When you sign up to run a virtual NFL team here on PowerHouseGM.com, you start in the timeline at one week after the most recent Super Bowl. We do this in order to give newcomers lots to do right away and an immediate opportunity to put a thumbprint on their teams. After all, if you start in July, you've already missed the NFL Draft and free agency, and the waiver wire options are pretty lean.
Of course, depending on timing, this could give someone new a big advantage in hindsight, especially when it comes to the Draft, where early news from training camps and the pre-season offer unfair advantages.
To mitigate this advantage, we review the Draft from time to time, and put "draft restrictions" on certain players who would be drafted much higher if the draft were held again now. A perfect example - maybe the perfect example, like, ever - is Dak Prescott in 2016. With what he's shown with the Cowboys so far, he'd clearly be drafted way higher than #135 in R4 if the Draft were held again today. We'll still let newbies draft Prescott, but they have to take him in the top half of R2 or higher.
Other players who we just put draft restrictions on:
Alex Lewis, OG/Bal - Lewis' draft status was affected by an off-field altercation that left an Air Force cadet unconcious while he was at Colorado, and left Lewis facing an assault conviction and 45 days in jail. Lewis later transferred to Nebraska, where he became a team captain. The Ravens were comfortable selecting him at R4/130, but PowerHouse GMs will have to draft him R3 or higher. He has unseated John Urschel to claim the starting LG job in Baltimore, where he projects to start opposite fellow rookie Ronnie Stanley.
Tajae Sharpe, WR/Ten - The UMass product was not viewed by the pundits as anything special last spring, but he has wowed the Tennessee staff since arriving in Nashville after the Titans made him the first pick in R5. He has displayed outstanding hands and route-running ability, and, following the departures of Dorial Green-Beckham and Justin Hunter, has become a starter. PowerHouse GMs now must spend a R3 pick or better to draft him.
Parker Ehinger, OL/KC - Ehinger was the 105th pick in R4 of the NFL Draft, and there is no doubt that he's a raw player who needs some time in Kansas City's weight room (see this review of his pre-season performance vs. the Rams.) His technique is sound, however, and Andy Reid sees enough to have made him the Chiefs' starting left guard. PowerHouse NFL GMs must draft him in R3 or higher to get him.
Vadal Alexander, OL/Oak - Alexander hasn't cracked the starting lineup for the talented Raiders, but he has consistently improved since he first arrived in Oakland, when he was viewed as a likely practice squad player. He made the final 53, is pressing to get on the field, and appears to have a bright future. He was drafted R7/234, but now must be drafted in R4 or higher.
Blake Martinez, ILB/GB - The Packers drafted Martinez R4/131, and it looks like they may have a steal. Martinez has taken over one of Green Bay's ILB slots next to 2015 R4 draft choice Jake Ryan. Impressively, Martinez is the one receiving the defensive calls from DC Dom Capers, and the rookie has emerged as a team leader before even taking a snap in an NFL game. If you want him, you've got to spend a pick in the top half of R3 or higher.
Wes Schweitzer, OG/Atl - The rookie guard hasn't yet unseated veterans Chris Chester or Andy Levitre, but he's making a strong case. Drafted R6/195 in real life, he'll cost you a fourth round pick or better to get him now.
We'll re-visit the rookie draftees, and for that matter surprising undrafted free agents as well, several times during the NFL season.
Random Observations of an Amateur NFL General Manager
If I were an NFL GM, I'd wheel and deal all over the place, and probably end up making a lot of trades like the seemingly-pointless deal that SF and KC did involving Rod Streater. The Chiefs sent the receiver to the Niners for a swap of 2019 conditional R7 draft choices. The conditions were not disclosed, but presumably the swap will only occur if SF's pick is higher than KC's. Here's hoping that happens... and that the picks are right next to each other.
The Saints sent signals with late summer roster churn that their defensive front seven is in big trouble. They won't be sending a conditional R7 pick to the Dolphins for pass rusher Chris McCain, however, as he did not survive final cuts.
When I was a tight end at Lehigh back in the 80s, our HC, John Whitehead, would end Friday practices during the season saying, "Gentlemen, the hay is in the barn," meaning our work was done and it was time to see what we had in our game the next day.
That's how it is for NFL General Managers this time of year. It's a slow time, if there is ever a slow time running an NFL team. Their work is largely done, and it's time to see the results. Things will pick up again as the season progresses. Injuries occur, and replacements are needed. Scouts are out on the road filing reports for the 2017 NFL Draft. The respite will not last for long...