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Rethinking draft "steals"

Normally, I view Sports Illustrated columnist Perloff as a minor irritation, often choosing to write something contradictory just to stir the pot. In spite of that, he said something in his current column that I totally agree with myself: "Most draft graders have their formula all wrong. Experts reward teams that got recognizable players from big programs who went lower than projected in all the mock drafts. Teams were lauded for picking up Notre Dame's Clausen, Texas' McCoy and Sergio Kindle, Alabama's Terrence Cody, USC's Everson Griffen, Tennessee's Dan Williams, Maryland's Bruce Campbell, etc. Aren't these players less likely to be steals because teams have had so many opportunities to scout them?" He's got a good point, actually. When a prospect falls from his projected slot in a draft, is it because the player is genuinely good but simply passed over for bad reasons? Or is it because everyone else was accurate and you, Mr. Favorite Franchise's Drafting Executive, are the one somehow not seeing the problem? For once, Perloff's got a good point: Managing to find a player projected for the first round but falling out of it may not necessarily be a "steal". It may be that your team is simply blind to a very real issue. So automatically grading a draft choice as a "steal" is presuming that the press pundits have got it more right than the franchise. That's possible, but not guaranteed Hence, the problem of calling someone a great pick just because he sunk in the draft.

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