Saturday, April 26, 2003

Daugherty: Draft evaluations


NFL 'tests' tell no one anything

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Antwan Peek was a dog. They're all dogs. On the New York Giants' 450-question test of prospective draftees, if you answer "cat" to the question, "Are you a dog or a cat?" you are removed from the draft board and given a bus ticket to the WNBA.

"Gotta be a dog," said Peek.

Peek was a shark, too. The Giants asked him what kind of fish he'd most like to be. (Hey, if you have 450 questions to kill, you gotta come up with something.) Peek decided he'd want to be a shark. "If you said goldfish," the former UC defensive end said, "you probably wouldn't get drafted."

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Antwan Peek.
(Enquirer file photo)
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Today is Draft Day. It's the glorious culmination of months of exhaustive investigation, meticulous observation and asking college seniors to play with blocks. "Houston gives you these four shapes," Peek was saying. Circle, square, triangle and X. "They ask you how many different combinations you can make. I said 24. They said, 'Show us.' I got 22."

Then the Texans let him out for recess.

The NFL times offensive linemen in the 40-yard dash. Marshall QB Byron Leftwich had to defend himself from slanderous reports that his 40 time was a turtle-ish 5 seconds flat. Leftwich stated, for the record, that it was closer to 4.7.

Whatever. If Byron Leftwich is spending lots of time running 40 yards, whoever drafts him is in big trouble, and so is he.

As with much of what it does, the NFL portrays the draft as nuclear physics. Draft experts can build you a dossier on Antwan Peek that rivals the CIA's file on Saddam Hussein. They can tell you everything about a player except if he can play.

Sleeve length? Critical for wide receivers. Shoe size? Defensive linemen need big feet. Are you a pit bull or a Great Dane? Do you smoke marijuana? (What, dude?) Do you go to night clubs? Do you drive a foreign or domestic car, do you like ketchup on your eggs? Come look at these shapes.

Nothing awakens the Inner Geek like Draft Day. If you know who the fourth-best cornerback in the draft is, you've been spending way too much time in the closet, playing with your modem. Get out in the daylight and go for a walk.

Two weeks ago, no one knew Terence Newman from Paul Newman. In a two-man lineup, we'd have had a 50-50 shot. Now, everybody has an opinion about Terence Newman, erstwhile Kansas State cornerback. Nobody knows anything. Not even the people who are supposed to know.

It is amazing, given all the data collected and wisdom gathered, that any first-round pick ever bombs. Personally, if Marvin Lewis told me the Brooklyn Bridge was in San Antonio, I'd be on the first jet to Texas. But for all Lewis knows, Carson Palmer is David Klingler. That won't stop various experts such as Helmet Head Mel Kiper from disgorging more wind than your average tornado. Never trust anyone who utters the phrase "impact player."

The people who tested Peek conceded what they were doing "might seem a little dumb," Peek said. It didn't bother him: "I knew it was dumb when I was doing it."

Was there any, you know, testing of football skills? Tackling, maybe?

"None at all," Peek said.

The Bengals are on the clock. Try to control yourselves.

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E-mail pdaugherty@enquirer.com




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