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NFL Draft: Was It "Blind Sided" By A Sports Book?

"The Blind Side" by Michael Lewis
"The Blind Side" by Michael Lewis

Some people say Michael Lewis’ book “Moneyball” changed the way general managers think about baseball. Well, Lewis has probably done it again – this time in football – with his book “The Blind Side.” And this weekend’s NFL Draft could have proven exactly that.

In the book, Lewis talks about the value of the left tackle, the position player who protects the quarterback’s “blind side.” The premise certainly makes sense since the quarterback is often seen as the franchise player.

“The Blind Side” came out in Sept. 2007, so this was the first draft that we could see if the book might have changed the way in which the NFL top brass value left tackles. (Update: I got some notes from readers telling me that the reprint came out in 2007, but that the book was originally published in October of 2006.)

Well, take a look at what happened with left tackles at this year’s draft:

No. 1 Dolphins Jake Long
No. 12 Broncos Ryan Clady
No. 14 Bears Chris Williams
No. 17 Lions Gosder Cherilus
No. 19 Panthers Jeff Otah
No. 21 Falcons Sam Baker
No. 26 Houston Duane Brown

I know what you’re going to say. Darren, it was a great year for left tackles. It has nothing to do with Michael Lewis. Well, that, you see, is why I’m a reporter. This year we had seven left tackles taken in the first round and not a single wide receiver. The question is, is it possible that this year – in the first year after Lewis published his book – that this was the best year ever for left tackles? Or is it more likely that left tackles simply became more in demand as a result of Lewis’ philosophy?

To the best of my knowledge, here’s a chart of how many left tackles were taken in previous first rounds of drafts:

2002: 2*
2003: 2
2004: 3
2005: 1
2006: 1
2007: 3

*Buffalo Bills’ pick Mike Williams was a right tackle in college, which was the “blind side” since his QB was lefty Chris Simms.

So, there you go. I’m more likely to believe that “The Blind Side” was in every war room this year than the fact that this was the best year ever for left tackles. If that’s the case, this Lewis guy has really changed the landscape of the business of sports.

Who Lost The Most Money?
On Friday, we feared that Sam Baker could be a big loser on Saturday for coming back for his senior season. But Baker did better than any mock draft when the Falcons traded up for him with the 21st pick. Again, thanks to six offensive linemen getting taken in the top 20, Baker was able to slide all the way up. Last year's No. 21 pick Reggie Nelson signed a five-year contract, $7.1 million of which was guaranteed.

The big loser now seems to be University of Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm. But again, it’s not clear how much he lost. Remember, Brohm wasn’t going to get taken No. 1 instead of Jamarcus Russell if he came out as a junior because he was not completely healthy. At best, maybe the Dolphins would have taken him at No. 9 instead of Ted Ginn and Brohm could have walked away with a cool $13 million guaranteed instead of the $2.5 million he’ll now likely pick up as the No. 56 pick from the Green Bay Packers.

Who Signed Who?
We know what teams signed with who, but what shoe companies signed what players? Nike signed nine of the top 11 picks so far: Jake Long (#1 pick), Chris Long (#2 pick), Darren McFadden (#4 pick), Vernon Gholston (#6 pick), Sedrick Ellis (#7 pick), Derrick Harvey (#8 pick), Keith Rivers (#9 pick), Jarod Mayo (#10 pick) Leodis McKelvin (#11 pick). The swoosh also inked Felix Jones (#22 pick), Mike Jenkins (#25 pick), Devin Thomas (#34 pick), DeSean Jackson (#49 pick) and Quentin Groves (#52 pick).

Reebok signed Joe Flacco (#18 pick), Kenny Phillips (#31 pick) and Dan Connor (#74 pick). Flacco, the quarterback from Delaware who was taken by the Ravens, was wearing his Reebok shirt when the ESPN cameras showed him on Saturday.

Adidas and Under Armour haven't announced any signings.

Creative Artists Wins Out
CAA had a great draft with five first rounders and four in the top 10. Here are the top 10 picks with their agents as well and their marketers:

#1 Jake Long – CAA
# 2 Chris Long – Marvin Demoff (Neuberger Berman)/16W Marketing
#3 Matt Ryan – CAA
#4 Darren McFadden – Ian Greengross/Mike Conley Sr.
#5 Glenn Dorsey – Joel Segal (Blue Equity)
#6 Vernon Gholston – CAA
#7 Sedrick Ellis – Eugene Parker/Roosevelt Barnes/Paul Lawrence (Maximum Sports)
#8 Derrick Harvey – CAA
#9 Keith Rivers – Athletes First
#10 Jarod Mayo – Sean Kiernan (Impact Sports)

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