When it comes to their NFL draft experts, ESPN’s approach over the past few years has been (to borrow from Adam Schefter’s Twitter shtick) to put Todd McShay and Mel Kiper in a room together and, you know, see what happens.
But the verbal fisticuffs typically don’t fly until March or April, leaving an extended period without split screen images of a guy who makes Josh McDaniels look like an old man and an increasinlgy old man whose words, tone, and demeanor betray a heartfelt belief that McShay is merely a form-over-substance hack who is able to periodically hypnotize a mass audience but who has no real grasp of the draft’s nuances.
Thanks to Michael Crabtree, they’re at it again.
McShay and Kiper have debated, in a segment that likely will be added to the rotation until Crabtree signs a contract or is drafted again, the tenth overall pick’s possible fortunes in the 2010 selection process.
McShay thinks Crabtree will go late in the first round. Kiper “guarantees” that Crabtree will be selected within the first 10 or 12 picks.
We’re siding with McShay on this one.
Despite his ability (whatever it might actually be) to evaluate players, Kiper has no real grasp on the business realities of the draft. If Crabtree is truly erratic, delusional, and/or stupid enough to re-enter the draft, his failure to sign a fair contract at No. 10 in 2009 will make it even harder to justify to ownership a decision to burn a high pick on him in 2010, especially if he isn’t the first receiver picked, since the main problem this year is his belief that he deserves more than the guy picked three spots ahead of him.
Every year, players fall because folks don’t want to risk their jobs on picks that could come back to haunt them. Of the six teams that passed on Adrian Peterson in 2007, for example, many of them likely wish in hindsight that they’d taken the chance the Minnesota did on a guy with an injury history and, at the time of the draft, a bad collarbone.
But if Cleveland had taken Peterson and if something on him broke and if he needed surgery and if he got a staph infection and if he never made it to the field, then G.M. Phil Savage might have been fired within two years after submitting the card.
OK, Savage was still fired within two years but the point is still the same.
Though the 49ers might be able to claim that they didn’t anticipate Crabtree behaving this way (to their credit, the Browns sure as hell did), whoever drafts Crabtree in 2010 would not be able to act surprised if he demands more money than his draft slot othewise dictates.
Then there’s the reality that the same loose screw that’s fueling the current contractual impasse will manifest itself in other ways, once Crabtree is under contract. For all their faults, none of the worst of the NFL pass-catching divas did what Crabtree currently is doing.
So that will plunge Crabtree to the bottom of the first round, at which point someone might then trade up for a crack at him.
Or maybe he’ll keep sliding.
Kiper’s assessment ignores another fairly important reality of re-entering the draft: Crabtree would continue to be the property of the 49ers until the day of the draft. As a result, Crabtree would be unable to attend the Scouting Combine or work out for teams or be interviewed by teams during the usual period of pre-draft preparation.
But we hope Mel continues to guarantee out that Crabtree will be a top-ten selection. If so, Crabtree might go ahead and re-enter the draft. And then Peter King would have to change his name to Derek Jeter.