Another NFL Draft has come and gone, again unwatched by me. I'm a little uncomfortable with all the homoerotic language (upside, measurables), and I only have "lifeline" cable, which gives me clear local stations, four PBS channels, and E!. But I like keeping up with the draft coverage, mainly because it's so ridiculous before and after. Prognosticators talk about people like stocks and make mock draft after mock draft.
But my favorite part is the grades. A bitter Mel Kiper, who according to his website can "accurately predict as much as 80 percent of first-round draft selections", gave zero A's. On an entirely unrelated note, he only correctly predicted six of the 32 first-round selections this year--that's only 19%, if you round up. That's an F, even if you grade on a curve.
And the often curmudgeonly Dr. Z over at Sports Illustrated has awarded three A's and two A minuses. What's a perplexed NFL fan to do? We desparately need to know what teams earned what grades. Welcome to the wonderful world of grade norming, where I'll be the arbitor deciding on averages between the iron-haired Kiper (that refers to the tensile strength of his hair, not the color) and the bald Dr. Z (Z works it, though, he works it). I'll just be touching on the interesting differences between them (and teams I can make cheap shots about), not their grades on all the teams. After all, I have actual grading to get back to.
Arizona Cardinals/Buzzsaw: Kiper, B; Z, A
CLT: A-. The lovable losers drafted Matt Leinart, who I'll now call the Human Petri Dish: he's dating Paris Hilton, who I would call the Human Petri Dish if she were human. (Enter rimshot.) If Leinart can spread the ball like he'll be spreading disease after he moves on to Lindsay Lohan, there's no telling what round of the playoffs the Cardinals/Buzzsaw will lose in.
Baltimore Ravens: Kiper, B+; Z, B
CLT: F. A couple of friends of mine used to work at a tutoring facility next to the Ravens' training facility, where, according to my friends, the Raven players' Escalades routinely threatened other cars and occasionally and unapologetically caused accidents. Think of the Ravens as the loud, bulky jerk in the back of the classroom who passes because the teacher is afraid of getting beaten to a pulp. Not this time, though, not this time. What are they going to do, send Kyle Boller to throw something at me?
Carolina Panthers: Kiper, C; Z, B
CLT: B. Dr. Z likes "need drafts." Kiper thinks they got the wrong needs. Can we consider their good coach, great receiver, and decent-enough quarterback? They did, after all, make the playoffs last year.
Chicago Bears: Kiper, B; Z, D
CLT: C+. Settle down, boys. Kiper likes that a team with a great defense and shitty offense drafted for defense; Z points out, rightly, that the Bears drafted for the wrong goddamn side of the ball. If you read closely, you can see Z's neck veins pulse. But I like the city of Chicago, so I'm cutting them a break. Plus, they play in a shitty division, so who cares?
Cincinnati Bengals: Kiper, C; Z, B-
CLT: B. Kiper's right, the Bengals need a tight end, but they have a greater need to shore up a weak defense, and they did a bit of that. Also, Marvin Lewis seems like a smart guy. Don't forget the Bengals did win the division last year, and if Kimo Von Wilkes Booth hadn't rolled over on Carson Palmer, we'd likely have a different Super Bowl champion. Not the Bengals, but not the Steelers, either. Oh, and I like Chad Johnson's teeth.
Cleveland Browns: Kiper, B; Z, B-
CLT: B-. They play in a tough division. They'll probably surprise a few teams because they have a good coach, but until LeBron James or Bugs Bunny plays eleven positions on the field at all times, I don't like their chances.
Denver Broncos: Kiper, B; Z, A.
CLT: C-. They traded up to take Jay Cutler, which seems like bad karma. Why mess with Plummer's stache?
Detroit Lions: Kiper, C+; Z, B+
CLT: F. When a student's last several essays are F's, you don't suddenly give him the benefit of the doubt. Come on, people. Matt Millen needs remedial classes.
Green Bay Packers: Kiper, B; Z, B
CLT: A+. You know what, Favre's coming back to throw more interceptions. Mute the fawning announcers, or MST3000 the game yourself. The team won't improve, but who cares? Draft, schmaft.
Houston Texans: Kiper, B+; Z, D
CLT: D. I'm with Z on this one. If you decide you need to improve your defense more than sell tickets or acquire the most promising (or hyped, anyway) player to come along in a while, why not trade the pick for a defensive veteran and more picks so you can draft more defensive players? Instead, Texans, you picked a talented player who apparently takes plays off and gets most of his sacks against weaker teams. Unless Leinart gives Reggie Bush some of Paris Hilton's, um, travelling companions and Bush has to have his legs amputated, this will go down (pun intended) as a huge mistake.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Kiper, C+, Z, C
CLT: C. Jacksonville reminds me of the kind of student who works hard but just isn't a good writer. Once in a while, he'll make a good point, but he just can't pull it all together.
Kansas City Chiefs: Kiper, C; Z, B-
CLT: C. They've gone from Dick Vermeil's can't-quite-get-far-enough to Herm Edwards's can't-quite-get-far-enough. Good for them.
New Orleans Saints: Kiper, C; Z, A
CLT: A. They went 3-13 last year, they managed to get the most exciting player in the draft, and they just signed Drew Brees. Throw them a bone, Kiper. If the roof were blown off your hair, I'd give you an A if you only picked six out of 32 selections correctly. They play in an impossible division, but Bush will likely rush for around 1,000 yards and pick up a lot of receiving yards from Brees, who seems to prefer the short pass. Plus, I foresee Deuce McAllister playing hard for a big contract elsewhere.
New York Jets: Kiper, B-; Z, A-
CLT: A-. You know what? Kiper seems way off on all of these. The Jets built up their O-line, including a player with a built-in nickname: D'Brick. And his nickname actually relates to his role in the game. Plus, they picked up Brad Smith of Missouri, who won't be a quarterback but might add dimension to the offense.
There are no other really interesting differences. All draft grades are pretty ridiculous, but Kiper's seem ludicrously vengeful. All six teams that picked as he predicted (and I'm counting Denver as one) received at least a B-; all but the Jets received a B or higher. I know he lives for this year-round, but he just seems a little too biased in his grading. But what do I know? I don't wear helmet-hair.