Let’s keep things in perspective.
The 2021 NFL Draft is less than three weeks away. Many of us will release our top 10 positional rankings, top 50 Big Boards, Top 100 Big Boards, etc. As they are released, many prognosticators and armchair general managers will get “up in arms” as someone is ranked higher or lower than others have him pegged. While there will be some that will move a player up or down based on their pro day performance, I am not one of those people. I was always taught to believe that changing a player’s grade should ONLY be based on more exposures (games) of the player, not how he performs outside of a football field.
So as many in the online community will get emotional about where a player is selected, it’s important to remember this: Where a player is selected isn’t always indicative of where his development is by year two.
The two-year window is typically the time frame in which a player becomes whatever he will be. For some, it will take the entire two years to adjust to the speed and physicality of the NFL. Adjusting to an NFL schedule of playing more games along with having no classes has been an easier transition for some than others. Nonetheless, it is between year one and year two where you often see the most progression in a player. The game starts to slow down as they acclimate to the NFL, allowing the player to showcase the talent and ability they were selected for.
It’s not out of the ordinary for a player to be selected in a place that would surprise some. In fact, as the old adage goes, “it only takes one team” to fall in love with you. Certain positions are scheme-specific, so it wouldn't be out of the ordinary for a team to value a player higher than the rest of the NFL. For example, Asante Samuel Jr. is a good football player. However, teams like the Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets may not value him as highly due to his lack of ideal measurables for how they’d like to play in the secondary. Other teams like the New England Patriots may not consider him because he may not meet the height-weight threshold they’d ideally like to have.
Ultimately, where the player begins often isn’t indicative of where he ends up. So let’s keep the excitement and dissatisfaction in the right perspective when a player is valued higher for one team (or analyst) as opposed to another.
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