A Valuable Lesso

April 29, 2007 | WNST Interns

The NFL Draft never ceases to amaze.  Just consider the word “value” and how casually it’s tossed around in late April every year.  By November, April’s supposed “value” may be the most inaccurate description applied to a player.  Or it may make us smile and giggle because the Ravens got someone like Adalius Thomas in the 6th round, to use just one example.  “Value” is a word that I heard and used a lot this weekend, from ESPN to NFL Network to blogs and columns all over the internet covering the draft.  The trade value chart is one example.  Ted Ginn Jr. is said to be a “poor value” with the 9th overall pick by Miami.  Ben Grubbs had more “value” to Baltimore than any other available player with the 29th pick.  Value City Weekend, Baby!

So as we try to determine the real meaning of the word, I offer you these two case studies.  Let’s see how valuable these players will really be in their new homes.

Our first individual is one Randy Moss.  His case is extremely interesting in terms of value, especially with regards to the draft process.  Moss is a ten year veteran, the only player in NFL history to begin a career at wide receiver with six consecutive 1,000 yard plus seasons, amassing 10,700 yards and 101 touchdowns in that span.  He has a career average of 15.8 YPC.  He will join a franchise, the New England Patriots, that has won 3 of the past 6 Super Bowls, and would have won this last one if their defense wasn’t old and exhausted in the AFC Championship Game.  I believe you’ve heard of Tom Brady?  Add in Laurence Maroney, Donte Stallworth, Wes Welker, Kelley Washington, Kevin Faulk, Chad Jackson, Ben Watson and Kyle Brady and I think it would be fair to describe the Pats’ offense as adequate.  That Monday Nighter in December at home looks a bit tougher now, wouldn’t you say?

Randy Moss’ value to New England will be immense.  His value this weekend in April to his former employer, the Oakland Raiders, was a fourth round pick, the 110th overall selection in the draft.  So a potential Hall of Fame wide receiver who has obviously been unhappy and lethargic in Oakland is now worth just the 110th player of a collegiate draft?  It makes the word value turn upside down, don’t you think?

Keep in mind we’re looking at value in relative football terms here.  I completely understand and agree that Randy Moss has been less than professional in his approach to the game and his teammates.  The moment that soured me most, among Moss’ many antics, was his leaving the field early as the final seconds remained in a game against the Redskins.  Childish behavior, to be sure.  Clearly inexcusable. 

But this moment, this weekend, is where value meets motivation.  All reports are that Moss and Bill Belichik met this weekend and agreed on the mission: to win a ring.  Which Moss has yet to do.  And New England clearly represents his last best chance at that goal.  Keep in mind that Moss agreed to restructure his contract in order to make the trade possible, giving up guaranteed money of $9.75 million this year and $11.25 million next year.  That’s a whole lot of jack.  His new deal in New England pays him $3 million this year.  By the time the big money is due, the Pats will most assuredly cut him.  And eyes all over the league will be watching to see if the recalcitrant receiver means it this time.  If he does, then New England’s “value” of the 110th pick this weekend is probably greater than Oakland’s.  Because it’s not too often that a franchise has the opportunity to pair a virtually certain Hall of Fame receiver with a definite Hall of Fame quarterback.  The balance of power has shifted again in the AFC.

Troy Smith of the Baltimore Ravens is the second test case in “value”.  He’s the Heisman Trophy winning QB out of Ohio State whom the Ravens selected in the 5th round, with the final pick of the round, #174 overall.  Eight quarterbacks were chosen before Smith got the call.  Not one of them played for the National Championship last year.  Not one of them was the leader of the season-long consensus #1 team in college football.  And, admittedly, not one of them threw up that 4 for 14 atrocity in the title game.  But my point is, Troy Smith is clearly a winner.  Maybe NFL teams thought he was too short; maybe he didn’t fit their classic body-type for a quarterback; maybe they thought of him as a product of the OSU system.  Regardless, Troy Smith just didn’t have a lot of “value” in scouts’ opinions.

But the Ravens need another quarterback to develop.  They clearly didn’t “value” some of the more highly-touted QBs in this year’s crop.  If they did, don’t you doubt for one moment that Ozzie & Co. would have pulled the trigger to trade up and get their guy? But when they traded up, it was for an offensive lineman, Marshall Yanda of Iowa.  Now that should tell us all a little something about where the Ravens place value in the draft.

So a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback lands in the Ravens’ lap.  He’ll get to spend a year or two learning from a valuable QB in Steve McNair.  There won’t be any pressure in the beginning.  Kyle Boller will remain entrenched as the backup, which makes me confident.  And in 2009, while wearing my purple-tinted shades, when Troy Smith takes over as the heir to McNair, the Ravens will have truly gotten their value at the bottom of the 5th round.

Heisman Trophy Winners in Baltimore Professional Football History – I was compelled to look this up after hearing Troy Smith is a Raven.  The first Heisman winner in B-More was Frank Sinkwich.  He was a halfback from the University of Georgia who played for the original Baltimore Colts in 1947.  Sinkwich was the 1942 winner.  Old Baltimore Colts fans surely know the next two.  Billy Vessels, the 1952 winner out of Oklahoma, spent the 1956 season in Charm City.  Alan Ameche, the 1954 winner out of Wisconsin, played for the real Colts from 1955-60.  I didn’t look up any of their stats, but I can tell you that Ameche scored a pretty important touchdown once, in a game in 1958.  You could look it up.

One other thought that popped in my head when Smith was drafted: Art Schlister.  Uh-oh.  The Baltimore Colts pick another winner!  Was that the draft before or after Johnnie Cooks?

Comments, thoughts and differences of opinion are always welcome at mark@wnst.net

Talk to you later in the week.  Work safely!