NFL Draft Mailbag Notes:
Note that the e-mails I received have been italicized and left mostly unedited. My responses follow them.
2010 NFL Draft E-mails - Are Safeties Worth a Top Five Pick?
All of these e-mails are devoted to my recent article, Are Safeties Worth a Top Five NFL Draft Pick?
Mixed feedback from this. I received some e-mails and Facebook posts/messages with great compliments. I also heard from some who weren't big fans of it.
If you're against it, remember, I was just citing a pattern and explaining why it happens. It's not like the NFL Draft is some new phenomenon and I'm projecting that safeties won't be drafted high because they're worthless. Only one safety has been chosen in the top five since 1991. That's a fact. And there's a reason for it.
Ask yourself the following questions: If safeties are so important, why are the Lions considering Russell Okung, Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy over Eric Berry? Why is there no talk of the Redskins possibly taking Berry instead of Okung as an alternative to Clausen? Why did Scott Pioli say, "You know how I feel about safeties that high?"
If Berry is so great, why is he projected in many mocks to go No. 6 or 7? Why aren't mocks projecting him to go to the Lions or Redskins?
From John M.:
You have no clue how good Eric Berry is. He is better than every safety on your list - and he will be an All-Pro. He will be a better player than anybody who the Chiefs take at #5.
--> Do you have any clue how good Eric Berry will be in the NFL? Does anyone? Doubtful.
Remember: Glenn Dorsey was supposed to be the next Warren Sapp. Gaines Adams was supposed to be the next awesome pass-rusher. Vernon Gholston was supposed to be the next DeMarcus Ware. Robert Gallery was the "safest" pick of the 2004 NFL Draft. People loved JaMarcus Russell coming out of LSU. Lots of scouts had Ryan Leaf over Peyton Manning. Lots of scouts had Tim Couch over Donovan McNabb. Aaron Curry was supposed to be the best player in the 2009 NFL Draft. I can go on and on.
The bottom line: Scouts are full of crap. And general managers aren't much better. Bill Polian is one of the top general managers in the NFL, and he drafts busts all the time.
Thus, as great as everyone thinks Berry might be - helped, of course by the ESPN hype machine - there's still a good chance he busts. I don't think he'll bust, but will I be surprised if he does? Not at all. Nor should anyone.
Does Berry have potential to be a great player? Absolutely. But Bryan Bulaga/Trent Williams, in my opinion, brings more potential to Kansas City. Not individually, but what they could do for the offense as a whole. If Matt Cassel isn't running around like a chicken with its head cut off, maybe the Chiefs can actually put up some points this year.
From IanSportsDude7 (forums):
Teams didn't take safeties in the top 5 in the past because it wasn't a position of great need, but that is changing with the evolution of the game.
--> It's not changing because it hasn't happened yet. Teams have taken safeties in the top 10; but not the top five. Why haven't any safeties gone in the top five yet? Teams in the top five recently had needs for safeties, but didn't take them.
You're right about the passing game growing - but that only accentuates the need for pass protectors, players who can get to the quarterback and corners. Safeties too, but none have been taken in the top five yet.
From Mike M. (via Facebook):
I can see not taking Eric Berry top 5, but Berry is special. If he falls out of the top 15, those teams will regret it.
--> Well, the right area for Berry is 6-10 because he's that good. It's just that devoting top-five resources to any safety is crazy. No one's going to pay a safety $8-10 million a year. Not even Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed make that type of coin.
From Tylor W. (via Facebook):
The problem with the logic of the article is that the safety picks didn't make the team lose all of those games. In order to rebuild the Chiefs will have to have more than one good draft. Getting a Pro Bowl safety is better than an average to above average left tackle, i.e. Bryan Bulaga.
If the Ravens had John McGraw or Mike Brown back there their record would have been even worse. For the Chiefs to win they'll need more than a safety, but a Pro Bowl safety will help them more than Buluga. If all things are equal you'd take the tackle, but they're not. For the Chiefs taking Berry gives them a real strength (their secondary) if he develops with Flowers and Carr.
--> Those teams didn't improve with the safeties they drafted. They continued to lose. Thus, the safeties didn't help them win. I'll have an article later listing all of the positional records - you'll see how bad the safeties are compared to everything else.
The problem here is that you're making Bulaga out to be some bum. He's not. He's a legit top-10 prospect whose range is at No. 5. Berry is the better prospect of course, but as Pioli said, "I don't like safeties that early." No one else does either. Only one safety has gone top five since 1991, and no safety in the NFL makes $8 to $10 million a year, which is what's required to pay guys taken in the top five.
If you substitute Ed Reed with a mediocre safety, the Ravens are still a playoff team. Don't believe me? Reed wasn't very effective last year because he was hurt. In fact, he was so frustrated with his injuries that he talked about retiring. Yet, Baltimore still made the playoffs. But what if you take away Joe Flacco's blindside protection? Flacco probably gets (more) injured and Baltimore consequently doesn't make the playoffs.
Safeties are fun, but they're not important.
From Lou B. (via Facebook):
It would depend on the team that was picking top 5. Obviously, if it was a team like the Patriots or Colts who need an impact player in their secondaries and maybe nothing more to put them over the top is one thing.
One of the things about taking a safety top 5 (or top 15, like your article says) is that so many of those teams are chronically picking in that range because they obviously do not have the ability, or possibly the knowledge of how, to properly build a team.
--> Good point, Lou. Teams in the top 15 have tons of holes on their roster (unless they traded up into the top 15 or just suffered a lot of injuries the year before). So, if you have lots of needs to address, you can't take a safety. But if your team is well-built and you don't have many needs to address, then you can go BPA/safety.
2011 NFL Draft Mailbag Archive:
2011 NFL Draft Mailbag Home
Post-Round 1 E-mail - April 29
Hate Mail Volume 7 - April 10
Crackhead Mail Volume 2 - April 10
Random AFC Questions and Comments Volume 5 - April 10
Random NFC Questions and Comments Volume 5 - April 10
Hate Mail Volume 6 - April 3
Crackhead Mail - April 3
Trade and Prospect Speculation - April 3
Hate Mail Volume 5 - March 28
Cam Newton Mailbag - March 28
Random AFC Questions and Comments Volume 4 - March 28
Random NFC Questions and Comments Volume 4 - March 28
Hate Mail Volume 4 - March 13
Random AFC Questions and Comments Volume 3 - March 13
Random NFC Questions and Comments Volume 3 - March 13
Random Questions and Comments - March 7
Hate Mail Volume 3 - March 7
Combine Questions and Comments - March 7
Combine Hate Mail - March 7
Hate Mail Volume 2 - Feb. 22
Random AFC Questions and Comments Volume 2 - Feb. 22
Random NFC Questions and Comments Volume 2 - Feb. 22
Quarterbacks - Feb. 15
Hate Mail - Feb. 15
Random AFC Questions and Comments - Feb. 15
Random NFC Questions and Comments - Feb. 15
2017 NFL Mock Draft - Feb. 12
2016 NFL Mock Draft - Feb. 11
NFL Free Agents
NFL Picks - Feb. 7
2016 NBA Mock Draft - Feb. 2
Fantasy Football Rankings - Jan. 15