Do we talk enough about development?
Are we obsessed with looking for the finished article, or as close to the finished article as possible?
When I say ‘we’, I mean everybody who follows the draft. Pundits, experts, fans and writers.
If following this teams’ road to glory has taught us anything, it’s probably that we should expand our horizons.
We should be looking at what a prospect can become, not what he is right now.
Has a player got the potential to be great?
Will he embrace the need to work on his flaws in order to max out his talent?
If the answer to both is yes, get the cigars out.
Essentially it comes down to this. Good coaches can always work on technical flaws, strength and conditioning, bad habits or even a lack of experience.
What you can’t teach is physical brilliance.
We need to avoid lingering too much on things that can be fixed. We shouldn’t ignore certain issues, but we also shouldn’t be consumed by them.
As long as the player is keen to work on improving, we should embrace a guy who doesn’t do everything right in college. Especially if he has a high enough ceiling to be really good.
I think this is something the Seahawks do better than most teams. It certainly seems that way.
So many clubs write players off because they don’t fit the prototype, or they concentrate on the flaws.
Seattle didn’t do that when they drafted 5-10 Russell Wilson. Seattle didn’t do that with most of the players they’ve drafted to be fair.
They selected guys with grit, the upside to be great and they worked them into their system.
And yet I think we’re seeing a lot of draft talk again this year that flies against that.
We’re a pretty ‘safe’ bunch, those of us who follow the draft religiously.
Let’s be more daring.
I’ll kick us off.
I’m not sure why anyone would draft Teddy Bridgewater ahead of Johnny Manziel.
Bridgewater is a technically gifted player. He’s pretty good.
I’d consider spending a first round pick on him if I needed a quarterback, but I’m not overly excited by his tape. He does a lot of things well, but what does he do that is ‘great’?
Manziel on the other hand is the ultimate playmaker. He doesn’t fit any prototype. He lacks ideal height and he goes partying in college.
He doesn’t always say and do the right things. He takes chances on and off the field.
But what a challenge. Why wouldn’t you want to take that on?
Imagine if you made it work. Wouldn’t that be something?
Wouldn’t you back yourself as a Head Coach to develop Manziel into something akin to what we’ve seen with Russell Wilson in Seattle? In Houston — with all the weapons they already have on offense plus a running game, could you not turn him into a quality point guard capable of explosive plays?
Sure, he needs to do a better job looking after the football. He can read the field better. He can improve his core strength.
But what about all the things he does well?
For me Houston are in a privileged position with the #1 pick. They should be grabbing Manziel or coming up with a contingency at quarterback so they can draft another player with unlimited upside — Jadeveon Clowney.
So why do I get a bad feeling they’re going to fudge this and take Blake Bortles or Teddy Bridgewater?
They’d justify a move like that as minimising risk. I’d call it betting against yourself to develop a rare talent.
Embrace what is different.
Embrace coaching and development.
I’d love to know why so many pundits put Manziel in the top five of their mock drafts, but only in the 20-30 range on their big boards. Or lower.
What are they scared of?
You see things like, “someone is going to fall for Manziel” like it’s a bad thing.
I’m happy to admit I wouldn’t have always written these words, but Seattle’s rampant success has really opened my eyes to the idea of development being king, along with upside + work ethic.
That means looking at what a player can become, not what he is now.
And this is why I really like Brandon Coleman and Kelvin Benjamin for Seattle.
Neither is the finished product. Both had their issues in college.
Coleman struggled in a lousy passing offense at Rutgers, but also didn’t do enough to elevate his team. He can certainly do a better job high pointing the football.
Benjamin had too many mental errors at Florida State, including some horrific drops.
And yet look at them. Coleman is 6-6 and 220lbs and runs like a train. Benjamin is 6-5 and around 230lbs and couldn’t look any better in uniform.
Imagine what they could become. Think about it. With this coaching staff working with them.
Really the only thing to be wary of is bad information in terms of their work rate. I’ve not seen any negative reports online, but we don’t get anywhere near the same info the teams get so it’s hard to judge.
Assuming that’s not an issue — I say go for the home run.
It’s not just about two receivers either. Another player who comes to mind is Brent Urban.
He has an injury history, his stats don’t register at all. He plays three technique at 6-7 and 298lbs.
Urban is different.
But he has rare size and speed, an ability to push the pocket and work against the run. He can grow as a pass rusher and could be one of the steals of the draft.
There’s also Ra’shede Hageman — a guy with some character issues and a ton of inconsistent tape.
Coach him up, put him on an already talented defensive line and let him rush the passer. If he has the desire to be the best, he’ll go a long way in Seattle.
If we’re willing to think about what is possible, there are players out there who can help keep this team at the top.
This draft class excites me.
Not because it’s jam packed with players ready to trot off the production line and contribute.
It’s because there are a handful of players other teams are going to overlook and the Seahawks are going to capitalise.
Just like they have for the last four years.
This is worth watching too…