(Editor's Note: It is my sincere pleasure to welcome Mike Tanier to Shutdown Corner as a writer and analyst. Mike has written for Football Outsiders for seven years; we wrote there together for six. It was there that I became familiar with Mike's peerless combination of great football analysis and truly warped humor. Mike has gone on to do some great work for the New York Times as well, and we think our readers will be very happy with what he brings to Shutdown Corner.
Mike will be a pointman for our pre-draft coverage to start, and I asked him to give you a sense of his sensibilities in his own words. Mike will continue to write for FO and the NYT; we're just glad he had extra time to devote to our endeavors.
To put it in football terms, Mike's our first-round draft pick this year ... we're just surprised we didn't have to trade up to get him. -- Doug Farrar)
If you are like me, there's only one sport to watch this time of year.
The Final Four? Who cares! College basketball can be fun in small doses, but a 68-team tournament is more of a Keith Richards dose. I used to love office bracket pools, but then I realized it was more efficient to simply shred my money.
Spring training? Sounds like a blast, if you are a retiree from Yonkers. You'll see me hanging around Western Florida in March as soon as 3:30 PM starts to sound like my idea of dinner time. Baseball doesn't really get interesting until … well, we have been waiting about 137 years, haven't we?
The NHL playoffs start soon, and they will finish in June, 2023. The NBA has managed to squeeze a post-strike season in, and the ten players who don't drop from sheer exhaustion by the Finals are sure to limp through a heck of a series. None of it does anything for me.
This isn't basketball season, hockey season, baseball season, rabbit season, or duck season. It's Draft Season.
While you were watching the Sweet 16, I was watching Boise State-San Diego State game tape so I could get a longer look at Doug Martin. When the pitchers and catchers were reporting to the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues, I was at the NFL Scouting Combine interviewing Melvin Ingram. While the NHL was gearing up for its all-star game, I was in Alabama, dodging tornadoes, watching Quentin Coples and Cordy Glenn collide like tectonic plates, and reporting from Senior Bowl week for the Shutdown Corner.
Am I crazy? Obsessed? Let's go with fascinated.
The NFL draft is the culmination of the most grueling job interview process in the world. NFL history hangs in the balance at every draft, and the decisions that will change the course of franchises and define careers are being made right now. Who wouldn't want to peel back the curtain and sneak a peek inside an NFL war room, or at least watch a few hundred hours of tape and try to determine just what the future holds for hundreds of the nation's most talented athletes?
You are probably just as intrigued as I am; you are reading a football blog in early April, after all. Luckily, you do not have to watch all that film. The Shutdown Corner gang will do the grunt work for you, and I have come on board to lend a decade of draft experience to the cause. I will be contributing to the Shutdown 50, providing regular updates on draft chatter from around the league, the television dial, and the blogosphere, and adding my two cents to mock drafts and anything else draft-related over the next few weeks.
My goal is to cut through the rhetoric, the jargon, and the generalities, so you can get a better sense of who the top prospects are, where they fit best, and what NFL teams are really looking for.
It is going to be a fun month. But right now, the sun is shining, the dogwoods are in bloom outside my window and a cool breeze is blowing. It's time to watch some tape.