The Pickup Game Talks NFL Draft, Bucs

Brett Kollmann shows us his Film Room and talks NFL Draft.

The NFL Draft is one of the weirdest times on the sports calendar.

It’s not necessarily anyone’s fault.  The way things have worked out, the NFL has no minor league developmental system, so players are drafted out of college and thrust directly into the league, with little room for error.  Also because of this, the buildup to the draft is loaded with hype.

It is in that interest that I invited Brett Kollmann of Battle Red Blog and The Film Room youtube series onto The Pickup Game this week to talk about the draft.  Brett’s a sharp football mind, and The Film Room has let him demonstrate his ability to break down draft prospects.  It has quickly become a vital draft resource.

It’s certainly a vital resource for me.  I had been away from college football since 2009, driven away by scandals in the sport that I found appalling, as well as the death of my own alma mater’s football program when Northeastern decided to shutter their FCS squad.  It wasn’t until I covered the Florida Gators last year that I returned to college football.

When it comes to the draft, then, I knew close to nothing, and for a time I liked it that way.  Because of the lack of pro development on any level, the whole experience seemed like a game of roulette.

Obviously, though, these things aren’t quite as random as they might seem.  Brett explains in the show that there is a lot of difficulty in trying to translate college results, and that weird NFL combine, into real football analysis that can help a professional team.  It doesn’t always work against the player, as this episode of The Film Room demonstrates about O.J. Howard.

Fans are easily distracted in the draft.  We talk about Buccaneers fans who are clamoring for another running back, and how it’s easy to fall for a skill position when it’s really the offensive line that needs an upgrade.  Similarly, we talk about how it’s not all about the player in the draft, and sometimes a bad fit can derail a career before it starts.

Brett has told me before in personal conversation that he believes that Trent Richardson was never used properly, and it was that rather than a lack of talent that prevented his NFL career from ever really taking off.

So why would a team act so foolishly?  Because they have to.  There is an insane pressure in the NFL that comes from every fanbase.  We’ve taken “parity” to mean something it never meant; that every team is right around the corner from a Lombardi Trophy and should be treated accordingly.  Because of that, teams really aren’t in a position where they can be patient and work on a long term strategy.

Or can they?  With no quarterback at the top of this draft, the easy narrative of a franchise savior isn’t there this year.  This means that no matter who the Browns and 49ers select in the first round, the people who support those teams will not expect a playoff run just yet.  We discuss how rare that is.

Photo: Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Times

Of course, I can only talk football for so long before I steer things to the Buccaneers, and we talk a fair amount about the 19 pick.  Maybe a running back is a bad idea (I personally think it would be a disastrous one), but there are opportunities in that first round for Tampa Bay to set themselves up to improve on that 9-7 season they just had.

Protection on offense is a big need for Tampa Bay, having been through four running backs last year.  Jameis Winston, for his fantastic talent, can sometimes be prone to hasty decisions, and the more he’s pressured the bigger that danger becomes.  Perhaps a lineman is the ideal pick.

Or perhaps another pass target would be in order for the Bucs, who have left Winston with one healthy pass target at the end of his first two seasons.  Depth is something the Buccaneers lack.

Unfortunately, so is time, as the 9-7 campaign last year is sure to set expectations on the playoffs.  Every move the Buccaneers make until January of 2018 will be viewed through this lens.  Our snap draft judgments will center around the playoffs.  The team’s entire preseason will revolve around “taking the next step.”  Every loss this season will be scrutinized.  In that regard, perhaps the national spotlight of Hard Knocks will be a trial by fire, giving certain team members a taste of the big stage and others some pressure experience.

Thanks again to Brett Kollmann for coming on the show.  The Film Room’s mock draft will be up early next week.

Tim Williams has been covering sports since his days as a student at Northeastern University covering events such as the Beanpot. In the thirteen years since, he has covered college hockey, the NFL, Major League Baseball, the PGA Tour, and the National Hockey League. A native of the Tampa Bay area, Tim has returned home after living much of his life in the northeast, including sixteen years in the Boston area. These days the Managing Editor of Sports Talk Florida can be found on Florida's golf courses when he's not working.