HA…. Gottcha you Debbie Downers to bite, now do yourselves a favor and read!
IMO some of the people here are putting WAY too much emphasize on the players to automatically blossom into “game changers” and probably not enough focus on coaching staff & scheme that are supposed to be growing them.
Players do not come out of college with giant tags that say, “Hey! look at me I’m a impact superstar player”. Instead, those players that you call “impact players” are mostly drafted and brought into the right system with a coaching staff that knows how to coach them and utilize them.
(So before some of you begin to start thinking about your arguments against the above statement, let us go over some facts.)
What I’m going to do here is give the reader 3 names of Dolphin players that have been drafted in the last 3 years (and all on defense) plus their stats coming out of college. Then I’m going to give you the name of a “superstar” NFL player that most compares to this player when they were coming out of college, along with that players college stats.
What I hope to show you is that both the Dolphins’ players and the “superstar” players had very similar stats/numbers coming out of college (and since they are defensive players I tended to focus on “game changing plays” such as TKL (tackles for loss) INT (interceptions) SACKS and FF (forced fumbles).
The QUESTION in this comparison will be: what happened?
The ANSWER (IMO) I hope to show is: Coaching and scheme is what happened
The SOLUTION I’m hoping you find is: find a coaching staff that can coach them up and utilize their talents properly.
Let us start with Vontea Davis. Entering the draft in 2009, Davis was spoke about by many scouts as a Darell Revis type corner b/c he was physical and could excel in man coverage (although Davis was said to be a much more physical player than Revis was). Davis stands 5’11" and weighs 203 while Revis stands 5’11" 198.
Davis – 3yrs 13.5 TKL 7 INT 3 FF
Revis – 3yrs 5 TKL 8 INT 0 FF
* Davis played in the BIG 10 while Revis played in the Big East and many would argue Big 10 is a better conference*
So when the Dolphins drafted Davis they were drafting a player who was coming out of college with pretty similar if not better “impact stats” than Revis - a player I hope you all consider to be a “impact player”. However, I find it odd that when the Jets drafted Revis some of you would agree that they had just drafted a “superstar” and when the Dolphins drafted Davis some of you plainly dismiss him as “just drafted a solid player with no game changing ability””. However, when they were both coming out of college Davis’ numbers were much better than Revis in a conference many would say is superior, yet Davis = Solid and Revis = Game Changer?
Sean Smith was rated as one of the top versatile DBs entering the 2009 draft. His college career was stellar and he drew vast comparisons to that of Nnamdi Asomuga. Yet, what really did it for most scouts was that both players’ big size had not limited their Athleticism. Smith stands 6’3" 214 while Asomuga is 6’2" 210.
Smith – 3yrs: 3 TKL 9 INT 1 FF
Asomugha – 3 yrs: 0 TKL 7 INT 0 FF
*Smith played in MAC conference while Asomugha played in Pacific Coast Conference, not much separating these two IMO*
Now again we have the same situation as Davis. When Miami drafts Smith all they got was just a solid role player, but when the Raiders drafted Asomugha they got a future superstar. And once again as with Davis, Smith’s college “impact stats” are much higher than Asomugha – but still it was a bad pick because all they got was a “solid role player”.
Last but not least-
Jared Odrick (whether you’d like to believe it or not) was highly sought after prospect heading into the 2010 draft. It is common knowledge (if you care to research it) that Odrick was at the very top of some teams like the: Baltimore, Jets, and Patriots’ draft boards coming into draft day. Later it was discovered that the biggest team that had a hard on for Odrick was none other than the New England Patriots (if you don’t believe me read War Room). The Patriots felt that Odrick was the closest to the second coming of Richard Seymour they had seen in a draft for quite some time and they intended to use him exactly like that. Matter of fact, NE was ready to take him at #22 in the 1st but elected to trade the pick away because they felt that they could grab him in the top of 2nd if he continued to fall down to them like it appeared he was going to. But that changed when the Dolphins selected him at 28 clearly out of the blue, especially since prior to the draft the Dolphins had not scheduled one visit with Odrick to feel him out, they felt his film spoke enough, and they were right. Now I don’t know about you but I’m glad Odrick is playing for the Dolphins and not the Patriots because within their defensive SYSTEM he would have been better than Seymour, look at what Anderson was capable of doing and he isn’t half the talented player Odrick is.
Odrick – 4yrs: 25.5 TKL 14.5 sacks 1 FF
Seymour – 4yrs: 25.5 TKL 9.5 sacks (not sure on the FF but will find out if you want me to)
*Odrick played in the Big 10 Conference while Seymour played in the SEC, and while most would say SEC is the strongest conference (and I’d agree) Penn State is no slouch and to be part of their defense is considered a honor (or at least it was)*
This is probably the best example of the three because Odrick was the better player coming out of college (or a tleast according to Belchick and I’d take his word on it). Still we find ourselves in the same position of only selecting “just another solid role player” but when NE selected Seymour (a player that Belchick has stated was less polished than Odrick coming out of college) they got a real stud who was going to be a for sure impact player and probably a future Hall-of-Famer. It’s very strange how this keeps happening isn’t it?
I guess what my point with this post is - there is no EXACT system or equation to finding “impact game changing” players in the draft, it is more an art than science. And if you say yes there is - you select them in the top 10 of the draft - then you’d be proven wrong by the history of the NFL draft. Instead, all a team can do is look at the players production & technique coming out of college and determine if they think that player can be an impact in their SYSTEM (and yes I put emphasize on system because in most cases it’s the system that creates impact players and not the impact player that creates the system, although there are exceptions – Ray Lewis is one).
What I have tried to give you here is evidence that when these 3 Dolphin players came out of college, they had been seen as equal to or better than the players who most of you, if not all of you would consider “ game changers.” So again I will ask you what happened to these “college game changers” when the Dolphins drafted them?
What I think is the answer is that those other “game changing” players were drafted by teams that had good coaches & good schemes. But not only that, their coaches knew how to maximize those players’ talents and understood what their strengths & weaknesses were. Then they put them in positions were their strengths were an asset to the team and their weakness were hidden in order to protect the team – something that all coaches talk about but only the GREAT ones know how to do. Therefore, when you place a “college game changer” into a system that allows him to be a impact player you then transform a “solid role player” into a “impact game changer” – something the Dolphin staff has yet to do with any of these guys. Think about think this – if Troy Palumatu had went to the Lions instead of the Steelers you think he’d be a Super-bowl champion or better yet if the Browns had drafted Brady do you not think that he’d be selling insurance right now.
So in closing I just want to say - when I hear someone say that there are no “impact game changers” or that “there is no potential for any of our players to be impact game changers” I tend to cringe, because I feel that you are wrong. What I believe is - the Miami Dolphins have yet to find a head coach & assistants (who believe in the head coaches’ vision) that know how to properly COACH the teams talented players so that they can graduate from the level of “solid role players” to the level of “impact game changers”.
To additionally prove my point look no further than the San Francisco 49ners and their roster prior to Harbuagh and then look at the roster during the 2011 Harbuagh era. What you’ll find is that most of the “impact” players had already been on the team. What was different was that they had never had a coach & assistants who understood how to manifest their potential and translate that onto the field. Another example I’ll give you is the New England Patriots, why do you think that when so many players leave other teams for New England they somehow turn into “impact” players. You can give Brady as a reason (and it’s a good one) but then explain to me the 2008 season when Brady went down in the first game and somehow the Patriots were still able to put together a 11-5 record with a career back-up as their starting quarterback. If you know the answer (other than Bill Belchick and his coaching ability) then I’d love to hear it. But at the end of the day a great team NEEDS great players, but what they MUST have is a great coach who knows how to make them great.