Recap of 2022 NFL Draft

We go to our Draft analyst Wonder for his brutally honest evaluation of how teams did. This being a Giants blog, let’s discuss the Gmen first. No matter what the Giants did in Day 2 and Day 3, Day 1 was so stupendous that that alone gave them a fantastic draft. Unfortunately, he did not like what they did in Day 2 and Day 3, so by not adding to the monstrous Day 1, they ended up with a terrific draft but it was not as good as it could have been.

Thibodeaux and Neal were so incredible. The Giants essentially got the best Tackle and arguably the best EDGE pass rusher (who is also going to be excellent in sealing the EDGE). Neal has the potential to be an All-Pro Tackle for year after year after year. Jacksonville needed to take Ekwonu to protect Lawrence. Detroit, in his opinion, should have taken Thibodeaux (or Walker if the Jaguars did the right thing). These things make it harder for the Giants to get both Neal and Thibodeaux. Do they take Neal and then what does Carolina do at 1.06- do they take Cross? Not clear. It creates risk Thibodeaux is not there at 1.07. We do not have to care. The point is that the Giants made out crazy good.

Wonder was disappointed in Day 2 and Day 3. We added italics to the previous post to add comments on Ezeudu and Flott. Summarized, he thought better players and better opportunities were there for them. R2 they got a good WR in Robinson, but was that helping a team with Toney? In Round 3 it was weaker, as Dean was still there and the injury is a pectoral. This is not an ACL. This is not a deal breaker. Ruckert (among others) was there too, but not taken. Ezeudu is ok but not much that gets him excited. Flott is given the kabash, called “jag” (aka just a guy). It may be anecdotal, and I hope I am wrong, but when Wonder calls a later round selection a jag, I cannot recall that player developing into a noteworthy contributor. Their Round 4-6 picks had enough bites of the apple but there was nothing from there to get overly excited about. “Beavers has good value as long as he’s not asked to cover downfield. Bellinger is ok. The rest are reaches/projects. Poor use of later rounds.”

Wonder is objective. He is not the final say on any player. He gets it wrong some of the time. “There are things I do not know that these teams are afforded… interviews and an assessment of desire are things I lack on many players. What does the player do with his time, on the field and off the field. Does he hit the weight room with zeal and abandon? How does he prepare as a professional? How does he respond to coaching? Do the coaches put him in a position to succeed? Much of my assessment is what I see on film. The rest is up to the player and the situation. But this is why I am looking for talent and potential (in later rounds) so that if the rest of the pieces come together, you have something.” It is worth pointing out that in the last few years, there really was only one later round Giants draft prospect that Wonder was really excited about on the day he was picked…

Given the Giants WR has nearly 2000 yds receiving and 13 TDs despite injuries, it is a big hit in Round 5. What does this mean? Merely that all else equal, we’d rather see a selection excite our Draft analyst than otherwise.

So who did well for the entire Draft, soup to nuts, Day 1, 2 and 3 together? The answer might shock you.

The NY Jets.

“As strange and unusual as it is for me to say this, my team, the lovable loser NY Jets, had the #1 Draft in the NFL this year,” admits Wonder. “Top to bottom they did great. They got the best CB (Gardner). They got one of the best WRs (preferred London, who was taken ahead of them, but Wilson will be excellent). They traded back into Round 1 at 1.26 to get Jermaine Johnson, which was sensational. I love his motor and I had him the 6th ranked player in the entire draft, ahead of Hutchinson. They got Breece Hall, the best RB in the draft. They got Ruckert, who I like at TE. This was a better fit for the Giants than the Jets because of what the Jets did in the offseason, but he is still a solid prospect who can easily develop into a solid pro. They got Mitchell at Tackle, who will back up Fant and Becton and who I believe can be a starter in time. And they got Clemons, who is raw but has all the physical potential to develop into a starting EDGE.” Essentially, there was not a single throwaway pick. Every player taken has an opportunity to be a starter down the road; some obviously will be starting sooner, but the entire class is impressive.

Who had the second best Draft? “The Eagles,” says Wonder. “Davis is a monster. They traded away the 1.18 for AJ Brown, who is a proven premier Wide Receiver. Plus he is 24 years old and has been re-signed. In Round 2, they took Jurgens at Center, who is a great fit for them because he can play Guard this year and then move over to Center when Kelce retires. And they won the Nakobe Dean lottery.” Pound for pound, that is a great draft.

Another team who did very very well is Baltimore. “… but in a different type of way,” explains Wonder. “Their draft is more developmental. So this is a great draft for the future, not for today.”

Wonder also liked the Indianapolis and KC drafts.

Who did the worst? “That would be New England,” explained Wonder. “I think Belichick has lost his mind. First off, even the Rams head coach laughed out loud about their Round 1 pick, whom McVay was looking at with the 104th pick. And it went downhill from there. Every player they took was a round too high, a reach for where they went, so they squandered value. Could the players they took be something? Of course. But it was a terrible cumulative effort.”

Summary: Great Draft for the Giants. Less than we wanted in Day 2-3, but Neal and Thibodeaux can be huge pieces to a resurgence, and players like Robinson and maybe Ezeudu and Beavers may be able to pitch in down the road. The Jets and Eagles did great.

Wonder 2022 Mini Draft Board

At the UltimateNYG Church of Football Drafting, it is QB, Protect QB, and Rush the QB. So philosophically, we want to draft QB, Tackle, and Edge when given the special real estate of 1.05 and 1.07. Despite what this Draft Board has for ranking, it does not matter that there are CBs, Safeties or WRs ranked that high. I do not want to draft those positions. Not at 1.05 or 1.07. If given the choice of taking players who are not QB, T or Edge, I want to TRADE DOWN instead. My ideal draft is Ekwonu or Neal and trading down the other pick. And then if I am picking in the middle of R1, if I can then get Center Tyler Linderbaum, it is a slam dunk. My second best draft is 1 Tackle and 1 Edge. Those are 2 approved positions. Every other position- hard pass, trade down. They lack the positional value.

For clarification, to understand the rankings, they are based on the player, not the position. In 2018, we had Saquon Barkley as the #1 player on the Board. But in a league where championships are not won by running backs anymore, you do not take RB early in the draft. The Giants paid dearly for this mistake, one that we pointed out literally 5 months before he was selected. Taking CB, S, or WR is not as egregious as taking a RB this high, but it is still a waste of value. We argue that there is a significant difference in taking Gardner at ~1.10 versus taking him at 1.05.

Five spots in the draft may not seem like a lot, but go tell that to a team picking in the low teens pining for an elite pass rusher or Tackle this year. Two years ago, when the Giants took Thomas at 1.04, the UltimateNYG crew was silent. Why? We got a terrific prospect and a terrific position of need at Tackle. Yet the Giants squandered a ton of value because there were 3 more elite Tackles in the set of 4 (1.13 Wirfs, 1.11 Becton, and 1.10 Wills), making taking Tackle at 1.04 unnecessary. Thinking of this as a limit from elementary supply & demand, if there are 32 elite tackles in the draft, you could skip taking a Tackle because there will still be one remaining 1 or 2 rounds later. Value is everything in the Draft. The draft is a series of above average decisions over many years, and if you keep routinely squandering value, you will find yourself with … the worst record in the NFL over the past 5 years.

People think Draft evaluations are ultimately decided by how the player did in the Pros. That is true, but it’s far more nuanced than that…

The team and the system that takes you has as much to do with how the player turns out.

The team that takes you has as much to do with the player’s career trajectory as anything. We are dating ourselves, but how many people reading this have heard of Al Toon? If you have not, do yourself a favor and read up on his career. Toon went 1.10 in the 1985 Draft. Another WR was second off the board at 1.16. His name was Jerry Rice. If Rice went off first to the NY Jets and Toon went second to the 49ers, you just have no idea what that would have looked like. Toon, even on the Jets, became an All Pro. Montana throwing to Toon changes everything. Toon racked up ~9 concussions. It is impossible to comprehend the difference between the Jets + O’Brien vs SF + Montana/Young. Toon was picked by the Jets and that was his career. Situation matters. Toon was the fantastic dominant receiver you never heard of because of situation. We see players and we make verdicts on selections, but we mostly ignore the fit. Do not ignore the fit.

We have broken this Board down into 4 Sections.
Top 15
Injured Players
16-25 (in no order)
Miscellaneous

Section 5 will put this all together for the Giants in Round 1 and Round 2 in the next blog post.

SECTION 1: TOP 15

  1. DE Travon Walker (pictured). You cannot teach size and speed. He just has too much upside. Georgia dropped him back, zoned him, did all kinds of things with him, but I just have him as a simple 4-3 DE and LET HIM LOOSE! Seals the edge, stud at doing that. His potential? The sky is the limit. Everything is going for him. Always delivers the effort. If put on the right team with the right fit, will be Defensive rookie of the year. (Put him on ATL, they will double and he’ll disappear as a rookie.) Comp: Bigger Deacon Jones.
  2. T Ikem Ekwonu. Has the most upside of the Tackles. Athleticism. Better at the second level. More powerful in run blocking than Charles Cross. The dropoff to Cross is not big, but there is dropoff. Ekwonu is more physical, has some mauler. Comp: Younger healthier Tyron Smith.
  3. T Evan Neal. Just a massive beast. He can move for his size. It’s just impossible to get around him. I can’t see him failing. Good feet. Massive shadow. You pair him with a Guard, run behind him on 4th & 1, and you are moving the sticks. Comp: Trent Williams.
  4. DE Kayvon Thibodeaux. Immense talent. I want to see more care, more intensity, more motivation. He may have slowed it down to take care of himself so that he did not get hurt pre-draft. Some ask that he needs a consistent motor, and that is why they question this intangible. Interview him. Check out what his high school coach said. Get that read. If clear, has huge ceiling. Gets off the snap great. 4-3 DE, not a 3-4. I do not want him playing 5 technique 3-4. I think Wink Martindale can play either a 4-3 or 3-4, so make it fit if you take him. If he plays with all out abandon, he’ll be terrific and can be scary good. Upside Comp: Myles Garrett. Downside Comp: Jadeveon Clowney.
  5. CB Ahmad Gardner. I love him. If I somehow could get Neal or Ekwonu at 1.05 and trade down just a few spots to like 1.11 and get Gardner or Johnson, I am great. He has the body to gain some weight. Needs just a little more strength. Has the length. Has strong hands, tough to get off the line in press. Plays physical. But he will need to be careful early (as a rookie) against Jamarr Chase or DK Metcalf, because without more strength, if those guys beat him at the line they’ll beat him for a TD. Has talent, blue chip. People are having this debate between him and Stingley… ridiculous. It is so clearly Gardner. Note for Giants fans, this is not who we want at 1.05 or 1.07. Just not enough positional value for a CB this early. He is not a shutdown CB. Close to a shutdown CB, but those are the zebras, not the horses. Think horses. Do not take at 1.05 overall just because we have him as the 5th ranked player in the draft. Comp: a little stronger, slightly shorter version if we cross Cromartie and Ramsey.
  6. EDGE Jermaine Johnson. In a weird way, I like him more than Aidan Hutchinson because I know what I am going to get. Speed. Power. Length. Good athlete. Plays to the whistle. If you can trade down to 1.10-1.12 and take him there, great value. Almost for sure a very good professional football player. He does not have the ceiling of Walker or Thib. But his floor is higher than Thib. Comp: a taller bigger version of Dexter Manley.
  7. EDGE Aidan Hutchinson. With the success of the Watt brothers and the Bosa brothers, it affects Hutchinson’s stock price. But I do not view him as good as those guys. He is not a LBer. He is not a DE like JJ Watt or Bosa, so more of a tweener. 3-4 OLB. Can’t seal the EDGE. Not crazy enough to take on the big Tackles. Can be plenty good but not for me at the top of the Draft. I am not denying his worth. I still have him as the 7th best player in the draft. Just not the top. Comp: Poor man’s Kevin Greene.
  8. S Kyle Hamilton. Great at what he does, but he is a Safety. Like Gardner, you cannot be taking these players at the top of the Draft because their positional value is not there. We had RB Saquon Barkley as the best player on the Board, but that did not mean we wanted to take him at 1.02 overall. RB at 1.02 is a waste, and CB or S at 1.05 (or 1.07) is a waste too. Hamilton is great at what he does, but he is a Safety. Not fast, cannot play with the range of an Ed Reed or Earl Thomas. He has a SS body with a FS mindset. Has good ball instincts so he can see the field. Will be a very good football player. But how much is that worth? He is big and strong. Can drop down in the box, can move between LB and Safety. Hits. Tackles. VG value. Doesn’t cover and rush the passer for value there. Understand, like Gardner, he will be a terrific pro, but the Draft is about value and it is hard to use a super high pick on this player. Comp: Isaiah Simmons.
  9. WR Drake London. Tall. Strong. Fast. Catches the ball. What more could you ask for?! These are the kinds of guys I want as WR in Round 1. Aaron Rodgers makes this guy All-Pro. I want him for the Jets at 1.10* because he will give Wilson a big target who can go up for the ball and be an excellent red zone target. Comp: A better faster version of Mike Evans if in the right system.
  10. T Charles Cross. There is a dropoff from Neal or Ekwonu to Cross. He is fairly similar to Ekwonu except not as big or quick. But he is nonetheless still really good. Not as wide as Neal. Will be a good solid NFL Franchise Left Tackle. Very high floor. You will not go wrong with him at 1.12-1.14. Comp: decent ceiling to a Tyron Smith.
  11. DT/NT Jordan Davis. He loses value in a 4-3. I want to see him as a NT in a 3-4. His value is to take up space in the middle, require 2 blockers to take him on. Can be an All Pro NT with the right system and team. Comp: a faster Ndamukong Suh.
  12. LB Nakobe Dean. All over the field. Good football player. Will be a little of everything. Thumbs up. Comp: Poor man’s Micah Parsons.
  13. WR Garrett Wilson. Speedster. Runs good routes. Can he adapt to the NFL? Can he last? Can he get off press coverages? How well he answers those questions is how well he does in the NFL. At 1.13, obviously I like him, because he is very talented. Comp: bigger version of DeVonta Smith.
  14. ILB Devin Lloyd. Not as good as Dean, but like Dean, he does everything. Solid ILB. Quick. Strong. He gets this grade because he will be a 3 down LBer, which is what you need to be in today’s NFL to get taken in Round 1. Comp: a lesser version of Derrick Brooks IF he plays ILB rather than OLB.
  15. C Tyler Linderbaum. Who did we like last year as our fallback pick at the end of Round 1 or early Round 2? His name was Creed Humphrey. Regular readers of the UltimateNYG blog will know why we liked Humphrey … and why we like Linderbaum. What they have in common is that they were both wrestlers in high school. This ups their value because they understand leverage and hand placement. Shocking (not!) that the Chiefs took him at 2.63 and they have the leader of their OL in one rookie season. Linderbaum is a little undersized for me, smaller than Humphrey. He can have a little too much finesse; otherwise he would be worth more and be rated a little higher. Linderbaum is more athletic, smoother. This guy’s value is going to be huge to a zone blocking scheme. He will be tremendous as a pulling lineman in the run game because he’ll be able to pick up defenders in space. His only problem is- how does he handle the Jordan Davis NT one on one? He does not have the strength of a Nick Mangold to do that. So he will need help in that matchup, and that decreases his value a little bit. If he gains some mass, he may lose some of that speed and athleticism. Still, if the Giants were able to get Ekwonu or Neal at 1.05 (or 1.07, depending on what QBs go early), they could trade down to the 1.14-1.18 area and get Linderbaum. OMG, salivating at what that OL would look like. Comp: Tom Nalen (Denver’s smallish 286 lb great Center from 1995 to 2007).

SECTION 2: INJURED PLAYERS

The second section of this 2022 Draft Review is a Memorial to 3 players who would otherwise be elite top prospects, but fell victim to injury in college. I just do not know how to evaluate these players without a detailed medical evaluation. Not all ACL injuries are the same. And yet, if you are taking a player who tore his ACL in college, he has one less bite of the apple. These are absolute beasts, studs, if not hurt. I absolutely love Ojabo but feel terrible for him because of him getting hurt. Yet, it must change the evaluation and require medical/risk on where to take these guys. These guys will go in Round 1 but I have no idea where they should go because the medical report needs to detail the impact of the injury/risk to their career.
WR Jameson Williams
CB Derek Stingley
EDGE David Ojabo

SECTION 3: PLAYERS RANKED 16-25

Listed alphabetically
CB Andrew Booth
WR Treylon Burks
WR Jahan Dotson
S Daxton Hill
EDGE George Karlaftis
(overdrafting risk on this player)
CB Trent McDuffie
WR Chris Olave
G Trevor Penning
(yes, move him to Guard, barely top 25)
QB Malik Willis
DL Devonte Wyatt

SECTION 4: MISCELLANEOUS

Okay, it is time to talk Quarterback. There is not a single QB in this year’s draft that is worthy of a Round 1 ranking. Yes, I have QB Malik Willis in the 16-25 grouping, but that is because of some potential. So let’s explain. He is a freak, physically strong. He can throw the ball, and run the ball. He has a strong arm. But he is not as evasive as Lamar Jackson, so stop thinking like that. He needs to go to a team where he can sit for 2 years and learn. In today’s NFL, because of rookie contracts, the value is in getting them developed as soon as technologically practicable. So they are going to rush this guy onto the field, and that is a mistake. Because I will be burning 2 years of the cheap rookie deal, that is why his draft value drops, and that is why I do not like him too high. Yet, if is he is taken behind an Aaron Rodgers in GB or a Matt Ryan in IND, I know he will carry the clipboard and will take the time to develop properly for the pro game. Sit. Learn. Patience. Great coaching needed. Upside COMP: Steve McNair. Downside comp: Bust.

These other QBs? QB Kenny Pickett? No. QB Matt Corral? No.

Early Round 2 Guards for the Giants… G Kenyon Green or G Zion Johnson. I prefer Green to Johnson, but very close in similarity. Kenyon Green is going to be a 10 year plug and play Guard. Stick him in and let him go. Will do a good job for the Gmen and if you get a chance to take him at 2.36, run to get your pick in, because that is good value. Comp: for Giants fans, these guys are lesser versions of (yes, Center) Shaun O’Hara.

Do you have a particular player we did not discuss which you would like Wonder to evaluate? Let us know. If the player is mocked in Round 1 but we did not mention him in this post, it probably means that Wonder likes him less than consensus/where he will be selected.

The Rules For Winning in the NFL v2.0

Part 1 reposted 2007’s Rules for Winning in the NFL. It was a good way to look back and see what was working then. Everything is changing. The NFL is always on the move. The rules change because the NFL changes.

Some of the change is transparent. As an example, the rule change where a kickoff touchback gave a team the ball at the 25 yard line instead of the 20 yard line has had a lot of impact. The NFL wanted more safety, so the NFL got what they wanted- fewer returned kickoffs. Like it or not, that made Special Teams less important. Then they moved the PAT back to the 15 yard line. That added 2 point conversions much more into the mix.

Some of the changes were more subtle. But seen over the past ~14 seasons, the shift is stark. Consider the ever growing importance of throwing the ball. The NFL wanted more passing. In 2006, when passing was already gaining plenty of momentum over previous decades, the NFL was 53% pass and 47% run. In 2020, it was 57% pass and 43% run. That may not seem like a big difference, but it is significant. That mix dictates how you draft and how you allocate the cap.

An even bigger way to see the change in the NFL is to go back to 1978. In 1978, teams passed 42% of the time and ran the ball 58% of the time. Why 1978? Two things happened.

In 1978, the NFL further freed up receivers with the illegal contact rule, restricting contact beyond 5 yards downfield. And it loosened the interpretations of holding by offensive linemen by giving them permission to extend their arms and open their hands on pass plays. This had the desired effect of opening up the passing game and reducing conservative play calling.

NFL Football Operations

The second thing was under the radar. Bill Walsh became a Head Coach a year later.

The 49ers were cellar dwellers and they did not start throwing the pigskin regularly in 1979. But the “West Coast Offense,” coined by Bill Parcells, was going to shape football for decades to come. It ushered in a wave of precision passing. Teams no longer ran the ball regularly on first down. Offenses are still shaped by these roots today.

The second wave of passing came as a result of different rules enforcement by officials for what was holding. Specifically, the NFL no longer called a penalty when an Offensive Lineman held in between the shoulders. This happened sometime around when the first “Rules v1.0” were published, further incentivizing passing. Why is this important to the Rules for Winning? Because the Quarterback has always been critical to the game of professional football, but today it is EVERYTHING.

RULE #1. QUARTERBACK.

That is it. Quarterback. Period. You can win a championship without a very good quarterback, but you better have 21 other really good players accompanying him. He needs to make plays. The NFL is a passing league. If your QB is pedestrian, you will be on the outside looking in. I have said this before, but the historical perspective is necessary… the great Vince Lombardi lamented how he wished the league had less weight on the QB. Yet in 1967, his last season as coach of the Packers, he still ran the ball on 72% of the snaps from scrimmage. 72%! Imagine what Lombardi would say about winning in the NFL now??!! It is a Quarterback league.

RULE #2. PROTECT THE QUARTERBACK.

Are you catching on yet? You better keep him healthy, upright, and able to do his job throwing the ball anywhere on the field. The second half of Eli Manning’s career was thrown down the toilet because he was constantly given shoddy protection. Remember the Phil Simms Rule of throwing the ball downfield? Well, that ain’t happening if you can’t protect your QB. GMs are figuring this out, paying not only Tackles huge money, but also paying up for Centers and Guards. We quantified this with Spotrac data (see ‘Manifesto’ link below) on average salaries, where the Offensive Tackle is paid the 2nd highest salary out of 12 positions on the field, the Center is now #3, and the Guard (yes, the formerly lowly Guard) is now #5.

RULE #3. RUSH THE QUARTERBACK.

Are you seeing the pattern? First you obtain a good QB. Next, you make sure you maintain/optimize him. And then when you are done doing those two things, you do your best to kill the other guy’s QB, because that is what they are trying doing to yours. This may seem overly simple, but as the late great Mr. Rogers (yes, that one) said:

Deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex.

Fred Rogers

If you are doing these Rules properly, they should be fairly simple and direct. Everything else flows from the first 3 Rules. Everything else SUPPORTS the first 3 Rules. This is a pyramid. Like it or not, this is how you win. If you do all 3 well, your odds of contending for a title are high. If you do 2 out of 3, you are competitive. If your team is doing 1 out of 3 well, it is not competitive. And if it does none of the 3 well, it is probably near or at the bottom of the NFL. How did your team score against this metric? Last season’s Super Bowl teams both had excellent QBs and Offensive Lines. TB had the NFL’s 3rd ranked pass rush. The Chiefs were ranked 12th.

The Bucs drafted Offensive Tackle Tristan Wirfs at 1.13 Overall last season. As a rookie, he started all 16 games, gave up 1 sack all year, protected Brady, and did everything except go to the Pro Bowl. Considering he finished as the best Offensive Lineman for the Bucs, their ascension to the Title could not have happened without Rule #2. In stark confirmation (and title game contrast), the Chiefs had solid OL protection until the Super Bowl, when both Tackles could not play. Mahomes had no protection and the Chiefs lost the game.

RULE #4. EVERY OTHER POSITION IS IN SUPPORT OF RULES 1-3.

4a) WRs are a dime a dozen. I know. I know. Better WRs have better separation, helping your team move the ball. Just click the link, because this is about availability. QB LT (and even EDGE, to a degree) are obtained through meticulous cultivation. WR, on the other hand, is a commodity exchange.

4b) RB is not an important part of winning in the NFL.

This is not your father’s NFL. Running and stopping the run are not 2 of the 3 keys to winning in the NFL, unlike what you may have mistakenly heard from one GM. We wrote a manifesto on this topic. Since that piece was written, the following year a former Round 1 RB was released, signed to a 1 year prove-it deal, played a complimentary role and won a ring. And, Saquon Barkley tore his ACL. Case closed.

4c) LBers are worth less today than 14 years ago, but they still matter.

Don’t tell Devin White or Lavonte David that LBers are unimportant.

4d) Safeties have a bigger role in today’s NFL.

Their size and speed are necessary as a response to more passing. (CBs, while obviously necessary, have been “commoditized” by the NFL’s rules to make passing easier.)

4e) Special Teams are still underrated, but less so.

Kickoffs have been neutered.

4f) A very good Offensive Line coach is almost critical.

This is in support of Rule #2.

4g) Tight End in the Red Zone.

RULE #5. YOU WIN THROUGH THE DRAFT.

5a) Trading Down in the Draft is great.

GMs overpay for the right to choose. This has been documented ad nauseum. It is still somewhat frightening to me that Dave Gettleman made the best Draft day decision of his career in moving down 9 spots for a R1 and R4 pick and would not have done that if a WR he wanted was on the board. I don’t care if that WR is Jerry freaking Rice, Trade Down.

5b) Second Round Draft picks are the best value in the draft. No sizzle, all steak.

Verbatim from the old list. God has blessed the second round and GMs still have not figured this out. Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, it is just insane how easy it is to build a team by just moving down and living in Round 2. Plus, you don’t get the divas, you get the guys with something to prove. This has been going on forever and it continues to go on forever. Mark Collins, Erik Howard, Pepper Johnson, Jumbo Elliott, Michael Strahan, Jason Sehorn, Amani Toomer, Tiki Barber, Joe Jurevicius, Osi Umneyiora, Chris Snee, Corey Webster, Steve Smith, Terrell Thomas, Linval Joseph, Johnathan Hankins, Landon Collins, Sterling Shepard, Dalvin Tomlinson, and now 2 more who I think will be special, Xavier McKinney and Azeez Ojulari.

5c) Free Agency. ‘B’ players at ‘A’ prices.

The easiest way to see how you build value is that the Draft is wholesale and Free Agency is retail. Where do you want to shop? Sometimes you have no choice. Picking up one or maybe two high priced items in a year may be necessary, but the rest of your team and the rest of the cap will need to support that. Remember that if you are always living in retail, your cap structure is not going to be competitive. (I’m not talking about the journeyman players of Free Agency. There is actually some value in that part of the market.)

RULE #6. PRINCIPLES AND BEST PRACTICES.

6a) Pitchouts still do not work in the red zone.
6b) Do the unpredictable. Once you are predictable, you are dead.
6c) Build your own Super Bowl blueprint.
6d) The only thing the Prevent Defense prevents you from doing is winning.
6e) The only thing the Prevent Offense prevents you from doing is winning.
gf) The only things worse than the Prevent Offense is the Prevent Offense when your Defense is weak/depleted by injury.
6g) It’s always the coach’s fault when a large lead is lost.
6h) The Bill Walsh ‘Quality Win’ (11+ margin of victory) is a necessary objective at all times because it enables you to win more games that are hotly contested.
6i) After 1st & Goal from the 1-2 yd line, if you fail to score a TD on your first three tries, kick the FG on 4th down.
6j) The Steve Young Rule: September is the new preseason. Continue to improve the quality of play each week, as the end of the season rarely resembles the beginning of the season.
6j) The Carl Banks Rule: You cannot turn it on and turn it off in the NFL. Do not take any game off or protect players from injury if a playoff spot has been clinched.
6k) Defense (still) wins championships. This is a league of Offense. But you have to be credible on Defense or else these high powered Offenses will run you over when it counts. In the last 8 years, the Super Bowl winner’s Defense was ranked an AVERAGE of 5th out of 32 teams. It would have been 4th averaged if Seattle ran Lynch on 2nd and Goal from the 1. As a football purist, it is still appropriate to let Defense get the last word in the Rules.

The Rules For Winning in the NFL, Part 1, v1.0

This NY Giants blog was started in November 2006, and on July 4th 2007, we published The Rules For Winning in the NFL. As many of you are aware, the blog migrated to different platforms along the way, and many years of posts were lost. At one point at the end of the first decade we were getting some of our posts reprinted in the NY Times “5th Down” online site. Thankfully the content from that site is still available, memorializing the “old” v1.0 rules. We will reprint them here to get a permanent record archived.

Tomorrow, for Independence Day, we will release The Rules For Winning in the NFL v2.0. Regular readers of the blog and Twitter will have some clues as to what (at least some of) it may look like. The NFL has changed in the past 14 years. The only constant is change. Some of ‘the Rules’ are no longer there. That does not mean they weren’t valid. They simply were rendered less impactful as the NFL evolved. Given how we have been espousing many of the ‘new’ (updated) Rules in recent years, this will be an opportunity to codify them. The Rules 2.0 will hopefully put more clarity into what is necessary today for NFL GMs to succeed.

The 2007 Rules For Winning in the NFL v1.0

1) Do not draft a “versatile” player in Round 1 of the draft. “Dominant” should be there, not versatile.
2) Left Tackle is a rare commodity. A good Left Tackle is better than a great ______ (fill in almost any other position).
3) WRs are a dime a dozen. Do not waste resources here; pick one up when you are close to the prize. They are always available.
4) “Linebackers, I collect’em.” — Bill Parcells.
5) Pitchouts do not work in the red zone.
6) Repeat after me, Do not go for the 2 pt. conversion until there are 6 minutes left in the game. If there are more than 8 minutes left in the game, it is a 99% certainty that it was the wrong decision.
6a) The Mike Tomlin Rule: The only thing worse than violating Rule 6 is violating Rule 6 AFTER a penalty makes it a 7 yd (or 12! or 17 yard) attempt.
7) The Devin Hester Rule: If there is a special teams player in the end zone on a FG attempt, it is probably a good idea to fake the kick.
8) Do the unpredictable. Once you are predictable you are dead.
9) Trading down in the draft is good.
10) Investing all of your resources in one player is (now, more than ever in the era of free agency) a mistake. Eli Manning, Herschel Walker, Ricky Williams… the teams that do the best are usually giving the pick and getting multiple players.
11) “Read and react” is for losers. Set the tone, dictate terms of engagement, let others copy your Super Bowl blueprint. By the time you copy someone else’s, the league has figured out how to adjust, so you are wasting your time.
12) Let the clock wind down to 3 seconds and kick your FG. I have never seen a team muff the (3rd down) attempt and kick on 4th down with the extra time that you left on the clock. I HAVE seen plenty of teams kick the FG and give the other team the opportunity to win when they got their hands on the ball again. (i.e. Dallas Monday Night 2003)
13) The two-week layover for the Super Bowl makes for a lousy game and improves the chances for the favorite.
14) Special teams are always underrated.
15) The only thing the prevent defense prevents you from doing is winning.
16) The only thing the prevent offense prevents you from doing is winning.
16a) The Kenny Holmes Rule: the only thing worse than the prevent offense is the prevent offense when your defense is exhausted/impaired by injury.
17) Players are told to play for 60 minutes. Yet who benches the head coach when he only coaches for 50?
18) The Fassel Rule of Prevent: It is always the coach’s fault when a large lead is blown/the game is lost.
19) The Fassel Rule of December: Practice in December without pads — your players will appreciate it and win many more games for you with their fresh legs.
20) The Bill Walsh “Quality Win” (winning by 11+ points) is a necessary objective at all times because it enables you to win MORE games that are more hotly contested.
21) After 1st and Goal from the 1-2 yard line, if you fail to score a TD on your first three tries, kick the FG on 4th down.
22) The Carl Banks Rule: You cannot simply turn it on and turn it off in the NFL. Play every game and maintain/improve on your high level of play.
23) Second-round draft picks are the best value in the draft. No sizzle, all steak.
24) # of headcases < = strong head coaches. (If you have a strong head coach, you can have up to 1 head case in the locker room. If you have a weak head coach, you cannot have any. A strong head coach with 2 head cases means a locker room infestation and problems.)
25) The Phil Simms Rule: You must stretch the field on offense. If you do not/cannot pass the ball >20 yards down field, LBers and safeties will choke off your offense.
26) Defense wins championships.