Real life kept me from being sucked into the Senior Bowl's grasp, but I'm actually sort of grateful for that. As nice as the All-Star games are, I try not to get too high or low on a guy based on them. A quote from the German poet Rainer Maria Wilke comes to mind when I think of these pre-draft events, "A person isn't who they are during the last conversation you had with them. They're who they've been throughout your whole relationship."
While these practices and measurements might tweak an opinion here or there about work ethic (is someone practicing hard...is he able to take coaching...is he keeping himself in good shape), I'm not going to let it destroy what I see on film and what's been on film for years. Like Rilke says, the greater sample size matters more than a single moment.
That said, I'm sure you'd rather read about a mock draft evaluation as opposed to the philosophies of a German poet. This week, I'm keeping it in-house and taking a look at the single round effort from SB Nation's own Brian Galliford.
Mr. Galliford is one of the good ones here at SB Nation. Don't believe me? Check out his blog for all things Buffalo Bills. Oh...probably not a good idea to mention the Bills when former Oilers fans could be here. Oh well, Brian's a sharp guy and a good writer...he's worth the plug.
His mock drafts have been well constructed throughout this process. He's able to give sound reasoning on the majority of these picks to the point where I find myself nodding along. The problem, however, is I stop nodding when I read his Houston Texans first rounder. Without further adieu, I give you Brian's mock first round pick. With the 11th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans select...
"Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri. When Wade Phillips was with Dallas, he coached the league's best outside linebacker in DeMarcus Ware, a former No. 11 overall pick that nobody saw coming and many questioned. Smith is in the same mold - a raw, freakishly athletic player that Phillips would love for his 3-4 defense."
If you've been paying attention to this extravagant thread or the guys at Battle Red Blog then you know what is coming next.
Why do people insist on giving Houston another speed rusher? The pass rush wasn't terrible in 2010 while Houston has its rush outside linebacker in Connor Barwin. If you're going linebacker in round one, the need is more for a strong-side outside linebacker who is an able cover man with some pass rush skills.
I know Stephen Paea's injury may scare some off who had interest in him playing the nose, but Galliford has him going three spots later. He also has the Patriots drafting the versatile Akeem Ayers a few spots after that, and the description sounds like what I'd prefer at Houston's strong-side (although I'm not sure how I feel about Ayers at the moment).
Even if you believe the Texans need a speed-rusher, I'm sure most of the fan base cringes on the word raw. Raw is another word for oozing with potential. Potential is what the Texans have had for years. The fan base is tired of raw, potential, looking toward the future. For Houston, 2011 is about realizing that potential on the field. If you need another anti-raw stance then look at their draft philosophy: The Texans prefer to take guys who can start from day one in round one. The raw projects? Those are for the later rounds.
As I said, I believe Brian Galliford's mock is among the better ones out there, but I don't believe his Texans pick matches need or philosophy. Who would I take in this instance? As I have said before, if it is good enough for Bill Belichick then it is good enough for me. I'd probably take UCLA OLB Akeem Ayers and place him with Barwin and ILBs DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing.
Ayers? Smith? Someone else? Do you cringe at the idea of a raw first round pick? Do you like German poetry? That's why there's a comment box, Internet Draft Gurus.