Posted: Friday April 15, 2005 4:39PM; Updated: Friday April 15, 2005 5:57PM
Russ of Dumfries, Va., wonders how teams usually do when they trade down in the first round, and do I have stats on it? No, sadly, but I'd guess the results are about 50-50. First of all, you have to be absolutely sure what you're doing, which Bill Walsh certainly was when he did all that draft maneuvering and multiple trade-downs in 1986 and wound up with eight starters.
Jason of Charlotte asks whether teams ever look for bargains at the top of the draft and show an inclination to grab someone because the price is right. Sure it happens. Conversely, there are some players who might be a good fits who scare teams away because the clubs don't like dealing with their agent or agents. Clients of the Postonbrothers fit into that category.
Never mind the Browns woofing about the skill positions, says Jason of, well, Cleveland. Give us meat and potatoes, such as a solid run-stopping linebacker. Or, I might add, some offensive line help or some defense up front. Well, Romeo Crennel wouldn't mind doing just that, trading out of the No. 3 spot and sacrificing the premier wideout in the draft, Braylon Edwards, for a few solid lower choices. But as of this writing, he can't find anyone who wants to trade with him. And thank you, Jason, for your nice comments about my work.
Dr. Z will answer select user questions each week in his NFL mailbag.
Andre of Sydney River (I knew his brother, Hudson), Nova Scotia, wants to know what position is most adaptable to the pro game. And then he answers it himself by saying running back. I agree, yes, but with one reservation. A lot of them have to be taught blitz control. Bill Parcells was always leery of playing rookie runners too soon because he didn't want his quarterbacked killed. Thanks for the kind words and the wine tip about Nova Scotia's local Jost Wines. I have always liked the ice wines of the Niagara region but I've never tasted the ones you name. A lot of things I haven't done, and lo, the shadows are lengthening.
Russ of Santa Clara, Calif., and thanks for you know what, asks about the rookie salary structure. Last year $120,800,000 went into the NFL's rookie pool, which comes out to $3.775 million per team, prorated as to how many draft choices it had. Bonuses and salary are averaged out, over the life of the contract, the way they do the salary cap. This year the rookie pool is expected to go up around four and a half percent. Many thanks to the NFL's Joel Bussert and Greg Aiello for the complete figures.
Charles of Arlington, Texas, suggests a fan insurrection calling for a return of the game to where it belongs, its roots. Take it away from the corporate types and return it to the ordinary folks, such as you and me and the Flaming Redhead. (OK, maybe not Linda. She happens to be descended from royalty.) "Why not call for a general boycott of these new superstadiums?" he writes. "Complete, total, non-support for just one year. Don't buy any apparel from the gift shop, nothing." OK, Charles, I can tell you're new to this protest game.
Take it from one who has been through four newspaper strikes and whose father was a union organizer for 60 years ... that "just one year" thing is very bad, tactically. It's like calling a strike and announcing that it'll last for only 30 days. You don't want to tip your hand. Management will just tough it out till the hard times are over. OK, say you change tactics and say the boycott will last as long as it has to. No good. Everyone will simply elbow his or her way past your little band, everyone will be a strikebreaker, eager to fill the void that you left, to latch onto actual tickets, to buy even more trinkets. You won't generate enough support, and without it, you'll just be a grim little band of protesters, hassled by the cops, jeered by the crowds heading to the game. (Linda, would you please put that those union songs on ... you know, Solidarity Forever, We Shall Not Be Moved, that bunch?)
Angelo of Calgary says my criticism of NFL commentators fawning over the superstars is nothing compared to the golf announcers when Tiger is in the running for a title. Yeah, yeah, I know -- nothing but babble. But I'll tell you a secret about watching golf on TV. All that stuff just washes over me. I ignore it. It's relaxing, like an old man's doze in the afternoon sunshine. I can get up and go to the bathroom, go into the kitchen and make myself an egg salad sandwich, and come back without mising a hell of a lot. And the same blah blah is coming out of the tube. It's not like the NFL, when I'm charting like mad, writing furiously to keep up, replaying things during the time outs, and just making it back in time, yelling at the announcers when they've blown still another play. That's work, golf is tranquility.
A tough one from Mike of L.A.: Do I foresee the day when steroids will be legal? Since their use is so hard to control, Mike reasons, then why not monitor them closely, trying to make them less harmful, without banning them? Well, Mike, then why not make hard drugs legal? Would you want your kids taking steroids? And don't forget, they start at the high school level, maybe even earlier. Would you want them putting something into their bodies before the effects are fully known? How about only the rich superstars getting the competitive advantages? If something is bad, fight to eliminate it, not to embrace it.
Johnny of Dallas is next up, and I appreciate your praise, and the fact that you have a redhead of your own, especially a Texas redhead. Now to business. Question No. 1: What's the toughest division? People might argue, and of course it changes, year to year, but my choice right now would be the AFC South with Indy, Jacksonville, Houston and Tennessee. No. 2: How will the Cowboys do and who are they drafting? They'll do OK if they get high productivity at the QB position. They're drafting defense. I'll probably give them D-line in both first-round picks.