Posted in Four Downs

Four Downs – Building a Winner through The Draft

by The White Tiger on February 11, 2010

Things that make you go hmm?

Four Downs makes its debut appearance on Bucs Central. The column will be used to give opinions, analysis or too answer questions on the latest happenings surrounding the team each week or when warranted. In this weeks edition Bucs Central newest contributor The White Tiger – takes a look at building a winner in the NFL.

Four downs to building a winner in the NFL:

Just how do successful NFL team execs build a winner, is there a “magic formula”?

I’m not sure there is a SINGLE way, but while doing some research on the topic recently I found a very interesting formula and support data. It’s pretty simple, it goes something like this (by order): 1) Quarterback, 2) Left Tackle, to protect that quarterback, 3) and a defensive player to chase the other teams quarterback.

See what I mean? Simple.

Look at the teams that selected QB’s between 2007 and 2008. Notice they also targeted – and more often than not – got a guy to protect their quarterbacks in that same draft?

2007
1) Oakland
QB JaMarcus Russell 1st pick/1st rd – LT Mario Henderson selected 3rd Rd.
2) Cleveland
LT Joe Thomas 1st rd/3rd pick – QB Brady Quinn 1st rd/22nd pick.

2008
1) Atlanta
QB Matt Ryan 1st rd/1st pick – LT Sam Baker 1st rd/21st pick.
2) Baltimore
QB Joe Flacco 1st rd/18th pick.

Anything jump out at you about Baltimore’s 1st round selection of Joe Flacco (I mean besides most “experts” thinking it was a reach)? Right, the Ravens didn’t get a guy to protect their 1st round franchise QB in the same draft. So, let’s take a look at the next season’s selections. Did the Ravens stay with the theory/strategy and protect their former 1st round, current franchise, signal-caller’s blind side?

Lets take a look:

2009
Detroit
1) QB Matt Stafford 1st rd/1st pick (no NFL caliber LT on roster).
2) St Louis
LT Jason Smith 1st rd/2nd pick (QB Bulger current rostered starter).
3) New York Jets
QB Mark Sanchez 1st rd/5th pick (LT D’Brickashaw NFL Caliber starter).
4) Cincinnati
LT Andre Smith 1st rd/6th pick (Carson Palmer NFL Caliber starter).
5) Baltimore
LT Michael Oher 1st rd/23rd pick (QB Joe Flacco current starter).

6) Jacksonville
LT Eugene Monroe 1st rd/8th pick (QB Garrard current rostered starter).

You can see that not only does the theory hold true, but if a team finds the best talent at a particular position (either QB or LT) to fit their desired system, but aren’t able to fill the other position with at least equal competency in that same year – they don’t reach – they wait. The target of the next season becomes the position they didn’t fill from the prior year. If we use the theory, the history, and the data above – you could make a case that 3 teams need to fill either the 1st or 2nd condition in the formula for building a winner in the NFL.

So many of you may be saying, “cool theory, nice data, but what has it got to do with the Bucs?” Some may even have concluded that the Bucs will target a LT in the 2010 draft – and maybe the front office will do just that – but I don’t think so. The point is that St Louis and Jacksonville need to get a QB, Detroit still needs to protect their QB.

Now factor into the equation that St Louis has spent 2 out of their last 3 first rounds picks on guys that chase the opposing QB. When you realize that the Rams have passed on the likes of the following QB’s: Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman. All of whom saw a lot of success in their first years as starting QB’s – maybe you’re beginning to see what I see.

St Louis has to be considering Clausen, Bradford or McCoy. Personally, I’m going with Clausen. He was taught the pro game by Weis, his arm strength and footwork are said to be perfect. Others may think the Rams will take a QB, but they think it will be the more accurate Bradford – with thatfirst pick.

Detroit desperately needs to protect their 1st round, 1st overall, franchise QB from last year. He’s the first of his kind in a long time in Motown: a legitimate star – and they watched as he was hammered onto the IR last season. For this reason, I have to think that the Lions are seriously considering Russell Okung, whom Matt McGuire of WalterFootball.com has compared to Joe Thomas.

This all leads to the end-zone, pay dirt: While I remain unconvinced that both St Louis and Detroit will bypass the two best DT’s to come out in a long time – I think one of them will.

That means the Bucs should get a great Defensive Tackle in this draft. I can’t imagine anyone passing on Suh, so my guess is we’ll be welcoming Gerald McCoy as our 1st round draft pick in 2010!

I’m interested to hear what you guys think about this analysis – don’t be afraid of the Tiger – it’s rare that anyone ever sees him pounce…

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{ 3 comments… read them below or Punt One! }

Roland Johnson February 11, 2010 at 1:25 am

I actually think that if you look further back with you analysis you will see that the Bengals in 2002 drafted LT Levi Jones the year before they drafted Carson Palmer. On aside note the Ravens used the supplemental draft to select the behemoth LT Jared Gaither the year before selecting Flacco.

It’s very interesting that when looking back at history, you can gain some type of base line to study and use as a predictor of the future.

However, it does lend credence to your theory that teams either draft a potential franchise quarterback or left tackle in the same year or a year a part from one another.

Based off of the data supplied, a valid argument could be made that the Rams could be targeting a QB, the Lions could be targeting a LT and the Jaguars could be targeting a quarterback.

Which leaves two teams the Redskins and the Bills who both had coaching changes needing both franchise pieces at this stage.

It will be very interesting to see if the theory holds up.

As far as teams passing on Suh there are three factors that might see McCoy drafted a head of Suh. They are Suh’s age, he injury history and the fact some might feel the McCoy’s ceiling is higher.

John February 11, 2010 at 11:21 am

Very good. I like the formula and the facts to back it up.
One thing I am weighing heavy for this upcoming draft is all teams realize the talent pool will be thin in the 2011 draft. Therefore, trade bait of 2011 draft picks should be very high. For instance the Bucs GM and Rams GM can both easily get what they want, the BUCS get SUH and the Rams get a QB with the #3 overall pick and either Bucs 2nd rnd (3 or 11) pick or 1st/2nd rnd pick in 2011. The use of 2011 draft picks should definately help mortgage many coaching staffs future, especially the Bucs.
I expect the use of current and/or future draft picks to be used to move down into the later picks of the 1st round to pick up TYSON ALUALU, a DE/DT, or a top LB/CB

The White Tiger February 13, 2010 at 3:31 pm

I would have thought that the use of our own draft picks could be used to lure a new coach and staff – but because we didn’t – I have resigned myself to the reality that this staff is committed to.

That effects this discussion in this way: We still don’t know if Raheem likes a hybrid, because that’s all he could run from this roster – or if he wants to run a more traditional “Sapp-like” 4-3 that utilizes a one-gap penetrator at UT/DT?

Since the type of defense isn’t truly known – we don’t really know what Raheem Morris values – and even IF he values either of the two DT’s at the top of the draft.

I think with all the talent in THIS draft you cannot consider trading down from the 3rd pick. It is not a gift bestowed on teams to dispose of as they see fit – it is an order from the league to improve the talent of your team.

I understand many think Tyson Alualu is a great pick – but I don’t see how all the experts could miss on calculating his talent. He is currently not considered a 1st round talent – so he’s not considered to be as ready to play in the NFL. How then, could he offer value to us?

You trade down when you’re building bench strength and need depth – not when you need to build a group of starters. Only strong teams should have the ability to trade their high picks – especially if the weaker team is only trading down to escape the financial impact of their poor play. I guess though that it would prove the old saying: Their’s a sucker born every minute.

After all – wasn’t Ryan Leaf better than Peyton Manning?

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