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I recently took a trip to the eye doctor for my annual exam. The goal at the end of any trip to the eye doc is to create the illusion of 20/20 vision if you weren't lucky enough to see life in crystal clear hi-def already.
This is normally accomplished by glasses, contacts or Lasik surgery. For me, after three months in glasses, it seemed to be the perfect time of year to trade back up to contacts. You see (no pun intended), the Whatifsports.com 2009 NFL Draft Review was on my radar and I wanted to ensure my hindsight was 20/20.
Let's start with the 2009 NFL Draft eye test. One could argue Sanchez performed better than Stafford or Michael Crabtree was taken too high by the Niners. Darius Heyward-Bey was taken too high. Ok, that's the truth for now. But look at the geyser of talent the Eagles, Vikings and Niners received by drafting Maclin, Harvin and Crabtree.
It's easy to sit back and say he was good, he was bad, he could be better, but to truly gauge how balanced the 2009 NFL Draft was, you need to look under the microscope of statistical data.
I decided to create a hypothetical Draft using Whatifsports.com's Dream Team feature. Alternating between two teams, I drafted the first quarterbacks, the first running backs, the first wide receivers and so on until I filled out the required skilled position slots. The 2009 league average offensive lines, defenses and special teams would suffice for this mock-draft. Kansas City Chiefs' kicker Ryan Succop and Bengals' punter Kevin Huber rounded out my draft.
My two new rookie squads, Team Stafford and Team Sanchez, boast these skill position starting line-ups:
- QB - Matthew Stafford
- RB - Knowshon Moreno
- RB - Beanie Wells
- WR - Austin Collie
- WR - Hakeem Nicks
- WR - Jeremy Maclin
- TE - Brandon Pettigrew
- QB - Mark Sanchez
- RB - LeSean McCoy
- RB - Donald Brown
- WR - Percy Harvin
- WR - Michael Crabtree
- WR - Mike Wallace
- TE - Shawn Nelson
A quick straw poll of the Whatifsports.com office when asked, "Which roster would you rather have?", found Team Stafford held a slight edge head-to-head. I also learned, for some, rooting for Sanchez is like rooting for Duke basketball. It's really hard to justify.
Using our award-winning NFL simulation engine, I simulated Team Stafford vs Team Sanchez, 1001 times. The computer generated each teams' chances of winning and the average score of the 1001 contests.
Team Stafford vs Team Sanchez
|Matchup||Win%||Avg Score||WIS Interactive|
|2009 Team Stafford||51.3||22.9||Box Score|
|2009 Team Sanchez||48.7||22.3||Simulate Game|
By the slimmest of margins (less than one point), Team Stafford beat Team Sanchez 51.3-percent of the time. I may be off my rocker here, but this does illustrate how much parity existed in the 2009 NFL Draft when it came to drafting skill position players. Further evidence is listed below when you take a glance at the numbers Stafford (in a poor Lions offense) put up compared to Sanchez (in a rush first offense). The two quarterbacks' ratings are nearly identical as is their tendency to throw the ball to the other team.
If you don't agree with the results, you have the ability to change the outcome based on the players you start. Click on the simulate game link above and you can have control of the Team Stafford and Team Sanchez depth charts.
Stafford vs Sanchez
|Name (Pick)||QB Rating||TD||INT|
Placing the 2009 rookie running back class under the microscope showcases the equal impact each running back had on their team statistically. Moreno caught a break in Denver with the Broncos desperate need for a healthy running back to start and even that was a struggle for the rookie running back early on in the season. Donald Brown, as mentioned before, is still in the shadows of Joseph Addai, but made the most of his time on the field. Beanie Wells, like Moreno, grew into a more promiment role by season's end. Wells contrasting running style to Tim Hightower was enough to keep defenses on their toes while waiting for Warner to air it out. Beanie's tragic flaw on the football field remains hanging onto the football (four fumbles in 2009).
One name that was not one of the first three running backs drafted, but deserves mention, is Shonn Greene. The New York Jets' running back was number two on the depth chart for the majority of the season, but when given the rock in crunch time during the NFL playoffs, Greene delivered. The rookie averaged over 100-yards per game on the ground and score three touchdowns in the Jets three playoff games.
2009 Rookie RBs
|Name (Pick)||Total Yards||YPG||TDs|
|K. Moreno (12)||947||59.0||7|
|D. Brown (27)||281||26.0||3|
|B. Wells (31)||793||50.0||7|
The wide receiver position in the 2009 NFL Draft was a pressure cooker of talent ready to explode come the regular season. Well, except for Darius Heyward-Bey. After the Raiders muffed another draft pick, the WR position was a bee-hive of activity. Six wide-outs were drafted in the first round and 34 by the time the 2009 Draft ended. The top echelon of receiver paid dividends throughout the regular season.
Given time, Michael Crabtree could mature into one of the best wide receivers in the league. His 2009 numbers don't jump out and smack you in the face, but when you line him up alongside aerial assassin Vernon Davis and newly acquired Ted Ginn Jr., Crabtree will have opportunities to make big plays any given Sunday.
With Donovan McNabb dealt to Washington from Philly, Jeremy Maclin's future is a bit cloudy as are his stats from last season. The pressure is on Kevin Kolb more so than Maclin to make plays in 2010. Maclin proved he's an asset to the offense with over 700 yards receiving and four touchdowns.
2009 Rookie WRs
|Name (Pick)||Total Yards||YPG||TDs|
|D. Heyward-Bay (7)||124||11.0||1|
|M. Crabtree (10)||625||57.0||2|
|J. Maclin (19)||762||51.0||4|
It's easy for general managers and front office types to look like geniuses when having the pick of the litter in a talented draft pool like we had in 2009. The scary part is, the 2010 NFL Draft is allegedly stronger with players talented enough to make an immediate impact.
But not to worry (Raiders and Browns fans), even if your front office botches their 2010 NFL Draft selections, this time next year you can count on my NFL Draft Review hindsight to remain 20/20.
Feel free to sound off in our 2010 NFL Draft Forum.
Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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