Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Path to the Draft - Andre Smith

Some people are interested in how I go about certain things in my sports year, so allow me to talk NFL draft preparation this morning for a moment before I get to the sports item that is on my mind;

The NFL Draft prep always starts as the NFL season is ending. I watch college football, but I don’t claim to be the expert that I aspire to be with the NFL. I watch college football – I study pro football. I consume everything about the NFL. I obsess about the NFL. I merely watch college football.

Therefore, as college players become pro players, I must become familiar with them by any means possible.

13 years ago, when I started trying to cover the draft, that meant to read whatever I could find (which wasn’t much until April). But now, I get started with the Bowl games. Then the Senior Bowl. Then the Combine. Then the pro days.

There is coverage of these players everywhere. NFL Network (I season pass Path to the Draft, every weekday at 5:30pm). Sirius NFL Radio (Tim Ryan and Pat Kirwan in afternoons). And of course, the internet. With the net, you can see 1,000 mocks, read 1,000 columns, and see 1,000 youtube clips of a player. It is amazing. Anyone can know the draft now.

At my day job, I work the Saturday every year at the draft. Therefore, I try to learn the top 100 players in the draft every year inside and out. Or at least, know the big stories pretty well.

Which brings me to the interesting case of Andre Smith. Smith is the amazing tackle from Alabama who won the Outland Award in 2008 with a dominating effort in the SEC.
As this process started, he was a possible #1 pick in the draft.

Now his name is mud, because he showed up at the Combine out of shape. His pro day went poorly, too.

And he is in total free fall. He appears to be the polarizing figure in the 2009 NFL Draft, and I wanted to show you the issues:

First, Shutdown Corner shows the popular belief about Andre

We haven't lived in the Kiper era of endless NFL draft information for very long, but in that time, I can't recall anyone's draft stock falling quite like Andre Smith's. Picture Wilford Brimley's frail and helpless body tumbling end-over-end off a cliff, picking up speed as it goes (Note: Do not picture this if you are Wilford Brimley, or someone who knows him). That's about what we're looking at here.

He (Smith, not Brimley) was once considered a possible number one overall pick, and now, he might not even be a second-day pick. If Andre Smith was the stock market, he'd be ... well, he'd be a lot like the stock market is right now.

I normally don’t interrupt a quote of an article to interject; But, the notion that he “might not even be a second-day pick” is the most absurd thing I have ever read.

Seriously. That may render everything else in his article completely moronic.

Anyway, let’s continue:

It all started at the combine, when Smith basically did everything the exact opposite of how it should have been done, and then left in the middle of it without telling anyone where he was going. But it was thought that Smith would have a chance to redeem himself, at least partially, at his Pro Day earlier this afternoon.

So how'd that go for him? Here's a snippet from TFYDraft.com:

The situation has gone from bad to worse for Andre Smith. His bench press results were a pitiful 19-reps. His position work was also very mediocre. One scout has told us is it the "worst workout he ever saw" and a number of scouts are cranky that they made the long trip to Alabama to watch the pitiful workout. A second scout has told us "Smith lost millions of dollars".

And from NFL.com:

To put Smith’s workout in perspective, he did not post a single number that would have placed him in the top performers at his position at the combine and many of his numbers were not even close to the top 10 at his position at the combine.
And PFT quotes a league source as saying that Smith "bombed."

The way things are going, teams will be drafting equipment managers before they draft Andre Smith. Most decent stadium hot dog vendors are more highly sought-after.

So, you read that, and you begin to think that this guy is worthless. His name has been sullied, and if you believe what you hear and read, you would be wise to take him completely off your draft board.

BUT. Didn’t he win the Outland Award last season? Didn’t he do this in the SEC where he is blocking Defensive Ends who are also NFL talents many weeks? Isn’t he still the owner of those great feet and long arms that made him a potential #1 pick?
Before you believe the hype, that he is in complete free fall, do me a favor – forget about his poor workout, his man boobs, and his poor ability to properly declare his combine intentions – and watch his film:

Andre Smith

Ah yes, the eyeball test. Your eyes are not deceiving you. You just saw a man put on a clinic at Left Tackle in the SEC. Dominating. I would be more than happy to put him at Left Tackle on my team for the next 10 years.

So, how is this happening to his stock? is he getting bad advice? Why is he not staying in shape?

And how much of that is important? Isn’t it the opposite of the “workout warrior” who cannot actually play football? A guy who dominates on the field, but doesn’t impress with his workouts?

And, if a guy can’t keep in shape in the months before the NFL Draft, what is he going to do in 5 years when he is fat, rich, and happy?

Also, can we rule out a team that is trying to spread bad rumors about the kid just so he slides right to them on draft day (Warren Sapp)?

The questions NFL teams are trying to answer.

The case of Andre Smith. Fascinating. But, there is no way he drops out of the top 15. No way.

Michael Lombardi’s latest top 10 mock

1 Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford QB Georgia

2 St. Louis Rams Eugene Monroe OT Virginia

3 Kansas City Chiefs Aaron Curry OLB Wake Forest

4 Seattle Seahawks B.J. Raji DT Boston College

5 Cleveland Browns Brian Orakpo DE/OLB Texas

6 Cincinnati Bengals Jason Smith OT Baylor

7 Oakland Raiders Andre Smith OT Alabama

8 Jacksonville Jaguars Mark Sanchez QB USC

9 Green Bay Packers Aaron Maybin DE/OLB Penn State

10 San Francisco 49ers Robert Ayers DE Tennessee

A bigger mock from National Football Post

Lombardi looks at the Cowboys off-season questions

Here is a breakdown of key NFC East questions.

1. Who is going to make plays on the ball in the secondary? The Cowboys were one of the worse teams in the NFL in interceptions. They must improve their secondary play.

2. Where is the depth in the offensive line going to come from? Every starter is over 30 years old.

3. Will the Cowboys be able to repair their run defense with the addition of Keith Brooking? They allowed too many big plays in the run game, and some of this was a result of some of the worse safety tackling in the NFL.

4. Who will be the main return man for the ‘Boys? Pacman Jones averaged a “whopping” 4.5 yards per punt return. They need to improve their vertical field position.

5. Will they have enough depth at wide receiver? Miles Austin and Patrick Crayton take a larger role in the offense. Who will fill their roles?

Fun with pawning rings …good read…

Blake Griffin comedy

Randy Moss is fishing and smoking and looking cool

Matt Greene is an animal
Perhaps, you are starting to get Rangers Spring Training fever and you want to see some spring training baseball

• Sun. March 22 3 p.m. Los Angeles Dodgers
• Wed. March 25 8 p.m. Arizona
• Fri. March 27 8 p.m. Milwaukee
• Sat. April 4 1 p.m. Kansas City

UFC Trading Cards

Torres v Ronaldo

WBC Almost fight

1 comment:

Matt said...

Bob -

Regarding Andre Smith, I think his film looks pretty solid, and I'd agree with you that saying he's anything but a first day pick is ludicrous. However, there were some issues with his play on the video you posted.

First, he seems to have some issues with fast outside rushers. Anyone who went inside on him got swallowed up, but the once or twice that he lined up against a true speed rusher looked shaky (see the last play of the video). In college, speed guys are small, and can be taken care of if you get one hand on them. So this begs the question: what happens when he goes up against freakishly quick NFL players? What do you think Dwight Freeney, James Harrison, or Demarcus Ware would do to this guy?

Second, he seems to have lapses in concentration and take wrong steps. For example, there was one shot where he took the wrong guy on a twist and was able to use his quickness to get back. Kudos to him, but that quickness will mean far less at the next level, where the window to make a proper read and take the right assignment is tiny. I think teams would be wise to regard that tendency with caution.

Finally, I was suprised to see that he didn't have much pop at the next level. He would pancake a defensive end or shove aside a tackle, then get to a linebacker and kinda nudge them. You'd think a guy who can manhandle defensive linemen would have a bit more pop on a smaller player.

All in all, a good, but not great, player. He might be given to laziness and mental lapses, but you are absolutely right that he has a terrific skill set. Teams would be foolish to pick him up in the top of round one, and foolish to let him slip past round two.

-p1 matt