2009 NFL Draft falls flat for millions of sports fans

April 30, 2009

by Justin Phillips

And the first pick of the 2009 NFL Draft is…

Right at that very moment on Saturday afternoon is when I should have changed the channel.

Unfortunately, ESPN’s coverage of the NFL Draft has grown exponentially over the last decade. The number of football fans that tuned into this year’s draft actually rivaled the number of people tuning into the NBA playoffs on the same nights.
Sometimes, the draft warrants a high Nielson rating like that, but this year was not one of those years.

The 1998 NFL draft with Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf vying to be the first pick or the 2006 draft with the USC greats Leinhart, Bush and White finally leaving for the NFL, were drafts that deserved attention.

This year’s draft, which featured LSU’s Tyson Jackson getting selected second overall and Darrius Heyward-Bey being the first receiver drafted instead of Texas Tech standout Michael Crabtree, was more agonizing than a root canal.

In retrospect, 2009’s draft talent pool was pretty shallow compared to other years. The idea that the top three quarterbacks in the draft were all underclassmen says a great deal about the crop the coaches had to choose from. With this obvious fact, many organizations still drafted this year as if they had gone a few years without watching a college football game.

Players, day in and day out, were selected in rounds where they should have been an after thought at the most. And some really talented future rookies even went undrafted.

Let’s break down the draft for our hometown team…

New Orleans Saints:
To say the Saints have struggled with consistency over the last decade is an understatement, yet we still love them.

What has been made evident to me after watching this draft and following the picks of the team’s front office, they’re not planning to do much to change the organization’s pattern of play.

In the first round, the Saints selected standout Ohio State corner Malcolm Jenkins with their first pick. In the eyes of true Saints fans all over this South, the decision was seen as both promising and puzzling.

Jenkins was a solid corner for the Buckeyes during his highly decorated collegiate career. And to be honest, the Saints need and will usually need quality in the secondary.

Unfortunately, the Saints have made it abundantly clear that they plan to use Jenkins as a safety opposed to his natural position at corner.
This decision confuses me for several reasons.

One, being that the team signed veteran safety Darren Sharper from the Minnesotta Vikings to be a quick fix for the lack of depth at the position in free agency months before the draft.

Last season, Sharper anchored the Vikings secondary which ranked sixth in the league. So, the 34-year-old still has plenty of gas left in the tank to make an impact for atleast two to three years.

Why would we draft a player with the first pick when we have a veteran already assigned to the position? Why would we choose to move said player from his natural position to one that takes some players years or careers to truly master?

The success rates of corners moving to safety is pretty low, so to use our first pick on a position where we have to give the player a few seasons to truly get comfortable seems to be a waste to me.

With our two fourth round and one fifth round selections, we signed a free safety, an inside linebacker and a punter respectively.

The fact that we passed on a potentially productive running back like Chris Wells from Ohio State seems ridiculous to me.

In a backfield without Deuce McAllister, but with Reggie Bush and role-player, Pierre Thomas an upgrade in this spot was desperately needed. Instead, we opted to congest our secondary with unproven talent.

Either way, this year was good for one thing, motivating millions of couch potatoes around the world to get up and hope to find a way to run a sports organization because clearly we can make better decisions than most NFL management.