2019 NFL Draft Recap

I wasn’t planning on writing a recap of the 2019 Draft. But then Daniel Jones happened. It is nearly impossible for the Twitter medium to really do this discussion the justice it requires.

Wonder and I did the Top 50 Draft Board so that we could have clarity on what the stock of prospects looked like BEFORE they were taken. You know our views BEFORE any players were selected by the Giants, thus ensuring that we are not making anything up AFTER the selections. Isn’t it remarkable then that literally #50 on that Board was QB Daniel Jones?! When Wonder put the order together, this was not an accident. This player was a flashpoint. Jones had something that was good enough to make the Top 50, but other things that made him unworthy of Round 1 consideration. Of course we had NO IDEA that many weeks later he would intersect with the NY Giants the way he did.

These last few days have been a learning experience. There is not teaching, only learning.

My background is in trading and risk management. I am extremely experienced in the decision-making process. Professional traders learn very quickly that you cannot become emotionally attached to any position. You’ll bankrupt your account and lose your livelihood. What took place with Jones going 1.06 overall was classic overdrafting. Overdrafting has nothing to do with whether a player will bust or not. Please reread that sentence. In the past, I have explained that the Draft is all about VALUE. I articulated this concept to Wonder, who has come to understand how value is the lowest common denominator in decision-making. Everyone is dealt a set of cards to play in the draft. Those are your draft slots. That is your currency. Each team has to use that currency as efficiently as possible to yield the greatest fruit. It is not a single draft pick but instead a series of MANY decisions. The goal is not to buy the bottom or sell the top each time. Instead, the goal is to keep making a series of above average decisions time & time again. If your range of outcomes on a single decision is anywhere from 0-100, all you need to do is eliminate the 0-10 section and you’ll be left with decisions that are in the 11-100 zone. “Don’t do stupid.” If you take stupid out of play, you’ll end up with a 55 average, batting 0.550 in baseball parlance. If you keep doing that 0.550 swinging each time at bat, you’ll end up way ahead of everyone else over the long haul. It is not sexy. It is methodical, grounded, and unemotional.

So who in the NFL operates this way? Unsurprisingly, it is the New England Patriots. Each year they are handed the worst cards in the deck. They pick at/near the bottom of each round every year. Yet they maximize the value from those cards by dispassionately and patiently waiting their turn. Better yet, they trade down much more often than they trade up, a subject we will talk more about a little later. Lastly, they do not chase Free Agents, and end up with additional compensatory draft picks when teams like the Giants sign their Free Agents (i.e. Nate Solder) away. For the record, this year the rich got richer, as the Patriots selected (parenthesis Wonder’s ranking)

1.32 WR N’Keal Harry (37)
2.45 CB Joejuan Williams (44)
3.77 EDGE Chase Winovich (36)
3.87 RB Damien Harris (35)

We believe it could have been worse for us Patriot haters, as they could have taken WR Parris Campbell (16) instead of Harry. Regardless, we think the Patriots did well.

So let’s review 4 elements of the NY Giants Draft.

1) What do Tedd Ginn Jr, Tyson Alualu, Eli Apple, Jeff Lageman, John McCargo, Darius Heyward-Bey and Daniel Jones all have in common? They were all OVERDRAFTED in Round 1. This does not mean they will BUST (although McCargo busted). It means all of these very high picks could have easily been taken by the same team 10-20 spots later in the draft. At the top of the draft, that is enormous. No one had these players anywhere in the same zip code as they were selected. This list of players is (overall) not a bad list. They started many games in many seasons for their teams. But they (generally speaking) were never elite and that goes further to point of (2) coveting.

1a) Sometimes I hear the lame excuse, well you can’t always trade down. Last night, lol, the Giants had a pick 11 spots later. Picking Jones at 1.17 would have been an overdraft as well, but just not as egregious as 1.06, which is fundamentally flawed. Essentially the Giants were bidding against themselves. Remember that “0-10” I was referring to in the range of decisions? This was an absolute zero. 0.0. Any GM should be fired for this offense. I am not kidding. (After posting, how about this corroboration from an AFC South front office Exec: “That pick was inexcusable.”) Gettleman was the mullet at the poker table. This was extreme incompetence bordering on negligence. I do not care if Daniel Jones is the next Joe Montana, that is not what we are discussing. Gettleman completely wasted precious draft resources. For those of you out there who argue that Gettleman was not sure if Jones would be there at 1.17, we’ll get to that a little later. One more time, remember, Daniel Jones could go to the Hall of Fame. It does not matter- those are the unicorns. Over a 10-20 year period with a series of decisions, he will most likely not be a unicorn and must not be treated like one.

2) Stop coveting. If you stop believing that you are the oracle of all greatness & failure in divining future impact from players, you’ll start becoming more agnostic to your peers’ abilities and your own. The result will be less interest in trading up and more willingness to trade down. That the Giants traded up 7 spots for Baker and gave up a late 4th and early 5th is bad. Situationally, it was worse, because there were literally 9 players in the Secondary that were there of similar skill. Of course, the Giants will tell you that Baker was much better. Maybe. Reread the first 2 sentences of (2) and you will become a better drafting organization. As a reminder, most rookie draft picks are out of football after 4 years. This is the evidence and verification of the need to stop coveting.

3) Everyone has 3 gears in their Draft car. One to go forward (move up). One for Neutral (stand pat). One to go backward (trade down). There were 36 trades made last year. 6 were made this year on Day 1. Another 16 trades were made on Day 2. Apparently, the Giants are the only team in the NFL that has 2 gears, one for neutral and one for forward. Yes, in the past 13 years, the Giants have not traded down ONCE. That is a systematic destroyer of value, since there is more value in trading down. (See Richard Thaler, University of Chicago.) Last year the Patriots made 7 of those 36 trades. Care to guess how many of those 7 trades they traded down? 6 out of 7 times.

3a) Not trading down in the past 13 years is further proof that the Giants covet (2 above).

4) I was reading in horror on Wednesday about word leaking that the Giants were “taking Jones, as early as 1.06.” It was clearly not misinformation. There has been a leak in this organization for many years now. I am fairly certain I know who it is. This is unconscionable for any team to be discussing their plans. In trading, it allows you to get “fronted.” I could imagine Warren Buffett, as he planned to make his next purchase of stock… hmm, ya see stock XYZ? I’ll be buying billions of dollars of that tomorrow in the open market.

HORRENDOUS!

As bad as everything in (1) through (3) above is, (4) is much worse, because you are not the mullet anymore. Now you are the mullet with a tell. How do we see this? When teams trade ahead to grab Jack Conklin and Leonard Floyd in front of Eli Apple. Or when TB fronts ahead for Doug Martin before David Wilson.

I asked a team source for a reaction to the Titans and Bears both trading over the Giants for those top two targets (the Titans took Conklin at 8, the Bears took Floyd at 9). The response… well let’s just say it really isn’t suitable for a family newspaper. But suffice it to say they weren’t happy. “P—ed off” is how a league source described them.

This year, lol, Jones was so far off (/into) the OVERDRAFT reservation that no one bothered fronting Jones at 1.06. Congratulations- you finally got your man despite your attempt to notify everyone beforehand. The Giants eat like a bird and sh*t like an elephant.

Gettleman, in discussing his decision to take Jones at 1.06 instead of waiting for 1.17, said that he “was not willing to risk it.” Notice other words in this recounting… “Full Bloom Love.” Infatuation. While I respect a certain amount of conviction, when you get emotionally attached to any selection, the end is nigh. In trading parlance, Gettleman became married to his position. BIG MISTAKE.  The Giants were willing to part with a 2.37 pick for Josh Rosen but Arizona wanted a Round 1 pick. You have to have other options. The key to making a good decision is having a plan and alternatives. The Giants had MANY alternatives to Daniel Jones if he was not there at 1.17. Yes, we have the benefit of 20-20 hindsight to know it was only the Giants, Redskins and Dolphins who were interested in a QB to any significant degree. But that was pretty much well understood BEFORE the draft. Jacksonville took Foles. Denver took Flacco. The alternatives to Jones were Haskins, Lock, and Rosen. That is 4 choices and only 3 teams. That is the reverse of musical chairs. That is multiple flexibility for the QB pursuer. Yes, obviously there is less “infatuation” with other choices, but you have to remove emotion from this and be willing to let Jones go if he is not there at 1.17. He would have been there. You take Josh Allen at 1.06, you get an elite (2nd ranked player in the entire draft) pass rusher, and you take Jones at 1.17.

Let’s talk more about this risk to Jones not being there. Tough Sh*t. Divorce yourself from coveting. Do you really see Bill Belichick behaving this way? Team first, individual players last. Belichick traded away Richard Seymour in his prime. He is not married to his players, even if they are 3 time First Team All-Pro.

You take Josh Allen at 1.06. You tell Arizona- “I am drafting a QB if you do not deal me Rosen. My offer is 2.37.” If they are intractable and still demand a R1, you tell them no, it is not happening. Somewhere between 1.07 and 1.16, the Redskins and even possibly Miami will take QBs, but that weakens the Cardinals’ hand considerably. So what is dangerous for the drafting side becomes powerful on the Josh Rosen side. THE GIANTS HAD INTEREST IN ROSEN. He was a good alternative. In fact, he was the BEST alternative in our mind. If the Giants could not draft for a QB, they could trade for a QB. There was zero need to pay so dearly for Jones. It will end up costing them a premier pass rusher with Elite All-Pro ceiling.

Unless you are willing to walk away from any deal, you hold no leverage in getting a reasonable deal. Think about that the next time you are in the car dealership. Always have a backup plan. Rosen, Haskins and Lock were backup plans to a preference for Jones. Additionally, if you do not like all of those choices enough, next year’s QB class has enough to get you one too as a final part of your backup plan.

Ernie Accorsi had a backup plan if he could not get Eli Manning. Accorsi coveted Manning way too much, and overpaid for Manning. Accorsi’s backup plan was Ben Roethlisberger. I would argue that that would have worked out just as well if not better, especially considering the Giants paid a R1, R3 and R5 to move 3 spots. Accorsi made up for the enormous deficiency in 2005 by paying off the tab with a HUGE haul of Webster, Tuck and Jacobs. Those 3 players earned 6 rings. 

No one TRULY knows who is going to end up being a successful franchise QB. Maybe ALL 4 (Haskins, Lock, Rosen, and Jones) become fixtures. Maybe none of them do. Stop believing you have all the answers. Stop being in Full Bloom Love. 

The epilogue is that the Cardinals waited too long. Their milk sat on the counter (literally overnight), and spoiled before their very eyes. OMG did they #$%@ up their negotiations. Ever hear the expression- “Buy the rumor, Sell the news”? Well, the news was the drafting of Kyler Murray so you had to move Rosen before that peak. When your demands were too high and you weren’t getting your Round 1 pick, it was time to lower it. 2.37 was 5 slots from Round 1. They ended up getting a 2.48 from MIA. Then that became a 2.62 plus AZ’s R5 pick next year. If MIA (and WAS) took a QB ahead of the Giants, the Giants would have been the ones to land Rosen. 

Remember the “reverse musical chairs” argument? EVERYONE LOOKING FOR A QB GOT VALUE EXCEPT THE GIANTS. The Redskins? They got Haskins at 15, without making any trade up. The Dolphins? Rosen for 2.62 less a R5 pick. Denver? They weren’t even in the hunt and came back in, picking up spoils by taking Drew Lock at 2.42.

Let’s look at our Rankings vs what was taken:

TEAM   PLAYER  SLOT  WONDER RANKING
NYG      Jones       1.06     50
WAS     Haskins  1.15      9
DEN      Lock        2.42      11
MIA      Rosen      2.62      10 (Draft in 2018)

We are not the final arbiter of value. Our rankings, while verified to be better than the GMs historically, are not always correct, and certainly can be wrong for any and possibly all 4 players. Nonetheless, it is clear that the Giants were the motivated buyers. You can argue that it was not a great QB class, and all of these choices were too much. All the more reason to stop coveting and start being dispassionate about your decisions.

As long as the Giants were prepared to walk away, they would have ended up with either:

Josh Allen (1.06), Daniel Jones (1.17) and Deandre Baker (1.30-4.132-5.142) OR
Josh Allen (1.06), Dexter Lawrence (1.17) and Josh Rosen (2.37) OR
Josh Allen (1.06), Dwayne Haskins (1.17) and Deandre Baker (1.30-4.132-5.142)

Instead it is Jones, Lawrence and Baker. Maybe Rosen, Haskins and Allen are the ones who bust. It is not about that. It is playing the percentages. It is about maximizing your value. The Giants admitted that Allen and Jones were equal on their board. So it is easy to see that if they played their draft cards right, they could have easily had both. Allen went at 1.07 to the Jaguars. Jones was the player who was going to arguably last a lot longer. And if the Redskins took Jones you would end up with Rosen at 2.37 or at worst Haskins at 1.17.  

With or without Josh Allen, our QB is Daniel Jones. He is the future. When Bill Belichick is in Full Bloom Love with a player, I will revisit my assessment of what went down in the 2019 Draft.

Between overdrafting, coveting, never trading down, and leaking their intentions, this organization is not competitive. Gettleman has made a number of mistakes, including many poor Free Agent decisions. At least the team is confronting the brutal facts by recognizing that it needs to rebuild. It is a painful process. A revamping of best practices is needed to reestablish this team as one of the premier franchises. I suspect that that will not happen until they bring in an outsider. This feels so much like the 1970’s. It was only when an outsider was hired as GM that meaningful changes came about.

2019 NFL Draft: Sleepers

We are looking for guys who will be drafted on Day 3. Everyone else will be asleep at the wheel on Saturday. After reading this blog post, you and I will be watching to see if the Giants can find some hidden treasure. Day 3 is critically important to this franchise, because they sit with EIGHT picks that day:

Round 4 #108
Round 4 #132
Round 5 #142
Round 5 #143
Round 5 #171
Round 6 #180
Round 7 #232
Round 7 #245

Here are Wonder’s sleepers who will be available.

LB David Long. No, not the Cornerback. The Linebacker. Must take him in Round 4 if has not gone yet. Vacuum cleaner. See our Top 50 Board, Ranked 29th.

CB Mark Fields. We have this guy ranked at 46th overall in our entire draft. Go find ANYONE who has his Fields ranked that high. Anyone. (See our Top 50 Board.) So it goes without saying he is our number 1 Day 3 sleeper.

T Oli Udoh. Huge guy, not fat. Weight training, muscle building are key to harnessing his future. Relied on his size in college to run over people. I saw something in him. Huge long arms. Strong. If you give him a chance, and God forbid you have a Coach like Scarnechia, he can be a starting Tackle or Guard in the NFL. These are the kind of guys who you want to take in R5 and R6. Look at all the losers who Reese kept taking back there in Round 6 who went nowhere. This is a guy who could go somewhere. Comparison: Mo Collins, the road grader from Oakland.

CB Corey Ballentine. He went to that mecca of football called Washburn. Athlete. Ran track. Quick twitch. Not just speed in the 40, it was how he moved. Longish arms. At worst, nickel back. His upside can be a starting CB. Looks the part. So at Round 5, there is value in his upside. Work ethic, good character. Give him a shot.

EDGE Jordan Brailford 3-4 OLB. Versatile. Will be better than guys drafted in R3-R4. I think he goes in Round 5 and he is a good pick in Round 5. Always possible he falls to R6-R7 or even goes undrafted.

S Evan Worthington. Already has the NFL body. Probably has underachieved. Underdrafted, potential. Creates value for the right team that can coach him up.

CB Jordan Miller. Needs to get stronger. Body can handle another 10-15 lbs. Will be underdrafted. That is what you want in R5-R7. A guy with upside. He has upside. Fill out body-wise. Fast, good hands, athleticism, good ball skills, good hips.

G Ben Powers. A lot of experience protecting Kyler Murray. Does not have speed and athleticism that will wow scouts. So he will fall in the Draft. He is not a guy I am afraid to have on spots 6-8 backing up my Offensive Line.

EDGE Ben Banogu. Good for 3-4 OLB. Or maybe hand in dirt if gains weight. Big, strong, fast, athletic, has experience. Nobody has him rated. I would rate him 100-120, and he won’t probably get taken until Round 6. Take him. The Giants have so many picks back there, he can be one of them.