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Posted Feb. 25, 2009
The DHB Evaluation
One of the most annoying things to me about today's media and the draftnik world is every little thing is scrutinized and analyzed. We love the NFL Draft so much we feel like every little piece of the puzzle we can muster will lead to an expert analysis.
I have a very different view about measurements at the NFL Combine.
If you expect a linebacker to run a 4.55 and he runs a 4.52, then nothing changes. He did what you expected him to do. Why should his stock suddenly be on the rise?
If you expect a tight end to run a 4.85, and he runs a 4.88, then nothing changes. He did what you expected him to do. Why should his stock suddenly be on the rise?
If you expect Darrius Heyward-Bey to run a very low 4.3, and he does exactly that (4.30), then nothing changes. He did precisely what we expected him to do. Why should his stock suddenly be on the rise?
However, in today's knee-jerk media in which beat writers have never studied NFL Draft theory in their life, they will suddenly buy into the rise and fall of draft stocks based on measurements in which they had no projections. Most draftniks are no different.
No one has ever questioned DHB's athleticism. We knew it was elite. We knew he was exceptionally quick.
The concerns go unchanged for me. Of the two game tapes I have of Maryland (thanks to my old-school VHS recorder), he totaled only six catches. This is not enough of a sample size for me to evaluate him with my own eyes.
Because the NFL Draft analysts on television (other than Mike Mayock and Mel Kiper) are positive 99 percent of the time - scared to call a prospect a bust and be wrong - you will never hear about the great 40 receivers with mediocre production who busted or did not live up to expectations in the NFL:
Ted Ginn, Jr.
Craig "Buster" Davis
Ashley Lelie (inflated numbers in run n' shoot)
Johnny Lam Jones
I am not suggesting Heyward-Bey will be a bust in the NFL. He is one of my most difficult evaluations in the past three years I have been scouting. I am simply showing you the other side of the coin. Heyward-Bey being a productive receiver in the NFL is by no means guaranteed. He could completely bust; he could be a star. I really have no idea, but I am approaching his evaluation with a conservative mindset.
Teams must do their homework in terms of DHB's work ethic, hands, route running and love for the game. Then, and only then, will they have a good idea of how he will turn out in the NFL.
To make a knee-jerk reaction and say he is suddenly a top-20 pick based on a 40 time when he did not answer any questions about his production or mental makeup, is to say the least, amateur.
Even so, I have a hard time finding a spot for him in the top 20.
Oakland might take him since Al Davis LOVES elite speed. DHB is a dark horse there, but I still feel they would take Jeremy Maclin even if Michael Crabtree were on the board. Seven is an extremely high pick to invest in a receiver with mediocre production.
San Francisco has bigger fish to fry than at the receiver position. Buffalo has Lee Evans, James Hardy, and they like Steve Johnson. No chance he goes to Denver. Washington already has young wideouts in Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly. New Orleans doesn't need him. Houston might want another deep threat. San Diego has Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson. The Jets are a possibility. I feel like Chicago will be targeting a reliable possession receiver and go CB, DE, or OT at 18. Tampa is a possibility, but I have a hard time seeing Mark Dominik take such a risk. DHB has a low probability to be a Lion.
In the top 20, I see only two teams with a decent chance of drafting DHB (Houston and NY Jets) and two dark-horse teams (Oakland and Tampa).
Based on my calculations, DHB does not have a very good chance of being a top-20 pick. In fact, I do not see any more than two wideouts going in the top 20. Teams might like Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt or Jeremy Maclin more than DHB.
Once again, I preach to not buy into the hype. If you refrain from buying into hype and maintain a consistent opinion on these prospects, then you are already winning half the battle in talent evaluation.