May 30, 2015 - Phil Rainey
Viewing Today's Players: Where are the standards of evaluation?
In watching film and doing an evaluation on (former Houston FS) Kendrick Lewis, I have a hard time digesting the UFA contract he signed with the Baltimore Ravens. This led to the question of, has the bar been lowered in evaluating today's players? Based on what he shows on film, I find it difficult in justifying signing Lewis to a 3-year, 5.4 million dollar deal (1.4 million guaranteed) at his age (28). Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh seems to believe that Lewis has better days ahead of him after 5 years in the league. I don't see it unless he is going to use him in nickel and dime packages and send him on blitzes regularly. He is a huge liability in the run game and average in his coverage skills. He has never been to the Pro Bowl, and his best season was in 2011 (4 years ago). What am I missing with this guy? There is the belief that Lewis’ contract can be attributed to the market. After Jairus Byrd (New Orleans) and T.J. Ward (Denver) received big contracts last season, the price tag on safeties went up. But both are Pro Bowl caliber players and Lewis has never been to one in his career. When looking at this year's crop of FA safeties, there weren't many other options. You can make an argument that Rahim Moore and Da'Norris Searcy are better players than Lewis, but that's about it. My guess is Baltimore overpaid simply because they thought they had to in order to land a safety who can contribute. This was a weak draft for the position. After Damarious Randall, no free safety was selected until the fifth round. Do we just live in a day and age where compromising your principles and standards seems to be the easier thing to do? Can Lewis' contract really be attributed to the market? Houston signed him to a one year deal and obviously felt he was not worth resigning and let him walk. Why didn't the team that drafted him (Kansas City) keep him and not let him become a FA? Teams pay what they want, and Baltimore could have done the same. Are the standards being lowered in evaluating today's players? I believe the pressure to win right away has a lot to do with it, and therefore, you see more marginal players being thrown into starting roles sooner than they are ready. Is this is also causing evaluation grades of players to be higher than what they really should be? In looking at film on Damarious Randall this past season, I don't see how he was evaluated as a 1st round draft pick. His size alone doesn't warrant being drafted that high. As always, time is the ultimate judge of everything. Phil Rainey is a high school football coach and graduate of Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or Twitter @Rainey_Phil