Diner morning news: A look inside the mailbag

QUOTE: “There are times when the utmost daring is the height of wisdom.” -- Carl von Clausewitz

It’s mailbag time:

Mr. Lombardi –

I enjoyed your brief discussion on why trading is difficult in the NFL. One area that I’m still perplexed (about) regarding trades is why NFL teams don’t make more trades during the draft with players that have already been selected. It is perplexing to me why teams trade up and down trying to “guess” where a player they like might fall to in the draft, why not just make a trade once the player has been selected so you know you’re getting what you want, with a defined price tag (or a defined pick value)? The NBA features countless numbers of trades involving players that were already selected. I know the leagues are different, but if Team A has Player X targeted, and Player X is taken by Team B before they have the opportunity to draft him or make a pick swap to move up to get him, why can’t Team A make a trade with B? By my understanding, the rookie pool is not determined until after the draft, so I didn’t think that was the reason. I appreciate your time and thoughts on this.

Thanks, Sean

Sean, you’re right. The rookie pool is never finalized until after the draft, so you can select a player and then trade him that day. But in the NFL, if you try to trade for a player after he’s been selected, the team will just laugh at you. Teams will trade if they have several players in the round they like, but they won’t trade if they have someone on their board they like. When the card is turned into the league, it’s almost impossible to get the player. A call to a team after a player is picked will re-enforce the team’s belief about the player and then make them reluctant to release him since they would know you liked him. So the best strategy is to lay low and hope they cut the player and then claim his rights.

Hi Mike.

Given some apparent delays and reviews on ball placement and first down measurements in last weekends Conference Championship games, has the NFL considered and/or studied changing the "chain gang" method? Perhaps by using lasers, even the blue line/yellow line seen on TV screens or other method employing new technology. It might eliminate some tradition, but it could eliminate some in-game delays and add accuracy to what at times seems to be random ball placement by officials and apparent built-in inaccuracies from the current method, which involves at least 3 people.

Enjoy the NF Post daily. Have a great day...Ray

Ray, the chain gang is controlled by the line judge, and they only place the chains at the spot issued by the line judge. There has been talk about placing a chip in the ball to accurately spot the ball, specifically at the goal line, but this talk has not advanced very far. The chain gang is outdated, but the spotting of the ball is not going to change for a long time. With the advent of instant replay and the ability of coaches to challenge the spot, this helps prevent the chain gang or line judge from making a huge mistake.

Michael:

I'm not sure if you're still doing the mailbag feature on NFP, but here's a couple of questions for you. Do you think having the draft almost 8 weeks after the combine actually hurts teams? I feel teams have a tendency to over-analyze players and ultimately second-guess their own scouting departments. What do you think? There seems to be a good middle linebacker in the second round each year (Lofa Tatupu, Demeco Ryans, Curtis Lofton, James Laurinaitis, etc.). All these players had an immediate impact in their rookie season. So is middle linebacker the simplest transition for a college player, or is it just a position which offers easily measurable results?

Regards, Steven

Steven: Many teams that I’ve talked to this year will have set their draft boards before the combine, so they can limit the effect it might have on a player’s stock rising or dropping. The combine is important, but it can’t be a determining factor one way or another. Having the combine later in February allows teams to hold draft meetings and plan a specific check list for each player.

For example, a player might not have a good character reference from the school, so at the combine, there need to be questions asked about specific issues he might have. An interview at the combine must be specific, it must be direct, and it must be researched beforehand. The combine is fact-finding mission, not a meet-and-greet.

As for second-round linebackers, it makes sense for these players to get picked at this point in the draft. Instincts are the prevailing factor in an inside backer, and these players often get knocked for a lack of overall speed, which pushes them down in the draft. The top 10 of the draft has to be players who can impact the game, and the second round, based on the money paid, is the best value and often results in the best producers. I’d rather have three second-round picks than two first rounders.

Mike:

Could you spend a paragraph on your next article to explain why (or when) calling timeouts before the two-minute warning is a good thing?

John

Down-and-distance is the best indicator for when or why to call timeouts. And the clock also allows you to determine how much time you might need to move the ball down the field. At the end of the half, the clock tells a team how many plays it can effectively run. The goal of the two-minute drill is to score, but its other purpose is to prevent the opponent from another possession. Most people overreact to the clock. The clock can be a friend or a foe to the offensive team. In the Miami-Indy game in Week 2 of the season, the Dolphins left 43 seconds on the play clock before the end of the half, and naturally, the Colts scored. The Colts never need much time to score.

Have a great weekend. Next week is combine week -- looking forward to being there.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

For a perspective on Al Davis and his draft history, check out this article from Bleacher Report.

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