Friday, May 17, 2013
Why Is Everyone Hating on Jerron McMillian?
I love draft season. It’s fantastic stuff for a football nerd, and it’s the only time during the NFL season where who “wins” and “loses” is actually 100% debatable conjecture (just ask Viking fans–they wrap up the division title in late April every year). Armchair GMs hoot and holler and pundits toss out grades in 48 hours for an event that will take at least 3 seasons to truly evaluate.
The #1 pre-draft Packers-related story that kept bothering me was the insistence that safety was a top “need” for the Packers. Excuse me, Flo? Look, I understand if the Packers would have been able to come to an agreement with a Michael-Huff-type-guy on a short-term deal to allow the young safeties to get an extra year of development, but to take one high in the draft was about as good of an idea as another Spider-Man reboot starring that kid from Two and a Half Men.
See, the way that our friend Theodore runs this team is a strategy that he calls “draft and develop”. And one of the things that is fantastic about the way he scouts that bothers the hell out of the casual draftnik/Packers fan is that Ted doesn’t give a velvet painting of a whale and a dolphin gettin’ it on where you went to school, he just cares if you can play football. People assume because the SEC is the dominant conference in college football, it’s where all the good prospects come from. I like to call that “The Tale of the Mighty Chad Jackson and the Meager Greg Jennings”.
Top Players at Their Positions:
QB: Aaron Rodgers, Cal (Pac 12)
RB: Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma (Big 12)
WR: Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech (ACC)
TE: Jimmy Graham, The U Basketball Player (ACC)
OT: Joe Thomas, Wisconsin (Big 10)
Pass Rusher: Wisconsin, JJ Watt (Big 10)
DB: Darelle Revis, Pitt (Big East)
Top Players on Super Bowl XLV Championship Team:
QB: Aaron Rodgers, Cal (Pac 12)
WR: Greg Jennings, Western Michigan (MAC)
WR: Donald Driver, Alcorn State (SWAC)
OLB: Clay Matthews, USC (Pac 12)
DL: Cullen Jenkins, Central Michigan (MAC)
DB: Charles Woodson, Michigan (Big 10)
DB: Nick Collins, Bethune-Cookman (MEAC)
(What? No SEC? Good lord don’t let any Alabama fans see this!)
So I don’t know if it’s because Matt Elam went to Florida, or because Jerron McMillian went to Maine or both, but there is a lack of respect for him that I just don’t understand. McMillian has decent size as well as possessing outstanding measurables. Jerron ran a 4.56 40 and possesses a 36.5” vertical leap, while finishing second among all safeties in the 3-cone drill in the 2012 NFL Combine. He possesses a physical presence that does not exist with any of the other DBs on the roster, with the possible exception of Davon House.
You, nor Mel Kiper, nor Leon Sandcastle himself can explain to me why replacing a 24-year old prospect with a 22-year old prospect after watching him flash considerable potential as a ROOKIE (first-year player) would have made any sense at all. Not only did Jerron record 27 tackles and an interception in limited action, but he also would have made a game-clinching INT in the game-that-shall-not-be-named which was nullified by a phantom PI called on the 16 Million Dollar Man himself (Erik Walden).
Let me be very clear: Jerron McMillian was drafted by Teddy with the intention of being Morgan Burnett’s running mate for the foreseeable future. Ted doesn’t trade up for guys that he doesn’t feel are tremendous values and guys he wants to make significant impacts on this team. Moreover, Ted is a prideful man, and he’s not going to admit he made a mistake on McMillian by drafting his replacement in the subsequent player selection meeting.
I’m not saying that Jerron is going to end up being Nick Collins. Collins was a multiple time Pro Bowl participant who was a sure-fire Packers Hall of Famer before the catastrophic neck injury that ended his career. Besides, Collins had elite speed that allowed him to cover incredible amounts of ground as the “center fielder” whereas McMillian loves to mix it up down in the box (that’s what she said?). I will however, draw comparisons to their development.
Nick Collins was a widely questioned second-round pick in one of Teddy’s earlier drafts with the Packers. There was certainly a question as to why a kid projected anywhere from round 4 to round 6 out of Bethune-Cookman was being taken with the 51st overall pick. Collins had elite physical tools, but the level of competition he played against and the value of the pick was concerning (why not trade down if no one else has ever heard of Nick Collins or something called Bethune-Cookman?). McMillian is another small-school prospect with great physical tools that Ted made a “questionable” decision (trading up) on.
Did you know that Nick Collins only forced 8 turnovers over his first 3 seasons, including just 4 INTs? Did you know that in the subsequent 3 seasons he created 21 turnovers including 17 INTs? Did you know that Nick Collins made the most memorable defensive play of Super Bowl XLV? I’m going to guess you only knew one of those things.
The point is that if we want the Packers to win championship(s), the best-case scenario is that McMillian is an above-average starter at one of the safety positions. That way resources (draft picks) can be allocated where they haven’t already been used. Instead of taking a young safety to immediately replace him, we (I’m an owner of the team, damnit, I can say “we”) took Datone Jones and Eddie Lacy, body/skill types we didn’t have. It also allowed us to move down and select players who will provide depth at positions (RB, OL) where depth has been a sore spot.
Everyone quit hatin’ on Jerron and enjoy the ride. (drops mic)
You can follow Ross Uglem, aka “D3 Hack” on Twitter as @Rug_pHd12
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