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About that 2009 draft…

Jason Smith, OT, Baylor. 2nd overall, 2009. 5yr/62MM. .. Traded for Wayne Hunter.  Then cut.

So.  Jason Smith is available.  Jets released him yesterday.

Jason who?

Jason ‘second pick in the 2009 draft‘ Smith, that’s who.  Consensus top-three pick.  Rams’ next Orlando Pace.  Anchor on the line for next decade.   Busting holes for Stephen Jackson; protecting Sam Bradford’s back.

Three years later he’s being traded straight-up for journeyman OT Wayne Hunter.  Four years later he’s being cut from the 6-10 Jets.

Smith has had more than his share of injuries.  Three concussions.  Two seasons finished on the DL.  But even before that, Rams fans had concerns.

I knew we were in trouble during the 2009 training camp when aged Leonard Little was routinely beating the shit out Smith.

A lot of people were distressed when the Rams picked the former TE Smith to play one of the most important positions on the team.

Smith’s contract, signed before the new CBA, was crippling for the Rams.  So it was pretty much a train wreck of a pick.  Especially when you consider that they passed on:

That’s weird.  Of the first five picks in 2009, only Matt Stafford seems to be a significant contributor to an NFL team four years later.

If we keep going:

  • Andre Smith, rounding into form now, but it was uncertain for the first two years;
  • Darrius Heyward-Bey .. meh;
  • Eugene Monroe — solid;
  • BJ Raji — hit;
  • Michael Crabtree .. looking good;
  • Aaron Maybin, bust;
  • Knowshon Moreno .. err;

And then Orakpo, Jenkins, Cushing.

Massaging the numbers as I’m wont to do:  of the first twelve picks in 2009, only four (Stafford, Monroe, Crabtree, Raji) are slam-dunk ‘We’d take them again’ choices.  Out of those twelve, three are disasters (Smith, Maybin, Curry), three are disappointments (Jackson, Sanchez, Moreno).

When you consider thousands of hours of research by hundreds of paid league sources
33% hit rate on the top 12 is weak… and…
A whiff rate of 38% in the top 12 is a damning indictment of all the NFL personnel experts who are smarter than you.


Prototype 5-tech JJ Watt is lined up on Ravens’ RT’s right shoulder.

Where are you going with this, Kanick?

So let’s have fun with this drafty-picky game!

I mixed it up with minor twitter and Cleveland sports-radio celebrity Hiram Boyd tonight.  Hiram’s a Ziggy Ansah fan.  So am I.  I’m also a Margus Hunt fan.

Since we’re moving to a 3-4, we need new personnel.
(Don’t believe the bullshit you’ve been fed about ease of transition.  We need new and different personnel than what we were stockpiling the last two years with Jauron.  We’ve covered the stupidity of this.)
We now need a ‘5-technique’ DE and it’s a pretty specific profile.  He’s long and fast and strong.  Think Richard Seymour.  The current prototype is JJ Watt.

Anyway, I asked Hiram:  if you can choose between a 6-5, 270 guy who’s been playing football since 2010 and a 6-8, 280 guy who’s been playing since 2009 and is also faster and stronger.. whom do you pick?

Predictably, my Margus Hunt infatuation was disparaged.

In fact, another amateur draft wonk chimed in to project Hunt as a 6th rounder.  (And that’s fine because no one knows anything as I’ll get to below.)

I’m not naive about falling in love with workout warriors.  I know and agree with drafting ‘football players’ and that that is an intangible not measured at the combine.

This Fresno OT may return to marching band next year.

But 6’8″ 290 guys who run in the 4.5s, jump 38″ while benching 225 40+ with 82″ wingspan arms don’t come along very often.  In fact, they’ve never come along before.

We shall see this week whether or not Margus Hunt can actually put up such other-worldly athletic numbers.  But if he does, and if the Hawaii Bowl performance —

Hunt had three tackles for loss, two sacks, forced two fumbles and got a safety. SMU, which was a 12-point underdog, was up 22-0 at halftime thanks to the fact that Fresno State couldn’t block Hunt. The Mustangs ended up with a convincing 43-10 win.*

— seemed legit:  of course he’s a top 10 pick.

So where are you going with this again?

NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING.  And as over-engaged fans, it’s worthwhile to step back and assign realistic expectations to this whole thing.

Aaron Curry.
Thank you Seahawks for Alex Mack.

Example:  in 2009, if you’d picked Clay Matthews at four instead of Aaron Curry, you’d have been by yourself.  But you’d have been right.

Ted Thompson hit a homerun in 2009 with Raji at 9 and by being bold moving up to get Matthews.  In 2007 he was bold too.  Took Justin Harrell at 16.  It happens.  You can’t and won’t win them all.

Succumbing to pre-draft groupthink is easy.  Having the balls to pick your guy, having the courage to go against the grain, is where it’s at.

Check this out:

  • Rayfield Wright, 7th round.
  • Richard Dent and Leroy Kelly, 8th round.
  • Roger Staubach, 10th round.
  • Deacon Jones, 14th round.
  • Bart Starr, 17th round.
  • Larry Little, undrafted.
  • Jon Randle, undrafted.

When you’re making a speech in Canton, no one cares where you were drafted.

Put a bow on it and go to bed.

  1. Draft time is a great time to be a football fan.
  2. Eschew big name draft pickers like Kiper and McShay.  Can you imagine how many dinners CAA has bought these guys?
  3. Seek out guys who review tape like Sobo and guys who love it and dig deep for late round value like Becks aka TheScout! aka @ScoutSlaya.
  4. Trust your eyes.  Alec Ogletree impressed me more than Jarvis Jones when I watched UGA.  (Chik-Fil-A Bowl aside) Sam Montgomery and Kevin Minter looked like bigger forces for LSU’s defense than Bark Mingo.
  5. Stick to your guns.  No one tracks this shit.**

* Kanick lost big on this game.  Loved Fresno this year.  Love Derek Carr.

** Except, of course, Matt Borcas and me who performed two proctology exams on Mike Lombardi’s drafts.


  1. I always ignored the token the Browns’ 2009 was so terrible (which it pretty much was except for Alex Mack), but I never realized just what a weird draft it was. If you take another look, the top ten is mostly terrible (Stafford is physically great, but is the most uninspiring 5,000 yard passer ever), but there are a quite a few really good players from 10-20 and 20-32. Take Orakpo, Cushing, Mathews, Freeman, Harvin, Oher and Nicks – all solid starters to solid players.

    Now – the question for this April’s draft: since everyone is so down on the overall talent this year and the popular sentiment is that “there is just as much value at the middle and end of the first round as the top” (I’m paraphrasing Mike Mayock), I’m wondering if the same pattern will emerge.

    If history repeats itself (if 2013 follows 2009) then I’m kind of glad the Browns don’t have a second round pick.

    • jimkanicki says:

      lol… with you on stafford. i didnt want to get into a debate on him, but yeah: meh.

      the other facet of that draft that accrues positively to mangini is that that was the era of slotted contracts. the jets’ cap hits with sanchez were 10MM, 9MM, 17MM in 2009, 10, 11. meanwhile mack was 1.3, 2.9, 2.0MM in those years.

      i agree with your point on the middle of that first round (mentioned it with warburton below). from 13 on:

      orakpo, jenkins, cushing, english, freeman, ayers, maclin, pettigrew, mack, harvin, oher, jerry, vontae davis, matthews, don brown, eric wood, nicks, britt, wells, hood.

      that’s 13 good picks out of 20. that’s good work. still makes you question the smart guys at the top who were 4 of 12.

  2. jaws. says:

    everyone except Josh McDaniels whiffed on Tebow.

  3. maxfnmloans says:

    what I find interesting is you see all the draftniks post all sorts of mock drafts, and yet, at some point along the line, they will all basically admit that half (or more) of they people THEY rank as the best players in the draft (we’re the experts, yo) won’t end up panning out. They assign players to teams due to the perceived needs of that team. And I don’t know if it’s the tail wagging the dog, but when things are for real, the draft follows suit, for the most part.

    What I don’t get is why more teams at the top of the draft don’t seem to simply say “We want the guy who is going to be good”. Instead, they seem to pick someone at an area of need, sometimes talking themselves into a selection, simply because they are the “best” player at that particular position during that certain year. Are they afraid to go against the grain and risk ridicule by the “instant experts”? Or do the “experts” rank their draft boards due to knowledge from their sources who give them a pretty educated idea of what the teams are thinking, and using that information?

    Either way, I think you are correct insofar as teams who don’t worry so much about the pundits, and instead trust their own judgment and get “their guy” seem to be the ones that are more successful. Maybe because that’s because those teams actually have an identity and know what they are trying to do, because they aren’t changing course every few years.

    Sorry, I’m rambling. Hopslam will do that to you. Great stuff, as always.

  4. supermadelf says:

    Great Read, Kanicki. Can’t tell how glad I am to have another great blog in my Google Bookmarks!

  5. You’re funny,and I like that,you being right is just a bonus. Kind of surprised you didn’t include Mack in this article,considering he was I think(might be wrong here) the highest rated center in that draft and has performed well, and is probably underrated since the Browns guards tend to suck,very,very much. Have no idea what we have in Pinkston and Lauvou(probably mispelled),but the line got better when Pinkston went on IR,and we stopped running to the right(granted this was hard to see because we never ran enough…if Shurmer had used Hillis,when healthy,like he did Richards he might not have become a head case…and he used TR not enough(yeah he had broken ribs,maybe they should have said that considering there were 3 other running backs in the stable after all). Not that I wanted to see Hardlessly,though being healthy he did much better, but Obi and Jacobs warrented some more time with the ball…still don’t know WTF we bothered to get Jacobs for,since when he was healthy we didn’t use him…even though Richards had broken ribs. Were both Obi and Jackson in case both TR and Hardlessly were injured?? Don’t get me wrong I kinda like TR,but you just don’t take an injured RB comming off of knee surgery with the 3rd pick and you sure as hell shouldn’t trade up for one,especially if you are planning on actually not running the ball.

    • jimkanicki says:

      mack was part of a run where the teams mostly got it right: orakpo, jenkins, cushing, english, freeman, ayers, maclin, pettigrew, mack, harvin, oher.

      sooo… didnt fit the narrative, which still holds: the smart guys did badly at the head of the draft.

      annd thanks for the kind words!

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