OK, so I'll admit, I was fairly drunk when this all fell in my lap. My sister married a young man from Jeannette, PA, and he invited me to a party. A bachelor party. It's a long story to explain why an already-married person is having a bachelor party, and it's beyond the scope of this FanPost. This FanPost is more about patting myself on the back for inadvertently stumbling about insider information - stumbling, literally. I love beer, and had I not, I might not have the access to this information had I been a prude. Thank you, beer.
After making the trek from Cleveland (go ahead and queue the video, James) to this suburb of Pittsburgh, I was surrounded by football aficionados. My sister's husband comes from a long lineage of football players and coaches. Joe's brother played on a National Championship Mount Union team; his father and uncle have been football coaches at every level for decades. Joe's uncle has worked his way up through the ranks, and is now the OL coach at Tennessee. Joe's father, noticing that I had a Miami Dolphins hat on in the deep stench of Steelers territory asked me about my confusing apparel.
I told him that the best player to ever come out of Pittsburgh played on my team. I met him when I was a kid. End of story. This opened the floodgates.
With this mutual respect and camaraderie on the table, I asked Joe's father about what his brother thought about the selection of Ju'Wuan James at #19. He decided to call him. Who knew that a couple "Iron City" brews, a few Yuenglings, and a few Rolling Rocks could lead to information that only insiders could have. I love beer.
Forgive me if you are looking for in-depth analysis. At the frame of mind I was in, a Cliff Notes-version would do. I just wanted to know what he thought about him. I mean, we spent our 1st round pick on him, and who better to answer the call than his college coach who worked with him every single day. Here's a rough translation of what happened, with the understanding that: A) I was slightly drunk, B) Joe's uncle knew a Dolphins fan was inquiring about him, and C) All of this information was being relayed to me by someone who had been in the sun, playing golf all day, and drinking beer. Take this for what it's worth.
Joe's Dad: "Hey, what'd you think of your boy taken by the Dolphins?"
Joe's Uncle: "I was surprised. He's a really good player. I can't believe they took that sloppy fat-ass (referring to their mammoth DT McCullers). Nah. But, Ja'Wuan? Good player, just surprised he got up that high."
(Editor's side note: College position coaches don't particularly follow where their players are drafted. It indirectly increases their prestige for sure, but they are so involved recruiting and working with current players that draft statuses are a relative blip on their radar. And this IS from the horse's mouth. Plus, he hated McCullers getting taken. He referred to him as a "sloppy fat-ass" several times.)
So what do we make of this? And again, I apologize if you were looking for a micro-analysis that dissects everything about him. But let's read between the lines together, shall we?
"I was surprised. He's a really good player."
A) The fact that he was surprised is deflating.
B) The fact that he knows he's a really good player is comforting.
That's all I got. And frankly, we all know this for the most part. We took a really good player, but it's hard to determine at this point in time whether a RT would provide bigger dividends compared to the rest of the OL and skill players left on the board. There are many salient questions to ask in this situation: Is a Pro-Bowl RT worth more than an above-average WR/RB/TE? If James is above-average, is it a wasted pick comparatively? How much will James affect the overall offensive production? Could we have obtained a similarly rated OL prospect in later rounds? There are many questions that we will never be able to answer until the answer is staring us in the face 3 or 4 years from now. But it's interesting to try and predict how this pick will work out for us. Ultimately, when I read between the lines of what Joe's uncle said, it is this: "He's good, but not sure he was worth #19." In the end, I think most of us knew that.
We do know that RT are becoming increasingly valuable because of the flexibility of defenses. No longer is it the best pass rusher vs. the best OL. Defensive coordinators came up with this crazy concept of putting their best players on the worst OL, whether it be by scheme or a different defensive alignment. Defenses attack the weaknesses of an OL, wherever that may be. My one year-old son, grabbing his newly discovered penis and stumbling around like I was on the bachelor party night, could have penetrated the right side of our OL last year. An upgrade was absolutely necessary - but at what cost?
Again, the point of this FanPost was to pat myself on the back for getting insider information. Allow me to unveil the "seven degrees of separation" of famous people in my life:
A) I had an ex-girlfriend who carpooled with the Olsen twins to high school. I also saw Harrison Ford driving in a car when she picked me up from the airport at LAX.
B) I made out with Neil Young's daughter. I could've done, well, you know - but she kind of looks like Neil Young. I hope you understand my hesitation. I have standards, dammit.
C) I met Dan Marino when I was a kid. My mother kissed him on the cheek.
D) My brother-in-law's uncle is the OL coach at Tennessee.
Yep. That's it. I suck. I get it. Please boost my self-esteem by giving me some "rec's". His college coach was surprised that he got taken so high, but it sure seems to me that he has every faith that he's good and has the capability to make a difference. That's what I see when reading between the lines.
Love you all,