FanPost

What Do You Value Most In A Prospect?

As we approach the combine this week, I would like to discuss a few of the major factors when considering a draft prospect. There are many factors and sub-factors to be sure, but I have narrowed them down to the three that I feel are most important when evaluating a football player. In no particular order, here they are: Athleticism, Intelligence, and Work Ethic.

Athleticism

Macmillandictionary.com defines athleticism this way: physical strength and the ability to do sports and physical exercises well.

Athleticism is quite subjective when you consider the differing opinions of this word. Some people think that racecar drivers display athleticism when they are zooming around the racetrack. Proponents of this opinion feel that driving at these top speeds for long periods of time while staying focused and alert is obviously proof of their athleticism. These very same people might also tell you that a golfer isn’t an athlete because the sport is too slow. All they do is walk around and swing a club, right? Another group of people will tell you that the only true athletes are the ones who can jump the highest and run the fastest. I’m not here to argue semantics, so let’s just focus on football athleticism for a minute or two.

To some, an offensive lineman doesn’t even compare athletically to a guy who can run sub-4.5 forties and vertically jump 35 plus inches, while others will tell you that an o-lineman is just as much an athlete because of how well they can actually move those big bodies. For the sake of this post, let’s just agree that any guy that makes an NFL roster, practice squad or otherwise, is an amazing physical specimen. There’s no doubt in my mind that these guys, regardless of their size, have the combined strength, conditioning, agility, and speed that it takes to be categorized as an elite athlete. Don’t forget that these guys are in the top 1% at their respective positions when it comes to athleticism, and most fans couldn’t even come close to competing on their level.

Each respective position, especially those of the “skill: variety, has certain baseline speed requirements that usually have to be met to properly predict the validity of a prospects chances to excel at the next level. For instance, a wide receiver wouldn’t be able to survive at that particular posirtion in today’s NFL if he runs a 4.8 forty. However, we also must be careful not to assume, for instance, that a wide receiver that runs a 4.3 forty is going to outperform another wide receiver who runs a 4.6 forty (a speed that isn’t uncommon among elite NFL wide receivers). It just doesn’t work that way, and this is why a scout’s job is so difficult. But, it never hurts for a prospect to have speed and explosiveness that is above and beyond their peers. Let’s move ahead to the next factor.

Intelligence

Here’s another category that can be subjective and equally sensitive. Let’s go back for a moment to see how intelligence is defined by the folks at macmillandictionary.com. They say that it is the ability to understand and think about things, and to gain and use knowledge. To put it another way, how well can you comprehend and process information, and put what you’ve learned to use. Again, for the sake of this post, I would like for us to focus on football. I’m not here to discuss Newton’s theory of relativity or the complexities of quantum physics. This is football, and I am only interested in football intelligence, period.

As always, we are fortunate to have some facts that shed some light on a confusing subject in football. Generally speaking, offensive players are known to be more intelligent than there defensive counterparts. This isn’t to say that what you see on the defensive side of the ball is ignorant and unsophisticated. On the contrary, every position is required to possess some level of comprehension so that it can be translated onto the field. Because defensive positions require more read - react abilities, there is typically less thinking involved, but again, this doesn’t mean that they are individually or collectively unintelligent. A quarterback seems to be dependent upon intelligence to be successful more than most of the other positions because of how quickly they must be able to both read defenses and make progressions through an offensive play call, among other things.

One of the more irrelevant ways to determine a footballs player’s intelligence is the Wonderlic test(also used by many corporations when determining who to hire among applicants). Although there are some common Wonderlic scores that seem to be a decent predictor of future success in the NFL, it is still misleading at best. Many of us have heard that Dan Marino, for instance, scored a paltry 16 on the Wonderlic and still managed to have a hall-of-fame career. Although there seems to be a baseline for each respective position, it’s as unreliable as ever. In fact, scoring too high is considered to be as debilitating as scoring too low because coaches don’t necessarily like the idea of having to work with a player that is smarter than them. However, It’s hard to argue the value of acquiring players who can easily learn your system and quickly translate it to the field. Let’s examine our third and final factor for a moment.

Work Ethic

What is there to discuss with this one? Either you work hard or you don’t. Well, it isn’t quite that simple. It’s as difficult as ever to determine how hard a player is going to work, especially after receiving more money than they have likely seen in their lifetime. It takes a high level of discipline and passion to go after greatness. Many guys want to be the best in their mind, but don’t want to put the work in off the field. The personality of a prospect also plays an integral part in work ethic. Randy Moss, for example, isn’t an attention seeker which is always a positive quality in the NFL. Those guys seem to be some of the hardest workers, but not Moss. He will tell you himself that he takes plays off. On the other hand, flashy guys like Terrell Owens, who are always looking for opportunities to be in front of a camera, seem to care more about how they look than how hard they work. Strangely enough, Owens has never been accused of being lazy. In fact, he’s one of the more determined guys when it comes to perfecting his craft. Drafting a guy with a strong work ethic is always a priority because of how favorably it affects a roster.

Of course, scouts are always looking for prospects that possess high levels of all three of these valuable qualities, but I’m particularly interested in knowing what attributes CSR nation values most, in order of importance, when assessing a potential Panthers’ draft pick.

A

B

C

D

E

F

1. Athleticism

1. Athleticism

1. Intelligence

1. Intelligence

1. Work Ethic

1. Work Ethic

2. Intelligence

2. Work Ethic

2. Work Ethic

2. Athleticism

2. Intelligence

2. Athleticism

3. Work Ethic

3. Intelligence

3. Athleticism

3. Work Ethic

3. Athleticism

3. Intelligence







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