PRO FOOTBALL

The Lament of Armchair General Managers

TAMPA, MAY 1, 2018 – It’s truly intriguing, reading all the comments from around the states and around the world – Men and Women, older folks and younger kids, everyone you can imagine – immediately following the NFL Draft.

It seems every fan of your team will chime in with their opinion of how their team ‘blew the draft by not taking Cornerback Shifty Shingles from the University of Podunk’ or that their season will be wrecked because their team’s scouts rated Rusty Ratchetman a better defensive lineman when it was obvious to God, Moses, and even the bartender serving them that Bigum Massabunchabigpolydude would’ve been the better pick… and by God, Bigum was still ON THE BOARD at the time!!

What really sucks is Bigum would be taken two picks later by your division rival, so that mistake will come back and bite you in the arse twice a year for the next umpteen years… or until Bigum succumbs to knee/back/hip surgery due to his ginormous girth.  It’ll only be then when said distraught armchair general manager will exclaim “Wheeww…  I’m SO GLAD we didn’t take Massabunchabigpolydude in THAT draft and took Ratchetman (who will play a few years for their team before becoming a WWE wrestler by the name of Rusty “BIG TOOL” Ratchetman) instead.

An example of this sheer outrage cited above  was felt in two of the ‘Bay Areas’ this past weekend as Tampa Bay and Oakland made trades in the first round of the 2018 Draft.  These trades were to teams who were quarterback-needy, as Buffalo and Arizona moved up to take Josh Allen and Josh Rosen, respectively, at picks seven and ten.

Gauging fan reaction here in Tampa, most Bucs fans were delighted in moving back a few picks, but the  same feeling, however, couldn’t be stated for the East Bay in California.  Raider Nation as a whole nearly went into apoplectic seizures, cursing and swearing and vowing to come to Raider Headquarters and giving ol’ Reggie McKenzie (General Manager) and Jon Gruden (Head Coach 2.0) a piece of their mind!

Granted, cursing and swearing and vows of vengeance are standard fare for most Raiders’ fans.  What makes this uproar most perplexing are the extremely hyped-up expectations in Oakland for this year’s team… and Jon Gruden’s presence in particular.  After all… it’s SUPER BOWL OR BUST prior to the East Bay Pirates leaving for Viva Las Vegas…

It’s in this vein that Raider Nation threw a fit reminiscent of a Turret’s patient on an extremely bad day.  I’ll forego the actual language, but the gist was how idiotic it was to take an offensive tackle with their first pick after getting fleeced in that trade down anyway… and since every ‘fan’ knows we need DEEEEEFENSE.  College studs such as James, Edmunds, Alexander, Vander Esche, Evans and Bryan were all still on the board at 15 at positions of need but were snapped up accordingly.

Adding insult to Raider psyche injury was taking some “unknown” in the second round at DT (“We could’ve had VEA at 10!!” they screamed.)  Another offensive tackle from an “lesser” school in the third round early (“WTF is Reggie/Gruden thinking? We Need DEEEEEEEFENSE!!”) A rush end next with some off-field issues (“Good pick… but worried about him,” they exclaim, remembering the Raiders also acquired Martavis Bryant from Pittsburgh for that 3rd round pick from the trade down).  Bryant is another player with problems staying on the field due to off-field issues.

Then it was a cornerback in the fourth (“Typical Reggie pick… dude has injury issues… same ol’ stuff…”) Finally a pleasant surprise in the fifth (“HURST BABY!! About time!!”); A punter (“RUFKM? Punters are a dime a dozen… grrrrrrrr… WE NEED DEFENSE!!”) Finishing with a linebacker in the sixth and a wide out in the last round (“Dudes are camp fodder – they’ll never make it… CRAPPY DRAFT… Thaaaaaaaaaaanks Reggie and Jon!!”)

Yes, these were the comments I was reading from various Oakland fan sites.  It appears the Raiders have the largest Scouting/Personnel/Assistant GM staff in the NFL, numbering upwards of 50,000 minimum… or so it would seem.  The problem with these comments is they are made by disgruntled, mostly ignorant ‘fans’ that can’t see behind the scenes.  There is in fact ‘THE PLAN’ in Oakland – ‘THE PROCESS’ is in Philly, so it’ll not be used here.

I don’t portend to be a mind-reader or have electronic surveillance devices inside Raiders’ HQ… or Reggie’s and Gruden’s house.  What I do know is the Raiders’ need to keep their #1 asset Derek Carr upright and clean, and their present tackles are recently injury prone on the left side and not worth a ham sandwich on the right.  Enter Colton Miller (regarded as the Top 1-2 Tackle in the Draft) and Brandon Parker (You can’t teach SIZE folks, as well as his upside ability).

While we’re at it, P.J. Hall and Maurice Hurst will be a fantastic rookie tandem of space-eaters this year, and are an important part of the defense Raider fans yearned to acquire this year.  No matter where Hall was drafted… or that Hurst slid because of some medical issues which didn’t stop him from being a stud in the Big10 for years.  These additions are just what the Raiders need… PLUGGERS in the middle… pushing the pocket and stopping the run.

Cornerback Nick Nelson is a large cornerback who can defend the pass quite well, again playing in the Big10.  Johnny Townsend is a TOP Punter in all of college football, and would’ve been the first punter off the board last year if he declared.  I’m a Gator alumnus, and know his capabilities… He’ll handle the punting duties quite well, and as a bonus, he already has great timing and rapport with free-agent kicker Steady Eddie Pinero, acquired by the Raiders following the draft.  Pinero is a dynamic, strong-legged kicker who already is much better than incumbent Giorgio Tevecchio.

Azeem Victor at Linebacker and Marcell Ateman at Wide Receiver have the chance to contribute immediately on special teams and possible spot play, but again, they’re sixth and seventh round picks… so don’t expect them to be immediate starters.

The point is… the Draft is a crapshoot overall, so don’t think every pick in every round needs to be destined to wear a gold jacket in Canton – Be Real!!  And don’t quit your day or night job… let the real professionals who scout, write the playbook and imagine how the ‘whole’ will come together do THEIR jobs.  YOUR JOB is to stand and cheer, jeer, exult, and be a FAN… nothing else.

Jay “Captain Jack” Levy, BCP Contributor