I’m getting a kick today out of the consternation surrounding the Rams’ choice of Ohio State LB James Laurinaitis in the second round of the draft on Saturday. Lots of people wanted USC’s Rey Maualuga with the selection, surmising that, since he’s bigger and went to USC; he has to be better than the other guy.
The fact of the matter is, nobody knows what’s going to happen with these picks, even the people that make the choices. Even the ever-forthright Billy Devaney said Sunday that “we have to see if these guys can play, if we were right in our evaluation.” There are no guarantees.
Let’s take a quick look at history. In 1998, I was enamored of the Simmons boys. Clemson OLB Anthony Simmons went to Seattle with the 15th choice, and North Carolina ILB Brian Simmons went to Cincinnati at number seventeen overall. The Rams traded up for an OLB named Leonard Little in round three. Who’s career would you rather have had for your team, Anthony Simmons or Little? I was REALLY smitten with Brian Simmons and thought he’d be a great pro. I didn’t even pay attention the day after the draft when the Rams signed some free agent ILB from John Carroll University. Once again, would you have rather had Brian Simmons for his career, or London Fletcher for his?
It goes on and on. In 1999, USC’s Chris Claiborne went to Detroit ninth overall, and Colorado State’s Joey Porter went to the Steelers at number 73. In 2002, the Rams took UCLA OLB Robert Thomas at number 31, while the Panthers grabbed Georgia’s Will Witherspoon at number 73, and the Steelers signed undrafted James Harrison. Oh by the way, on the same day the Steelers signed Harrison as an undrafted free agent, the Ravens signed some guy named Bart Scott.
In ’03 Lance Briggs of the Bears was the thirteenth linebacker taken, 25 spots after Pisa Tinoisamoa. In 2000, the Redskins took Penn State’s LaVar Arrington second overall. An hour away and 184 spots later, the Ravens selected Mississippi State’s Adalius Thomas.
And that’s just linebackers. So my advice is, sit back, chill out, and, like Devaney says, let’s see if these guys can play.