Game Time: Sure I'll Grade The Texans' Draft, Just As Soon As I'm Done Tweeting With Peter King
Tweet this: The Texans are stone junkies for tight ends.
I admit I'm a total mark for Twitter. I'm not one of those people who has to tweet every little thing that happens throughout the day (unless there is some semblance of comedic value, and then I become to Twitter what Travis Henry becomes to the vagina). I have a little over 2,000 Twitter followers. I follow around 150 people. I'm not on Tweetdeck yet, but probably need to be.
I hate people that tweet things like "about to eat potatoes, yuck," not because I am a huge potato fan but because there is no intrinsic value to that tweet -- inform me, entertain me, make me chuckle, give me a link to a podcast, DO SOMETHING.
At the risk of sounding like a complete loser, I still get a kick out of it anytime someone with some modicum of celebrity re-tweets me or responds to a question. (Admit it, so do you.) It doesn't happen often. John Ondrasik ("Five for Fighting" singer/songwriter/musician/sports fan/all-around good guy) has re-tweeted me a couple times; we've had him on our show before and the guy is nails. Darnell Dockett (Arizona Cardinals Pro Bowl defensive lineman) has re-tweeted and responded to a few of my tweets; Dockett is a beauty, not afraid at all to call out his employer piblicly for front-office lunacy. That would be boring if he worked for, say, Google, but fortunately for us he works for the Arizona Cardinals. Gold, Jerry, gold.
But for as much as everyone talks about Twitter being "one more way for media types/TV and movie stars/athletes to interact with their fans," (a) most of them are ridiculously boring and (b) most of them don't interact at all. They just...well, act. There is no "inter."
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That's why I appreciate what renowned football writer Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) does on Twitter (and to be fair, there are others in the football media world who are highly interactive, Jay Glazer (@Jay_Glazer) and Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) come to mind, but this story involves King).
Those who listen to my radio show know I don't always agree with everything King writes in his "Monday Morning Quarterback" column on SI.com, but I have said many times that when it's a story about what goes on behind the scenes, there's no one better at telling the ins and outs of a sequence of events, complete with quotes from everyone involved, than King. The guy has access like few have, and to his credit, he does a really good job of sharing the benefits of that access with his readers/followers.
On Sunday morning, King tweeted a couple things with which I disagreed. One of them was his response to another follower of his saying "Anyone could tell you draft grades in 3 years. It's your job as a paid professional to give us your grades now," which was a notion King flatly replied to as "Stupid." I replied in kind with the following:
@SI_PeterKing Why r draft rep cards stupid? Isn't it just 1 way of predicting likelihood of success for that group of players?
To King's credit, not only did he reply, but he took the time in a handful of direct messages to me (which for the un-Twitterfied is the Twitter equivalent of heading over to someone's house to tell them your thoughts in person) to clarify what he meant by the report cards being "stupid," which was basically this (and I'm piecing together his direct message tweets) --
It's a foolish exercise. Watch the report cards. Almost all are based on where teams draft, unless there's a gaffe like Alualu at 10 ... Of course we'll be wrong on most of them in 3 yrs -- the same way teams are. And it's folly to think any in media except the Mayocks and John Harrises (Pendergast note: I added Harris, King didn't mention him directly.) watch tape of 5th-round types -- so how would we know if Kevin Thomas or Brandon Ghee is a better CB today? We are not authorities on these players.
So basically, PK is saying draft report cards are almost always wrong and it's an exercise in futility, and the only ones even qualified to do them are guys who have seen all these guys play. Got it, agree with most of it. We exchanged a couple more tweets, and I went on my way, and PK went on his way. Kind of cool exchanging brief thoughts with someone I read weekly on the evaluation of a process that's consumed our sports lives the past three days (and actually, on our show, much longer). Wow, this Twitter thing may catch on after all!
Anyway, my brush with fame story now out of the way, here are my thoughts on what King had to say about report cards. I agree with the general spirit of what he's saying -- the vast array of report cards that we have seen/are seeing/will see over the next few days are from people who have seen just a fraction of the guys drafted play more than a few times. The true "experts" who are qualified to grade how teams did are the ones who (a) have a firm understanding of every team's needs and (b) have seen the vast majority of these players in action multiple times, watching and focusing specifically on these players (which actually means watching individual games more than once or twice, to be honest).
So as you view report cards this week, ask yourself if the person generating the report card has a firm grasp on both bullet points above. You'll be surprised (or maybe you won't) about how few of these report cards have any credibility, under that criteria.
This brings me to the second point about draft report cards which King espoused -- the general foolishness of the process to begin with (i.e. their basis and subsequent results). This is actually something I disagree with him on to some extent. As long as the people putting out the report cards are people who fall into the College Football Player Evaluation Jedi Level category I alluded to above, I like the report cards.
The easy response to this from draft gurus is "Well, it's really stupid to give a grade to a draft class until we see how they develop and how it all plays out." What the experts who fear attaching grades to draft classes fail to understand is that we, as fans, value their opinion and we just want an answer to "How do you think these classes will develop over time, and how well did my team fill its needs?" The letter grade is merely a common language we can all understand that gives something quantitative and measurable to a highly, highly subjective evaluation. Adjectives can get twisted and lack clarity, but we all know what an "A-" means, especially juxtaposed to a "B" or a "D+". That's all.
In other words, the draft report card is just another form of prediction, no different than the ten mock drafts that you draftologists all did leading up to the draft on Thursday. We know it won't be perfect, but if there are a select few of you out there with unique knowledge (i.e. Mayock, Kiper, McShay, Harris, Zierlein, etc) that can help us determine if our team did well or did poorly overall this weekend, we all understand grades.
When you predict outcomes of games, it's easy to quantify degrees of success or failure because there is a score. Numbers. "I think so and so will win by 14." So when they actually win by only three, you were eleven off. "Quality of NFL drafts" is not an item that has a number attached to it. It's subjective.
Grades help us compare teams and comprehend degrees of what you experts think better than do mere words like "good," "very good," "really, really good," "great," "dynamic," "explosive," "slow" or "stupid". So my plea to people who are Jedi level on their knowledge of things like defensive backs from Division I-AA schools (because I am not of that knowledge level), keep the report cards coming. Or if you don't do them, try! Fear not being wrong, we'll keep reading you, we promise.
As for the Texans draft, I like most everyone were highly amused when they drafted another tight end (after drafting two last year to play behind Owen Daniels and Joel Dreessen), let alone another Wisconsin tight end. I even cracked a few jokes on Twitter about Gary Kubiak and Rick Smith after the Garrett Graham selection snorting lines of tight end in the back of a rave bar somewhere, like a couple tight end addicts. Admittedly, it got weird when they actually drafted ANOTHER tight end (Dorin Dickerson of Pitt) a few rounds later, like this time around I actually pondered calling up the Texans' media folks and seeing about staging a "tight end intervention."
Of course, like a couple of junkies who rationalize their drug abuse to friends and family as "no big deal" and "I can stop any time I want," Kubiak and Smith quickly pointed out that they drafted Dickerson as a receiver, not as a tight end. Whatever. Junkies.
Also, my 10-year-old Sammy loves small, fast players. Mostly because he himself is a small, fast player; he's always been the smallest kid on every team he's played on. It doesn't matter what sport you ask him about, his favorite guy is someone diminutive. Baseball? Michael Bourn. Basketball? Aaron Brooks. Football? David Anderson (@whiteout89 on Twitter, by the way). Pro wrestling? Rey Mysterio. Basically, tiny people are to Sammy what tight ends are to Kubiak and Rick Smith.
So imagine Sammy's elation when he found out the Texans had drafted Trindon Holliday, the miniature kick/punt returner from LSU. I had a hard time making Sammy understand just how little and fast Holliday is. "No Sammy, you don't understand, this is the LITTLEST and FASTEST guy in all of college football, and now the NFL! There is NO ONE LITTLER NOR FASTER!"
This is like telling Tiger Woods *"No, you don't understand, Tiger...she is a Perkins waitress who dabbles in porn in her spare time and she has NO internet access! Do you understand what I'm telling you?!?"
And how about the Texans getting their requisite Colorado State Ram with their other sixth round pick, Shelley Smith? And how about the fact that the funniest thing about this pick wasn't the Colorado State connection (For those keeping track, the Texans have roughly 35 players from CSU on their roster.), but that the pick's name is...well, Shelley Smith?? Not "Aaron Andrews," not "Todd Harris," but Shelley Smith, the one sideline reporter's name that would send Twitter nation into inappropriate hysterics with tweets about "low center of gravity" and "tough at the point of attack."
In the end, if we're talking about sideline reporters, I give to you Fox Sports sideline sweetheart Sam Steele (@yosamsteele on Twitter; how I have more followers than her, I have no idea.). This video is great...
...if I can Kiper McShay this thing, my scouting report:
-- Good quick release
-- Solid arm strength
-- Can make all the throws, throw to far hash no problem
-- Incredible toughness
-- Really, really good looking
Honestly, I'm all in on Sam Steele for Texans scout team. We need to start this movement. Today. (As the warden in The Shawshank Redemption says "Not tomorrow, not after breakfast...NOW.")
So, all in all, my report card on the Texans draft from a comedic standpoint:
-- Drafted an Alabama corner in the first round and an Auburn running back in the second round; outstanding fodder for SEC GUY (@secguy on Twitter), whose assessment of the Kareem Jackson selection on our show can be found here.
-- Drafted another tight end from Wisconsin to go along with the fifteen other tight ends on the roster; chased this with another tight end pick disguised as a receiver pick in the seventh round.
-- Drafted another CSU player who happens to share the same name as a heavyset ESPN sideline reporter.
PENDERGAST DRAFT GRADE: TEXANS: A+
As for how I think the Texans actually did in the draft from an on-the-field standpoint, how the hell should I know? Ask John Harris. He's the smart one on our show. I'm too busy tweeting with my new Twitter buddy, Peter King!
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7p.m. weekdays on the Sean &
John Show, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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