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Matt McGuire: NFL Draft Theorist

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  • Matt McGuire: NFL Draft Theorist

    Posted March 22, 2008

    When you talk about the NFL, I think 90 percent of the conversations entail offensive skill positions, namely quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end. They are fun to watch and talk about obviously. They are the reason why fantasy football is so popular. They put up the stats. They get the highlights.

    I know exactly what you are thinking, "Yeah, so what McGuire? What are you talking about?"

    I am talking about the evolution of the NFL Draft. I'm going to be honest. The offensive skill positions have very quickly gone into very low demand in the NFL. When a position loses demand, it loses value.

    So, what facts can I base this on? Well the first point is the West Coast or West Coast-spread hybrid offenses in the NFL. Teams can find players to fit these schemes like college recruiters look for mobile quarterbacks for read-option offenses. NFL front offices have changed their entire draft philosophy from: "best consensus player at a position of need" to "best player available at a position of need that has a great fit in our scheme."

    What enables these teams to find perfect fits in their offensive (and defensive) schemes is that they are investing much more money into their scouting departments than ever before. The third round was a big shocker for me when names such as James Jones, Mike Walker, and Laurent Robinson came off the board. These players were taken this high (I consider the third round very high for these prospects) was a tribute to the teams doing their homework. Teams look more for diamonds in the rough and they hire more scouts to find these prospects.

    Another reason why I believe there is much less demand for offensive skill positions is because there is more talent in the NFL and teams are more "set" than in the past. This is because teams have invested more money in their scouting department, so now they are more accurate with their drafts. More teams are set at quarterback, receiver, tight end, and running back, therefore, if you don't need those positions then there is no reason to invest a high pick and waste it.

    Teams are getting more set at these positions also because of the influx in talent. The drafts are starting to get deeper (very slowly) with each passing season. Teams accept the fact that they are just looking for a No. 2 or 3 receiver, and it's much easier to find that niche than a No. 1 every single year.

    Now, will offensive skill positions ever be taken in the draft high again? Absolutely, but I think we are going to see far less running backs and receivers selected in the top ten. Quarterbacks are starting to find their niche, like I said, in offensive schemes rather than going for pure value there.

    I think the 2009 Draft looks like one of the most talented drafts in the first round that I have seen, maybe ever. When I put out my star grades, I just might give 20-25 players a top 8 grade (4.5 stars) because I feel like they have enough value to be selected that high. Knowshon Moreno and Chris Wells, as offensive skill players, are potentially elite talents in the 2009 Draft. But I see them falling out of the top five because of a much less demand at that position, rather than in 2005 when three of the top five teams needed a running back. The same will go for Michael Crabtree. I think he will be lucky to be chosen in the top 10, simply because teams are going to start being more objective with the talent in the draft rather than overrate it. I'm not saying Crabtree is overrated, but when there isn't a big demand in the NFL for receivers, it certainly diminishes his value. When value diminishes, the nitpicking starts for the more typical "star" prospects.

    So what positions do I think are going to be of the highest value in the draft? In order of most value: left tackle, right defensive end, defensive tackle, and cornerback.

    Left tackles and defensive linemen are in huge demand in the NFL. Don't believe me? Read "The Blind Side" by Michael Lewis. Included in that is a bio of my only five-star elite prospect for 2009: Michael Oher, an offensive tackle from Ole Miss. Getting after the quarterback is huge, so this means having a speedy right end or highly balanced, huge left tackle is so imperative.

    It's why I've emphasized defensive ends and tackles so much in my 2009 NFL Mock Draft. Now, I didn't do it just to put ends and left tackles that high; I did it because of that and I feel like those players have that kind of upside.

    Look around on the teams' depth charts in this league and you will see there just isn't a lot of future demand at the offensive skill positions. Will there always be a demand? Definitely. I'm just saying it's much less than what you probably think, and I am predicting a huge change in 2009 - potentially as early as the upcoming draft in 35 days.

    Look at Mendenhall falling. Look at all the WRs falling. Henne and Brohm didn't go until round 2.

    This will keep happening for the reasons provided above.

    Changing my mind about Crabtree though.
    2014-2015 Kentucky Wildcats (38-1)

    Congrats to Wisconsin. Even more congrats to UK haters.

  • #2
    Good writing but Crabtree will go top 5 if he keeps playing like this

    someone gonna trade up for him

    you saw how stupid gm are this year


    • #3
      I agree: Schemes like the tampa 2 and the WCO, and especially the collegiate Run and Shoot offenses diminish the need for superstars at the positions of skill. What remains however, are the trench positions. A tampa 2 doesn't need an elite speedy corner like DRC or McKelvin: A slower Chevis Jackson or Antoine Cason will do just as well. A WCO doesn't require Brett Favre: accuracy and timing are paramount. The Tampa 2 still requires elite defensive ends who can get to the QB. The WCO still requires talented offensive linemen to protect the QB. Even at running back, teams are going into a thunder/lightning combo: teams are realizing the power of Maurice Jones-Drew/Fred Taylor, Ahmad Bradshaw/Brandon Jacobs, and Adrian Peterson/Chester Taylor.
      - Also known as Dan.
      - Also known as the footballclod, where I do my own fantasy football and other football related stuff. ->


      • #4
        Originally posted by a2x View Post
        Good job, but Crabtree will most liklely be a top 5 pick. Someone is going to trade up for him.
        Hopefully the Eagles will package the pick they got from Carolina with their own pick to grab him.

        I also fixed your post. You're welcome.


        • #5
          I don't trust Crabtree. He could easily be a systems WR

          lol, I misread the thread as, "Matt McGuire: NFL Draft Terrorist"


          • #6
            Crabtree plays in the run n shoot, but he has very good speed and size. Needs to improve ball skills (scary but true), balance, route running, and blocking.

            Route running is his biggest flaw. Very inexpierenced. All he runs is posts, screens, and crosses.
            2014-2015 Kentucky Wildcats (38-1)

            Congrats to Wisconsin. Even more congrats to UK haters.