Frantz: Time to put an end to issuing NFL draft grades 

Hurry! Get your draft grade in now! You can’t call yourself “expert” writer-anchor-talk show host-fan unless you’re able to pass judgment on the talent and performance of 200-plus new NFL players from about a hundred colleges in over a dozen conferences that you’ve never seen play ... by the time they leave the podium! Or at the very least, by the time their flights land in their new cities!

True, I’ve been guilty in previous years of critiquing draft picks before they’ve ever put on an NFL helmet, so I can’t throw too many stones from the comfort of my glass front porch.

In fact, I’m still relatively proud of the Michael Crabtree-Darrius Heyward-Bey column from a year ago, and the follow-up columns during the season that validated my expert belief that the Raiders missed badly in taking the block-handed speedster from Maryland over the high-flying playmaker from Texas Tech.

OK, that didn’t take expert analysis. That took common sense.

I am, however, now calling for a moratorium on draft grades and draft analysis of players that 99 percent of the population, media included, have never seen play a down.

To be clear, I’m not talking about the Sam Bradfords, Colt McCoys and Tim Tebows of the world, who have been high-profile players at prominent universities and who have spent much of their collegiate lives on national television.

Nor am I talking about analysis of a given NFL team’s position needs and whether or not they drafted players who actually play those positions.

Those are easy enough to break down.

What I’m talking about is the parade of media analysts who are giving A’s, B’s or C’s to entire draft classes of every given team, as if they know anything at all about most of the third- through seventh-round picks they’re grading — other than what they’ve read in somebody else’s draft guide. In the end, most of these guys are doing one of three things:

1. They’re plagiarizing someone else’s opinion that they stole from a draft guide or heard on someone else’s broadcast.

2. They’re using generic terms that could almost be used to describe anyone. “Good size.” “Great motor.” “Understands the game.”

3. They’re straight-up guessing.

Most of the time, it’s option No. 3, because that’s what most NFL GMs and player personnel directors are doing as well. One look at the top-pick JaMarcus Russells and Alex Smiths of drafts gone by, alongside the sixth-round Tom Bradys and Terrell Davis’ prove as much.

So make sure to call your favorite radio show and get your draft grades in, before your buddies prove to be more knowledgeable than you. And make sure to tell all the guys down at the office-warehouse-plant-yard that the Raiders had a “B” draft or that the Niners came in at a “C+” based on the professional observations of the guy you read in the paper who didn’t see any more of the guys who were drafted than you did.

And make sure to record your grades, so we can pull them back out in three years to see which guys are still in the league ... and have ourselves a good laugh.
 
Sports personality Bob Frantz is a regular contributor to The Examiner. E-mail him at bfrantz@sfexaminer.com.

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