Thursday, April 26, 2012

2012 NFL Draft

With the 12th pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks select ....

This year it is a little difficult to guess what the Seahawks will do.  Most mock drafts have them taking either linebacker Luke Kuechly or some defensive lineman.  DE Quinton Coples is the most popular prediction, however I've seen Melvin Ingram, Michael Brockers, Dontari Poe, and the forces at ESPN have aligned to come up with a prediction of Chandler Jones.

I like Luke Kuechly and think that with the proliferation of pass catching TEs in the league, we could really use a LB who is so solid in pass coverage, however I don't think he'll last until the Seahawks pick.  I don't think any of the remaining LBs are good enough to warrant a selection that high, and I really feel like the team feels they can find quality players in later rounds like they did last year with KJ Wright.  For that reason, I don't think we'll draft a LB in the first round.

This brings us to defensive line, where most of the projections are.  After seeing Quinton Coples maul guys in the Senior Bowl in one of the most dominant performances I've seen in the game, I've developed a man crush on him.  Despite unbelievable physical prowess, questions about his effort and desire, whether real or perceived, have pushed him down the draft board and it's beginning to look like he's too big a gamble at the #12 pick.  The Seahawks could use a good pass rusher, but for the most part I think it's the abundance of talent at the D line positions that are pushing analyst to make these predictions.  The Seahawks D line was pretty solid last year and I don't think it's a high priority for the team.  But like LB, the draft is pretty deep at DL and good players will be available in later rounds.  I'm pretty high on Vinny Curry, who should be available in round 2.

So here's my prediction.  The Seahawks will draft Stanford G David DeCastro.  The more I think about it, the more sense it makes.  The guard position has been a revolving door since Steve Hutchinson left town, and the line has been largely ineffective over that time period.  With the team releasing Robert Gallery in the offseason, there has to be a plan in place to draft a replacement - I can't believe that the team is planning on starting the season with either Deuce Lutui or Paul McQuistan as the starting left guard.  DeCastro is a safe pick, not a gamble, and he could be a Pro Bowl player for years to come.  I think that the priority for the team is making holes for Lynch to run through, and keeping Matt Flynn upright long enough to be successful. I think the team will try to trade down about 5 spots to get an extra mid-round pick and hope DeCastro is still there, but I'm not sure they'll be able to find a trading partner.

Now, as for surprises in the first round, I don't think we'll see many.  The only potential surprise I think we'll see is that I think that the Dolphins interest in Ryan Tannehill is largely a smoke screen to try to entice another team to trade up for him.  The Fins have enough holes to fill that taking a project QB who will sit on the bench for at least a year is probably not going to happen.  I see Tannehill doing an Aaron Rogers like free fall, but I don't think he'll make it past the Browns at 22.  If he's still around at that point, I think Holmgren will pull the trigger on him.

The Seahawks will need a linebacker eventually, and there are 2 guys I really like that I think we will take a look at in the 2nd & 3rd rounds.  First is MLB Mychal Kendricks from Cal.  He's a little undersized, but he's very fast and reacts quickly and has good instincts and vision.  The other guy I like is Zach Brown, OLB from North Carolina.  The UNC program was in disarray last year and all of the prospects seem undervalued to me, and like Kendricks, he's very fast and athletic and covers a lot of ground.  I would be thrilled to land either of those guys.

The first Husky off the board will be Alameda Ta'amu.  I think he's a first round talent, but since he played 4 years on a UW team with a terrible defense, he is undervalued.  He's huge (348 pounds), and surprisingly agile for a guy that size.  He's also got a good motor and won't need to be rotated out.  He will be a steal for some team.  And I've been thinking, it's kind of amazing how many huge guys there are in the league now.  When William "the Refrigerator" Perry was drafted, he tipped the scale at 335 - every year there are several guys that size or bigger in the draft.  Today he'd just be "the college dorm room fridge".  Anyway, I also think Washington's Chris Polk is also underrated and will be a steal for whoever takes him.  I don't think he fits the Seahawks needs, but he is one of the most complete backs available.  He's a terriffic receiver, has great balance, breaks a lot of tackles.  He just doesn't have that blazing speed to get him attention. 

Other players of note:  I'm intrigued by this report I saw on ESPN yesterday that the Seahawks are looking at Derek Carrier (who I've never heard of) from Beloit College (which I've never heard of).  He's a big (6'3" 240 lbs), quick, reasonably fast WR who may end up profiling as a TE.  I haven't seen him play, but his physical skills really make me wonder about his potential.  I'm also hoping that LaMichael James drops to us in the 4th round.  I think he'd be the perfect change of pace back to complement Marshawn Lynch.  He's got world class speed, and is surprisingly tough for a smaller back.  I'm also a fan of Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus, although admittedly partially because of his name.  That is a great name for a defender.  I don't think he'll make it to the Seahawks in the 2nd round.  We'll have to wait for one of the two biggest defensive end sleepers in the draft - Jack Crawford and Tyrone Crawford.  Both guys are sure to be stars in this league.  And I nearly forgot to mention TCU MLB Tank Carder.  How do you not like a guy named Tank.  I think LSU WR Rueben Randle is undervalued and could be a sleeper as well. 

That's it for today.  I'll watch the first round today and regroup and see how things look tomorrow.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Case Against Ryan Tannehill

The quarterback position has become so valuable in the NFL that every year, teams get desperate and players get pushed up the draft boards way higher than their talent dictates.  This year that player is Ryan Tannehill. 

Looking at the statistics of current NFL QBs, the majority of starters were drafted in the first round.  Last year, there were 34 QBs with enough attempts to qualify for the statistical leader board (a minimum of 14 per game according to  Of those 34, 20 were selected in the first round, 3 in the second round, 2 in the third round, 1 in the fourth round, 1 in the fifth round, 3 in the sixth round, 2 in the seventh round, and 2 went undrafted (Tony Romo and Matt Moore).  Further breaking that down into groups of ten, it's clear why teams feel like they have to select a QB in the first round - once you get past the first, the likelihood of drafting a starter drops significantly:

Top 10
1st  - 6
2nd – 1
3rd – 1
6th - 1
Undrafted - Tony Romo

1st – 7
2nd - 1
6th - 1
Undrafted – Matt Moore

1st – 5
2nd – 1
3rd – 1
4th - 1
7th – 2

1st – 2
5th – 1
6th – 1

This apparent need will cause some unfortunate GM to justify taking a huge gamble and draft Tannehill way higher than he should.  The one statistic that best correlates to NFL success is completion percentage.  While Andrew Luck completed 71.3% of his passes, and RGIII completed 72.4%, Tannehill completed just 61.6% of his passes, placing him 53rd in the NCAA.  That puts him about on par with Seahawks QB Tarvaris Jackson (60.9%), who I think is a pretty close comparison in terms of talent.  QBs are unlikely to improve in accuracy at the next level, so since Tannehill was inaccurate in college, don't expect him to be accurate in the NFL.

My next point of comparison will be experience.  For 2.5 of his 4 years, Tannehill wasn't good enough to earn a starting spot over Jerrod Johnson, who recently signed with the Steelers but thus far in his career has not been good enough to make an NFL regular season roster.  Because he only has 13 starts as a senior and 7 as a junior he is still very raw, and since he took a back seat to a player not good enough for the NFL, it begs the question, what makes teams think he's worth a first round selection?

What's also of concern is that Tannehill failed to perform in the clutch.  Against top defenses, he turned in his worst performances of the season.  The level of competition he will face in the NFL is much greater than anything he faced in college, and his past performance suggests that he'll falter when faced with NFL defenses.  The old adage in investing is that past performance doesn't guarantee future results, so the notion of him improving is not improbable, but based on what I've seen of him in college, I have little reason to believe he'll show significant improvement.  

I understand why scouts are interested in him - he has prototypical size, a strong arm, and is very athletic.  A lot of scouts and GMs look at that and see it as potential.  What I see, however, is the same thing that was said about the previously mentioned Tarvaris Jackson.  That's who I see as his most reasonable comparison, and Jackson was selected with the last pick of the second round, and at the time many thought that was too high.  Need and desperation are pushing a lot of QBs into the first round that shouldn't be there, and while Tannehill is probably a 3rd or 4th round talent, but will likely be selected in the top 10.  

Despite the fact that the odds of finding a legitimate starter decrease significantly after the first round, I contend that current economics make drafting a QB in the first round a bad idea.  It's a gamble in any round, but a first round gamble will cost upwards of $75 million, but for significantly less you can make several lower round gambles and achieve similar odds of success.  My personal philosophy is that you spend first round picks on guys who can play right away.  The best case scenario for Tannehill is that he sits for a year, starts for 3 and then is a free agent.  Jake Locker was drafted 8th overall last year, and that is where many people predict Tannehill to go.  I can't find the details of the rookie wage scale, but using Locker's deal as a template, I would estimate that Tannehill would receive a 4 year deal for $12.5 million.  Is it really a valuable investment to spend that much money training a player only to let him go as a free agent?  Not in my opinion.

That's my opinion, but for a second opinion, check out the Prediction Machine. According to their web site:
We run a very complex set of algorithms that factor college stats, previous utilization and strength of competition, combine measurables, role and expected utilization of the player's NFL team (in this case an average NFL team) and previous performance of similar rookies at that position in general. This allows us to predict both the player's projected ratio stats such as yards-per-carry, percentage of tackles made while on the field and passing completion percentage, as well as his forecasted usage for the upcoming NFL season. Then we can compare all rookies based on who we think will make the biggest positive impact in his first year. It's a system that we have applied to the previous three drafts and with great success.
Although they are secretive about their algorithms, their calculations place Tannehill as the 9th best QB in the draft.  It seems crazy to me that the 9th QB is likely to become the 8th overall pick.  Rumor has it that the Seahawks like what they see in him, and my sincere hope is that the Dolphins or some other team take him off the board before the Seahawks have the opportunity to make a huge mistake.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Over the last week or so, during the sunny weather I've gone strolling, taking pictures of whatever catches my attention.  Instead of posting them one at a time, I decided to make up a little slide show.  And while looking through the pictures, I had the Dream Theater song Home stuck in my head, so that's what's on the soundtrack.  Anyway, without further ado, here you go.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Canada recently announced that they will stop minting new pennies in about 6 months and slowly remove them from circulation. Naturally this has led to numerous articles and discussions about whether or not we should follow suit.  Obviously, the answer is yes.  Pennies have virtually no buying power and cost more to mint than they are worth.  They are simply a nuisance.  Before I go into greater detail, let me just say that this video explains it much better than I could.

It doesn't make sense to keep making cents.  Australia and New Zealand have both abolished the penny for cash transactions and couldn't be happier about it.  What they have done is eliminate the penny for cash transactions - rounding everything to the nearest nickel - while keeping the smaller denominations intact for electronic transactions (credit cards, payroll, etc).  Detractors claim that the elimination of the penny will result in retailers always rounding up to the nearest nickel, ultimately hurting the poor.  This hasn't been the case in Australia or New Zealand, however, as rounding to the nearest nickel (both up and down) has roughly evened itself out (as it logically should). 

According to this article, the main proponents are the zinc lobby, since pennies are currently primarily made out of zinc.  I have a hard time imagining that the zinc industry really has a very powerful lobby, though.  And is it really worth continuing to mint pennies, essentially amounting to a zinc subsidy, in order to protect a few jobs?  I think that with minimal expense, all of the folks working in the zinc mines could be trained to mine the metals used in dime and quarter construction, which will no doubt increase. 

I just realized that I'm tired of discussing this, so let me finish by saying that I find pennies to be more of a nuisance than anything else.  Were it up to me, I'd get rid of the nickel while we're at it, but one step at a time.  We can start that discussion once the penny is dead.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Right Management

Does anyone have any experience with Right Management?  As part of my severance package, I get 1 month of career management services from Right Management and am interested to hear if anyone has any testimonials.  I'm pretty skeptical at this point that it's worth my time to contact them, but I'm open to the possibility.

Let me start out with what I know about their services.  One of their representatives came out to my office and sat down with everyone for a 1 on 1 chat.  The first thing she said to me was, "how are you doing?"  "Fine" I replied, to which she responded, "I don't believe that, I would be pretty upset if I were in your situation."  So starting out with her more or less calling me a liar was a little off putting.  From that point, she handed me a packet of written material and then pretty much looked at me waiting for me to ask questions.  All I was able to get out of her was a broad overview of their services: they offer resume writing assistance, interviewing tips, and access to their job board.  All things that are available for free on,, as well as other sources.  The one thing she mentioned that interested me is counseling for transitioning into other industries, although I was unable to determine how they go about it.  Do they look over my resume and recommend what other industries my skill set might apply to?  Do they interview me to determine my skills and interests?  Do they give me aptitude tests like a high school guidance counselor?  All of the above?  None of the above?  Long story short: I walked out of the meeting without a lot of confidence that Right Management provides any value that isn't readily available elsewhere.

My next issue is that they will only let me sign up by phoning them.  I find the phone to be a very inconvenient and inefficient means of communication.  I could fire off an email in less time than it would take me to dial the number and wait for someone to answer.  If some information is needed that's not readily available, one of us is going to have to sit in silence while the other looks it up.  In addition, the phone does not allow me to forward my resume or send links, nor does it give me a written record of the exchange for future reference.  I thought there was hope when the sent me a letter including an email address along with the ubiquitous phone number, however when I emailed said address for further information, the reply I received was, "please call our toll free number."  And maybe it's just that I was already experiencing a heightened state of irritability that day, but frankly it pissed me off.  It just gives me the impression that any contact with them will be either via phone or physically going to their office, which will be so time consuming and tedious as to not be worthwhile.

Despite my reservations, I'm happy to receive assistance if they are effective, so I spent some time googling them.  Unfortunately I've been unable to find much information.  It has been limited to a few reviews from employees and one Wall Street Journal article about outplacement services.  The employee reviews, like this one from Glass Door (which is an outstanding resource, by the way) are mostly negative, which gives me pause.  If the people with daily access to the resources to find me a new job are unhappy, but unable to find a job they are happy with, then what does that say about the effectiveness of the company?

The Wall Street Journal article covers outplacement services in general, with some specific mentions of Right Management, but is no more encouraging.  Some of the pertinent information is quoted below:

Skeptical employees are voting with their feet: Executives estimate about 40% of workers offered outplacement services don't show up; some ask for cash instead. Some industry participants, too, are troubled by reports of mass-produced resumes, canned job advice and slipshod counseling.

Mr. Shubert says he got access to job-posting sites and group workshops on topics like preparing a resume or closing a deal; equivalent material can be found online, he says. He says his coach didn't offer useful advice. Mr. Shubert's verdict: "truly boilerplate" and "lacking for middle and upper management."

Eighteen months later, Ms. Service says outplacement was a waste of time. She says the job-search training was rushed. During a practice lunch interview, a coach chided her for ordering cranberry juice, saying it could be interpreted as a sign of a urinary-tract infection, she recalls.  Her resume was sent to a prospective employer with a cover letter that included a typo and bore her signature -- which she says she never saw.

Documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal showed the materials resemble those of another ex-Pepsi job seeker sent to the same firm -- including the same typo and quirky date style. The firm's president says he eliminated both women from consideration as his executive assistant. "We didn't take the letters seriously because they did not reflect an understanding of our company -- and they looked alike,'' he says.

So there it is.  I'm very skeptical of the efficacy of Right Management and outplacement services in general at this point.  My time is valuable to me and I'd rather not waste it.  I'm hopeful that I'm wrong, though.  So if anyone has had some experience with them, good or bad, I would appreciate hearing more about what I can expect should I contact them.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Solar Power

I've seen some solar panels advertised recently, and out of curiosity I decided to do a little research.  What I decided to do was look up a middle of the road panel at Costco, look at the output, and do a cost/benefit analysis.  What I looked at was this 500 watt, grid tied panel.  It will set you back $1,899 before shipping and taxes.  Assuming you pick it up at the store to avoid shipping charges, the total cost will be approximately $2,050.  What do you get for that price?  According to Costco, the monthly output is between 30kWh and 70kWh - roughly enough to power a 15 cubic foot refrigerator. 

Of course the output varies according to the amount of direct sunlight, and since this area is under cloud cover a good portion of the winter, not to mention winter days are pretty short at this latitude, we'd be on the low end of the scale, and would get very little output in the winter.  But for ease of calculation, I'll optimistically say we would get 50kWh. 

According to the Puget Sound Energy web site, residential rates are currently 8.5 ¢ per kWh for the first 600kWh, and then 10.3 ¢ beyond that.  Again, estimating on the generous side for ease of calculations, let's say I average 10 ¢.  That means that for an investment of $2,050, you can reduce your electric bill by $5 a month.  If rates stay static (which they won't), it would take 410 month, or 34 years and 2 month to pay for itself.  Well beyond the 25 year warranty. 

With such a horrible return on investment, I can't help wondering why anyone buys any.  Without significantly coming down in cost and/or increasing in efficiency, solar panels are just not cost effective.  If your intent is to save the planet, you're much better off purchasing higher efficiency appliances, windows, etc to reduce your energy use.  I would really like to go 'off the grid' eventually, but at this point it seems highly unlikely that it will be economically feasible in my lifetime.

In unrelated news, I recently saw that this story was taking the internet by storm:  Hiker claims bear saved him from cougar attack.  According to the man, he was taking some pictures of a bear and her cubs when a cougar jumped on him from behind, and the bear came over and attacked the cougar.  At first I thought that this was an incredible story, if true, and now it seems that the rest of the world is beginning to question the validity as well.  Here's my theory.  A 'cougar' is slang for a sexually aggressive middle aged woman.  Or a WSU graduate.  Or the feared double cougar - a sexually aggressive, middle aged WSU graduate.  Also, a 'bear' is slang for a large, hairy gay man.  So, I think he went home, and when his wife asked why he had scratches on his body and he cooked up the story, when in actuality he had been at a brothel where a 'cougar' got a little too rough with him and the bouncer, who was a 'bear', pulled the woman off of him.  He simply changed the locale from a brothel to a wilderness hike.  Once the story got out and gained popularity, he had no choice but to stick with it.  And as a further update, the San Francisco Chronicle is questioning the account as well.  The man is sticking to his guns though.

April Fool's Day

After seeing this short video on the history of April Fool's Day, which may or may not be accurate, I'm thinking of adopting the time honored tradition of attempting to covertly tape a picture of a fish to someone's back.  I'm not entirely sure how that makes them look foolish, but it sounds like fun anyway.

In other news,season 2 of The Killing is starting shortly and I'm pretty excited about that.  Hopefully this season we'll find out who killed Rosie Larson.  For those of you who haven't seen it, it's a riveting murder mystery that takes place here in Seattle, although it is actually filmed in Vancouver, and all you see of Seattle are aerial establishing shots - kind of a pet peeve of mine.  Anyway, it's based on the  wildly popular (or so I'm told) Danish series Forbrydelsen and follows 2 homicide detectives as the try to find who murdered high school senior Rosie Larson.  Was it her teacher? The city councilman, whose campaign owns the car in which her body was found?  Was it the family friend?  Was it the scumbag classmate?  Was it someone else?  Anyway, like most of the content on AMC these days, it is very well done and I highly recommend it.  I also recommend checking out the Season 1 recap if you are unfamiliar with the show to get yourself up to speed.  You can thank me later.