Tag:Harry Douglas
Posted on: January 23, 2010 9:05 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2010 9:13 pm

Tracking the draft picks, part three

Recap:  a draft pick is an asset in itself.  Each team gets seven of them per year (leaving out the compensatory picks, at least for now).

If you draft players that don't stick with the team, you have more holes to fill.  You end up using picks year after year just to replace the same spots on the roster instead of improving the team.

But if you end up trading the players or receiving compensatory draft picks when they leave via free agency, you have extended the "life" of those picks.  They might not be in the form of the same players, but you still have assets to show for them.  That can be as good (and sometimes better) than re-signing the same players you initially drafted.

A prime Falcons example is the 2004 draft.  I claim that three of the top five drafts in franchise history came in the last decade - and oddly enough, each of our three GMs of the decade had one.

Dan Reeves (counting him as a GM since he had full control over personnel as well as head coaching duties) had the 2001 draft.  Thomas Dimitroff had the 2008 class, which may be remembered as the best draft in Falcons history.

And in between, Rich McKay had the forgotten gem of 2004.

Surprised to hear that draft called a "gem"?  Well, first look at the players selected:  DeAngelo Hall, Michael Jenkins, Matt Schaub, and Demorrio Williams.  That's a two-time Pro Bowl defensive back, a starting wide receiver, a franchise quarterback, and a starting linebacker.  Four starters out of seven picks is an *outstanding* draft class.  

Go back through the annals of Falcons history and count how many of our draft classes produced even three guys who were still starting in the NFL after six seasons.  It's an extreme rarity, at least for Atlanta.  For that matter, it doesn't happen all that often for any team.  Kudos to the scouting department for that one - it really was one of the best drafts the Falcons had ever had.

But the press is quick to dismiss that draft, sometimes even calling it a failure since Jenkins was the only player from that group still with the team heading into the 2008 season.

Not so fast, kemo sabe...   The Falcons have a whole lot more to show for that draft class than just our #2 receiver.

DeAngelo had his famous argument with Petrino in the Panthers game in 2007 and demanded a trade rather than play for yet another rookie coach in 2008.  Ultimately, new GM Dimitroff granted him his wish and dealt him to the Raiders for a pair of draft picks.  (Be careful what you wish for, DeAngelo - you might just get it...) 

The picks received were a second rounder in 2008 and a fifth rounder in 2009.  Thank you ever so kindly, Mr. Davis.  It was a pleasure doing business with you. 

And many fans believe the Falcons made a big mistake trading Matt Schaub.  It's hard to blame them, especially considering how things went in the summer of 2007.  But the part of that story that gets left out is that Schaub was already a restricted free agent, and Arthur Blank's nine figure contract extension to Michael Vick made it clear that Schaub's intended role was purely as a backup.  In other words, Schaub was already as good as gone the moment the 2006 season ended. 

The Falcons offered him a high tender in order to talk trade and control the picks they received.  While they didn't get the highest possible RFA bounty (a first and a third rounder), the Falcons did get two first day draft picks from the Texans - a second rounder in 2007 and another second rounder in 2008.

That 2007 second rounder from Schaub became starting left guard Justin Blalock.

The 2008 second rounders for Hall and Schaub were the second rounders that Atlanta sent in a draft day deal to the Redskins

ESPN reported that the Falcons gave Washington three picks to move up to #21 to take Sam Baker.  Atlanta fans were horrified by the one-sided nature of the trade, leading Dimitroff to go out of his way that night to clear the air and make sure the local media understood that those initial reports were incorrect.  It was NOT a three for one deal.  It was three picks for three picks, allowing the Redskins to move up with two picks while Atlanta moved up with one.

The actual trade bumped the #34 (from the Raiders for Hall) up to #21, landing Baker.  The #48 (from the Texans for Schaub) dropped to #84, with Atlanta taking Harry Douglas.  The other part was that the fourth round pick moved down to the fifth.  I doubt many fans would object - that pick became Kroy Biermann.

And the following year, the Cowboys traded up in the fifth round. (Jerry Jones making trades on draft day?  Big shock, I know.)  Dallas gave us an extra seventh rounder to move down 13 spots.  They acquired our DeAngelo Hall pick and used it to draft DeAngelo Smith.  Atlanta used the picks from Dallas to take Garrett Reynolds in the fifth and Vance Walker in the seventh.

The bottom line... sure, DeAngelo Hall and Matt Schaub are now elsewhere. 

But their draft picks ultimately became left tackle Sam Baker, left guard Justin Blalock, slot receiver/return man Harry Douglas, offensive tackle Garrett Reynolds and defensive tackle Vance Walker.  Add in starting wide receiver Michael Jenkins, and the Falcons head into 2010 with six players on the roster that resulted from the picks of the 2004 draft.  

Posted on: December 15, 2009 12:37 am

Farewell to Finn...

The significant injury of the week was Brian Finneran. He once again has an injured knee.

The good: it won't require surgery. It's nothing like the two knee injuries that knocked him out for consecutive seasons.

The bad: since there are only three weeks left in the season, it's a season-ending injury. The team put him on IR today to free up a roster spot. No word yet on who will be signed or called up to fill that roster spot.

(I'm still hopeful we might see a former Falcon brought back to the nest, but my understanding is that the team will work out several players tomorrow and make the decision in time to have someone signed by the time practice starts on Wednesday.)

The ugly: this season is it for his contract. He'll be a free agent, but he's 33, has a long history of injuries, and isn't the least bit fast even when he's healthy. Unless Mora brings him in for the Seahawks, there won't be a lot of demand for him.

Smitty will want him back here at least for training camp, so we'll probably get to see him next summer. But I'm not so hot on his chances of making next year's roster. With Harry Douglas returning, Finn would be at best the #4 - and that's assuming Eric Weems doesn't jump ahead of him by the end of camp and also that the Falcons don't land another WR in next year's draft.

The catch is that his chances of making the team as the #5 or potential #6 would depend more on his special teams abilities as his receiving ability. He has been a good special teams player in the past, but the team's recent emphasis on speed has brought in a lot of tough competition for those special teams roles.

For 2010, he wouldn't be one of the top two choices as a return man either on punts or kickoffs. He wouldn't be one of the top four choices as a gunner. If he can get back to full speed quickly, he might still be a solid candidate as a gunner blocker and also part of the kickoff coverage unit. But he'll have to beat out a whole new crew of young, fast players in those roles to earn his spot. That will be a tall order for the tall receiver. He can still do those jobs, but there are likely to be other players who can do those jobs better.

Unfortunately, we may have just seen his final game as a Falcon and possibly as an NFL receiver.
Posted on: August 5, 2009 8:51 pm

camp notes - 8/05/09

I guess everyone's heard by now about the injury to Harry Douglas.  He was running a pass route in one of the drills and apparently did something to his knee.  He went down in a heap and stayed down a long time.  Brian Finneran came over to him and stayed with him until he was ready to get up.  He tried to walk off with help from Finn and a trainer, but he couldn't do it   He went back down to the ground and the team brought out a cart to take him off the field.

While he was down, he was holding the lower part of his knee.  That's never a good thing.  Smitty says we'll have to wait until tomorrow for any kind of update from the team.  Until then, we'll all have to hope for the best.   Of course, we all know that Harry will be receiving attention for it all afternoon and again this evening, so that response from the head coach wasn't particularly satisfying.  But we might hear more on ESPN or NFL-N tonight.  I'm certainly planning on checking out Total Access for a possible update.

Other notes from the session:   the fringe linemen (Jose Valdez, Ryan Stanchek, Adam Speer) mainly saw action as a scout team DEFENSIVE line.  They're taking their turns in basic drills with the rest of the offensive linemen, but they're not getting much action in the scrimmage situations.  (I'm bummed, because I've really wanted to see Ryan Stanchek in action.)

On the other hand, we did get a better look at undrafted receiver prospects Aaron Kelly, Bradon Godfrey and Darren Mougey today.  Kelly looked good.  If he keeps going like he did today and does a good job on special teams, he'll make the roster.  Mougey looked good enough for a practice squad spot, but I'm not sold on his chances of making the 53-man list.  Godfrey is somewhere in between.  I saw some pretty good flashes from him and only one route that looked bad, but he'll still have an uphill battle to beat out Weems, Williams, and Bergeron.

HERE TODAY, GONE THIS AFTERNOON:   I mentioned on the Falcons message board yesterday that the team had signed undrafted free agent Dicky Lyons (from Kentucky) but that there hadn't been any word on who was released to make room for him.  He's an interesting prospect - most notable in that he played only six games last season for the Wildcats yet was still their leading receiver.  

I looked for him in practice today, but he wasn't on the field.  It turns out the player axed to make room for Dicky Lyons was... Dicky Lyons. 

He wasn't with the team at all this afternoon and was immediately released before he ever even got to suit up.   I'll have to add that one to Shuless Joe's thread of questions for coaches.   Odd things happen every year with the fringe players, but that one is a first class head-scratcher.

This is the fifth day, ninth practice, and fifth practice in full pads.  So far, the guy who looks like he has made the biggest improvement from last season to this season is...   Keith Zinger.   In preseason last year, "disappointing" was probably an overly kind way to describe his performance.  He was off on a few routes, dropped more balls than he caught, and even missed a block or two. 

So far in camp he's looking like a junior clone of Tony Gonzalez.  He's catching everything and has had a few "oh wow" moments.  His routes have mostly been simple, but they've been well executed.  That's all you can ask -  he's running the patterns he's given, running them with precision, and catching the ball when it's thrown to him.

Two of his more impressive catches this week have come from the arm of John Parker Wilson.  One of them was an out route, completed for about 25 yards.  The other was a shorter crossing route.  Wilson threaded the needle between two defenders with a third right behind Zinger.  My immediate reaction is that none of the other QBs would have completed that pass.  (Up until today, Shockley would have thrown it too high and it would have been a bullet off his fingertips.  Redman wouldn't have enough zip and would have had it picked off.  Ryan simply would have seen three defenders and thrown it somewhere else.)   But today, he also had several balls thrown his way by Matt Ryan.  He's obviously getting noticed. 

William Moore and Trey Lewis didn't practice today.  They're both day-to-day after getting banged up earlier this week (Monday afternoon for Lewis, yesterday for Moore).  That gave Thomas DeCoud the bulk of the reps at safety, and he looked solid.  One DT who got extra reps with Lewis out was Tywain Myles.  He's a long shot to make the roster but he made the most of the opportunity, getting some good penetration on several scrimmage pays including one in the goal line session.  He lists at 305, but I've seen one other "unofficial" roster that listed him in the neighborhood of 320.  That's something to note -  the weights listed on the team web site aren't necessarily up to date.

Many of you will NOT want to hear this, but Jamaal Anderson had a really good practice this afternoon.  He got penetration on several plays, including one in the goal line session on a sweep to Turner.   Actually, he's been good all week.  Obviously the QBs are off limits for hitting during training camp, but he has been right there for at least three sacks and two rushed throws.

One of the oh-wow plays of the day was a deep pass from Ryan to Michael Jenkins against double coverage.  Jenkins beat Chris Houston and Thomas Decoud to come down with the catch.

D.J. Shockley looked much better today.  Earlier in the week he was too high on many of his throws.  Today he was keeping it down and was nearly always on target.  He also tucked and ran on a few simulated plays.  That's something he didn't do much earlier in the week or in the exhibition games last year.  (It was as if he was intentionally giving up the run just to get in the extra pass.  But his main value to the team is his threat on the ground, so it's good to see him at least willing to show the ground attack from time to time.) 

I noticed Brett Romberg getting the bulk of the snaps at center with the #2 line again today.  It looks like he's the leading candidate for the backup center job, with Ben Wilkerson in the hunt mainly as a guard.  The key question for Wilkerson appears to be whether the team elects to keep nine linemen or ten, because it's starting to look like he's the tenth man.   Will Svitek and Garrett Reynolds were once again the second unit tackles. 

The team ended the practice with a goal line (scoring) session followed by a few snaps coming out from our own goal line and then a few snaps in the two minute offense.  The goal line session had more highlights than any other part of the practice.  Brian Finneran caught a fade (which we all wanted to see the team do more often last season) for a score, over the head of Chris Houston.  The next play was the sweep to Michael Turner where Jamaal Anderson got penetration to stretch it out.  The play after that was a drop by TE Ben Hartsock.  I don't want to say he's in danger of losing his roster spot quite yet, but the TE battles sure did get a lot more interesting this week.  Later in the goal line session, Tywain Myles had his penetration to disrupt a play, and then D.J. Shockley had a nice play-action rollout.

The own-goal spot was nothing fancy.  The two-minute thing ended with a bit of a slip-up.  Ryan picked up some nice yardage and then hurried to get the next play off quickly, but he fumbled the snap.  The coaches immediately called for him to spike the ball and stop the clock, and then the air horn sounded to end the session.

The one thing the team did that wasn't so fan-friendly today was to sound the air horn to end the autograph session after practice.  It was the biggest crowd of the week, with over 1200 people there today.  Many of them were kids, and this is the last week before all the munchkins are back in school.  So when the QBs and WRs started walking over to the sideline, you can imagine how many people were wanting autographs.  The players signed as many as they could, but there were still a whole lot more fans remaining and waiting their turns when the air horn sounded once again and all the players went into the building. 

Quick reminder:   the "All Access Weekend" is this weekend.  The team will have a scrimmage at Brookwood High School as well as the "Roam The Dome" at the Georgia Dome.  Both are highly recommended events.  Coach Smith has said the kicking game will be a bigger part of the scrimmage this year - mainly because place kicker Jason Elam was a product of Brookwood High School way back when.  He has visited the school at least once already since returning to Atlanta, but this time he'll actually get to kick on his old high school field.  Pretty cool...
Posted on: February 21, 2009 2:36 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2009 8:21 pm

The Chart - part two (2008 draft day trades)

Okay, last time we saw the actual numbers of the standard NFL draft pick point value table, commonly known as The Chart.  A quick recap:  I want to stress that the chart does NOT try to say whether a team should make specific trades or what specific players are worth.  It is simply an index to help us all understand what kind of market value teams have put on specific draft picks in the past, based on all pick-for-pick trades over many years.  It tells us what is, not what is right or wrong.

The version of the chart that I posted was the copy that the NFL sent to every team in the league before the 2007 draft.  To get an idea of its ongoing accuracy, let's look at the trades that teams made during the draft in 2008. 

The short version is that there were 23 trades that were strictly pick for pick within the 2008 draft (no future picks, no players).  Of those, only one broke from the chart by more than 10% (for early round trades, where the numbers are big) or 11 total points (for later rounds, where the numbers are smaller).  And that one trade was a four for one deal, with the one pick carrying the higher point value.  Seven out of the nine first-day deals were within 5%.

For those who want the details (or want to see the proof), here's the list of first-day deals...

The Saints moved up from #10 to #7, also giving #78 to the Patriots and receiving #164 in return.  Looking at the chart, the Saints received 1526 points worth of picks in exchange for 1500 points.  That's a difference of only 1.7%.   (New Orleans selected Sedrick Ellis.  The Patriots selected Jerod Mayo.)

The Ravens broke from the chart in the day's second trade, moving down from the #8 pick and receiving picks 26, 71, 89, and 125 from the Jaguars.  They gave up 1400 points and received only 1127 in return, and the 273 point imbalance (or 24% of the 1127 points received) was the farthest any deal broke from the chart during the entire draft.  But note that it was a four for one deal, which might have made it a little more enticing for Baltimore.  The Jags made the deal to select Derrick Harvey

The Chiefs moved up in a deal with the Lions, giving Detroit picks 17, 66, and 136 in exchange for picks 15 and 76.  That's a 1248 for 1260 deal, with the mere 12 point difference representing less than 1% of the point total given by either side.  Both teams used the top picks to select offensive linemen, with KC taking Branden Albert and Detroit selecting Gosder Cherilus.

The Ravens moved back up to draft Joe Flacco, giving the Texans the 26 and 89 they had received from Jacksonville plus the 173rd pick in exchange for pick #18.  That's 867 points given up to receive a 900 point pick.  The 33 point difference makes a 3.8% windfall for Baltimore.  

The Falcons moved up to draft Sam Baker, giving the Redskins picks 34, 48, and 103 in exchange for picks 21, 84, and 154.  Atlanta did pay a premium of 8.8%, giving 1088 points and receiving 1000.  That was the second highest differential of the draft. 

But it wasn't as bad as initially reported - ESPN originally announced the trade as a 3 for 1 deal, saying that Atlanta had only received pick #21.  GM Thomas Dimitroff emphasized that evening that the TV reports were incorrect and that it was a 3 for 3 swap.  The team was willing to pay a slight premium (the 88 point difference is exactly the value of the fourth round pick #103 that the Falcons gave up) because Baker was the last of the top-tier offensive linemen on their board.  The Carolina Panthers had just moved up to #19 to draft Jeff Otah, giving up their 2009 first rounder as part of the deal, so the Falcons knew they couldn't wait to get a top lineman.  And considering Atlanta selected Harry Douglas and Kroy Biermann with the other two picks, Falcon fans probably shouldn't be upset with the results.

The always trade-happy Cowboys made their first deal of this draft by giving picks 28, 163, and 235 to the Seahawks for pick #25.  Based on the chart, Dallas gave up 687 points (assuming a 1 point value for #235) for a 720 point pick.  That's a 4.8% differential.  It could be argued that Jerry Jones made the deal just for the sake of making a deal, but the Cowboys theoretically made the trade in order to get DB Mike Jenkins.  Seattle used the #28 to select Lawrence Jackson.

Seattle moved down again with the #30 pick, sending it to the Jets for picks 36 and 113.  That's a mere two point difference, with 618 points received for a 620 point pick.  New York made the move to get TE Dustin Keller.

Baltimore and Seattle were the most active dealers of the day.  In the second round, Seattle moved up to #38 (to select TE John Carlson), sending the Ravens picks 55 and 86.  The 20 point differential is 3.9% of the 510 points Baltimore received.   

Philadelphia and Minnesota also made a second round deal, with the Eagles sending picks 43 and 152 to the Vikings for picks 47 and 117.  That's 511 points for 500, or a 2.2% differential.  The Vikings selected Tyrell Johnson at 43, while Philly picked up DT Trevor Laws with the 47th pick.

There were three other trades that involved picks from #1 to #64.  The most significant was that Carolina sent the Eagles picks 43, 109, and their first round pick of 2009 in exchange for Philadelphia's pick #19.  The catch is that the major pick that Philadelphia received was the future first rounder. 

The key question is how much to discount a future pick.  For the sake of demonstration, I'm going to assume that the Philly braintrust used a 50% discount factor as their guideline.  Neither side knew exactly where that pick would fall, but both likely anticipated that it would be a later pick.  From Philadelphia's perspective, the pick received would be no worse than #32.  That pick rates 590 points on draft day.  Applying a 50% discount factor for the one year wait, the Eagles were receiving 295 points or more for that future pick.  That would give Philadelphia at least 851 points for their 875 point pick.

Obviously, the team giving up the future first round pick is taking a risk, not knowing where that pick will fall.  If Carolina also used a 50% discount factor and had confidence that they would draft no earlier than #22 in 2009, then they would value that future pick at 390 points or less.  For them, the deal would be at most 946 points given away in exchange for the 875 point pick, for a premium of 8.1% or less.   

But there's one other important note here -  when a team moves up the way Carolina did (or Atlanta did two picks later), they aren't acquiring a draft pick.  They know exactly what player they will select with the pick they acquire.  So the other major factor is how the team values that specific player.  I'll cover that in more detail in the next post...

The Buccaneers and Jaguars swapped second rounders, with Tampa sending pick 52 (at 380 points) to Jacksonville for picks 58 and 158 (348 points combined) plus Jacksonville's 7th rounder in 2009.  It's hard to imagine any team putting much value on that particular future pick, but the 32 point difference is within 10% even if it carries no value at all.

And finally, the Miami Dolphins traded pick 64, acquiring picks 66 and 176 from the Lions.  That's a 4.1% windfall for the Fins based on the chart.  I mention it because even though it was the first pick of the third round, that pick would ordinarily have been the last pick of round two.  (There were only 31 picks in the first round, as the Patriots forfeited their own first rounder over the videotaping incident.) 

Posted on: November 6, 2008 3:15 pm
Edited on: November 7, 2008 5:33 pm

early notes for the Saints game

THE BAD NEWS for fans of both teams:   FOX has assigned our old pals Ron Pitts and Tony Boselli to broadcast the game.   (Saints fans -  I apologize in advance and suggest that you keep a radio handy.)

For New Orleans, Reggie Bush does not expect to play.  At this point, it appears Jeremy Shockey will play.

For Atlanta, Sam Baker is almost certainly out (it's not *official* yet) but everyone else is in reasonable shape.  Grimes, Grady Jackson, and Weiner are still nursing bad knees.  Snelling has been sick.  

Domonique Foxworth is now listed as a starter in the press guide and the depth chart.   He's the most experienced cornerback on the roster, but since the team only acquired him in Week 1, the coaches needed time to get him up to speed on the defensive schemes. 

No word yet on which of Grimes or Chevis Jackson will play the nickel corner spot once Grimes is back to speed.

Still no word from the league on possible suspensions for Grady and several Saints players over that water pill investigation.  However, the players can appeal if a suspension is announced between now and Sunday, so they can all remain available for this weekend's game.

Also no word on who will return punts for Atlanta this weekend.  Coach Smith said he thought Harry Douglas did a nice job but that the team hasn't decided who will handle that job this weekend.   And for those who think Jennings may be headed out the door, here's a little extra fodder:   when asked about the WR corps, Smith named all of the receivers EXCEPT for Jennings.

FRIDAY UPDATE:   Reggie Bush and center Jonathan Goodwin are both out.  Sam Baker is now officially out for Atlanta.  Shockey will likely play.  The banged-up Falcons are all listed as "Questionable" -  which seems to be the standard practice this season.  They include Grimes, Grady Jackson, Weiner, and McClure.  Best guess is they'll all be available. 


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com