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Playing to Type--and Against It
Bill Syken and Ben Reiter
May 01, 2006
For these kinds of prospects, potential pitfalls abound-but the decision-makers know that past performance is no guarantee of future results
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May 01, 2006

Playing To Type--and Against It

For these kinds of prospects, potential pitfalls abound-but the decision-makers know that past performance is no guarantee of future results

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Some pass-happy college offenses enable
QBs to run up big stats. But how will those numbers translate in the pros?
BOOM Drew Brees, Purdue ( Chargers, 2001, second round-32nd pick) Huge numbers in college spread attack were no fluke; 104.8 rating in 2004 was third best in NFL
BUST Tim Couch, Kentucky ( Browns, 1999, 1-1) More TDs (73) his last two college years than in five-year pro career (64)
2006 Omar Jacobs, Bowling Green Like last year's No. 1, Alex Smith, Jacobs piled up yardage in a college spread option. Smith had a rough NFL transition

NFL personnel evaluators must project whether players with off-field issues will mature and be manageable in the pros
BOOM Warren Sapp, DT, Miami ( Bucs, 1995, 1-12) Predraft reports of positive marijuana tests caused him to fall out of top 10; he's played in seven Pro Bowls
BUST William Green, RB, Boston College ( Browns, 2002, 1-16) Suspensions at BC for rules violations may have foreshadowed NFL woes, including substance abuse ban
2006 Winston Justice, RT, USC Suspended in '04 after misdemeanor pellet-gun offense; won starting job back in '05

All-star games, the combine and pro days can bring hidden gems to light, but scouts can be blinded by the sudden brilliance
BOOM Brian Urlacher, LB, New Mexico ( Bears, 2000, 1-9) Muscled build and 4.59 40 at combine solidified first-round status; four-time Pro Bowler for Chicago
BUST Mike Mamula, DE, Boston College ( Eagles, 1995, 1-7) Legendary combine-26 reps at 225 and a 4.62 40-had scouts drooling; undistinguished as pro
2006 Ernie Sims, OLB, Florida State A 4.50 40 at combine and 4.48 at Seminoles' pro day bump him into mid-first-round

Sometimes talent evaluators have to weigh a player's poor showing at the combine against his great game performances
BOOM Anquan Boldin, WR, Florida State ( Cardinals, 2003, 2-54) Slipped to second round after 4.75 40 at combine; two 100-catch seasons in first three pro years
BUST Peter Warrick, WR, Florida State ( Bengals, 2000, 1-4) Concerns about size (5'11") and speed (4.55) proved well-founded; hasn't hit it big as a pro
2006 Chad Greenway, LB, Iowa Once thought second-best LB in draft, he's slipping after 4.76 40 and 16 bench-press reps

A player might burst on the scene in his final college season, but is that enough to make him a high pick in the draft?
BOOM Javon Walker, WR, Florida State ( Packers, 2002, 1-20) Had 45 catches in one year as Seminoles starter; NFL breakout came in '04 (89 catches, 1,382 yards)
BUST Akili Smith, QB, Oregon ( Bengals, 1999, 1-3) Set Ducks' TD pass record as senior; out of the NFL after four seasons
2006 Maurice Stovall, WR, Notre Dame His 69 catches in '05 season more than doubled output for previous best year; could be a tempting pick in the second round

Running quarterbacks who may lack the passing skills to make it in the NFL still attract teams because of their athletic ability
BOOM Antwaan Randle El, Indiana ( Steelers, 2002, 2-62) Former college scrambler was invaluable as receiver-return man-trick-play passer in Pittsburgh
BUST Scott Frost, Nebraska (Jets, 1998, 3-67) Conversion to safety didn't work: one start, 56 tackles in six pro seasons
2006 Brad Smith, Missouri Only collegian to pass for more than 8,000 yards and rush for 4,000, his NFL future is at wide receiver, possibly halfback

When a fast-starting college career tails off, NFL teams are left wondering how much value to place on early brilliance
BOOM Dan Marino, QB, Pittsburgh ( Dolphins, 1983, 1-27) After his disappointing senior season (17 TDs, 23 ints.), five QBs went ahead of the future Hall of Famer
BUST R. Jay Soward, WR, USC ( Jaguars, 2000, 1-29) Reception yardage declined from sophomore to junior to senior seasons; lasted one year in NFL
2006 Gabe Watson, DT, Michigan Mediocre play cost him starting job for four games in '05; strong Senior Bowl moved him up charts

One of the toughest quarterback calls to make: How will a big fish in a small pond fare in the roiling waters of the NFL?
BOOM Steve McNair, Alcorn State (Oilers, 1995, 1-3) Despite lack of competition against top-flight college defenses, has been NFL co-MVP and Super Bowl starter
BUST Giovanni Carmazzi, Hofstra ( 49ers, 2000, 3-65) Set 11 records at I-AA school but he never threw an NFL pass; waived after two injury-plagued seasons
2006 Ingle Martin, Furman Strong-armed transfer from Florida threw for 42 TDs in two years as a Paladin; he punts, too!

They don't fit the prototype for pro receivers, but small, speedy wideouts can become big producers in the NFL
BOOM Steve Smith, Utah ( Panthers, 2001, 3-74) Didn't thrill scouts at 5'9", 185, but is now one of NFL's most productive receivers; led league with 1,563 yards in '05
BUST Troy Edwards, Louisiana Tech ( Steelers, 1999, 1-13) Career never took off after promising first season (61 catches); in '05, had two receptions for Detroit
2006 Sinorice Moss, Miami Santana's brother is only 5'8", 184, but lightning speed could make him third wideout off the board

The worry about smaller defensive ends is that they'll get swallowed up by the NFL's larger, more athletic offensive linemen
BOOM Dwight Freeney, Syracuse ( Colts, 2002, 1-11) Relying on speed and an unstoppable spin move, 6'1" 260-pounder has become an NFL sack machine
BUST Jamal Reynolds, Florida State ( Packers, 2001, 1-10) His 6'3", 260-pound frame didn't hold up in pros; three sacks in four-year injury-shortened career
2006 Elvis Dumervil, Louisville Only 5'11" 258, he led nation in sacks last year with 20. Is he another Freeney-or Reynolds?