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NFL Draft Follies

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Nobody could have seen this coming!

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers released 2016 second-round draft pick Roberto Aguayo over the weekend. It isn’t hindsight to declare that decision stupid, because it was foolish at the time and only looked more foolish when Aguayo, one of the most accurate kickers in NCAA history, turned out to be verybad in the NFL.

The MMQB’s Peter King was able to get Bucs GM Jason Licht in the aftermath and asked him, “How badly did you fuck this up?” (Okay, King actually asked “How do you feel?”) Unsurprisingly, Licht has some regrets about the decision…

To be Scrupulously Fair, before this Florida teams blowing draft picks of real value on kickers had a great track record:

Meanwhile, Barnwell has a good rundown of the two trades made by the Bills, which is another lesson in dumb drafting.  In summary:

  • The Bills traded a first round pick to trade up for Sammy Watkins. Watkins was certainly an A prospect, but this is still a bad gamble. Very few wideouts are good enough to be worth two first rounders. Yeah, the Falcons don’t regret trading up for Julio Jones, but even a top prospect is unlikely to become that good.
  • Still, the Bills certainly needed weapons, and maybe you could justify it if it was a really thin draft at WR. But, of course, the draft was extremely deep in WR talent, and this was known at the time — 4 more went in the first round. As of now, Watkins ranks below three of them (OBJ, Evans, and Cooks) and given his injury history that’s likely how they’ll end up. To be clear, I am not criticizing Buffalo for picking Watkins first — I’m sure the Giants, Bucs and Saints all would have taken him if they had the 5th pick, and Watkins has underachieved the other 3 because of injury, not talent. But the point is that the difference between high quality prospects is never going to be worth an extra first rounder — there are too many things you don’t know.
  • Fast forward to 2016. The Rams traded approximately 20 first round picks to trade up for Jared Goff. Now, a first-rate QB is actually worth multiple first rounders, and I might consider doing that for a true generational prospect like Peyton Manning or Luck — someone who scouts saw as a great prospect, who had shown high accuracy and several season’s worth of starts against serious competition, and was running a pro-style offense. Problem is, Goff his only 1 out of 3 — his numbers were very good, but the scout consensus was more good-than-great prospect, and QBs from the Air Raid system have a dismal track record.  This was a bad gamble.
  • It’s too early to write him off entirely, but he was atrocious in his first year. The fact that a coach who couldn’t survive another losing season kept him on the bench for half the season to play behind a below-replacement-level veteran was a bad sign, and when he played…well, let me put it this way: Goff’s Rating+ was 61. JaMarcus Russell’s in his two seasons as a starter were 93 and 59, Ryan Leaf’s 54 and 70. His DVOA was -74.8%; Brock Osweiler, the next worse, was -26.8%.  He didn’t get much help from the coaching staff or the personnel, but in contemporary football it would be pretty rare for a good QB to be that bad in his rookie year.
  • And to bring us full circle, desperate to do what they could to make a bad gamble work out, the Rams dealt another second rounder for one year of a very talented wideout with injury problems.

In conclusion, there’s a reason the best organizations are much more likely to trade down than up and would never, ever use a real draft pick on a kicker — they know what can’t be known. The Bills, for the first time since early in the Clinton administration, seem to be in competent hands. The Rams, apparently, remain the Rams.

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