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Physical tools vs. Polished in the first round

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  • Physical tools vs. Polished in the first round

    To what extent are physical tools and measurables valued over being polished (mental understanding, technique, instincts) in the first round, if at all?

    I know that ideally, a sound balance of physical tools combined with being polished at you your position is desired.

    But what about raw players such as Rey Maualuga and Frank Okam (and in years past, Ted Ginn)? Players that are very good athletes but not as good of football players at their position that they can be? Do these guys generally make it in the first round?

    Would GMs rather have elite athletes that need considerable coaching vs. lesser athletes that have mastered their position (Sam Baker for example)

    Basically, what I'm asking is, is the first round based more on potential, or do teams for the most part avoid "project" type players in the first.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Jericho@SC View Post
    Basically, what I'm asking is, is the first round based more on potential, or do teams for the most part avoid "project" type players in the first.
    For the MOST part they avoid project players in the first; they're looking for impact players.

    THAT SAID, unusual cases come up each year with players that just have too much potential to pass up. QBs, for example, are often taken based as much on potential as current skillset because they are considered to have a 3 year period before they really start balling.

    Most other positions, however, are drafted in the 1st to come in and start from day 1. This means they have to be pretty polished. But you also weigh potential against polish to determine the overall player value.

    For example, a team might consider one player extremely polished and a definite starter from day 1, but probably never a pro-bowler. Another player might grade out as fairly polished and someone who will have to fight for a starting job, but definitely possesses the potential to be a pro-bowl impact sort of player down the road. Depending on the team, situation and player they could go either way.

    SOMETIMES, although this is rare, a player is chosen in the 1st who has little to no polish but HUGE potential ie; Ted Ginn Jr. last year. I'd even name Reggie Bush in that category as I never believed he was anything of a polished running back.

    So the answer is a complicated one. GMs have to weigh polish versus potential when selecting prospects.


    When being a fanboi goes too far.

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    • #3
      I think alot of the first round has to do with potential. There are so many players that are chosen because of their raw potential and athleticism, but are not polished. Antonio Cromartie was out for a season, and still declared for the draft. He had like 1-2 seasons as a CB in college because he became pro. He still went in the first round. Jamaal Anderson had 1 good year in college, and he was picked top 10. Russell had amazing athleticism but got picked over Quinn, the 4 (i think) year starter.

      There are your safe picks, but more than any other rounds, players in round 1 are players who have potential to be great, as oppose to quality players for sure.

      "He's the leader of the next great class of NFL players." - John Elway on Matt Ryan

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      • #4
        Potential is a huge draw card for teams picking in the first round. A lot of the time that is when your raw guys are taken purely based on academic ability. Matt Jones is a prime example. He was drafted in the first round because of the numbers he posted at the combine despite the fact that he would play a position in the pros he has never played before.

        I think that teams try to weigh up the risk and benefits of taking a player and sometimes they make poor decision ala Matt Jones, but teams can snag gems like Antonio Cromartie who was a brilliant athlete yet raw player.

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        • #5
          To me, it's mostly potential, just look at JaMarcus Russell from last year, Ted Ginn Jr., and most unique pick that was made basely on potential is Amobi Okoye. There is no way that Okoye had his position down at 19 years old.

          There are a couple picks every round that are based on technique and awareness.

          Here's the order of last years first round, with a potential or polished:

          1.JaMarcus Russell-Potential
          2.Calvin Johnson-A little bit of both, But I would say potential
          3. Joe Thomas-Polished
          4. Gaines Adams-Tough call, but I'll say Polished
          5. Levi Brown-Based on how the Cardinals picked him that high, you have to say Potential
          6. LaRon Landry-Polished
          7. Adrian Peterson-I'm going to say Potential, due to the fact that they took him by BPA
          8. Jammal Anderson-Potential
          9. Ted Ginn Jr.- Potential
          10. Amobi Okoye -Potential
          11. Patrick Willis -Polished
          12. Marshawn Lynch-I'm going to say Potential...

          I'm too lazy to go to 32, but I'm going to say that at least 80% of last years first round picks were made based on potential.

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          • #6
            1st rounders are usually both but if I had to pick one or the other, it'd definitely be the upside players.

            Even the "Polished" guys in draftdork's post had tremendous athleticism and upside.

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            • #7
              Steelers: Lawrence Timmons was definately drafted for 'potential' ... he only started one year of college, but he had all the natural skills to 'potentialy' be a superstar. On the other hand, we passed up on more 'polished' players like Paul Posluzney...due to the fact that they havnt got a great deal if upside. So i'd say potntial plays a big part in the 1st round.

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              • #8
                Personally, I think it depends on the team and the coach. A team that has contended recently such as San Diego would probably look to a more polished player to try and put them over the top before their window of opportunity closes. Also, I think the quality of your coach affects the choice a lot as well. A team with a good coach is probably more likely to take a project because there's more confidence that they can develop them right.

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                • #9
                  I think generally in the first round teams look for guys with both polish and potential. Most first rounders, especially at the top, have elite physical tools for their position. Some are able to step in and play immediately, and some aren't. A lot of that depends on position as someone said, quarterbacks generally sit and receivers at times don't break out till the third year so those are positions where physical tools are very important. I think they way to look at it is that typically teams will go for a polished player with potential to improve and be a very good player, but in the first if they have to choose between potential and polish they usually go for potential. Polished guys will fall to the second round, and sometimes end up being steals like a DeMeco Ryans who had elite instincts but not great tools and ended up being a great player but slipped to the second because he didn't have great tools. Obviously there are exceptions but I think potential is more important. Times you'd generally see polish be more important are if a team sees a polished player who can step in now at a position of need and thinks they will allow them to take that next step next year. But I do think potential is generally more important, though in a perfect world you'd like both.

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                  • #10
                    I think in this day and age you are expected to play earlier, you need to have guys in round one that can come in and make an impact except maybe the QB position and there isnt the patience with that position that there used to be either. If i have two guys at the WR postion to choose from and one is running a 4.4 and the other is running a 4.5 but the second guy is more proven and has better technique i'm not hesitating a second to take the 4.5 guy. I'll take a flier on the 4.4 guy in round 3 or 4.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Babylon View Post
                      I think in this day and age you are expected to play earlier, you need to have guys in round one that can come in and make an impact except maybe the QB position and there isnt the patience with that position that there used to be either. If i have two guys at the WR postion to choose from and one is running a 4.4 and the other is running a 4.5 but the second guy is more proven and has better technique i'm not hesitating a second to take the 4.5 guy. I'll take a flier on the 4.4 guy in round 3 or 4.
                      but thats not allways the case...see Ted Ginn Jr + Dwayne Jarrett.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jakey View Post
                        but thats not allways the case...see Ted Ginn Jr + Dwayne Jarrett.
                        Dwayne Jarrett was by no means a polished WR

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RavenOfProphecy View Post
                          Personally, I think it depends on the team and the coach. A team that has contended recently such as San Diego would probably look to a more polished player to try and put them over the top before their window of opportunity closes. Also, I think the quality of your coach affects the choice a lot as well. A team with a good coach is probably more likely to take a project because there's more confidence that they can develop them right.
                          Yea, thats the most important factor when picking a player, or predicting a teams pick. I'll use Oakland as an example. Last year, they had the #1 overall selection. They would take JaMarcus Russell, but they also had the choice of taking Brady Quinn. A big reason was because of Al Davis, who has been known to take freak athletes that have a lot of upside ahead of them(Kirk Morrison, Fabian Washington). So if Oakland is up and they have a choice of taking a good defensive end, chances are, they might take Vernon Gholston over say Derrick Harvey or Lawerence Jackson(just saying they might rise that high). I doubt Davis would take Gholston over Chris Long(due to Howies relationships).

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Jakey View Post
                            but thats not allways the case...see Ted Ginn Jr + Dwayne Jarrett.

                            I think i would respond that Miami should have taken Dwayne Bowe who was probably a tick slower than Ginn.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by dRaFtDoRk View Post
                              They would take JaMarcus Russell, but they also had the choice of taking Brady Quinn. A big reason was because of Al Davis, who has been known to take freak athletes that have a lot of upside ahead of them(Kirk Morrison, Fabian Washington).
                              Since people like posturing about what Al Davis does and doesn't like to do, I'll say this. By draft day, Russell was the better quarterback prospect in almost every team's mind, and he was my a fair margin. I don't think his tools were any more enticing to Davis than they were to the other teams who needed a quarterback.

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