Inches and Pounds

By Johnny Ginter on April 30, 2012 at 1:00p
34 Comments
Small and solid

Last year's draft was notable for a couple of things, as far as I'm concerned: the Cincinnati Bengals laid down the bedrock for their franchise the next decade, and I got very, very angry at Dane Sanzenbacher not being drafted.

Of all the Tressel-era wideouts, Sanzenbacher might've been one of the least likely players to make NFL noise after his stint in Columbus. After all, though he was a tough (but undersized), quick (but short), and fearless (but slight) receiver, he was also the heir apparent to guys like Ted Ginn, Santonio Holmes, and Anthony Gonzalez. It was a tall order for him to step in and change that perception, and that'd become even more difficult in a Jim Tressel offense.

But eventually he did. In his final season, he managed 55 catches for nearly 1000 yards, was voted a team captain and then MVP, gained a groupie in Jon Gruden, and unfortunately did not grow the two inches and gain the 10 pounds needed to get selected in the 2011 NFL draft.

Dane Sanzenbacher is listed at 5 foot 11, and having stood next to him I'd say that's perhaps a little generous. And in the NFL, that is more than enough to have the Undrafted Free Agent label slapped on you after seven rounds of teams selecting three or four dudes who will make the squad and roughly six guys who won't. For the more well-known guys, it generally works out; Dane was, of course, eventually signed by the Bears, where he put together a decent season consisting of 27 catches and 3 TDs.

And while no one is yet heralding Sanzo as the second coming of Wes Welker (5 foot 9, 185 pounds, UDFA), his production is miles above what most non-OSU fans would've said it was going to be after he wasn't drafted in 2011. The inches and pounds that he and Welker lack are no impediment to them being what they are: terrific football players. It's unfortunate that in a measurables-obsessed NFL, players who aren't of ideal size or speed are passed over or ignored; not just because it denies great players a chance to show their skills, but because it's antithetical to one of the things that I love about football, that almost anyone of any size can contribute in some way.

And this year it happened again, only much worse.

Kellen Moore should've been drafted.

There really should be zero debate about this. Aside from being the winningest FBS quarterback of all time, the sheer magnitude of what he was able to accomplish in four seasons of college football is staggering. His full stats are here, but some choice selections are as follows: 142/28 TD/INT ratio. 3486 yards was his worst season in terms of yards passing. Worst completion percentage in a season: 64.9%. Completed fewer than 15 passes in a game only four times throughout his career.

Of course, the easy and lazy counter to this is the "Sisters of the Poor" argument (which I've always found ironic coming from OSU fans who were angry at Troy Smith not being given a fair shake in the NFL despite beating up on a weak Big Ten); that Moore isn't deserving of the same kind of recognition as the Andrew Lucks and the Robert Griffins of the world because his conference was weak and Moore played against inferior competition. He sure did. But, he also played a number of out of conference games against elite competition and blew up the argument that he was only beating up the nerdy anemic kids on the playground by going up to the fat kids who had peach fuzz and punching them right on the weird, ingrown hairs on their necks.

As a freshman, Moore sauntered into Autzen Stadium and led Boise State to a 37-32 victory after passing for 386 yards over an Oregon team that would eventually go 10-3 on the year. Later that season he'd have a "bad" game against TCU in their bowl, completing 22 of 35 passing attempts for 222 yards. His sophomore year, he'd play those same two teams again, this time beating them both while passing for over 400 yards combined against the eventual combined 22-4 record of Oregon and TCU.

Bad haircut, great QB

Moore's junior and senior years were more of the same, but are especially notable for the complete dismantling of Virginia Tech and Georgia in consecutive season openers. If you haven't seen Moore take a scalpel to Georgia's defense last year, you owe it to yourself; his ability to consistently make plays under duress, while working with an almost entirely new WR corps, in a hostile environment, is pretty remarkable.

So the ultimate question with Moore for the NFL wasn't ability, it was about perception. Not just of the WAC or MWC competition that he faced, but of his measured 6 foot, 0 inch size and the strength of his arm. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Moore was deemed to be not at valuable to NFL teams as the likes of 6 foot 2 Chandler Harnish, 6 foot 3 BJ Coleman, or even 6 foot 2 Rod Gurnsey, which is ridiculous. Especially since I just made that last dude up since you've never heard of the other two guys anyway. Even more irritating is that despite a sub-par Senior Bowl, a guy who had an even worse performance in that exhibition than he did, Ryan Tannehill, is now drawing a gigantic 1st round paycheck mostly by virtue of his height and weight.

I don't cry for Moore. He was quickly signed by the Detroit Lions and will hopefully have every opportunity to prove that he's the next Drew Brees. The larger issue that I'm getting at is that the NFL, in putting a premium at "ideal" size over apparent talent or skills, homogenizes the league and makes it less fun to watch. There are guys who, if given the chance, can bring a large measure of excitement and interest to games but are currently being passed over because of antiquated ideas about what makes a good player. Not every position can benefit from a different kind of infusion of talent, but enough of them can for it to make a difference.

My final example is this: in the combine before the 1985 NFL draft, Jerry Rice, from D-1AA Mississippi Valley State, ran what is reported to have been a 4.71 in the 40 yard dash. Then, that was enough to make all but a handful of teams lose interest in him. The 49ers took a special interest in him and drafted him 16th, but today, I can't help but wonder how far perhaps the greatest NFL player of all time might fall because he didn't have the "correct" numbers or come from the right college.

34 Comments

Comments

SEC BUCKEYE's picture

great article and to tell you the truth if the Browns wanted a QB I would have taken Moore in the last round as well

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

hodge's picture

Thank you Johnny, you've explained precisely why College Football is superior to the pros.  The league is so homogeneous, everyone runs the pro-set, sprinkles in some Wildcat, and either defends it in a 4-3 or 3-4.  Yet, in college you see everything from Leach and Horgolson's Airraid to Georgia Tech's flexbone option.  It's a grand hodgepodge of styles--making every opponent and gameplan completely unique.  How happy I'd be to see the day pro football mirrors that landscape, and how sad I become to know I'll never see it.

OurHonorDefend09's picture

He's a smaller Colt McCoy. I don't care about his Ws, at all actually. Just look at Colt. Production in college doesn't mean success in the NFL, especially when he's playing the majority of his games against weak competition. He scorched Oregon? Who cares? They're known for having an awful defense.
I agree he should have probably been picked up by someone, just because I would rather take him over the 2 (3) bums you listed at the end, but to argue that he'll be successful is suspect due to his size and ability to throw the football downfield. Drew Brees maybe small, but he can at least sling it. Other than that, there's no "small" QB who has been successful as of late. Especially ones that can't throw the deep ball.

Don't give up... Don't ever give up.

hodge's picture

Brees was also the first pick of the second round, apparently he had something people don't see in Moore.

cbusbuckeye's picture

You cannot judge Colt based on what he has done in Cleveland. Cleveland is where good talent goes to die. If he got a real chance in the NFL he might actually make some noise. 

OurHonorDefend09's picture

Has anyone left Cleveland and truly been successful in the modern era of the Browns? The best two players they let go in recent years were Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow, and both left when they were in their prime. Neither one of them ever really did anything once they left Cleveland. Cleveland is just were under-talented players get drafted/signed.

Don't give up... Don't ever give up.

kr66osu's picture

I will NEVER understand the Tannehill pick

beserkr29's picture

Mike Sherman is the Dolphins' OC.  Tannehill was his QB.  Not a good pick, but the reasoning behind the pick makes sense.  Have to think Sherman lobbied hard.

BrewstersMillions's picture

Want more bad news? With the pick up of Brandon Marshall and the drafting of Alshon Jeffery, the Bears are probably in a position to let the Sanz go. Their Depth Chart will have Marshall and Jeffery 1-2. Bennet will be the third, Hester the fourth. The injury to Johnny Knox might be the only thing saving his job right now. Its sad to say it because I love the guy as a player. Hopefully Knox's recovery takes  him into next season and Sanz can stay on with the Bears.

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would more obvious.

Scarlet_Buckeye's picture

That's heart-breaking.  Hope the kid can come (semi-) home to Cleveland and land a spot.  Lord knows our WR core is atrocious.

pcon258's picture

interesting thoughts about the nfl. i do feel bad for the likes of kellen moore, brewster, etc. who have talent, but arent getting the looks that their play seemed to warrant

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

You can argue all you want about Spudsville's weak schedule, but you cannot argue about Kellon's performance in those games.  He always seemed to handle his situation with class and a highly competitive attitude!  He has the chance to prove those doubters - it will be interesting to see where he is in a couple of years.

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Maestro's picture

I saw an ad the other day that had the same title.  Where was I surfing that day?  I can't recall.

vacuuming sucks

beserkr29's picture

Not really all that surprised that Moore didn't get taken.  Smith was a 6th round, Leak a 7th round pick (I believe).  A Heisman winner and a national title winner barely got drafted.  Leak is out of the NFL.  Moore will get his shot, but playing in the WAC and beating a couple good teams isn't really all that impressive.  Winningest or not, schedule counts.  Agree with the points about size/measurables, but disagree strongly about Moore.

Squirrel Master's picture

You should add that Dane got those numbers in the span of 4-5 games. He was only playing when the bigger, less productive WR were injured. the second they came back, he was religated to the bench. It was the dumbest thing I ever saw. A guy who was producing, was taken out because a more "prototype" WR was available.
I am so stoked my KC Chiefs took a wes welker type of WR in the 4th round, Devon Wylie. They say he is fast but undersized. He can play out of the slot and is fearless, but can't impose his will on CB. That is Bullshit! I would love to have Dane and this kid Devon on my team. I do believe that a team needs the big, prototype WR but a team also needs one of these guys. I laughed when everyone was in awe of the cowboys when they had Roy Williams and Dez Bryant. I knew that wouldn't work just like I don't think it will work with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. You need a diverse group of WR in order to cover all the different routes. You need a big strong possession receiver; a fast, spread the defense receiver; a slot receiver (typically a smaller guy who is a great route runner and can find a zone); and a solid pass catching TE. New England had all that covered except the possession receiver. They just were lucky enough to have 2 TEs that were fast enough to make up for the difference. but you know they still needed that. Hence why they tried Chad "ochccinco" Johnson and failed.
That is why I am bigger on the WR talent at OSU right now because they have Mike thomas (big possession WR), Devin Smith (deep speed), Stoney (pass catching TE) and hopefully someone who can play that slot/hybrid role! Although i do know the Urban offense is different, I think the total package still holds true!

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

BrewstersMillions's picture

Well truth be told, he did it in 10 games, not 4 or 5. he played the first 7, sat the next 6, then played the last 3. The Bears also lacked a 'prototype' wide receiver last year-hence the theft (and thats what it was Miami fans) of Marshall and the Jeffery pick. I like Dane as much as the next guy but you don't have room for him in your top 2 when you've got Marshall and a talent like Jeffery. I do grow a little tired of the Welker comparisons.  Its unfair to compare any white wideout to Welker. He's one of the top players in the league at his position. Nothing in Sanzenbacher's game resembles what Welker does on the field in terms of his knowledge of opposing defenses, his sharp route running, and his otherwise near flawless hands (Drop in SB not withstanding). Its a pretty lazy comparison people love to make any time an undersized white dude comes into the league. The default setting is "Oh he's a Welker type!". If thats the case, and these guys are all "Welker" types-then you take that level of player in the early rounds. Secondly-why do we compare white dudes only to other white dudes? How come undersized black WR's don't get the Welker comparison? Why don't white speed rushers get a "Osi Umenyiora" comparison? It all seems like lazy analysis to me.

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would more obvious.

Squirrel Master's picture

You went way off base of my evaluation. Did I say at any point "WHITE DUDE" OR "WHITE GUY"? I didn't bring anything related to color or race in the topic. A good slot receiver who has strong route running and has a knack for finding holes in the zone is a necessary player IMO. Whether it be a "black guy", "White guy", "Wes Welker type" or whatever you want to call it. The reason everyone brings up Wes Welker is because he is a success story of your none "Prototypical" receiver. Plus a guy who can catch 100 receptions and is known for getting first downs is in demand, something Wes Welker is known for. If you want a "black guy" who fits that mold, then how about Percy Harvin? Randle El? Jerry Rice (as mentioned in the article that you must have missed)? These are all successful slot receivers that meet the criteria. 
Maybe you are a Bears fan, IDK. I do know that Sanzenbacher did not start, nor did he get much PT during the first 3 games of the 7 you mentioned. He also wasn't used much in those last 3 games, which BTW the starting QB was out so not many great opportunites for catches anyways. And YES they did have prototype WR last year. Earl Bennet, who specifically was out for an injury and when he came back Dane went to the bench, and Johnny Knox. Those are prototypes. You must be referring to Elite WR type like Calvin Johnson, someone who has all the measurables and produces.
Lastly, its not LAZY evaluation. It is fitting guys into what they do best. The reason Dane gets lumped into the "wes welker" group is because he is NOT 6'2'' and 220lbs or 6'0'' 190lbs and can run a 4.3 40.
So don't try to comment on my comment about "WHITE GUYS" when I said nothing of the sort!

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

BrewstersMillions's picture

Whoa there Kimosabi, slow down.
You said "I am so stoked my KC Chiefs took a wes welker type of WR in the 4th round, Devon Wylie"
Now the last I checked, Mr Wylie was white. Unless that's changed? My comment about the Welker comparisons are...well...exactly what you just did. EVERYONE'S go to move is "White Receiver? Small? WES WELKER!" you did it yourself, so back down off of the ledge. Now I went on to use Dane as the basis for the Welker comparisons, which you did not directly imply, but by calling Wylie a "Welker" type you did exactly what annoys me about "Lazy Analysis". People essentially see a guy who physically resembles someone in the NFL and quickly draw the comparison and quite frankly, its insulting to a Wes Welker to compare Devon Wylie or Dane Sanzenbacher to him.
As for Dane-His game log is as follows.
Week 1 ATL- 1 catch for 6 yards
Week 2 New Orleans-3 Catches for 33 yards (the Game "Prototype Earl Bennet went down-more on this later)
Week 3 Green Bay-5 Catches for 27 yards
Week 4 Carolina-1 catch, 16 yards.
Week 5 Detroit 6 catches for 66 yards
Week 6 Min 1 catch for 13 yards
Week 7 TB 2 catches 13 yards.
Did not see the field or register a catch from weeks 8-13.
Week 14 SEA 2 catches for 26 yards
Week 15 GB 4 Catches for 51 yards
Week 16 Min 2 Catches 27 yards.
So he was used pretty much the same all year-in the games in which he played. He found himself in Martz's dog house because he didn't get the offense and was dropping passes so that is why he found himself sitting.
As for the Bears having 'prototype' wide receivers. You use the term here but I don't think you really know what it means. You then go on to say something about guys who are 6'2 220? Am I to believe THOSE are the 'prototypes' you are talking about? If so, Knox and Bennet are neither. At best both guys are number 3 receivers in the right system. Earl is 6' 206 while Knox is 6' 186 (and can run a 4.3). Actually....by your own admission Knox resembles more of your fabled "Welker type" than he does your fabled "prototype". I mean, you said it yourself....
So basically you aren't really explaining yourself. Rather, you are just using words like "prototype" and "Calvin Johnson" but you aren't really extrapolating your points here. Also-you are doing exactly what I said bothers me with your comparison of Welker to whatever his name is out of Fresno.
For what its worth, Sanzenbacher went to the bench before Bennet came back. Thanks for playing though. He was being used less and less before Bennet made his return to the Bears...and the Bears did that because sadly, Bennet is a far better player.
 

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would more obvious.

Squirrel Master's picture

Still missing the point. Devon Wylie is white, true. Did I say anything about it? NO. I said he is that type of player, Wes Welker type of player. I don't care if he is green, blue, red or brown! Stop it. Just stop it!
Sure, go ahead and show his catches. How many plays was he in on? Show me those. The guy can get a catch on 3 plays and sit the rest of the game. He was under utilized and the fact you are arguing that is ridiculous. He should have been used more!

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

BrewstersMillions's picture

Broken Needles. I'll say it again-Its insulting to Wes Welker to compare a 4th rounder to him. At this point Welker has enough cred in the bank to not have these comparisons lobbed at him. If This Wylie character is as good as Welker-he's drafted higher. Simple as that. You demean Welker when you compare a scrub to him at this point in his career.
So what was it that prompted you to make the comment "Wes Welker type" about Wylie. Did you watch enough Fresno State Football to see him and think "Man he plays like Welker!" Or.....or did you fall prey to the same thing EVERYONE does when they see a white WR....
Hmmmmm

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would more obvious.

Irricoir's picture

If I am Wes Welker and people are comparing Joe Schmoe to me, I am thrilled to be considered the benchmark. I am not not Wes Welker so I don't know if he is insulted or not.

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

BrewstersMillions's picture

That's our proverbial log jam then my friend. If I'm Welker I'm annoyed.
 

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would more obvious.

Irricoir's picture

I don't know about you but I think Kellen Moore can be the next Warren Moon!

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

BrewstersMillions's picture

^ This man gets it.
 
+2 for a Moon reference.

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would more obvious.

Squirrel Master's picture

I am sure Wes Welker really cares who is being compared to him. Go ahead and call him up on his cell, I am sure he will be soooo pissed that some lowly 4th rounder was compared to him. Since you are so interested in protecting the solemn name of a football player,  I better not read you comparing any kid to anyone on here! Its so disrespectful! wow Stephen A Smith, I didn't know you read 11W!
I said it because that is what.......I don't know......Mel Kiper, Todd Mcshay, kcchiefs.com, NFL.com amongst others said he resembles. I think they, all saying the same thing, might know a thing or two. Especially the NFL analysts. 
and that still doesn't answer where the hell you got race from? "This kid is white, Wes Welker is white. Maybe he is saying they are similar because they are white!" It didn't even cross my mind that he is white. In fact, I never saw the kid play. He could look like Shaq for all I know!
Edit: I especially like "wylie character" and "scrub". You have no idea how he will turn out. No idea!
 

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

pldconsulting's picture

Gotta say I don't buy the Wes Welker comparison either. Please someone remind me what was Wes Welkers rookie season receiving stats again? Oh yeah, he wasn't played as a receiver his rookie season (even with a full off season and training camps to prepare).
We can however compair his second season in the league to Danes rookie season.
Welker           GP 16  Rec 29  Yrds 434  Avg 15  Lng 47 TD 0 FD 20
Sanzenbacher GP 16  Rec 27   Yrds 272  Avg 10.2 Lng 22 TD 3 FD 16
Pretty simular except the touchdowns.
What I think is Lazy is to discount Dane as a good receiver who could possibly turn into a great receiver because of his rookie year, which by all accounts were a good rookie year for any receiver even if they were drafted in the first couple of rounds. He did have some high points and some low points (the drops he needs to get under control and he will). The high points were two of his touchdowns and the reason they were touchdowns. The third TD he was wide open due to zone coverage, but 2 of them were because he saw how the defense was breaking at the same time Cutler did and adjusted his route at the same time Cutler started throwing the ball. This is veteran receiver play and football smarts some receivers never learn.
I think he will make the team and work his way up with a full offseason to work and learn the offense.

Irricoir's picture

Have to agree with Squirrel. Race sensitive much?

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

BrewstersMillions's picture

Not even remotley close Irricoir. Its the annoyance I have with 1) People who get paid a lot of money to analyze football who don't take the extra step to properly analyze a player and 2) Fans who immediatley draw comparisons to Wes Welker.
My whole point here is that it is an insult to Welker to compare other guys who come into the league in the later rounds, are white, and are small. Welker is in the top 5 in the NFL. To draw a comparison to some late round\undrafted jamoke (and Dane is) is an insult. That's my problem.
And it happens all over. White guys only get compared to other white guys. Black guys get compared to other black guys. Its lazy, its foolish, and it drives me bonkers.

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would more obvious.

Irricoir's picture

I understand that, and as there has been a rash of arguing the last few weeks I will simply say I didn't see Squirrel point to race as the comparing factor. The fact that you focus on the race of the persons in question leads me to believe that you are sensitive to ethnicity. I asked if you were sensitive and you said no. Good enough for me. Good day sir.

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

ThirdLegLouie's picture

If I was the Browns GM, I'd have definitely given K. Moore a look in the 6/7 round. Also, I would have not drafted Weeden with the 22nd pick. Grab DeCastro there. Beef up the O-Line with a stud. Then let Moore and Colt duke it out in training camp if you are looking to shake things up a bit- anybody that is as accurate as Moore has a shot in the NFL- height be damned. Not sold on Weeden and let's face it, it's not like Colt had been put in a position to succeed up in Cleveland. 

If you ain't a Silver Bullet, you're a target

 
slippy's picture

Moore is a less athletic version of Colt.  Accurate on short throws, suspect arm strength.

Squirrel Master's picture

I like Weeden and think he will be a great QB for the browns but I can't argue with your logic on taking Decastro and then Moore later on. I believe in Moore and think he has the goods to win games. Although I also believe Tebow is a winner and would take him as a QB also. I just see way too many players that are not considered the prototype succeed. I find it hilarious when teams pass on them for someone who has that prototype but not the credentials.
I also think it works the other way too. As a Chiefs fan, I am glad they took Dontari Poe. True he is labeled as a combine star who didn't produce in college but there are reasons why he didn't produce in college. They moved him all around, different D coaches each year. The guy still kept other teams from running up the middle, not his fault they ran on the defense everywhere else. Combine stars that bust are typically players that had opportunity to be elite in college and still failed there. I think Alshon Jeffrey is a horrible pick because he just doesn't get it although he has the measurables.
There was a great article in ESPN mag that talked about scouting being a boys club. There are no women scouts. It is a very interesting article and points out why teams fail to look at players logically and get smitten by prototype players. They discussed Jamarcus Russel alot!

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

sir rickithda3rd's picture

kellen moore reminds me of andy dalton. I dont see how he doesnt warrant some kind of draft attention

mark may wins douchebag of the year... again

costinjr's picture

Kind of ironic that Brady was a late round pickup, Brees was too short, Welker was a late round pick up, and people like Jamarcus Russell go first overall. Aside from O/D-line it seems like GM's don't know what they're doing half the time. If someone can't play well in college, I've never understood why they think they can groom them for the pros, especially quarterbacks.