Consider the receivers and quarterbacks coming out of the current college football landscape. Judging by what we’ve seen in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft, there is an abundant supply of talented and road-ready receivers. But at football’s most important position, the pro pipeline is yielding a mere trickle.
A lot of this has to do with the style of offense now en vogue in college. Lotsa throwing means lots of route running, lots of receiver reps, lots of receiver development, more intense receiver recruiting and better receiver coaching.
Okay, so the same thing should be true of QBs, right? Nope. While receivers are running pro routes and pro concepts, college QB reads, styles and systems often bear little to no resemblance to flying the airplane in the NFL. The current result is that only one QB (Kenny Pickett, Steelers) was selected in the first two rounds of the draft, and he is by no means a sure bet.
Like any business, the NFL is governed by basic rules of supply and demand. There appears to be an almost unlimited supply of talented and capable WRs coming out of college. Younger means fresher, healthier, cheaper and, in some cases, hungrier. So it looks to me that this recent “market adjustment” we’ve seen in WR contracts runs counter to actual market forces and is unsupportable and unsustainable. In short, some of these receivers (A.J. Brown, Deebo Samuel, et al) are overplaying their hands when they demand to “get paid” prior to the ends of their rookie contracts. Why would a team give in to that blackmail? “I can get another guy just like you, except that he’s younger and cheaper and doesn’t bust my salary cap or create resentments in my organization.”
QBs? I understand the fascination with Malik Willis. I also understand teams’ reticence to draft him. That’s a “project,” but the Titans are probably the right team to take him on.
Corral to the Panthers? Sweet arm, good wheels and rabid-dog competitive. But that little frame is just not going to stand up against NFL pounding. Nope.
Desmond Ridder is a mature guy, and he will in short order challenge Marcus Mariota for the starting job in Atlanta.
OK. All right. Let’s talk Cowboys and Texans. Back in the day, all of my coaches used to say, “Nobody’s ever samin’. You’re either getting better or getting worse every day, especially relative to your competition.”
Through the first two days and first three rounds of the draft, arrow down for the Cowboys. Arrow up for the Texans.
Don’t get me wrong. Dallas has drafted three good players. I have no issue with any of them. But at the moment, the 2022 Cowboy roster is not nearly as good as it was last season. Meanwhile, both the Eagles (already a “comer”) and the Giants have gotten WAY better. Let’s see what the Cowboys do today with their SIX Saturday picks.
The Texans? Cha-CHING! To some extent, this pooch was hard to screw, since the Texans have so many needs and so many picks. But so far, they have maxed this out, IMO.
Lovie wanted a corner. He got one in former LSU star Derek Stingley Jr. Keep in mind that he’s the guy Lovie wanted, ahead of Cincy’s Sauce Gardner. That’s good enough for me. Then at 15, Houston got Aggie O-lineman Kenyon Green. I don’t like that pick, I LOVE it. That’s a bad man.
Next, understand, BAYLAH IS STILL NASTY! But I must confess that Bears safety Jalen Pitre may have been my very favorite player in college football last season. His football smarts and situational awareness are off the charts. That guy has a knack for big plays and always seems to know “when” in a game. Great players know “when.”
But wait, it gets better! ‘Bama WR John Metchie III would have been one of the most sought after receivers in the draft had he not torn his ACL in the SEC championship game. But the Texans were able to get him with the 44th overall pick. Metchie says he’ll be good to go in July with “no training wheels.” This guy is so fast, and so fluid, and so good at moving DBs around with his eyes and his hips.
Let’s stay with the Crimson Tide theme. Houston gets linebacker Christian Harris at 75. He’s a football junkie who loves to “scheme it up.” You know, Lovie’s kinda guy.
And now it’s a Five Pick Saturday for Houston. “Arrow up” for the Texans.
Ditto the Jets, the Chiefs, the Lions and the Ravens.
The same cannot currently be said for either Baker Mayfield or Jimmy G.
The saddest person I saw at the draft last night was Sam Howell’s girlfriend. Even sadder than Sam.
Oh, on my way out the door, college football is about to change in a foundational way, if it hasn’t already.