"I don't know if it was because I wasn't a first-round draft pick, I don't do some kind of dance when I make a 10-yard tackle, I don't go out and get arrested." -- Redskins MLB London Fletcher on why he wasn't select to the Pro Bowl.
London Fletcher said a lot of things Wednesday. At least more things than the modest linebacker is accustomed to. He also talked about his "body of work," his goal to "play the game the way it's supposed to be played," and went so far as to compare himself to soap star Susan Lucci.
Where ya been all these years, London?
Whether we think Fletcher merits a Pro Bowl spot is debatable. I consider him borderline, but being someone who follows the Redskins closely, I appreciate his style of play and understand he played much of the year injured, without his fellow starting linebackers and on a team with little to no pass rush.
But there's one part of his statement that stuck out more than the rest. His claim about first-round picks being invited instead of him.
The man has a point. Removing special teams players and offensive lineman, 18 of the 30 NFC players selected this week were picked on the first day (1st and 2nd rounds). On the AFC side, 21 of the 30 players were picked on the first day. If you really want to skew the facts add the fullback position with the offensive lineman to reduce the total number to 29 on each side.
Regardless, Fletcher's point has some merit. Players selected on the first day of the draft appear to have a higher chance of reaching the Pro Bowl. Of course, there's the obvious conclusion that these players were good in college, drafted early and expected to be playing at a high level. But there may be something more.
The fans' vote counts for a third of the vote pool. And fans like to reaffirm that players their teams invested heavily in are in fact, paying off. That may be why a player like Reggie Wayne is going instead of say seventh-round pick T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who has 92 receptions and 904 yards despite catching balls from unheralded (that's putting it nicely) Ryan Fitzpatrick.
But what about linebackers, the position Fletcher plays? That's where things get difficult. Of the AFC's five linebackers, three were first-day picks. One (Joey Porter) was a third-round pick and one (James Harrison) went undrafted. Talk about a mountain to climb. On the NFC side, four of the five were first-day picks, including both middle linebackers. Lance Briggs was a third-round pick.
London Fletcher, as many know, was not drafted out of John Carroll in 1998. Since then, he has helped the Rams to a Super Bowl and led the 2000s in tackles. Call tackles a bogus stat if you will, but he also has 28 sacks from a position not known to record many, 14 interceptions, forced 11 fumbles and scored three times (not including the two safeties he's caused).
He'll never be Ray Lewis, despite having some similar stats. Lewis, since 1996, has 33 sacks, 28 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles and three touchdowns scored, not including his one safety. Fletcher doesn't star in Madden ads or do Sunday night SportsCenter interviews.
But back to the first-day draft issue. Do you think Fletcher has a point? Do you think fans, and even players and coaches like to reaffirm highly drafted players as being more worthy than similar players drafted later? Or is there nothing to this, and Fletcher should just be happy he's made millions of dollars in a league that's often unkind to undrafted, undersized linebackers from non-BCS colleges?
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