Posted at 12:35 pm on May 1, 2017

ENGSTER: NFL Draft remains a crapshoot

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Leonard Fournette (Terrill Weil)
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By JIM ENGSTER | President, Tiger Rag Magazine

The NFL Draft has come and gone with LSU producing three first round picks and two of the top six draftees overall in Leonard Fournette (4) and Jamal Adams (6). It is expected that Fournette and Adams will be great contributors for the Jaguars and Jets, but before fans in Jacksonville and New York start talking about the Pro Football Hall of Fame in their futures, it should be noted that the NFL Draft is a most inexact process. There is no guarantee either player will emerge as a superstar.

Ten years ago, JaMarcus Russell was the first player selected in the draft. Russell was considered to be a can’t miss prospect at 6 foot 6, 260 pounds with the strongest arm the game has witnessed since Bert Jones was in his prime. After three miserable seasons with the Oakland Raiders, the LSU quarterback is rated the 8,974th best player in the game since 1960 by Pro Football Reference.

According to the subjective scoring by this same entity, the Top Ten players in professional football history are Peyton Manning (1), Brett Favre (2), Jerry Rice (3), Tom Brady and Fran Tarkenton (Tied for 4), Reggie White (6), Bruce Smith (7), Ray Lewis and Drew Brees (Tied for 8) and Dan Marino (10).

Manning and Smith were the first players selected in their drafts, but Favre, Brady, Tarkenton and Brees were not first round picks. Marino was the sixth quarterback taken in the 1983 NFL Draft after John Elway, Todd Blackledge, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason and Ken O’Brien.

The Pro Football Reference ranking of LSU players in the NFL reveals that many of the top Tigers were not first round choices with six of the top nine players going in the second round or later.

Here is the Pro Football Reference list of LSU’s Top 30 professional players and their selection numbers in the drafts in which they were taken. Kevin Mawae is the listed as the 49th best player ever while Alan Faneca is pegged at number 65 on the career list. To date, neither has been selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Player  |   Pick No.

  1. Kevin Mawae 36
  2. Alan Faneca 26
  3. Johnny Robinson 3
  4. Jimmy Taylor 15
  5. Andrew Whitworth 55
  6. Henry Thomas 72
  7. Bert Jones 2
  8. Roy Winston 45
  9. Leonard Marshall 37
  10. Patrick Peterson 5
  11. Eddie Kennison 18
  12. Dan Alexander 200
  13. Kyle Williams 134
  14. Eric Martin 179
  15. Fred Miller 93
  16. Eugene Daniel 205
  17. Michael Brooks 86
  18. Lance Smith 72
  19. Kevin Faulk 46
  20. Greg Jackson 78
  21. Billy Cannon 1
  22. Eric Hill 10
  23. Joseph Addai 30
  24. Carlos Carson 114
  25. Dwayne Bowe 23
  26. Dalton Hilliard 31
  27. Jerry Stovall 2
  28. J. Duhe’ 13
  29. Tommy Casanova 29
  30. Y. A. Tittle 6

Y.A. Tittle is the most decorated LSU player in the NFL of all time. He was a four-time Most Valuable Player Selection and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His relatively low rating is largely based on past quarterbacks being judged by the stratospheric numbers of today’s players.

The professional game is now designed to encourage passing offenses, and the rules reflect the fascination with big yardage outputs from quarterbacks. No more bump and run coverage and an array of other factors favoring the pass have made it a given that a quarterback will exceed 300 yards passing in an outstanding game. Amazingly, the NFL record for yards passing in one game has endured for 66 years. Norman Van Brocklin tossed for 554 yards for the Los Angeles Rams in a 1951 performance that has not been replicated.

Patrick Peterson and Kyle Williams are the only current NFL players on the LSU list of its 30 best professional players. Odell Beckham Jr. has logged three spectacular seasons with the New York Giants, but he is ranked as the 3,134th best player in the game since 1960 by Pro Football Reference. His fellow receiving stalwart Jarvis Landry is ranked as 4,097th best player all-time. If they continue to excel as they have since entering the league, both receivers should move up the list dramatically in the years to come.

Fournette’s numbers at Scouting Combine not up to Adams’ results

Based on results from the NFL Scouting Combine, it is remarkable that Leonard Fournette was chosen ahead of Jamal Adams.

Fournette was listed by the Combine at 6 feet and 240 pounds, meaning he officially lost at least one inch in height during his three years at LSU. Fournette’s 40-yard dash was time at just over 4.5 seconds. He declined to take part in the bench press competition which shows how many reps a player can do with 225 pounds.

By contrast, Oklahoma’s Semaje Perrine had 30 reps with 225 pounds, more than most of the offensive linemen.

With a 28.5 inch vertical leap, Fournette showed that he is probably not capable of dunking a basketball, something that the Saints’ 38-year-old quarterback, Drew Brees, reportedly can still accomplish.  Fournette also reportedly scored an 11 on the Wonderlic Intelligence Test.

Adams is 6 feet, 214 pounds, ran a 4.33 40-yard dash on LSU Pro Day, bench pressed 225 pounds 18 times and has a vertical leap of 31.5 inches.

The measurement of players often comes with intangible factors of resilience, durability, desire and smarts.

The NFL no longer showcases the Wonderlic results. But the test is sometimes an indicator of ability to understand complex offensive and defensive schemes.

Among quarterbacks, Brad Kaaya of Miami scored a 34 out of a possible 48 on the Wonderlic to post the score at that position this year. Quarterbacks average about a 24 on the test. Ryan Fitzpatrick posted perfect 48 on the Wonderlic. JaMarcus Russell posted a 24 score and Terry Bradshaw had a 16.

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James Moran has been the associate editor of Tiger Rag Magazine since 2014. He covers LSU football and baseball and is a graduate of the LSU Manship School of Journalism.

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