rate — give me success rate. Making any sort of evaluation based on 2 carries is silly, but let’s carry out the exercise to 100.

              Same Success Rate but different YPA over 100 carries. One guy breaks 5 runs of 20+ yards while the other guy only does it once. YPA will catch the difference but is it meaningful? Would it be repeated over the next 100 carries?

              Now consider same YPA but different success rate. The big play guy’s 5 runs include a 60 yarder and an 80 yarder. Great for those but the math necessitates that he’s getting fewer yards on the majority of other downs. His carries are contributing to a lot more punts. Did the long TDs make up for all those punts?

              Maybe – we can slice this a hundred ways and come up with a range of examples but the bottomline is that YPA are heavily skewed by the outliers. An 80 yard TD run or a 40 yard TD run , in most cases, require the same RB skill — run to open space. The result is just a difference in circumstance but YPA counts it as being twice as valuable and dramatically changes the YPA, even over 100 carries.

              In most contexts medians are more meaningful than averages because outliers are outliers. (A 2 million dollar house in an otherwise poor neighborhood doesn’t make it a desirable, but if every house costs 500K+ it probably is). Unfortunately in the case of NFL RBs the median values are basically all the same – 4 yards.

              I’ll take the guy moving the sticks over and over vs the guy who maybe gets the odd big play more often, but also maybe just got lucky on a play or two.

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