One thing that caught my eye in Bill T’s write-up last night was the lack of performance by the so-called “excellent draft class.” Jason Smith has been a poor right tackle and has battled injuries, Andre Smith has been too fat to play (literally) all year, Eugene Monroe hasn’t consistently held the starting spot, despite there being almost no depth behind him, Eben Britton has been inconsistent-to-okay, etcetera. The only tackle playing well is Michael Oher.
You shouldn’t be. Those who initially scouted Oher saw his skills. He’s an athletic freak and he’s never failed to succeed at any level of play, despite very limited experience. He was called dumb, even mentally challenged. His amazing story became his biggest weakness, his red flag. So called professional draft experts got lazy. Writing an amazing write-up about Oher — the one guy everyone knew was the real deal — appeared too easy. What if, whoa whoa, what if Oher wasn’t good? What if I deny the hype machine and instead redirect it at … oh! A converted tight end!!
Suddenly, Jason Smith became the miracle of the draft, the incredible talent, the charismatic tackle of the future! Unfortunately, Smith isn’t that and he never was. He’ll turn out to be a decent right tackle just as he has always projected to be, but he became the Draft Darling, while Oher — precisely because he was so enigmatic and talented while having a story that all the Draftniks had been following for four years — became a pox. Oher dropped into the 20s while Smith went second overall, Andre Smith went shortly thereafter, Eugene Monroe two picks later, etcetera.
Aaron Curry was a very good pick, and he was a great value at 4. He will be a star in this league, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t have taken him. I do want to say, however, that taking Michael Oher at #4 would not have been a stretch. In fact, Oher should be the rookie of the year in 2009 but won’t be because Percy Harvin is flashier. The way the draft is set up now, the paid scouts that teams hire have less and less impact in the most important round. There are superstars who drop simply because it would be looked down upon if a team “stretched” to take that player based on the perceptions of three or four talking heads.
I made no secret last year that I viewed Michael Oher as the only long-term star LT from that draft. I still don’t waver from that belief. It is clear that Tim Ruskell was not looking to draft a left tackle, so the fact that Aaron Curry was drafted instead is a moot one and, again, is not a slight on Curry. All I know is that the next person to call down to Roger Goodell with the Seahawks’ first round pick needs to be someone willing to take a flier on a guy that maybe Kiper and McShay don’t adore, someone who is worth the first round pick because they’re worth the first round pick and not because a creepy haircut tells you they are. I think that man may be Eric DeCosta, and he is the person I am currently rooting for as our GM (at least from the 10-man list the search firm provided). The name is subject to change, but the underlying motivator is not. Let the scouts scout and the talking mouths talk. Don’t get the latter confused for the former, or you get yourself caught up in the same situation the Rams are in.
[Sidenote: Your scouts can't be complete freaking idiots or the cryptkeeper, or this whole plan goes out the window. AL DAVIS.]