Posted: Tuesday April 10, 2007 10:22AM; Updated: Tuesday April 10, 2007 11:35AM
NOT A FAN OF THIS IDEA, BEN. From Ben A. of Chicago: Since teams have to pay top draft picks so much money, why doesn't the NFL offer teams relief for the salary cap impact if that player is a bust. Say the Oakland Raiders do what most of the experts say they should do, draft JaMarcus Russell and pay him No. 1 pick money. Then say he ends up being another Ryan Leaf or Tim Couch. Now they have salary-cap issues to go along with wasting the top overall pick that they desperately needed. I know that perpetually bad franchises are that way for a reason, but it sure seems like the system is stacked against them.''
I disagree. If a team errs on a bad pick, it should have to bear the salary-cap ramifications.
NOW THIS IS A GOOD QUESTION. From Craig Block of Iowa City: "Although I am not certain of your level of golf interest, I am curious to read your argument to the following question. Zach Johnson and Kurt Warner attended the same high school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Which do you think is the bigger accomplishment: winning The Masters over Tiger Woods (and others), or winning the Super Bowl and MVP honors?''
Wow. I didn't know that. Did Johnson work at a Hy-Vee too? Both men winning at the highest level of their sport is great because it shows hard work is its own reward.
A strong case could be made for both accomplishments. Warner came from miles off the radar screen, and is probably the most unlikely NFL MVP winner of all time. I'm not much of a golf fan, so I had never heard of Zach Johnson before last Friday or Saturday. Now that I've read some of his life story, he seems to be a plucky, never-say-die Midwestern kid who always believed he could make it on the PGA Tour.
Now there's one thing you mentioned that makes this very, very interesting. Johnson had to survive the pressure that came from a late charge by maybe the greatest golfer of all time, on the biggest stage of the golf world. For that, I'm going to say the accomplishment by Johnson has to be a singular one and is slightly better than Warner's. But let's not forget one thing: Warner had to do it week after week, and in the biggest stage in football, the Super Bowl. It's a very tough call. I'd probably give it to Johnson, with incredible respect, though, to Warner.
JAKE PLUMMER ISN'T MUCH OF A FOOTBALL FAN. From Mark of Denver: "Despite the rare history of teams trading down, do you see the Raiders swapping picks with Tampa for one of their quarterbacks? And do you think Jake Plummer would un-retire to start for a team that faces the Broncos twice per season?''
Plummer will not come out of retirement unless he feels like playing football again. The fact that he could play the Broncos twice a year would have nothing to do with it because Plummer, like most modern athletes, will not let a grudge against a team drive his decision. That might have happened in the 1950s, but not now. Plummer has enough money (and I know him; he's not a money guy, so coming back for more money would mean nothing to him) to do what he wants with the rest of his life, football or no football.
ANOTHER COUNTRY HEARD FROM. From Samuel of Oakland but now living in Prague: "Is there any thing a fan can do to get Al Davis to draft JaMarcus Russell? A QB handles the ball on every offensive play. A receiver gets what, maybe 10 touches a game? And those touches depend on having a QB who can deliver the ball. Why, oh WHY is Al Davis flirting with drafting Johnson? Even if Johnson is a can't-miss prospect, he can't do anything but miss if the QB can't complete passes. HELP!!!''
I agree. And consider your message passed on.
YOU FORGET ONE THING ABOUT THE BILLS IN THE DRAFT LAST YEAR. From Tom Hirliman of Chesapeake, Va.: "I find it interesting that this year it is OK to stand pat and not trade down. Last year, the Bills got killed in the media for not trading down. Call me crazy but maybe no one wanted to move up into their spot.''
Ah, but wait. Denver wanted to move up to the eighth spot, and Buffalo could have had the Broncos' No. 15 pick, still gotten safety Donte' Whitner of Ohio State and paid him less than they had to pay at No. 8. That was my only problem with the Bills' handling of their draft spot last year -- not drafting Whitner, who played very well as a rookie. Sometimes you win not only by getting the pick or picks from the trade-down, but also from paying the player less, which leaves you more cap room to sign additional players.
THIS BROWNS FAN WANTS THE MEAT-AND-POTATOES PICK. From David of Indian Trail, N.C.: "As a Browns fan, please tell me that GM Phil Savage is posturing, blowing smoke about trading up at all, let alone for JaMarcus Russell. You list more than enough reasons to avoid moving any higher than we already are. If they don't take offensive tackles Joe Thomas or Levi Brown, we're sunk ...again.''
Hmmmm. I'd have thought most Browns fans would kill for JaMarcus Russell. But a good case can be made for either tackle, particularly Thomas, whose feet and athletic ability seem to be rare.
ANOTHER HATER OF THE DRAFT-TRADE CHART: From Nye Wade of Evansville, Ind.: "I am so glad you addressed what I've been thinking for quite some time. I am sick of reading and hearing about the Draft Trade Chart. I'm a Cowboys fan and appreciate what Jimmy Johnson did with the team, but for teams to value draft positions based upon Jimmy's chart is ridiculous for many reasons.
First, the chart had to provide a clear advantage for Jimmy to use because there is no way Jimmy would allow himself to come out on the short end on a deal. This looks great for one team, but they must find a sucker to make the deal happen. Second, talent does not align equally every year, so one chart cannot accurately value each pick year in and year out. Third, the chart disregards fluctuation in talent levels, depth, and team needs. Finally, it assumes all teams draft equally well and use each pick optimally. The chart is a tool to try and give some foundation for action. But it neither provides sound judgment nor absolute certainty. Thank you for breaking the silence. Thank you for letting me vent.''
You're welcome. They must be selling smart pills over there in Evansville, where I spent many basketball Saturdays in the early '80s covering the roundball. Excellent e-mail.