After the college football season, potential draftees are training their asses off for the NFL Combine and all the subsequent Pro Day and private workouts. They’ll get interviewed on who their best friend was in 4th grade and whether
their mothers are prostitutes they can handle an NFL playbook. They’ll have every nook and cranny of their body measured like they’re a prized farm animal.
They’ll run the proverbial gamut, all to find out that the hardest thing of all comes after they get drafted: they have to somehow swim in the NFL.
Most of them, as you know, will disappear from the NFL worldview never to be heard from again - most of them sooner rather than later.
Yet, no two learning curves are the same. In an interdependent game like football, different positions carry with it different responsibilities - and when you compare those positions and responsibilities within a college paradigm and a professional paradigm - you can see why a tremendous gulf exists between what college players can do and what NFL teams need them to do.
The crux that I want to get to: which position has the roughest transition?
It’s easy to think QB, because by my estimation, the NFL is starved for professional QB talent. A majority of teams have their seasons go in the toilet when the starting QB goes down. There is an insane amount of information to process, all at lightning speed. Not to mention, you know, you have to throw the football well, too.
At the same time, QB might get the nod for hardest transition just because of the importance of the position, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the “gulf” that is travelled is wider. Do you think TE’s or OL have an easy transition? One of the fringe benefits of tolerating Matthew Cannata’s shenanigans on Phinsider Radio every week is getting to interview guys like Randy McMichael and Richmond Webb, guys who have gone through the transition. They’ve shared their stories.
In Richmond’s case, when I asked him why college linemen are having such a difficult transition, his answer (paraphrased, from memory) “you combine the spread offenses of college where linemen don't have to block for very long and the current CBA limiting contact during the off-season, and players don’t have enough reps to improve.” On top of that, Richmond went on to say that if you don’t get a starting gig, you have to learn each and every responsibility on the OL as a back-up since you can only carry 46 on gameday; most teams only bring 6/7 OL with them to a game.
Think about kicker for a second, one of the most “individual” positions on a football team. Roberto Aguayo was one of the most prolific kickers in college football history. He was waived after the 1st preseason game in his 2nd season. True that this may be an exception and not the rule, but no position is immune from a poor transition that can derail your career.
Each position could make their case.
Now make yours.
Which position has the most difficult transition? CB? TE? QB? OT? LB? Something else?
(Sorry, no poll. Too many positions. Remember the “Yo Mamma” jokes? Just replace “Yo Mamma” with “SUTTON” and I will LOL at them.)