When I grade drafts, it’s important to me to keep perspective. I’m an NFL analyst, not a college scout. I’ll give scouting a shot during draft time, because that’s what it’s about, and I’ll rely on the opinions of those I expect to fill in the blanks, but am I going to bank on my pre-draft opinions of players to hold true in the NFL draft?
Probably not. I’m just being honest. But really, nobody has any idea.
Heck, if NFL personnel get half of their picks to pan out, they’re doing a good job.
We can’t grade these players right now. Waiting at least three years is the minimum for evaluating the job that each team’s scouts did on their respective picks.
Instant draft grades aren’t about whether or not the players are going to pan out. They can’t be. What instant draft grades and reactions are for, at least for me, is grading a team’s philosophy and team-building strategies. Don’t look at the name of a player, look at the type of player they are. Are they the kind of player that fits the team’s long-term needs? Are they the kind of player that is important to a team’s winning?
So when I say that Ryan Grigson irked me when Marvin Harrison announced OT Jack Mewhort as the Colts’ pick at No. 59, know that it’s not because I think Mewhort is a bad player.
It’s because the philosophy behind it doesn’t jibe with the value available. The Colts had a chance to really take an impact player at an important position. There were very high quality players at safety, pass rusher, cornerback and defensive line available.
I understand what’s to like about Mewhort. He’s versatile. He’s a valuable piece for your offensive line, a kind of glue guy who can protect against a unit crumbling because of injury. He’s the ultimate Swiss Army knife for the offensive line, the kind that has a little mini umbrella, a torx screwdriver and three different nail-filers.
Swiss Army knives are cool and all, but do you want to spend a premium dollar on them? I’d rather buy one big knife that I could cut anything I wanted to with.
That’s the thing. I didn’t value offensive line as highly in this draft as I did other positions. I think offensive line, in general, is overvalued by a lot of people. But even if the Colts wanted to go offensive line, there were players with higher ceilings available. Marcus Martin, for example, is a good center who could also play guard if need be. Gabe Jackson was the best guard left, and could probably come in and start right away (seriously, he’s awesome). Sure, they don’t have the flexibility of Mewhort, but they also have the potential to be much better at their respective positions.
Again, in the second round in a deep draft, I want an impact player. Which is why I loved Grigson’s next pick.
Former Ole Miss WR Donte Moncrief fits exactly what the Colts needed. A potential No. 1 with size, speed and good character, Moncrief gets to sit and learn from Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks before shouldering a full load.
Moncrief may not pan out, but the logic behind the pick is perfect. The Colts need to build around Andrew Luck, and Moncrief is an excellent example of the front office looking ahead, getting great value and finding a great fit for their system.
Forget about the names.
A high-ceiling receiver with good production in college, great character and size fits exactly what I would have targeted for Indianapolis.
A versatile lineman with a low ceiling is something that I would have targeted later, especially when it means passing on a potential starting safety and potential pass rush help.
If Mewhort works out as a long-term starter, people won’t remember it anyway. But the philosophy is something I totally disagree with, the same way I disagreed with it last season when Thornton and Holmes were the picks. I don’t think it’s the most efficient way to build a team. Mewhort isn’t a particularly good pass protector, and he’s not the impact player in the run game that would offset that.
If he turns out to be an All-Pro guard who is an excellent pass protector and keeps Luck largely free from interior pressure for much of his career, then yes, it would be a very good pick. But based on the resources I have available to me, he’s not that player.
Donte Moncrief, however, I can get behind. Grigson just keeps playing with me. First it was a phenomenal 2012 draft, drafting to give Andrew Luck talent around him. Then it was a head-scratcher in 2013. Now on Day 2 of 2014 there’s two picks that I’m on two completely different sides of the fence on.
Grigson giveth and Grigson taketh away. At some point, one side has to give way, right?