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Mel Kiper's Juniors

It's safe, ladies. The NFL Draft is over. Take down your yellow ribbons. Your prognosticator has come home.   Every guy seems to know the NFL Draft better than the next guy. They read, and re-read pages of recycled scouting information from real football experts and writers and twist and regurgitate it enough to call the ideas his or her own.   Watch enough NFL Live on ESPN, draft specials, SportsCenter vignettes and NFL Network and you could be as good as your team's next general manager.   We've all done it. However, some of us eventually outgrow the idea that we can prophecize the success of our team or any team with letter grades and commentary on players who haven't even touched the football without the white stripes.   The NFL Draft can be fun to watch. It's fun when New York Jets and Giants fans cheer and jeer their team's selections. Philadelphia Eagles fans are also heavily represented, as the proud patrons whom once booed Santa and celebrated when Michael Irvin lay nearly paralyzed.   Then there's the collective clapping of hands and smattering slapping of heads. If you're STILL a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, the Oakland Raiders, or the Detroit Lions and have lived in the doldrums of awful teams yearly stocked with early picks leading to thugs, or unfulfilled promise, you're allowed to kill your franchise if you disagree with management. You've earned it.   One condition, please: be fair.   Fair criticism is questioning when a team drafts several projects. Fair criticism is when a team with character issues drafts another player with character issues. Fair is ripping a team for trading their entire draft for one player, or failing to trade-out of a spot when offered and immediately reaching for a player with the pick in question. Fair is killing a team for drafting more skill position players when they already have a glutton. Fair is killing a team for trading up into the early first round to draft a player nobody's heard of, or taking a quarterback from a system offense in a weak conference.   Here's what's not fair: skipping college football season altogether, then reading publications that rank talent back in January and ripping your team for not falling in line with your particular draft guide.   Not fair: believing everything you read and calling it your own.   Not fair: killing the Buffalo Bills for not getting "value" for their picks. Based on what? YOUR prognotications?   This one's for you "draftnicks" crying over the Bills taking defensive end Aaron Maybin from Penn State at eleven, and NOT Brian Orakpo from Texas.   Hmmm. Texas players have made quite an impact on their respective NFL teams. After getting traded from New Orleans to Miami, Ricky Williams traded the cash for the cashcrop.   Then there's Mike Williams. Taken by Buffalo fourth overall in 2002. The Tony Mandarich of his time.   Then there's defensive back Roy Williams. The 2001 Nagurski and Thorpe award is still looking for work.   Chris Simms: has never been a consistent quarterback.   Michael Huff: underachiever.   And the crown jewel of the Longhorn alumni: Vince Young. The poster child for Madden jinxes.   All but Simms were selected in the top ten.   Those stats don't lie. They're all bigtime athletes from the same school, same coach, who all have failed to live-up to their top-billing. Maybe those stats with proven NFL results (albeit bad) weighed a little more heavily than Orakpo's Nagurski, Hendricks and Lombardi awards.   Four picks into Saturday's selections, and one local sports talk show host ripped the Bills for not selecting for value.   The difference between that guy, the couch quarterbacks, and Mel Kiper, Jr. is simple. Mel watches college football DURING THE SEASON. Then he watches the same games throughout the week ON TAPE. Then he reviews his tapes, goes to the combine and ranks EACH PLAYER, whom he's seen with his own eyes. He also studies each team's needs.    In other words, he doesn't spend half the year watching Sabres games, too. Too many fans worry about their own teams, watch zero tape, go to zero combines, casually watch college football if they do at all, and watch way too much television, garnished with opinions. Turn on the radio during the draft and you'll hear callers spit out some of these pearls:   'Kiper said...Todd McShay said...Pro Football Weekly said...Adam Schefter said...Ron Jawarski said...My brother, who played in college said...'   Ugh. Everyone forgets these players still need to be coached, too. As the adage goes, "Everyone's a Hall-of-Famer on Day One. Championships are won on Day Two."   Here's a new one: Everyone's a GM on Day One. Then they take Sunday off.   The Bills needed to address their lines and they did. Whatever happens now is between the players and their desire and how they're coached. Period.   Which brings us to the next issue. If you're a Bills fan and lack even the faith of a tiny French's mustard seed in the coaching staff to begin, then the draft shouldn't make much difference to you anyway.   Then again, if the Bills do one thing right, it's marketing hopes and memories like insurance companies market fear.   Which brings us back to the draft. Then back to minicamp. Then to the Bills Store. Then to Pittsford. Then to Orchard Park. Then to the Bad Word Jar. Then to the drawing board.   Then back to the draft. Do you still have a girlfriend?



 
04/28/2009 10:20AM
Mel Kiper's Juniors
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