Friday, April 29, 2011

Go Big Or Go Home

As much fun as it was watching the Orioles take 2 out of 3 from the Red Sox this week, the loss last night made it easy to switch over to the NFL Draft to see what was happening in the country's favorite sport / litigation source, professional football.

At this point I am going to go out on a limb and assume that I am not your primary source of local sports information (as always, deep pocketed sponsors with comprehensive health coverage that can be applied to myself and my family are welcome to contact me. I will gladly post multiple entries per day if there is no "boss" walking past my cubicle demanding I do the "work" they pay me for), so I am going with you have already heard about the drafting snafu between the Ravens and the Chicago Bears. But in case you haven't, the Bears and Ravens had a deal in place to swap 1st round picks (Bears moving up to 26, Ravens moving down to 29th and getting the Bears 4th round pick in the trade), but Bears GM Jerry Angelo delegated to his staffers the task of informing the league of the trade, and everyone on the Bears staff thought he was talking to someone else so no one did it. Consequently the trade was never consummated and the Chiefs (who had the 27th pick) jumped up as soon as the clock hit triple zeros on the Ravens and got the player THEY wanted, which was immediately followed by the Ravens turning in a card for the player they would have drafted at 26 if there had been no trade and the Bears getting who they were trying to get at 26 in their slotted place at 29. Confused? You won't be, after this episode of...SOAP

A photo of the Bears 2011 Draft Team. Notice how many medals Jerry Angelo has earned. I just wish Jay Cutler would turn his head to face the camera. But he does look cute sitting on Mike Martz's lap.

So the Ravens lose a potential additional 3rd day pick and maybe save a few bucks on rookie signing by him being drafted a slot lower than planned. The loss is negligible. But that is not the reason for the title of this article. That is for the player they drafted, Colorado CB Jimmy Smith. Why is that? Well, the young man has consensus Top 10-15 talent. He's a 6' 2", 211lb CB with ball skills, the ability to play the run, and is excellent at press coverage. In short, he is a potential shutdown corner. But he has a few problems. To wit: three failed drug tests, two times being busted as a minor for alcohol possession, and an arrest for 3rd degree assault in a restaurant. Not exactly the feel good story that Michael Oher was, is he?

So to say I felt some trepidation over the Ravens picking him would be an understatement. And when a coworker came up to me this morning and asked me how I felt about the pick I told him I didn't like it at all. But I've been thinking about it while staring at my screen at a worthless excel spreadsheet that I created for just such an emergency, and now I have changed my mind.

Now I just don't like it a really tiny bit.

If he pans out, Smith could be a big piece of the puzzle in winning a Lombardi Trophy this year. But it is a big "if". And while I am aware that he has not been in any trouble for over 2 years, this isn't one isolated incident and who knows what a bunch of money and stardom will do to someone who does not exactly have a track record of thinking ahead. So it is a big risk, big reward scenario.

More than anything, what swayed me was remembering a John Clayton article from ESPN not too long ago where he talked about teams that consistently make the safe pick over the pick that could benefit them the most. And the gist of the article is that when a team has a chance to make some serious noise (and a team w/3 straight playoff appearances, with wins in all 3 playoff appearances, and with a trip to the conference championship game mixed in there definitely has the potential to make some serious noise) they need to be a little daring. Or to put it another way, fortune favors the bold.

Now we just have to hope that this move was bold and not stupid. Because while fortune favors the bold, a top 10 draft pick favors the stupid.

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