Do Winged Helmets Improve Draft Stock?

Submitted by Seth on April 2nd, 2010 at 12:07 PM

Yesterday, Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson wrote a little throwaway column about players whose respective draft stocks have been going down.

Donovan Warren made No. 5, but there was a 'but' (emphasis mine):

"On the bright side, a lot of NFL coaches love players from Michigan, and many know that the school has historically produced guys who play better on a football field than they do whipping out raw workout numbers. Warren might get that break, but he still looks like a fourth-rounder."

This "analysis" should be repeated in earshot of every football recruit ever.

There's some truth to it, of course. There's a well-established line of players (Tom Brady, Cato June, Aaron Shea, Steve Breaston) who were drafted low but have performed well above their workouts said they would. Of course, these are all alumni of the Lloyd regime, which "workouts" might be the key word right there.

Also keep in mind that a lot of schools can claim a bunch of guys who were low draft picks and became big contributors on an NFL team, because it's sampling bias: the ones who didn't outperform their expectations are not in the NFL. But there is a pretty consistent, and thus remarkable, trend for Michigan players entering the NFL to meet or outperform their draft expectations (unless they're drafted by the Lions, which is a different problem).

I think the "Lloyd let them get out of shape before the draft, but they got in shape in the NFL" thing falls apart in the micro. Look over this list of former Wolverines in the NFL (did I forget anyone?), and ask yourself which, if any, of these guys were out of shape during their Michigan playing days, which hurt their draft stock, but then they blew up when they got in shape:

Jamar AdamsSeattle SeahawksSafety
Adrian ArringtonNew Orleans SaintsWide Receiver
B.J. AskewTampa Bay BuccaneersFullback
Jason AvantPhiladelphia EaglesWide Receiver
David BaasSan Francisco 49ersGuard
Jeff BackusDetroit LionsOffensive Tackle
Tom BradyNew England PatriotsQuarterback
Alan BranchArizona CardinalsDefensive Tackle
Steve BreastonArizona CardinalsWide Receiver
Prescott BurgessBaltimore RavensLinebacker
Carson ButlerNew York GiantsTight End
Shawn CrableNew England PatriotsLinebacker
Doug DutchWashington RedskinsCornerback
Braylon EdwardsNew York JetsWide Receiver
Jay FeelyNew York JetsPlace kicker
Larry FootePittsburgh SteelersLinebacker
Jonathan GoodwinNew Orleans SaintsCenter
James HallSt. Louis RamsDefensive End
Leon HallCincinnati BengalsCornerback
David HarrisNew York JetsLinebacker
Mike HartIndianapolis ColtsRunning Back
Chad HenneMiami DolphinsQuarterback
Steve HutchinsonMinnesota VikingsGuard
Marlin JacksonPhiladelphia EaglesCornerback
Tim JamisonHouston TexansDefensive End
Jon JansenDetroit LionsOffensive Tackle
Dhani JonesCincinnati BengalsLinebacker
Cato JuneFree AgentLinebacker
Ty LawDenver BroncosCornerback
Jake LongMiami DolphinsOffensive Tackle
Roy ManningFree AgentLinebacker
Mario ManninghamNew York GiantsWide Receiver
Rueben RileyNew York GiantsOffensive Lineman
Adam StenavichHouston TexansGuard
Terrance TaylorDetroit LionsDefensive Tackle
Morgan TrentCincinnati BengalsCornerback
Gabe WatsonArizona CardinalsDefensive Tackle
LaMarr WoodleyPittsburgh SteelersLinebacker
Pierre WoodsNew England PatriotsLinebacker
Charles WoodsonGreen Bay PackersCornerback

I leave the analysis to you, good readers (if I did it myself, I woulda made it a diary).

Either way, let's say this again because Yahoo's draft beat writer said it so it must be true:

"A lot of NFL coaches love players from Michigan, and many know that the school has historically produced guys who play better on a football field than they do whipping out raw workout numbers." --Charles Robinson



April 2nd, 2010 at 12:24 PM ^

Bernoulli's principle works on the idea that as a wing passes through the air the its shape make the air travel more over the top of the wing than beneath it. This creates a higher pressure are beneath the wing than above it. The pressure difference cause the wing to push upwards and lift is created.

There are several things that effect the amount of lift created. The first is speed, the faster the wing moves through the air the more air is forced over and under the wing, therefore the more lift is created. Another thing that effects the amount of lift created is the density of the air. The denser the air is the more lift is produced. This is why planes climb better in the winter, the colder air is denser. The final thing that can change the amount of lift created by the wing is the shape of the wing. Certain wings produce more lift.

Sooo, since we have increased team speed under RR, clearly the amount of lift has increased as well as that by the time Novemeber rolls around with the cooler air our RB/WR/QB will be ready to fly over any would be OSU tackler.

Zone Left

April 2nd, 2010 at 12:12 PM ^

Damn, did you take the time to get those names on your own? That's impressive.

It would be great to see Warren get a break. Successful players are always a good thing.


April 2nd, 2010 at 12:17 PM ^

I mean I think there's something to be said about performance on the field at Michigan, in the Big Ten. I'd say an interesting case is Doug Dutch. I could be wrong, but I don't remember him doing much at Michigan, although he was highly touted WR talent. He went undrafted but made the practice squad (for the Redskins?). Obviously, he has talent enough on his own, but I'd say Michigan certainly couldn't have hurt his chances.

This holds true (I believe) also for getting a job. You have Michigan alumnus on your resume, and I think there's a raised expectation of excellence. (Sounds arrogant, but I believe it to be true.)


April 2nd, 2010 at 2:34 PM ^

Michigan definately didn't hurt his chances. There have been other players who received a better than expected shot in the NFL due to Michigan ties. I remember Scott Driesbach hanging around for a couple of years on practice squads and playing with Oakland for a preseason or two. He didn't even start his last two years at UofM and got a camp invite.


April 2nd, 2010 at 1:07 PM ^

Wait, are you saying Michigan players are drafted higher because people know that Michigan players are generally better/more reliable than they would seem, or Michigan players are drafted low but later turn out to be great players? I think you have to related, but different arguments there.

I think there is also something to be said about the intangibles players learn to deal with a Michigan that they cannot at other places. The biggest one, I think, is pressure. NFL players play to full stadia every week, which is a whole new experience unless you go to M, Notre Dame, USC, Texas, and maybe a few other schools. Michigan players are up to the pressure and scrutiny that guys that come from non-BCS schools and lots of other smaller BCS schools never do. There are obviously exceptions (Brett Favre, Ben Roethlisberger) but in general, being from a big school prepares you for the NFL program better than a small school. Especially for intense positions that cannot be played by skill and size alone.


April 2nd, 2010 at 2:40 PM ^

It's an interesting idea, though it should be pointed out that not all those guys were drafted (Adams, Butler, etc.) and some of those guys are only on practice squads (Arrington, Butler, etc.).


April 2nd, 2010 at 4:21 PM ^

Think about Doug Dutch, he never saw the field at Michigan and he's in the league. That has been true in the past with guys like Jon Ritchie and Roy Manning. Don't be surprised if this happens to Kevin Grady.


April 2nd, 2010 at 10:23 PM ^

I always like Roy Manning's play. He was ahead of his time, a smaller, coverage outside linebacker playing when M linebackers were big run stuffers like Carl Diggs. Against a spread he might have thrives. IIRC he got some playing time late in his career and did well, but by then we had Pierre Woods.