Posted Sat Apr 21st by Jon Heath
It’s that time of year again. The time of year when scouts and draft analysts act like they know everything there is to know about every prospect.
In reality, quite often the exact opposite is true. The NFL Draft essentially is a crapshoot, which is why players like Jarvis Moss and Aaron Curry have gone early while others like Mike Wallace and Le’Ron McClain fell further on draft day than they should have.
Some dogmatically give their opinions on players based on incorrect assessments (i.e. those that said JaMarcus Russell was a worthy first overall draft pick and others that said Cam Newton wouldn’t make it in the NFL). There are a handful of reasons for such fallible scouting reports, personal bias, personal gain (such as pending relationships with player agents), misinformation and the inability to predict the future are all factors.
Then there are just the dead-wrong skills and ability assessments. Take for example this portion of WalterFootball.com‘s 2011 Von Miller scouting report (with my thoughts in italics):
- Very small frame (Didn’t seem to affect him).
- Gets overwhelmed at point of attack (Didn’t notice that).
- Weak versus the run (Not against Chicago).
- Hand use could improve (Not an expert there, but he seemed to have used his hands well on this play).
- Needs to add strength (They’ve obviously never met him).
- Strictly a 3-4 outside linebacker (Oh, dear).
While those were just Miller’s “weaknesses” (Miller’s “strengths ” in the report far outweighed his “weaknesses”), it goes to show that a player’s ability to adjust to new schemes and assignments varies by each player. Noting that Miller was strictly a 3-4 OLB simply because that’s the defensive formation that he played in college turned out to be a ludicrous statement.
So when you hear an assessment or scouting report of any draft prospect this year, be sure to take it with a grain of salt (better yet, make it several saltshakers’ worth). When it comes to judging which players will be great and which players will flop, nobody knows.
Scouts can’t predict the future. And scouts can’t predict how a player will react to a particular coach or unique situations that come with every team in the NFL.
If Terrell Davis hadn’t been drafted by Mike Shanahan in the sixth round of the 1995 NFL Draft, Davis may have not went on to win two Super Bowls, a league MVP and a Super Bowl MVP award. If not drafted by Denver, maybe Davis wouldn’t have had a huge preseason hit and gotten his coaches attention.
And even if Davis had gotten a chance with another team and went on to become one of just six running backs in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards, which would have proved that Davis should have been a first round draft pick. But like Rod Smith, Chris Harris and Shannon Sharpe, Davis’ draft day stock was hurt by fallible scouting reports and misconceptions.
When it comes to the draft, your guess is as good as anyone. All the players that are drafted (and even those that aren’t) are extremely talented athletes with potential to become stars.