The offseason continues, and it’s already beginning to get old. So let’s take a look at what’s happened in the last week.
The Scouting Combine wrapped up earlier this week, and as usual some questions were answered while others were raised. In particular, the refusal by stars such as Jadeveon Clowney and Johnny Manziel to participate in position-specific drills has brought nothing but confusion as to their actual ability. Both did, however, manage to compensate for their decisions by running surprisingly fast 40-yard dashes: 4.53 seconds for Clowney, 4.68 for Manziel. Neither one needed to prove much to critics, as both have been tossed around as potential first overall picks, but Manziel’s existing off-the-field issues and Clowney’s pedestrian performance on the bench press are large question marks that could cause one or both to fall way down the draft board. In fact, Ron Jaworski of ESPN has gone on record as saying he wouldn’t even touch Manziel until at least the fourth round.
What can we learn from this, other than the fact that Jaws is a man after my own heart? The fact is, the Combine is only one half of the pre-draft picture. The other half is the Pro Days, the organized workouts held by colleges for pro scouts to watch prospects do their thing on their home campus where they’re more comfortable. As long-winded as that sentence may have been, it really is a good help for scouts to make completely sure of who they’re drafting. Then again, the workouts aren’t always perfect indicators of how well one will do in the NFL. Take JaMarcus Russell, who ran a 4.72 40–interestingly enough, just a hair slower than Manziel’s official time–at LSU’s Pro Day in 2007. And we know what happened with him.
Ah, franchise tags. The bane of free agency pundits everywhere. With so many of the top would-be free agents getting the tag, this year’s FA period is getting a massive face lift. Many, such as the Saints’ Jimmy Graham and the Panthers’ Greg Hardy, will likely have to spend the next year negotiating an extension; others, like Jeremy Maclin of the Eagles, who signed a one-year extension this week, have less to worry about. Many of the top free agents are being retained by their teams for an extra year at the cost of a higher base salary, in most if not all cases because the pros outweigh the cons.
Franchise tags are one of the most important parts of the offseason, but they’re also one of the most boring. You become so intrigued by all the what-ifs and possibilities; after all, imagine Hardy on the same line as Jared Allen or J.J. Watt, or Graham in the incredibly potent Denver offense! But then the tags start coming down, and you begin to realize that a lot of things will continue to stay the same, just like they did last year and the year before that. On the other hand, the tags do keep big playmakers around to ensure that teams have someone to build around for the immediate future. Besides, there’s still plenty of big-name free agents out there to be signed, so it’s not a total loss.
Incognito In Counseling
Richie Incognito apparently checked into a psychiatric care facility this week. There’s really not much I can say here besides a few halfhearted jokes, so I’m just going to leave that statement where it is.
Three weeks down, and though the pall is starting to settle, at least the free agency period is coming up soon. And after that, we have Pro Days and the draft, so there’s still more than enough to talk about prior to the season. So until next time, cheerio!