Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fixing the Cardinals Oline

To fix the Oline you have to first look at what you have. 

In Levi Brown you have a powerful run blocker who can move forward but not laterally.  His pass protection is awful.  He is not a LT in BAs offense.  He’s not much of a RT either.  So you’re left with two options: cut him or move him to G.  Since this is a rebuilding year I’m 100% fine with experimenting with him at G.  Why not?  And for those that think he’d be too high priced, he’d be a lower high end G in the league and the #2 paid G on the team (Colledge)

Speaking of Colledge, he’s ridiculously overpaid.  But he’s an above average G.  I thought he was on the verge of becoming another one of Whiz’s decimation projects at the beginning of last year, but he recovered nicely when he wasn’t having to block both his and Batiste’s guy.  You keep him until his contract is more flexible to cut.  Gs should never get paid too high.  They just are too easy to replace.

Sendlein took major steps backwards last year and then got hurt.  I’m not saying his career is over, but I’d love to see an upgrade here at an affordable cost.  I’m looking at the 3rd or 4th round for his replacement.

Snyder is garbage.  Snyder is overpaid.  Snyder is single highhandedly handcuffing this team to mediocrity.  I wouldn’t start him.  He’s an adequate backup.  But we can’t really dump him until next year.  I’m not sure what to say about him at C.  If he can’t cut it at G I’m not sure why he’d be better there.  Kelemente is strong and solid, but really raw.  He missed some big assignments last year, and needs some maturing into his role.  It’s a good year for him to do just that. 

Massie showed he’s got potential at RT.  The question now is do you move him to LT?  I personally don’t see the footwork needed to dominate over there, but I loved how he proved everyone wrong last year. 

Potter is a good backup.  And a solid guy for pass protection.

Okay, so we have a massive gaping hole at LT.  We have Levi moving to RG.  We could use an upgrade at C.  LG and RT have the same starters who showed competence. 

It’s an easy fix.  Since BA wants to implement more double and down, he’s gonna want some aggressive athletic guys who get down field.  At LT, Fisher and Johnson could fill that role with pick #7. 

At C, I’m hoping that Barrett Jones somehow miraculously falls to us in the 3rd, or Cooper in the 2nd.  If not then nab a guy like Holmes in the 4th. 

That way next year looks like:

Johnson – Colledge – Jones – Brown – Massie


Fisher – Colledge – Cooper – Brown – Massie

Either way we would have:  1) a massive upgrade at 3 weak positions, 2) a younger line, 3) a heck of a lot more athleticism, 4) guys that can get down field, and 5) they’d be cost effective. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The "reach", the "steal", and the "on target": Draft Nerd Talk

(Obviously I'm using my own terms here.  None of this vocab should be taken too seriously.  Also, if you find all this draft nerd talk boring please ignore the following.)

There's the "reach": the guy that's taken ahead of his sensible draft value.
There's the "on target": the guy that's taken right around his sensible draft value.
There's the "steal": the guy that's taken behind his sensible draft value.

And all those are given grades on success rate.  That is, how does their overall career performance compare to others at their draft number:  Excelling, Above Average, Average, Below Average, and the Bust.  Quite obviously, we can only ascertain an accurate grade after they retire, but we can "guess" as to how they'll end up.  You end up with terminology like the “excelling steal” or the “busted reach”. 

So the first term describes the relative career performance and the second term describes where he was drafted in comparison to where he should have been drafted.

So an “average on target” is a guy who had an average career compared to the other guys drafted around his draft number and was drafted around where he was expected to go.

Tommie Knight is a "busted reach".  The guy had a bad career and was drafted way too early.  Bryant Johnson is pretty close, although he's been around long enough to consider him a "below average reach".

Levi Brown was no doubt a reach.  He should have been taken in the late 1st - early 2nd.  But he isn't a bust.  He's had to good of a career to be considered that.  But since he hasn't come close to living up to his 5th overall selection he'd have to be an "average reach".  I'd say Calvin Pace was about the same. 

There are excelling reaches… I think.  Maybe I should say “theoretically” there are excelling reaches, because I can’t think of any.  I’m guessing Bruce Irvin might get close.  He was selected far too early, but should end up being a good player.  I guess you could argue “if he’s so good how could you select him too early?”  I’d only respond that the Hawks could have gotten him in the 2nd and still landed a great player in the 1st.  (That being said, they have a massive stud on their hands with Bobby Wagner drafted in that same 2nd round.  So maybe they have some master plan that defies common logic and I’m just a fool.  There’s a good chance of that.)

Bobbie Massie was a steal.  Right now he should be considered an “excelling steal” since he’s starting as a 4th round pick.  Dan Williams was a steal only because he was expected to go in the early 1st.  Right now I’d consider him an “average steal”. 

I'd argue that there are steals that don't pan out.  I know that sounds odd, but it is possible to get tremendous value for the draft pick only to see the guy fizzle out.  Going off my limited memory, Gabe Watson and Allan Branch are pretty close to that.  They slipped in the draft and the Cards took them.  However Gabe busted while Allan is probably below average.

I loved Andre Wadsworth coming out of college.  Injuries destroyed him.  But he went right where he was expected to go.  He’d be a “busted on target”.  Fitz is an example of an “excelling on target”. 

Of course there’s always an argument as to where a guy should go.  The question we all debate is “where would he have gone if we didn’t take him?”  That’s the balancing game the GMs have to play.  Good ones wait for the value to come to them, whereas poor ones panic and reach.  Poor scouting and limited savvy juice are usually the cause for the latter.

I will say this.  There is only one time that you should reach, but all the stars have to align. (in the negative).  1) No one will sensibly trade with you.  And 2) you have the next group of players (the size of the group is determined by the amount of picks between this and your next one) on your Big Board as having less Impact value than the guy you want.   If both of these are true then pick the guy you want.  Yes, you might get him in the next round, but maybe you have another guy that you’ll pick there so if you want both of them, you have to reach. (ala Bruce Irvin and Bobby Wagner?).

Other than that reaching is never good.  The Cards have traditionally found themselves in the reaching department.  I’m hoping Keim & Co. have the intelligence and determination to fix that.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Pre draft thoughts

One month to go and I’m confident the Cards have found themselves in a great position to grab some great talent and fix some glaring holes.  Just some thoughts on each pick.

#7  It’s easy to have a Big Board here as there only needs to be 7 players on it.  Geno’s the only QB I’d look at with this pick.  He’s going to be a solid player at the most important position, which, of course, is one of our weakest.  (I love the Drew Stanton signing BTW.  Cheap contract, low risk/high reward.).  After Geno, it’s pointless to talk about another position other than LT.  Joeckel, Fisher, and Johnson are easily top 10 talent at this point and have to be 2, 3, and 4 on the Cards Big Board.  Any of those guys would fit in nicely and give us an instant starter at our 2nd weakest position on offense.  And yes, it happens to be the 2nd most important position on offense.

Now, let say the world falls in on itself and all four of them are gone… what to do? What to do?  The answer is simple, trade that baby into the late 1st!  I’d be fine if we trade Chicago their 1st and next year’s first plus some change and land anther guy that can help us long term.  You’d have your choice of Jones, Warmack (he’ll slide just like every other G in draft history), Ansah, Werner, or even Manti T’eo.  I’d argue that the next 20 or so players are almost equal in talent and carry about the same Impact rate for the Cards.  So why grab a guy at #7 when you have a great chance of landing him at #20?  You don’t.  You see if someone really wants to move up and take the trade. 

If no one wants to trade, then we’re screwed.  I can’t see taking a G that early in this flooded market, so Warmack and Cooper are out.  I also can’t see us taking a DT for our 3-4.  That eliminates Floyd, Star, etc.  Milliner is certainly talented.  But how big a deal is landing ANOTHER CB?  I don’t see the need for trying to fill a position that we’ve just invested in.  At this point, I’d focus on the 4 OLBs: Jones, Ansah, Jordan, and Mingo.  Jones is the sure talent, but has the injury history.  Ansah is so raw, but so athletic.  Mingo looks the part, but disappeared last year.  Jordan has the injury questions among others.  I’d go Jones, then Ansah, then Jordan, then Mingo.  They’re all top 15 talent and fit a massive need at WOLB for us.  But they come with a boatload of questions for a #7 pick.  Let’s just hope one of the original four are there.

#38  In some ways this pick might yield more excitement than at #7.  I could see one of the 2nd tier talents drop here and have the Cards giddy at the steal potential.  Manti comes to mind.  People are stupid if they think he can’t play.  He’d be a monster next to Washington at SILB, which happens to be a top 5 need.  Minter would be a heck of a consolation prize if he’s there instead of Manti.  Then you have the Center prospects of Cooper and Barrett Jones.  Either would be massive upgrades (+20).  I don’t see any WOLBs fitting the mold of the 3-4 this late. 

This is usually where you get great deals on Cs, SILBs and Gs.  The G market is flooded.  I’d be fine with Warmack, Cooper, Jones, Fluker, Pugh, Thomas, or Warford.  However, I’m convinced that if we get one of the 3 LTs at #7 then Levi moves to RG.  I see him dominating there.  With Colledge being adequate, I don’t see the pressing need to grab a G over a SILB or C.  And I’m not so enamored with anyone else in the 3rd tier that I’d choose another player at another position.   But if one of those 2nd tier guys falls I’d be all over it.  Demontre Moore would be a massive steal here.

I’d avoid any QB at this pick.  I just see there being too much value elsewhere as none of the QBs warrant this kind of value.  As much as I love EJ, I’d rather trade up from the 3rd and grab him mid 2nd than take him here.

Also, under the assumption that the Cards were to be lucky enough to nab Geno at #7, I’d be looking at one of the 2nd round LTs.  Long has the athleticism to play the part but has a full rounds length of rawness over Lane Johnson.  And the Armstead kid is far behind Long.  Still, both should be considered.  (Although I’d rather trade back for them).

#69:  If one of these QBs falls to us here we should steal em here:  Wilson, Manuel,   Nassib, or Dysert.  The only addition to that group is if Renfree gets more notice.  I’m hoping to grab him in the 5th otherwise.  He’s my diamond in the rough of this draft.  This of course, assumes we didn’t get Geno in the 1st. 

If we do get Geno, or if none of the QBs are there, I’d like to see us get some of the talent that slipped out of the 2nd round.  Maybe one of the LTs: Long or Armstead.  Or one of the Gs that slipped between the cracks.  Maybe one of the remaining SILBs like Bostic.  Or look at FS, like Reid (he’d be a massive slip at this point), or Rambo, or McDonald. (Don’t we have to draft the son of an all time great Card?)  There’s also a good group of Cs at this point.  I like Khaled Holmes, but he looks like he might be more of a value pick up in the 4th.  Still, there are a lot of great options here.

#103:  I’m almost positive there will be a bundle of RBs left here to choose from.  Take the best remaining in this order: Randle, Bell, Taylor, Ball, Lattimore, Gillislee, and my other late round gem Theo Riddick.  We can probably land him in the 5th.  I wouldn’t look at much more than RB here, unless they are all gone which I highly doubt.  This looks like the prime spot to nab your RB of the next 3 years.

Ideal draft: (per CBS Rankings)

#7 Geno Smith QB
#38 Manti T’eo SILB
#69 Bacarri Rambo FS
#103 Khaled Holmes C
#140 Marcus Lattimore RB
#174 Sean Renfree QB
#176 Theo Riddick RB

I think the first 5 guys could start after camp, although I’d protect Geno a bit by letting Stanton take the beatings until the line gelled.  However, I have no LT in this scenario.  That means I hope we signed a guy like Winston Justice.  We also would be missing a WOLB, but I kinda don’t see us landing a stud this year anyway, so let Acho or Scho battle for that spot again

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The closing of the Kolb era

So the Kolb “era” comes to a close with a 1000 people screaming “I told you so.”  The sad part is that he could’ve been good had he had a real coach who knew how to mold offenses around their talent. 

So here’s the quick summary of the Kolb era:

I watched D.A. & the Gang throw up nightmarishly large attempts per game in 2010.  No team that I remember threw more percentage of passes per play than the Cards.  So they blamed the QBs when it all went sour.  Whiz’s fault plain and simple.

So they engage in needless desperation as they sell the farm for Kolb by giving DRC and a 2nd round pick to Philly plus an undeserved massive contract to Kolb. All based on Andy Reid’s recommendation.  Once again Whiz played the part of a fool.

The short off season didn’t help him at all.  He started the year off well against Carolina, and then soured as Whiz slowly corrupted him.  Of course, then the injuries started to poor in, mostly due to the inept offense putting him in positions of danger.  You gotta love Whiz and his stubbordumbness… oh wait… no you don’t.

Kolb turned out to be exactly what we saw in Philly: a decently accurate QB with injury issues.  However, we paid for a Pro Bowler and we got nothing so the deal was a bust. Thanks again Whiz.

Cutting him made perfect sense.  He’s not the future here, he’s damaged goods, and his contract was bulging.  I hope he can turn it around somewhere else but Whiz David Carred him, so I don’t see that happening.

Probably the only thing I’ll remember about Kolb is this quote:

“I guarantee Kolb’s package is five times bigger than Newton’s” – Tim Ryan