Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Draft

One of the best things about our vacation was that I got to read three books. Three books! That used to be an average week for me; now it's an average year.

The first was The Draft by Pete Williams, an excellent behind-the-scenes look at the NFL draft.

What made it good was his focus on the agent-selection and Combine training prospective draftees go through. Especially the agents. Guys like Leigh Steinberg and Drew Rosenhaus get all the pub, but there are hundreds of other guys who work their butts off recruiting prospective clients. Sometimes they spend money sending them to training, but the kids fall in the draft and the agents' cut of the signing bonuses is smaller than their initial outlay.

Anttaj Hawthorne is a focal point of the book, as he, his uncle, and a family lawyer go through the agent selection process. The book brought back the painful memory of Hawthorne (and Jonathan Clinkscale) testing positive for marijuana leading up to the draft, sending Taj's stock plummeting. He is not happy with the advice his agent gave him; if you'll recall, Northwestern's Luis Castillo had a positive drug test but an aggressive repentance campaign helped him land in the first round.

Plenty of other Badgers are mentioned in the book, including Erasmus James, who the Vikings picked in the first round that year. For instance, according to the two NFL scouting services, BLESTO and National Football Scouting, Inc., ranked the following Badgers among their senior classmates before the 2004 season:

Anthony Davis, ninth and sixth among running backs (went in the seventh round to Indianapolis)
Morgan Davis, seventh among offensive tackles (ahead of eventual first round pick Jammal Brown)
Dan Buenning, sixth and seventh among guards (went in the fourth round to Tampa Bay)
Clinkscale, ninth among guards
Hawthorne, second and fifth among defensive tackles (went in the sixth round to Oakland)
Jason Jefferson, ninth and seventh among defensive tackles (went in sixth round to New Orleans)

Interestingly, James and Scott Starks (a third rounder to Jacksonville) were not rated at their positions.

That 2004 team had some talent on it, too bad shaky quarterback play and injuries at running back hurt them so much in the last three games.

Anyway, good book, especially interesting because I read it in the days leading up to this year's draft.

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