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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Are Pro Days really that important? – Part 2

johnny manziel pro dayA few days ago we raised the question of whether or not there is any real value in attending a college player’s Pro Day.

That was in response to the reaction from a few members of the local media who were furiously trying to manufacture a controversy because Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer and the team’s scouts were attending the various Pro Days – rather than head coach Mike Pettine and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

We thought about that today at the gym while watching ESPN’s coverage of quarterback Johnny Manziel’s Pro Day at Texas A&M. After watching Manziel do his thing, we came away with two indisputable conclusions.

The first is, we’ve never seen a quarterback put on a better Pro Day performance while wearing a helmet and shoulder pads.

More importantly, we can’t imagine a greater waste of Pettine’s and Shanahan’s time than attending a Pro Day.

It’s not just us, either. Turns out that NFL teams are starting to figure out there is not as much value in Pro Days as places like ESPN and the NFL Network would have us believe.

In a story on the Arizona Cardinals website (which we first saw linked to at Pro Football Talk), the team’s scouts echoed what we wrote last week – that a Pro Day is just a small piece of the bigger puzzle and that there are better ways to evaluate a player.

“There is no replacement for game tape,” Cardinals outside linebackers coach James Bettcher said. “But the chance to work with guys in person, you can take a look at how well they pay attention to direction, how well they do the drills, (and) live and in person maybe you see something you don’t think the player is as good at. Or it validates or maybe changes your opinion.”

Pro Days are in large part a media creation in response to the growth of the NFL as a 365-day-a-year enterprise. Outlets like ESPN and NFL Network need content, so they promote and televise the various Pro Days, leading fans to over-value the importance of those days.

Thankfully the Browns seem to have figured this out.

“A Pro Day of orchestrated throws, I don’t know what that tells you,” Farmer told The Plain Dealer. “It’s a piece of it that people blow up into this great thing. I went to a lot of games and practices this fall. I’ve seen them throw the ball. We will have our opportunities to have private workouts. Being in charge of that workout is different than being at a Pro Day where it’s orchestrated and scripted.”

It bears repeating: the success of any future quarterback on the Browns roster will have no correlation to who was in attendance at a Pro Day.

Don’t let anyone try to tell you any differently.

Three points is three points

liverpool beat sunderlandIt shouldn’t have been so difficult, but Liverpool still walked out of Anfield on Wednesday with three points after taking care of business against Sunderland.

The win keeps the Reds in second place, just a single point behind Chelsea and level on games played.

Things seemed well in hand after Daniel Sturridge’s 20th goal of the season gave Liverpool a 2-0 lead (captain Steven Gerrard had opened the scoring with a free-kick goal at the 39-minute mark). But a header from Ki Sung-yueng found the back of the net at the 76-minute mark and suddenly Liverpool had to sweat out the final 14 minutes of play.

“It is about reinforcing the need for calmness,” manager Brendan Rodgers told The Guardian. “We reinforce to the players the message about dominating the ball. We were the dominant team but no matter how dominant you are when it gets to 2-1 it is going to be tight for that last 10 minutes or so. Our idea is to stay calm under pressure and it is important they can think clearly under pressure. It always gets hairy when it gets to 2-1 and it means so much to you.

“For us there is not the expectancy this year. I think people looked at us and thought we would tail off. The pressure is on (Manchester) City with the squad they have and the money they’ve spent and on Chelsea given how dominant they have been for a number of years. The pressure we have is for ourselves, because we are Liverpool and we want to be winners. We are on that path.”

That path brings Tottenham Hotspur to Anfield on Sunday for yet another important match in the title race.

Tribe’s final rotation a bit of a surprise

carlos carrasco rotationCleveland Indians manager Terry Francona set the Tribe’s Opening Day roster and it was a bit of a surprise to see Carlos Carrasco be given the fifth spot in the starting rotation over Josh Tomlin.

The decision clearly came down to the fact that Tomlin still had a minor league option while Carrasco did not, because it certainly couldn’t have been based on how the two pitchers performed during spring training.

Tomlin worked 20.1 innings, striking out 19 and holding opposing batters to just a .250 average, while Carrasco threw 15.2 innings, struck out 14 and the opposition ripped him for a .338 batting average.

Carrasco certainly throws the ball more like a big-league pitcher than Tomlin and it is an annual theme each spring that the team finally thinks that he will “put it together” this year. But eventually results have to take a precedence over potential and Carrasco could be running out of time.

“I think we all understand why we made the decision,” Francona said. “There’s numerous reasons how we came to this conclusion, but it’s still difficult when you respect the way a guy goes about it so much. With Carlos, we’ve been pretty open about the fact that we really want to see Carlos pitch.”

As for Tomlin, it does make sense to have him take a regular turn in the rotation at Triple A rather than just sitting in the bullpen. At some point in the season, either because of Carrasco’s inconsistency or an injury to another starter, Tomlin will be needed in Cleveland.

(Photos by The Associated Press and Getty Images)

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3 thoughts on “Are Pro Days really that important? – Part 2

  1. Sam Gold on said:

    “The first is, we’ve never seen a quarterback put on a better Pro Day performance while wearing a helmet and shoulder pads.”


    “More importantly, we can’t imagine a greater waste of Pettine’s and Shanahan’s time than attending a Pro Day.”

    BRAVO! Clap, clap, clap.

  2. jpftribe on said:

    I’ve read over and over that teams draft boards are set going into the combine. Teams tweak and make adjustments, but the heavy lifting has been done during the college season.

    I think. This is also why Farmer has to play things so very cool right now. Lombardi knows that board, knows who they like and how they have them rated. He also works for Belichick who I am sure will use that to any advantage he can get.

    I couldn’t agree more, I’d rather they spend their time in Berea going through the whole scenario than on a junket to Texas so see an undersized QB throw the ball to wide open receivers.

    And happy 4th anny…….

  3. tmoore94 on said:

    The more I think about it the more Pro Days come off as a media creation. Not sure how much damage Lombardi can do to the Browns now that he is in New England, but you are right that it is good Farmer is keeping things tight.

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