Matt McGuire’s NFL Draftology 378:
The Safest Pick Myth

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Every year you hear about, “Who is the safest player in the Draft? … Should this team make the safe pick? … You do not want to invest millions in a player who is not safe.”

Quite frankly, I am getting sick of it. This does not make any sense to me, and I will tell you why later on. I am a big believer that in order to know where you are going, you have to know where you have been. So how did this “safe pick” philosophy come to be?

Well I think over the years as the NFL Draft has become increasingly popular, the busts of the draft have hit the media and draftnik windshield like a huge fly. Ryan Leaf, Heath Schuler, Tony Mandarich, Steve Emtman, Lawrence Phillips, Rae Carruth, Jeff George, Aundray Bruce, Robert Gallery, Mike Williams, the other Mike Williams… the list goes on and on.

Teams remember the busts, forget all of the stars and players who turned out to be solid starters in the league, see the money paid to the top pick and think: “Make the SAFE pick so you don’t turn out with a bust.”

Robert Gallery was revered by everyone to be the safest pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. Everyone loved him and thought there was no way he was going to bust in the league. Two short arms, a lacking nasty demeanor, and about five years later, here we are.

I think this is a terrible philosophy. Why should teams be scared when they draft a player? I do not understand it at all. If I am a general manager, I attack this draft with confidence; not a conservative mindset.

There is certainly something to be said for not drafting players who are risks, but the bottom line is every player in the draft is somewhat of a risk because they are not professionals yet. You do not know what can happen. Maybe a player has a crazy divorce and loses all self-confidence. Maybe a player has some sick knee injuries no doctor saw coming and was just a case of bad luck. Maybe the personnel around that player really hurt his confidence. Maybe the coaching staff is terrible. And so on.

Here is my philosophy which absolutely shatters the “safe pick myth”: MAKE THE BEST PICK.

Period. End of discussion. End of debate. End of argument. I would love for someone to come up to me face-to-face and try to debate me with this philosophy. I would love for someone to say, “You know, maybe you should draft the third- or fourth-best player for this football team rather than the best one.”

The bottom line is if a player has character issues, then he isn’t the best pick. If a player has serious injury concerns, then he isn’t the best pick. If the player has work ethic concerns, then he isn’t the best pick.

I am sick of the media and some draftniks not having a clue with what they are talking about with the “safe pick myth.” It is a myth. There is something to be said for not wanting to invest in a player with a risky personality or skill set, but if that is true, then is that player the best pick for the football team? Absolutely not.

Now, some players are more risky than others and I understand that, but my perception of the NFL Draft is you need to take the best value on the board in terms of a draft pick for your football team. This encompasses everything I have discussed in my NFL Draftology.

Teams will always make mistakes. We need to accept this to a certain extent. Teams do not get four to five impact players out of the draft every year, which is almost statistically impossible to do.

In the end, if you have one player on the draft board and he is the “safest” pick, but not the best pick, then you have some serious explaining to do.


Matt McGuire’s 2009 NFL Mock Draft

Walt’s 2009 NFL Mock Draft

2008 Fantasy Football Rankings