If there’s been one consistent criticism of Vinny Cerrato in recent years, it’s that he doesn’t do enough radio interviews to explain in 17-hour detail why he made every move he’s ever made in his life.
If there’s been a second consistent criticism of Vinny Cerrato in recent years, it’s that he traded away too many draft picks, and failed to use the ones he had on actual needs, specifically for fat boys on the offensive and defensive lines.
This topic came up again and again during Cerrato’s 17-hour appearance on the Mike Wise Show this week. Here are a few of the times.
Chris Johnson: Why so many draft picks traded, why so few offensive linemen drafted over your time?
Cerrato: Well, the thing about it is is you’ve got to look at the draft. When you trade draft picks at certain times, you have injuries, and then you make trades and you get draft picks. A couple of those years we had all our draft picks. When we traded back with Atlanta we ended up getting extra picks. So the thing about it is, that’s just the way you do business.
Mike Wise: Is there a regret there that you didn’t actually fortify the offensive line?
Cerrato: Well, the thing about it is is everybody wants to criticize all the time, says well you should have taken an offensive lineman. All right, the one year we took Chris Samuels, he’s an eight-time Pro Bowler and possibly a Hall of Fame guy. The thing about it is is all right, Chris Samuels was available at 2. We got Sean Taylor at 5. Would you rather have an O-lineman then? All right, we got Orapko [sic], all our guys in the top 10 were Pro Bowl guys almost. Would we have liked some offensive lineman, a Pro Bowl guy to be sitting there? Absolutely. But a lot of times when you’re sitting at 12, 13, there’s not an offensive lineman. The draft’s got to cooperate with where your picks are, too.
The 2008 Draft
Chris Johnson: Obviously that 2008 draft, I feel like it set back this franchise years. What happened there? I mean, I guess you could say Fred Davis has been productive, but one guy’s not on the team anymore-- in fact he’s been cut again after leaving here-- the other guy can’t get on the field.
Cerrato: The thing about it is, with injuries, injuries are gonna happen. That’s just part of the deal....And Fred Davis is a talent. Fred Davis is gonna be a good player. He’s gonna be good in Mike’s offense. Devin just needed, was not mature enough to handle the situation, and a lot of times when coaching changes happen, you see a lot of guys come and go.
Johnson: But you would say that draft was a strikeout, though. I mean, that entire draft.
Cerrato: Well, I would say Fred Davis is gonna be ok.
Johnson: But he was the one guy you probably really didn’t need at that position.
Cerrato: But you know what, if you follow your board and take the best player available....You want to take the best player available. I can tell you’ve never sat in a draft room. What you would do is you would reach. You keep bringing up offensive linemen. All right, the next best offensive lineman at that time is a fourth-round grade. So all right, a top pick in the second round, we’re gonna take a fourth-round offensive linemen to fill a need. That’s what you want to do. And the thing about it is, that’s like in the third round the one year we got Derrick Dockery, we had a high grade on and he ended up starting. So you’ve got to follow your board. Everybody talks about getting the best player available.
Rebuilding Through the Draft
Wise: It seems like you were in reload mode all the time. Why couldn’t you just take a step back and build for a year and actually be really good for five years?
Cerrato: Because guys like you, you wouldn’t take it. Look at C.J., man, he wants to rebuild and be 16-0. You know, he wants his cake and eat it too. The thing about it was, Joe’s first year we rebuilt. But it was with more veteran players. And the thing about it was we rebuilt the defense which was horrible and we made it a top 5 defense. Then we started adding draft picks to the defense. The whole thing was, if you’ve got a franchise quarterback, you’ve got a chance to win. That’s the bottom line. if you don’t have a franchise quarterback in today’s NFL, you cannot win. Period. Period. I mean, we tried, we didn’t get one. We tried with Jason Campbell, he wasn’t the franchise guy. We tried to get Sanchez, we tried to trade for Jay Cutler.
Wise: All right, grades in hindsight. LaVar Arrington, what grade would you give him?
Cerrato: LaVar? Probably a B.
Wise: All right, Chris Samuels?
Wise: Patrick Ramsey?
Wise: Sean Taylor.