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    ramhard's Avatar
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    Clearing up the BUST debate - Long

    There is one comment that always sparks heated responses on this forum - calling someone a draft BUST (well, and bringing up Martz or Warner but that's for another thread). The arguments usually start with someone calling a player (this year it's Long or Smith) and then angry responses to the contrary. The arguments against usually are something along the line of:

    1. You can't judge a player after X years (fill in the blank), you gotta have patience.
    2. He is a productive player, have realistic expectations.
    3. He's playing as well as Y player, why don't you call that player a bust.
    4. For a low drafted player - he's only a (5, 6, or 7th) round choice, most don't pan out anyway.

    Arguments in favor of a bust are usually:

    1. He's not playing at Pro Bowl caliber.
    2. He doesn't have the stats of Z player (someone drafted equal or lower in a similar draft).
    3. He 2 years he only has ______(fill in the appropriate statistics) so he's a bust.

    The problem is that the arguments are mixing issues. Here are some groundrules for judging the returns to a player:

    1. Draft Position - where a player is drafted DOES matter. Why? Because a player drafted in the top 5 of a draft has very different cap implications than a player drafted in the 4th round. A player who eats up $5-$10 million of your cap room needs to have a higher impact than a player who eats up $400k. People have often argued that's why in the current system, no one wants to trade into the top 5 draft picks because the cap hit is so high and if you miss on a player it hamstrings you for 3-4 years with your cap.

    So yes, a player drafted in the top 5 draft picks can be a bust with average performance; while the same player drafted in the 4th round with the same performance isn't a bust.

    2. Playing Position - the position a player plays DOES matter. Why? Again back to cap implications, but also to when the typical player makes an impact. Position matters because certain positions have higher average salaries than other positions, so missing on a low average position kills you more than missing on a high average position. For example, if the average QB costs (across the league) is $4M, while the average offensive guard is $1M, if you draft a guy high and give him a big bonus at QB (say a $5M average) you only lose $1M on your cap because of what you have to pay to an average replacement QB; while at guard you would lose $5M.

    Also, certain positions have quicker impact than other positions. For example, reaction positions like RB and LB (and maybe OT) the top players are good quickly. While at other positions like QB, C, and DT they often take longer. Now of course there are exceptions to every rule, and things change over time. For example, it looks like at the QB position, the development time is starting to be reduced - in part because of the control of the sidelines being able to call in plays in the helmet and the play formation notes on the wrist bands. So a RB who hasn't shown by year 2 has a much lower chance of ever having an impact than a center.

    3. Time Matters - contracts of the top draft picks are 4-5 years, and for lower picks 2-3 years. So time does matter. For those years that a player isn't being productive you are not getting any return. So if a player has a 4 year contract and doesn't do much for 3 years (while you have patience) but blows up in the 4th year. You only get him a a reasonable rate for 1 year out of 4 which means that you had under performing money tied up for 3 years. And then you have to pay him market rates, which makes him no different than paying a FA.

    4. Non-production is non-production - it doesn't matter why a player isn't producing - other good players in front of him, injuries, drug suspension, not learning playbook, or wrong system. If a team is not getting production from a player because for 3 straight years that player has played hard but has gotten injured each season - it's not the players fault - but that is a wasted resource.

    5. It doesn't matter what they do after they go to another team - if you don't sign a player and they go on to be productive, for your draft expenditure it is still a waste.

    6. Ignore Other potential draftees - you can always cherry-pick that the teams could have picked someone else who went on to be productive. They also could have picked someone who was worse. You should only judge a player based on his impact for his draft position and playing position.


    All this to say that labeling a player as a BUST depends on both draft and playing position. For example, the Rams have drafted high the last 6 years so we would expect their first and second round picks to be impact players given the cap room they eat up. Also, I know you don't judge a draft only by the top 2 players, but those are the ones in which the BUST label creates arguments.

    Rnd Player Position Select. BUST?
    2009
    1 Jason Smith Baylor OT 2 Too early but warning signs
    2 James Laurinaitis Ohio State LB 35 Signs say no

    2008
    1 Chris Long Virginia DE 2 Borderline BUST-next yr key
    2 Donnie Avery Houston WR 33 If stays hurt BUST, o.w. no

    2007
    1 Adam Carriker Nebraska DT 13 BUST
    2 Brian Leonard Rutgers RB 52 BUST

    2006
    1 Tye Hill Clemson CB 15 BUST
    2 Joe Klopfenstein Colorado TE 46 BUST

    2005
    1 Alex Barron Florida State OT 19 No
    2 Ronald Bartell Howard CB 50 No

    2004
    1 Stephen Jackson Oregon RB 24 Heck No

    2003
    1 Jimmy Kennedy Penn State DT 12 Heck Yes, BUST
    2 Pisa Tinoisamoa Hawaii LB 43 No, despite injuries
    Last edited by ramhard; -10-23-2009 at 01:30 PM.


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    Re: Clearing up the BUST debate - Long

    Long is hardly a bust. The Team if anything is a bust.
    I stopped going to the dentist.......I got tired of the cavity searches!

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    Re: Clearing up the BUST debate - Long

    I agree Ramhard to an extent. You can throw stats around all you want, if that selection (2) doesn't have a major impact it may be a disappointment (Long so far to me) or a bust.

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    Re: Clearing up the BUST debate - Long

    =( everyone was so gung ho on J Smith for reasons still unknown to me. This past draft and the upcoming draft had and have better prostects that Smith was.

    All I now is I dont come here to write a thesis-level posts, I come here to try to provide good football input for my favorite team.

    I have bashed all of drafts the past 4 years, yet many here try to be positive in the hope that they can spiritually manifest results while whole-heartedly supporting whomever happens to be in power atm for this team.

    As far as Long is concerned-- I did support his the pick, and I still do. i do not, and have posted for a while, think he is being used correctly. He is yet another DRAFT PICK OF OURS PLAYING OUT OF POSITION.

    Jason Smith-- #2 pick at OT, yet as I stated pre draft-- he wasnt the caliber of Stan Thomas or 'the other Long', and we should use the pick on something else.

    I then posted that he was going to play RT-- and got bashed about how do I know-- and well--- I did. So for now, we drafted a player that has hardly played a real season NFL game, and we are paying him HUGE money to not play-- or maybe play--- RT.

    And lastly--- cap be damned. We could have kept Orlando Pace for 1 more year, and didnt because Devagnuolo wanted to clean house. You jsut dont give up on an anchor and to get a .3mm gauge tin wire in return.

    Im really, really tired of the manner in which this organization is and has been run. Many of you always use use the phrase--"what do you know? You think you know more than these people who have been in the NFL for years?" Well I can tell you this, pay me 100,000 a year, Ill save the Rams Millions in GM and coaches fees, and I will AT LEAST produce the same results.

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    Re: Clearing up the BUST debate - Long

    Quote Originally Posted by theodus69 View Post
    Long is hardly a bust. The Team if anything is a bust.
    its the organization, not the team.

    Its no surprise many of our players perform poorly while excell elsewhere.

    Bad management = poor production and unhappy employees.

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    Re: Clearing up the BUST debate - Long

    Quote Originally Posted by punahou View Post
    its the organization, not the team.

    Its no surprise many of our players perform poorly while excell elsewhere.

    Bad management = poor production and unhappy employees.
    Hence.......the team plays poorly . kinda what i was getting at but thanks for clearing that up!
    I stopped going to the dentist.......I got tired of the cavity searches!

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    Re: Clearing up the BUST debate - Long

    Jason Smith - Not sure what warning signs you're seeing at this point. What has he done to warrant any complaints?

    Adam Carriker - I'm going to have to disagree on the issue of lack of production due to injury. Take Steve Smith (Carolina) for example. He missed a lot of time during his first few seasons, but few would say he is a bust now. Likewise, I'd say the jury is still out on Carriker, who has been hurt much of the time.

    Alex Barron - How does he get off the hook? He has been one of the league's most penalized offensive linemen over the last few years, and I think it's safe to say his future with the team is in doubt. We wouldn't have drafted Jason Smith if we thought Barron was a long-term solution at left tackle--and Barron is worse at right tackle.

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    Re: Clearing up the BUST debate - Long

    I think you're trying to come up with facts or rules to determine an opinion. It just won't work out that way I'm afraid. People will think what they want...

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    Re: Clearing up the BUST debate - Long

    I think Ramhard contributed an intelligent post- well thought out and critiqued. Much of what he said is indeed accurate in determining whether or not a guy is a bust. Expecting immediate results from a guy drafted in the 1st round is hardly unreasonable, yet one must reserve judgment until there is a body of work on the individual. Labeling Jason Smith a bust after he's 6 games into his NFL career isn't even worth arguing, it's so moronic.

    One thing cannot be argued: the Rams drafts have been utterly horrendous this decade which is why we're terrible. The people who scouted talent at the combines and drafted many of these players should be hung from the arch.

    And I don't entirely buy the "bad management equals poor production" argument. While a happy workplace certainly can help with productivity, a player who is paid handsomely for the privilege of playing professional football should have enough pride in himself to perform to expectations- period. Every position coach currently employed by an NFL team knows how to teach the skill sets relevant to that position. It's up to the player to maximize his potential and take pride in his job. This isn't high school.

    Long is not a bust but will have to demonstrate better pass rushing skills to justify where he was selected. Sacks ARE important- Who do you think usually leads a team in sacks every year?? Carriker needs to get healthy and give us something from which to judge. The jury is out on Avery; is he the guy who showed great promise last year as a rookie or is he the guy who is invisible like he's been for much of this year? Barron isn't a bust but has definitely been an underachiever and a mental midget. James Laurinitis shows possible pro-bowl potential down the road and of course Steven Jackson is a bona fide player.

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    Re: Clearing up the BUST debate - Long

    You lost me when you got to Jason Smith.

    Let's review... he was drafted because virtually everyone viewed him as the OT with the most upside (not necessarily the most "camera ready," but the most upside). He was awarded the starting RT job by opening day. He played less than two games, and was injured. He's now working his way back to the lineup.

    If you see bust warning signs there, you must have ESP.

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    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Clearing up the BUST debate - Long

    Quote Originally Posted by ramhard View Post
    Here are some groundrules for judging the returns to a player:
    I think you’ve outlined a number of solid considerations that should be looked at whenever trying to evaluate the merits of a draft selection. Draft position, playing position, time, contract, etc. All good things to consider. I would, however, disagree with some of your classifications of the specific players listed at the bottom of your post. Like Av, I’m rather confused as to what warning signs we’ve seen thus far about Jason Smith. Furthermore, if Smith is going to get a qualifying comment about supposed warning signs, I’m not sure how Barron – a top 20 offensive tackle – doesn’t get a qualifier on his description since he’s been very inconsistent and certainly has not lived up to his athletic potential thus far. Finally, while I’m as big a Pisa fan as anyone, you can probably make the case that he was a bust since the organization chose to move on and part ways with him. We’re not getting any return on that pick now.

    Quote Originally Posted by punahou View Post
    Jason Smith-- #2 pick at OT, yet as I stated pre draft-- he wasnt the caliber of Stan Thomas or 'the other Long', and we should use the pick on something else.

    I then posted that he was going to play RT-- and got bashed about how do I know-- and well--- I did. So for now, we drafted a player that has hardly played a real season NFL game, and we are paying him HUGE money to not play-- or maybe play--- RT.

    And lastly--- cap be damned. We could have kept Orlando Pace for 1 more year, and didnt because Devagnuolo wanted to clean house. You jsut dont give up on an anchor and to get a .3mm gauge tin wire in return.
    I have a couple of things to say here, not because I want to single you out or pick on you, but rather because I’m a fan of accuracy.

    One, you claim that you posted he was going to play right tackle and then were criticized by people who did not believe you. I’ve gone back through your post history as I was curious to see that thread, and I did not find it. So if it happened, it didn’t happen here. What I did find was a thread started by Dez where Spags said he wasn’t sure which side Smith would play on, and you responded by saying you’d give up on the team ever breaking .500 if they drafted Smith to play right tackle for a couple of years. You also said offensive lineman were a dime a dozen, which is something I’ll come back to in a bit. The only other thread I could find where you posted about Smith playing right tackle was a thread started by someone else where you didn’t respond until page three. Neither of them seem to be the “I told you so” moment you’re recalling now.

    Two, having gone through your post history to find the discussion you were referring to, I did find one interesting nugget. When Jason Smith was drafted in late April, you were pretty negative about the pick. You seem to be pretty negative about it now as well. But after the combine in February, Avenger started a thread asking members to respond with their own post-combine top five prospects list for the Rams specifically. Your response had Jason Smith ranked third, which seemed pretty puzzling to me since you’ve been so negative about the pick. Additionally, the prospect you listed as fifth on your board was center Alex Mack. So in February, you included two offensive lineman in your post-combine top five for the Rams. In late April, not only were you down on the player you had listed at #3, but you also claimed that offensive lineman are a dime. These statements don’t seem to add up to me.

    Which brings me to point three…

    Quote Originally Posted by punahou View Post
    Many of you always use use the phrase--"what do you know? You think you know more than these people who have been in the NFL for years?" Well I can tell you this, pay me 100,000 a year, Ill save the Rams Millions in GM and coaches fees, and I will AT LEAST produce the same results.
    Well, I doubt that anyone in the NFL is going to give a message board fan $100k to run their team, nor should they. Because while fans may get things right from time to time, that alone certainly doesn’t qualify them to run an NFL franchise and make these kinds of decisions on a day to day basis.

    Simply saying “I can tell you this” and then proclaiming yourself as the savior of this team if only you were given the chance doesn’t strike me as very convincing, especially when just earlier in your post you said regarding the Pace situation that you’d have kept him, “cap be damned.” Unfortunately, NFL GMs have to consider the cap, at least they do in 2009. And the Rams could not have kept Pace given his salary/cap cost to this team. Furthermore, I’d venture that if he was still the anchor that he was in days past, it wouldn’t have taken him nearly a month to find a new team.

    But I digress. You’re right in that you could at least produce the same results, because right now, there’s nowhere to go but up. The Rams are winless, so it’s impossible for someone else to come in and do worse in terms of this team’s win/loss column. I do think, though, that this team is making strides in the right direction. I think the wins will come eventually, and I think we have a general manager and a coach who are making some sound, positive decisions.

    However, judging by this post as well as one from April of this year, you seem to think you could do better. I think, though, if you turned the same spotlight on your own ideas as the one you’ve had on the Rams’ decisions over the past few years, there would be kinks in your armor as well.

    Take, for instance, one idea where you said you’d love to trade down into the mid-first so you could draft Maualuga and Oher. Maualuga, of course, lasted into the second round. But I’m more confused as to why you’d advocate spending a mid-first on Oher, since again according to you, OL are a dime a dozen. Also, earlier in your post you seemed very critical about the Rams playing Chris Long out of position. However, in March, you seemed open to the idea of moving Curry to middle linebacker and playing him out of position. You also claimed at that time that there was a West Virginia MLB that you felt was better than Laurinaitis; there was no WVU middle linebacker in last year’s draft. There was a middle linebacker from Virginia (Antonio Appleby) but he went undrafted.

    Frankly, I’m sure you could go through my posting history and find many things I was wrong about, too. It would be a long list I’m sure, given the number of posts I’ve made. But then again, I’m not lobbying for the GM job and claiming I could do a lot better than the guys who are in there. You are. And while my point here is not to be a bully or single you out and nitpick the posts you’ve made in the past – that really wouldn’t be very fair – I think it is relevant whenever people start claiming they could do a better job than the guys currently in the power chair. Because really, the chances of that being the case are probably slim to none, and I think slim is out with a case of H1N1.

    All I’m saying is that if we’re being honest about everything here, fans get plenty of things wrong as well. No one is claiming guys like Devaney or other general managers are infallible. Yes, they make mistakes, they make bad decisions, they get things wrong. But there’s a reason they have that job and the closest most of us will ever get is talking about it on a message board.

    Quote Originally Posted by NJ Ramsfan1 View Post
    Long is not a bust but will have to demonstrate better pass rushing skills to justify where he was selected. Sacks ARE important- Who do you think usually leads a team in sacks every year?? Carriker needs to get healthy and give us something from which to judge. The jury is out on Avery; is he the guy who showed great promise last year as a rookie or is he the guy who is invisible like he's been for much of this year? Barron isn't a bust but has definitely been an underachiever and a mental midget. James Laurinitis shows possible pro-bowl potential down the road and of course Steven Jackson is a bona fide player.
    Well said, I think your thoughts mirror mine when it comes to those players.

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