Draftageddon 2014: It Begins Comment Count

Brian May 20th, 2014 at 11:55 AM

Draftageddon is upon us. We will delight half the readers, irritate the other half, and learn much more about Big Ten football than we ever thought possible; along the way Seth will issue terrible snark about players like they will always be what they were last year and ignore it when Jack Mewhort ends up drafted in the second round.



THE OCEANS WILL BOIL, THE LAND WILL BE BESET. And so forth and so on. Devin Gardner knows what's up.

Everyone drafts a QB, 5 OL, and six skill players on offense. Heiko is not with us but yes you can take a QB to be a skill player other than your QB. The sixth skill player is for flexibility. Please denote RB/FB/TE/WR when you draft, and sure you can draft six tailbacks if you want to feel the wrath of the voters.

On defense, everyone drafts 4 DL, 3 LB, 2 CB, and 2 S and one wild card intended to be a hybrid space player. The extra guy is because nickel packages are important, and defending the spread is important. But yeah he could be whatever you want, you loons.

A punter and a kicker are also drafted.

Standard snake procedure.

Imaginary points are awarded for PR/KR skills amongst your draftees.

Once everyone has filled a particular slot the last remaining guy who has not filled the slot has to take a guy at most three rounds later, to prevent three QBs from going off the board in the first round and no one for the rest of the draft until the very end (although with this group that would be dangerous and leave you with Andrew Maxwell).

Kyle Prater must be drafted far too early.

I get to gloat about Rashede Hageman every third round.


As randomly determined by RANDOM.ORG the order is

  1. Brian
  2. Ace
  3. BISB
  4. Seth

Brian, you are me, and also on the clock.

ROUND 1 - PICK 1: Braxton Miller, QB, OSU


O: QB Braxton Miller (OSU)

BRIAN: While I don't think there's that huge of a gap between Miller and Devin Gardner since neither of them are likely to be around when things get back to me I have to grab one now. The clear choice is Miller. The only guy to finish in the top ten in both rushing yards and passer efficiency last year, Miller is by far the most explosive QB in the Big Ten and has steadily progressed as a passer, going from 54% to 58% to 64% completions over the past three years and steadily increasing his ability in the pocket. Will he ever be great there? No. But, uh...

...he doesn't have to be. Main concerns here are dual: OSU revamps its OL and loses Carlos Hyde, which may make things generally less efficient and put more burden on Miller; this leads to concern #2: Miller seems to be bionic with the hits he can take but the was knocked out of enough games last year to get Kenny Guiton 109 attempts. He's not exactly fragile but neither can you expect him to get through a season totally unscathed.

ROUND 1 - PICK 2: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

LA Monroe Iowa Football

O: LT Brandon Scherff (Iowa)

ACE: As tempting as it is to build my offense around Devin Gardner and a functional offensive line, I think in a four-person draft the Big Ten has enough talent at quarterback to hold off on picking one here. Meanwhile, I'm not convinced the conference is as deep at tackle (at least for this exercise), and there just happens to be one—and only one—that could've been a first-round NFL Draft pick had he left early: Iowa's Brandon Scherff, who's present in the top ten of just about any 2015 mock draft you can find.

At 6'5", 320 pounds, Scherff has pro-ready size, and he's a monster of a run blocker with a size/quickness combination that's truly impressive on film. At the very least, watch the first clip from this video of him absolutely dominating Northwestern for a series:

Sure, I'll take the guy who can escort a defensive lineman ten yards downfield with one arm.  Also, in a league that features some talented pass-rushers, Scherff provides a reliable blindside protector—Iowa finished first in the B1G in fewest sacks allowed and, since that number is skewed by pace/style, third in adjusted sack rate last season.

While my heart told me to pick Gardner, my brain remembered what happens to quarterbacks that aren't properly protected. With this pick, I've got easily the best run-blocking tackle in the conference, and probably the best pass-blocker, too.

10107434914_3d06697d11_bROUND 1 - PICK 3: Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan

O: QB Devin Gardner (Michigan)

BISB: I don't think Gardner is the best player remaining, but in my mind there's a bigger drop-off from Gardner to the next quarterbacks than there is between the top-flight defensive linemen I'm tempted to grab. Seth can't take all of those.

[@ RIGHT: Bryan Fuller]

Gardner threw for 2960 yards (in only 12 games) at a 60.3% completion rate. His 8.6 YPA was the best in the Big Ten, and more than a yard per attempt more than Cook and Hackenberg. Ha accounted for 32 TDs (21 throwing, 11 rushing) against 11 INTs. He threw for 14 TDs against 3 picks and 8.85 YPA in Big Ten play. And he did that with absolutely no running game (at least of the 'forward' variety). He did it without padding his yardage numbers with bubble screens. He did it with a strained everything. And the next time he sees a pocket will be the first time.

The last time he stepped onto the field, he threw for 451 yards and 4 TDs with no picks and ran for another score. On a broken foot. And when he was healthy? Boy howdy.

Gardner lost pocket-sized safety blankets Jeremy Gallon and Drew Dileo, but Devin Funchess is a legit #1 receiver (I swear, if anyone drafts him as a TE I will force-quit the draft), and between him, Freddy Canteen, Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson, and Dennis "DENNIS NORFLEET" Norfleet he will have plenty of targets, He should be productive once again. Now, if he can just get a liiiiiiittle time to throw the ball...

Uh oh crap forgot about that.

[AFTER THE JUMP: Alarming quantities of opposition defensive linemen]

ROUND 1 - PICK 4: DE Randy Gregory (Nebraska)
ROUND 2 - PICK 1: DT Michael Bennett (Ohio State)

Randy Gregory Iowa v Nebraska MDMYZcTx5YHl[1]op3n-124486

O: Tacopants
D: DE Randy Gregory(NEB), DT Michael Bennett(OSU)

SETH: Just list Gardner as your defensive end, BISB. I have it on good authority from a close friend of Borges (and bubble screens) that that's what Michigan was planning to do next year--you know, REALLY surprise them. Also 'splains why they moved Jake Ryan. As dismayed as I am that I won't get Michigan's star senior QB again, these days I can take just about any quarterback on Indiana's roster and he'll top Gardner and Miller both in (sack-adjusted) YPA.

Anyhoosier, another year, another MSU defensive end overrated for getting on camera a lot. Calhoun's better than Gholston, but Randy Gregory is a guy some people mention as a top 5 or even first overall pick in next year's NFL draft. The numbers: 60 tackles, 14.5 TFLs, 9 sacks versus Calhoun's 35/13/6.5. We missed the Gregory show a bit because Nebraska could blitz the middle all day and Michigan chose to option him. How that went:

I thought about taking Calhoun too, but with buckets of fine Buckeye DEs available that wouldn't make anybody sweat. So instead I took the guy responsible for flushing all those QBs Bosa, Spence et al. were picking off. Michael Bennett starts low--6'2/288--so he can function as a pivot if necessary, but his game is far more Mike Martin than Gabe Watson: 42 tackles, 11.5 for loss, 7 sacks. Last time we did this I caused a commotion by taking the only two obvious NFL DT prospects on the board (which is why Brian's so proud he knew Hageman exists). Ace is correct in assuming there's only one great pass blocker out there; sucks that y'all will need two to keep them pretty quarterbacks alive.

ROUND 2 - PICK 2: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State


O: QB Devin Gardner (Michigan)
D: DE Joey Bosa (OSU)

Alas, my reverse psychology didn't work on Seth, as I was hoping somehow Gregory would fall to me. I agree about Calhoun being overrated; he's not William Gholston overrated, but I don't see the world-destroying top-ten draft pick we're being sold.

Take the Michigan game, for example. He didn't beat a Michigan tackle all game long, and struggled to disengage from blocks. Instead, he ate Michigan's lunch by plowing over Fitz Toussaint on slide protections, and coming free when Narduzzi used his dark wizard magic and/or stunts to get Calhoun into Michigan's rich nougaty interior line.

Instead, I'll take Joey Bosa, who accumulated 44 tackles (13.5 TFLs) and 7.5 sacks last year. With the aforementioned Bennett demanding doubles on the interior, both Bosa and Noah Spence should have very productive years. And while Spence is solid, Bosa is special. He put up almost the same stats as Spence (and better numbers than Calhoun), but also held up better at the point of attack. If he makes a reasonable sophomore leap, he will be a monster. If he makes a Beilein-level sophomore leap, he may consume our planet. Also, Spence won't be playing for the first two games because of his friend Molly, so I'll take the guy who will be available all year.

ROUND 2 - PICK 3: Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State


everyone thinks he's O-VER-RAT-ED clapclapclap

O: LT Brandon Scherff (Iowa)
D: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU)

ACE: Hi, I'm here to make my traditional pick of a Michigan State defensive end with a great statistical profile and some questions about how much of those stats were actually due to his own ability and/or the quality of competition. This pick will be mocked with aplomb.

So, yeah, Shilique Calhoun didn't produce too much against Michigan's NFL-quality senior offensive tackles, a Buckeye line anchored by 2nd-round tackle Jack Mewhort, and apparently he wasn't a world-beater against USF, if the writeup that Brian totally didn't do before I got around to writing up my own pick is to be believed. Perhaps, against the best of offensive lines, I'll have to settle for Calhoun simply drawing the attention of the offense and opening things up for the rest of the front seven.

I'll note here that I took the only NFL-quality offensive tackle in the Big Ten this year.

Then I'll note that Calhoun somehow, despite these stretches of non-production, managed to tally 14 TFLs and 7.5 sacks in his first season as a starter, one year after amassing 2.5 TFLs in 13 games as a redshirt freshman backup. It was a season impressive enough that he likely would've been picked in the first two days of the NFL Draft; instead, he came back, and now occupies a spot in or around the top ten on most early mock drafts.

While his production against top competition is a little worrisome, there's a darn good chance he improves this year—remember, he's coming off a breakout redshirt sophomore season—and his combination of size (6'4", 257) and athleticism will be tough to handle for all the non-Scherffs out there. Since that's every tackle not on my team, I'll live with taking Calhoun as the third DE off the board.

(Did I really, really want Bosa here? Yes. Bad dog, BISB.)

ROUND 2 - PICK 4: Carl Davis, DT, Iowa


we are all in agreement that he is Manzeiling

O: QB Braxton Miller (OSU)
D: DT Carl Davis(IA)

BRIAN: After poking around it seems like there are two positions at which there are a couple of talented players at the top and then a huge dropoff from NFL first-round type talents to relative obscurity. Those are (surprise!) DT and WR. At DT, Iowa's Carl Davis is projected as a mid-first round pick by a number of early 2015 mock drafts and helped anchor a rush defense that was 4th in the Big Ten last year without a ton of help. No Iowa DL had more than 2.5 sacks.

Davis is very much a space-eater who occupies a couple guys and makes a statistical impact that's far less than his actual role. Witness Iowa's TFL numbers, which were concentrated heavily amongst their middling senior ILBs--James Morris and Anthony Hitchens combined for 30.5; no DL had more than 9.

(Meanwhile, on Calhoun: I was in vague agreement with Seth and Bryan in their assertions that they felt Caulhoun was overrated, but in case I was just being a homer I checked out DraftBreakdown's videos of Calhoun. They showed a guy who did absolutely nothing against M and OSU tackles. He got through on a couple stunts and obliterated Fitz Toussaint on a couple of plays where our wonderful offense saw Lewan block no one while Toussaint drew this hypothetical first-round pick. But I thought maybe I was shorting him because MSU wants their DEs to play it soft against mobile QBs. The video of Calhoun against USF was the last straw: again he did very little himself. He did clean up for MSU well when coverage and blitzes created opportunities, but he doesn't drive play.)


Something other than a defensive lineman comes off the board! Probably! B1G, y'all, it could just be DL all the way down!

Seth makes inexplicable Heiko picks!

Michigan State's secondary is raided for anything that's not locked down!




May 20th, 2014 at 12:23 PM ^

Haven't read a single thing yet beyond Brian's initial pick, so...BOOOOO Brian!  HISSSS!  Braxton over Gardner?!  Rabble, rabble, rabble.

More actual comments to follow after I, you know, read the damn thing.


May 20th, 2014 at 12:25 PM ^

how Brandon Scherff, of Iowa - a no star OL recruit (Scout.com), explodes to the top of the pecking order in the BIG10 NFL draft scene. This never happens at Michigan, but seemingly always happens someplace else.

Just once, just once, can we witness a Michigan team recruit a no or low-star, no name OL with the outcome that the no frills kid KABOOMs the B10 and plows DLs into the sideline photographers like a road grader? Probably too much to ask, I know. Because we can't have nice things, but we sure can have our spectacular flame outs.

Sorry, I'm in a shitty mood today.



May 20th, 2014 at 12:47 PM ^

I just checked Espn and Michael Schofield was the 40th ranked tackle in his class with a 77 rating.  It doesn't list stars but I'm pretty sure that would have made him a 3-star.  As a comparison, Lewan was the 12th ranked tackle in the same class with an 80.  That would have made him a four star.

Space Coyote

May 20th, 2014 at 1:13 PM ^

Scherref was a two time all-state player out of Iowa with offers from Iowa, ISU, Kansas, KSU, Mizzou, and Nebraska. He was a QB as a Sophomore, so he was a late riser, but was a solid 3-star type and the #4 player from the state of Iowa.

Especially with OL, people grow late. Guys that are TEs in high school (Fisher) or QBs at some point become lineman. It happens. Kids grow. But there is certainly more variance in how they turn out, and the approach to take more "sure" prospects isn't really a bad approach for Michigan to take.


May 20th, 2014 at 6:45 PM ^

Is Gardner a good QB? he has the potential to be. I think his decision making abilities are horrid. I don't know if it was the Borges system of wanting him to throw 1st then run 2nd, or if it is his lack of ability.

I know I cringe everytime I see him about to be tackled in the backfield.. I keep saying to myself please tuck it and tack the loss and don't fling it. I love Michigan just as much as the next guy but hindsite being 20/20 I would have chosen differently.

Is Miller the best QB in the B1G? Yes. But after him there is a sharp decline in talent. I also think the Miller has very little upside to improve where as Gardner has all of the upside in the world. 

I hope Nuss can challenge and educate him as to what a QB is and to what a QB does. If not I think Morris takes the reins. (which if that happens excluding injury, I think the coaches have given up)


May 21st, 2014 at 8:39 AM ^

2 INTs and a fumble because of a sack.  After that he would only throw one more pick (MSU) but he would fumble three more times on QB runs; Indiana QB sneak on IU 2yd line, Iowa 8 yrd run and fumble, OSU 6 yd run and called a fumble (play he broke his foot).

And then he threw that pick to open the spring scrimmage.  I don't know what to think about Gardner, though he seems to be his own worst enemy.


May 20th, 2014 at 12:51 PM ^

You can say this for almost any MSU defensive player for the past four years.  I mean they're good players obviously, but they are coached incredibly well, and every player is put in a position to succeed with the game plans.  MSU last year had the best defense in the nation, the best under Dantonio/Narduzzi so far, and was senior/upperclass laden with players racking up great stats, and they had one NFL draft pick.  Every year a player or two on MSUs team puts up monster numbers, and Dennard is pretty much the only one I can think of that actually lived up to that hype.  Worthy did to as well, I suppose.  Oh, and as a side comment, Calhoun's breakout season happened in his 3rd year on campus.  Gholston's happened in his second.  It'll be interesting to see how Calhoun produces with attention on him now, as well as new LBs.  I mean, the D will obvoiusly be good, but I wouldn't be surprised at all to not see the same 'production'.


May 20th, 2014 at 12:54 PM ^

Your point is valid overall, but with Calhoun it's not that easy.  I've been saying he's not as good as advertised for a while (he's good, but not otherworldly/first round good), without the benefit of knowing Seth or Brian or any of these guys felt the same.  As you can see above, draft experts have the guy going in the top 10 next year.  Little old me watching games on DVR, what the hell do I know against draft experts.  But I didn't see an elite talent.  He's quick and agile, and he'll lunch on easy competition, but he doesn't have the power that's needed to disrupt on all downs. If you can stay in front of him, you can block him. 


May 20th, 2014 at 1:20 PM ^

I'm just going on what I have stored in the 'ol rusty memory banks.  Worthy was 1st round lock and potential top 10 in early mock drafts going into his last year with MSU.  Gholston has been well documented here.  Johnny Adams was a first round lock and MSU was experimenting with him on offense as he was the 'best playmaker on the team'.  Bollough was a potential high NFL pick early.  Allen, while I don't think many put him in the NFL because of his size, put up like 12 sacks his first year starting.  Dennard is pretty much the only one that once people said he was 1st round material, actually stayed 1st round material. 

When I've watched the MSU defense in the past few years, I see one of the best coached units in the country.  The coaches do great game planning, put their players in a position to succeed, and the players know where they're supposed to be in order to do that.  Would I exchange draft picks for that D?  Hell yes.  But it's kind of like watching RR's Pat White offenses.  You knew Pat White wasn't a high caliber NFLer despite what his college stats were.  A lot of those guys weren't.  But RR knew how to get them to succeed in  his system and turned the unit into a monster.


May 20th, 2014 at 12:46 PM ^

Forgive me for my ignorance, but do any of you actually follow up on production throughout the season?  Who was right, who was wrong?  I'm assuming not because grading non-skill positions would mean to actually UFRing the games (e.g. OL-men).

And if so, who won last year?


May 20th, 2014 at 1:34 PM ^

...we did a whole roundtable after the season in which we picked All-B1G teams, raked our original picks over the coals, and ranked each of the MGoTeams 1-4. Seth's squad won by a 2-1-1 split decision, though it's worth noting Heiko voted for his own, totally ludicrous, team.

Last year we didn't get around to doing a draft because we completely underestimated how much time the HTTV hoops/hockey edition would take to put together. We're a little more on top of things this year.


May 20th, 2014 at 2:28 PM ^

To me the Gardner v. Miller debate harkens back a bit to the Barry Sanders/Emmitt Smith debate of the 1990s.  Pro-Smith people would say he was more consistent in gaining positive yards on nearly every carry than Sanders.  Sanders people would point out that the Lions didn't have Aikman, Irvin, Novacek etc., making Sanders more impressive.

Similarly the argument for Gardner is that he has less around him with a dysfunctional line and no Carlos Hyde.  On the other hand he's the complete focus of the offense so he gets more chances to shine.  Having watched Miller play Michigan the last couple of years he's very good but I would still take Gardner who, at his best (see Notre Dame & Ohio State) can take over a game in way I haven't seen Miller accomplish.  I also thought Gardner was impressive in first starts in 2012 with virtually no practice time since he'd been playing receiver.

Ron Utah

May 20th, 2014 at 4:20 PM ^

Now that Smith is out of the league, the only people I know who defend Smith as better than Sanders are Cowboy slappy-types.  Barry probably would have had more yards and broken Smith's record had he kept playing, but that's irrelevant.  Sanders was the best runner at least since Gayle Sayers, if not Jim Brown.

All you have to do is watch...Barry was a far more talented player than Smith.  Production is a function of system, scheme, and surrounding players.  But Barry is definitively more talented than Smith, and anyone questioning that is either blind or Jerry Jones.

Space Coyote

May 20th, 2014 at 4:46 PM ^

Sanders averaged 5.0 ypc over his career. Smith only had 5.0+ ypc in a season once.

Sanders averaged 99.8 ypg for his career. Smith only beat that three times.

Sanders averaged more yards receiving per game. Sanders had less help around him. Sanders was a better back.

Smith was probably a better short yardage player (assisted by his OL, no doubt), but that's about the extent of it. And even that extent isn't huge (Smith = 0.774 TD/game; Sanders 0.712 TD/game)

Both were good backs, and when you take their careers over common years, the numbers look like this:

From 1990-1998, when both were in the NFL.

Rushing - Sanders: 4.96 ypc; Smith: 4.31 ypc

TDs - Sanders: 0.68 TD/game; Smith: 0.95 TD/game

Smith could find the endzone, but had tons of opportunities to do so, and a better supporting cast to prevent defenses from loading the box all the time. Again, both better backs, but Sanders was more talented overall.

To put Sanders in perspective: he made the pro-bowl every year, was All-Pro 60% of his seasons, never finished outside of the top 5 rushers in his whole career and only 3 times finished outside the top 2. Only twice was he outside the top 5 in rushing TDs in a season. Only twice finished outside the top 5 in yards per attempt over the course of a season (6.25 attempts per game minimum). 

Space Coyote

May 20th, 2014 at 2:35 PM ^

I think the B1G is actually pretty deep at QB this year. You have Miller and DG above, but Hackenberg should continue to progress and looked the part last year, MSU's Cook continued to gain confidence last year and was MVP of the BTCG and Rose Bowl, Sudfeld will put up numbers when Roberson isn't in, Siemian looks to bounce back after being an unstoppable throw god, Rudock from Iowa has a hell of an arm and showed pretty high flashes last year, CJ Brown can be solid for Maryland, Armstrong should continue to improve for Nebraska (though he won't be a focus), and Stave, as maybe the 10th best QB in the league is pretty stout.

I'd put, in order:

  1. Miller
  2. DG
  3. Cook
  4. Hackenberg
  5. Rudock
  6. Sudfeld
  7. Siemian
  8. CJ Brown
  9. Stave
  10. Armstrong

If someone puts up numbers like Sudfeld or like Siemian has in the past is 6 or 7 on a list, that's a pretty deep league at QB.

With that said, like Ace's first pick best, but not his second pick, because I think there are still a good number of DEs left. I think Seth is the Day 1 winner here, and would rank the opposite of the initial draft position. That's likely just a nature of the snake format early though.

Space Coyote

May 20th, 2014 at 3:22 PM ^

If you got bonus points for picking Illinois or Purdue players. Just throwing that out there. Then maybe Ernest Thomas or Mason Monheim get a look, maybe Josh Ferguson as a guy that can catch some passes out of the backfield (still can't think of any returning Purdue players that would, you're reaching with Yancey and Sinz)


May 20th, 2014 at 3:50 PM ^

No way Cook is number 3, certainly not after last year's performance. His completion percentage is solid but not great. What he has going for him is an impressively low INT rate but I think that's due to the role he was asked to play in the offense.

Gimme Sudfeld over Cook all day. I might even mess around and take Stave over Cook also...

Space Coyote

May 20th, 2014 at 4:05 PM ^

He was a much better player in the last quarter of the season than he was at the start of the season, and his stats are affected by that.

In his last four games (Northwestern, Minnesota, Ohio State, Stanford), he was 72/119 (60.5%) for 1072 yards (268 ypg, 9.0 yards per attempt) with 8 TDs and 3 INTs. He's not amazing, but you'd expect him to improve after his first full year starting, and those are solid stats against solid competition. Maybe number 3 is a little high, but those QBs are fairly interchangeable at that point, which was the point of the post.

Meanwhile, Sudfeld's numbers are propped up by playing on the team that throws as many screens as anyone in the nation. Seriously, I did a whole article on Indiana's screen game. They screen all over the place and defenses play them soft because their defense is so bad.His TD to INT ratio is worse, and his other numbers are similar. So that's not so cut and dry.

Stave us the definition of game manager, much more than Cook. Wisconsin's running game is phenomenal without the help of the QB. He also threw a bunch of RB screens and such as well, so his percentage is propped up a bit. On top of that, he more than doubled Cook's INT numbers while throwing for the same number of TDs. All will be JRs this year, but Cook improved more over the year than the other two, so his trajectory puts him above for a pre-season ranking going into '14.


May 20th, 2014 at 4:31 PM ^

I will give you that Cook was a better QB in December than he was in September but while those defenses are household names, they weren't that good. OSU's Pass D was flat out bad, Minnesota's wasn't much better and at that point we run into sample size problemts. He actually had a favorable schedule last year and was only OK... strip out Purdue, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio State...

Anyway, I dont mean to bust your chops too hard because  I definately agree with your essential point: Miller, Gardner, everyone else. 


May 20th, 2014 at 11:42 PM ^

I dunno.  I though Cook was playing at a pretty high level the second half of the season last year.  I've not statistics but based off of watching Sparty play (too often, in all honesty) last year he got better each week and by the final 3-4 games was a damn good QB.  I'm not sure a ceiling on him but if he's put in some work this off-season and comes in hungry and ready to go, damnit the Sparty offense will be something good.  I'm not really trying to argue or anything, but offering, watch out for that kid, he may become something we never expected.

(I promise I'm not a fan of the green and white)

Ron Utah

May 20th, 2014 at 4:25 PM ^

While I freely admit that fans are idiots (including me, sometimes) I think it would be fun to have a reader vote on who "won" the draft before and after the actual season.  The "after" could be during the bowl lull.  Easy content for you and fun for the readers = win-win.