The inexact science of drafting players

With the NFL draft 2012 finally over, many football experts are now analysing the teams choices and making grades on how each team did. Fans in various NFL cities are probably rushing to buy season tickets because their team has drafted the next big thing in the league.  I hate to break news to these fans but how can you be sure the players will pan out and live up to their billing?

If I were a scout and could predict with 100 percent certainty which players will have the biggest impact, I would probably be one of the richest guys in the world. But it does not work that way. Oh sure, if a player dominates in a big time conference in college, he should be a star in the league, right? But sometimes the most heralded players wind up being the biggest busts ever.  The pro game is much different and a players weaknesses can be hidden against the weaker competition of the college game.

Many top players go to this NFL combine thing where they are evaluated on several tests such as the 40 yard dash, agility drills, vertical jump and some IQ tests to prove they are not stupid. I often hear stories about scouts raving about a player because he can run a 4.3 40. Well that is great but the game is football, not track. It doesn’t do much good for a player to run a fast 40 when he is afraid of contact or cannot catch the ball. If I were a scout, i would be more interested in watching film of a player than watching him run a 40.

Often, teams neglect a few crucial things when looking at drafting players. First of all, how does the player face adversity? Does he sulk and quit or get more determined to learn from his failures and move on to success. How does he handle pressure and last of all, what kind of heart does this player have? Does he have that desire to work hard and pay the price to get better? I have often wondered how scouts can determine these things but sometimes they are more important than any 40 yard time.  All the top players are great athletes with good physical skills. But character is usually the determining factor in how successful a player will be.

Unfortunately, I did not get drafted this weekend. My cell phone was quiet. I guess teams have no use for a middle-aged guy who runs a 9.2 40. Well maybe next year!

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