I’ve said on more than one occasion, including here, that if you want to get the most usage out of a draftee, you want him to be ready to play as soon as possible. It’s also a great dollar value, as those four-year rookie contracts are very undervalued.
This goes against the Ted Thompson theory that you should draft players with good potential and then spend years developing them before getting any returns on the investment.
How do you determine who are the most NFL-ready college players? One simple guideline is to find the players who have played against the toughest competition. How do you do that? You look to the Big Five college conferences: SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 – and arguably in that order.
By the way, when I introduced the “Big Five” notion on March 22, swear to God I thought I invented the term. I independently examined the schools of all the top picks in the most recent years and concluded that five conferences separated themselves from the rest. I put them in order. Now I see that the term “Power Five Conferences” was coined in 2014 when a bunch of the traditional conferences split up. Hey, I’m a Green Bay Packers’ guy, not a devotee of college ball.
With all that in mind, how did new general manager Brian Gutekunst do? Let’s ignore the round seven choice, linebacker Kendall Donnerson, from Southeast Missouri State in the Ohio Valley Conference. If he does make the team, he’ll be seeing little or no action in 2018.
Of the 10 top picks, four are from an SEC school: Oren Burks, Vanderbilt; J’Mon Moore, Missouri; J.K. Scott, Alabama; and Hunter Bradley, Mississippi State
Three are from the ACC (more or less): Jaire Alexander, Louisville; Marquez Valdes-Scantling, South Florida; and Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame. While Notre Dame is called an independent, it has uniquely contracted to play five ACC teams annually through 2037. Notre Dame definitely plays a competitive schedule every year.
Next up is the Pac-12, represented by Washington State’s Cole Madison and Cal’s James Looney.
The tenth and last player is from the Big Ten: Iowa’s Josh Jackson.
For people trying to keep up with conference changes, the ACC currently has 15 teams (including Notre Dame, which the ACC website includes), the SEC and Big 10 have 14, the Pac-12 actually has 12, and the Big 12 has 10.
The scorecard shows that the 65 teams in these five conferences produced all ten of Green Bay’s top 10 draft choices. That leaves 64 FBS football schools not in the Big Five and Gutekunst didn’t pick a single player in his first ten from these 64 schools. Hmmm.
I dare not suggest that Gutekunst is taking heed of my theories, as I’d be accused of (1) being egotistical, and (2) stealing the ideas of others. So, let’s just say it’s a happy coincidence that Gutekunst and I were thinking along the same lines. Since I unveiled my theories on March 12 and 22 and Gutekunst made his picks four to six weeks later, does that absolve me of claims of (clever, I admit) “Rob-bery”?
Sometimes gr— mi— think alike.