The Bronko Nagurski Award and a buck won’t get you a cup of coffee in the NFL, apparently. That’s the takeaway from Scooby Wright and Tyler Matakevich, the winners of college football’s national defensive player of the year honors each of the last two seasons.
Tyler Matakevich, the Temple tackling machine who racked up 493 in his career and no fewer than 101 in any one campaign, didn’t go until No. 246.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 30, 2016
Scooby Wright’s wait into the seventh round went even longer, four selections shy of undrafted free agent territory at No. 250. Wright swept the nation’s defensive awards in 2014 and finished in the top 10 of Heisman balloting, racking up 163 tackles, 31 tackles for loss and six forced fumbles.
Neither Matakevich nor Wright wows in workouts, but college football hasn’t had two more productive linebackers in actual game situations over the last few seasons than these two. Their apparent lack of value underscores my own confusion regarding the pro game.
A franchise isn’t going to build its defense around Tyler Matakevich or Scooby Wright — not like UCLA’s Myles Jack, who also tumbled in this year’s NFL draft, albeit for different reasons.
Still, the organization that can’t find anything more than seventh-round value in proven commodities just might be lacking in creativity. That’s something of an epidemic in the Copycat League.
Front offices obviously enter into NFL draft with strategies. At a certain point, any plan of attack seems to devolve into Guy At A Fantasy Draft Who Had Too Many Budweisers And Panics When The Player Before Him Drafts His Planned Pick.
Take that assessment for what it’s worth. My experience in an NFL front office matches my experience building rockets for NASA. Still, it’s confounding when the below doesn’t fit into an organization’s strategy before Pick 250.
Scooby Wright's +50.6 overall grade ranked second among FBS linebackers in 2014.
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 30, 2016
College football produces more standouts than the NFL has available spots. The popularity of the NFL drafts highlights America’s obsession with football. We have an obvious solution here: bring back the USFL.
Let’s fill the springtime void with actual football and find proper landing spots for studs like Tyler Matakevich the Shield seemingly devalues. And hey, seeing as the guy who helped kill the USFL last time around is busy with other projects at the moment, no time like the present to get this project cracking.
Kickstarter forthcoming. Make Football Great Again!