Walcoff: Big money, bad decisions

Move over, “No Fun League” and “Not for Long.” The NFL’s newest moniker: “Nightmarish Financial Lunacy.”

Where else can a rookie get $30 million GUARANTEED just for signing his first contract? That’s what the Miami Dolphins arepaying offensive tackle Jake Long, the No. 1 overall pick in this weekend’s draft, which is more money than the entire payroll of the Florida Marlins baseball team that shares the same home stadium with the Fish.

If the NFL was as astute in talent evaluation as it is awash in cash, maybe it would make sense, but projecting a college player’s performance as a pro is a mad and bad science.

Check out the list of top-pick flops: Jeff George, Steve Emtmann, Ki-Jana Carter, Tim Couch and David Carr — and who could forget Ryan Leaf, taken second overall by the San Diego Chargers in 1998, right behind Peyton Manning, and Tony Mandarich, chosen No. 2 by the Green Bay Packers in 1989 after the Dallas Cowboys took Troy Aikman.

While the jury is still out on the 49ers’ and Raiders’ recent first foray into No. 1 overall selections — Alex Smith and JaMarcus Russell — there is no logic in paying a top pick 10 times what a low first-rounder gets or millions more than proven veteran players.

» The big question in the Raider Nation is what will Al Davis do with the No. 4 overall pick?

A team insider is telling me Darren McFadden won over a lot of people in his recent visit to Alameda. Certainly the speedy Arkansas tailback would help take the heat off the Silver and Black’s young quarterback, add a much-needed wow factor to the offense and boost ticket sales. But the defense is crying out for a pass-rushing threat opposite Derrick Burgess — and Virginia defensive end Chris Long, son of Raiders Hall of Famer Howie, is too good to pass up.

For a reminder on what counts most in the NFL, go back and watch Super Bowl XLII and see what the New York Giants’ defensive front four did to Tom Brady.

» Look for the 49ers, choosing 29th, to also look defense-first, with Auburn linebacker Quentin Groves high on their radar. He’d be a perfect complement to last year’s rookie sensation, Patrick Willis.

» Among the local prospects, Cal has a trio of receivers who are expected to be picked in the first few rounds of the draft. And while DeSean Jackson has gotten the most buzz and Robert Jordan set the school record for consecutive games with a reception, Lavelle Hawkins, the most physical of the bunch, could be the most NFL-ready.

Rich Walcoff is the sports director at KGO Radio (810 AM) and can be heard weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on the “KGO Morning News.” He can also be reached at richwalcoff@abc-sf.com.

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