Talent vs Intangibles March 29, 2010 By Drew Boylhart Link I have never seen any draft slot in any round guarantee that your team will draft a player who will be successful in the NFL. To prove my point, below is a list of players from 1999 to 2009 who were the very first pick of their drafts and considered the best players of those drafts respectively. 1999 – Tim Couch (QB Browns), 2000 – (Courtney Brown) DT Browns, 2001 – Michael Vick (QB Falcons), 2002 – David Carr (QB Texans), 2003 – Carson Palmer (QB Bengals), 2004 – Eli Manning (QB Chargers), 2005 – Alex D Smith (QB 49ers), 2006 – Mario Williams (DE Texans), 2007 – JaMarcus Russell (QB Raiders), 2008 – Jake Long (LT Miami), 2009 – Matthew Stafford (QB Lions) As you can see, this list includes players who have failed along with some who have had marginal success and others who have done very well. You can decide who falls into what category for yourself. We are told that every one of these players took the Wonderlic Test, all went to the combine and were scouted for years. They were interviewed by coaches, GM’s and owners; background checks were supposedly done on every one of them. In the end, all of this information may have been thrown to the winds at the time each team drafted these players. Let’s be honest: if all of this information is gathered about the first pick in the draft, then I have to ask one question. Why are there so many players chosen first in the draft that do not succeed at the next level? Is it because they lack talent, arm strength, the right mechanics or is it because they only played in a spread offense? Perhaps it’s because they don’t play with good leverage, can only play in one style or system, are too big or too small or do not run fast enough? I think if you look at this list, nothing talent wise has anything to do with why most of these players have failed to be the face of the teams that drafted them. Ask yourself the following: Is Carson Palmer better than Michael Vick because the ball comes out of his hand in a perfect spiral? Does Eli Manning have more success than Alex Smith because he throws the ball better? Is JaMarcus Russell struggling because of his mechanics? Is the real reason David Carr struggled because of his release point? The first pick in a draft is supposed to be a franchise player. How do so many players, after so much information is known about them, fail to produce at a high level in the NFL? It’s simple to me. The typical draft evaluation process puts too much value on pure athletic talent and allows it to be the deciding factor in drafting one player over the other. For the players chosen #1 in previous drafts who were not particularly successful, the only reason they were drafted over other players in the draft was because they threw the ball better, jumped higher and ran faster. The difference between me and most everyone else who profiles players is this. I believe that the talent in everyone I profile is the easiest part of a player to evaluate. It’s a given. You either have the talent to play at the next level or you don’t. Players who have excellent athletic talent may start off with a higher grade by teams than a player who might have less; however, because everyone has the talent to play in the NFL that you are about to profile, that higher rate is marginal. Therefore, just about everyone starts off with an equal talent grade. After evaluating the talent, I then add and weight the following intangibles: character, work ethic, and maturity as well as the ability of the player to learn and transfer what they learned onto the field. You also have to evaluate in a player’s profile the need of the player to keep improving on their success along with the ability to handle adversity on the field. You can teach mechanics and coach a player’s talent and help him to improve it. You cannot teach the intangibles a player needs to be successful at the next level. They must have those qualities already in place on draft day. It’s just that simple. Players themselves can improve their intangibles through the mistakes they make, but it is a mistake to think as a coach at the NFL level that you are going to “coach up” the intangibles this player will need to become a franchise player his talents suggest that he can become. Other coaches at other levels may be able to do that, but not at the NFL level. There are too many other demands on coaches at the NFL level and if you are a coach that is proud of building boys into men then do not jump to the NFL level. Stay where you are because, in my opinion, that is not in the job description. You are there to draft the best player with the best intangibles that have the talent to play in the NFL, not the other way around. So when evaluating a player to become the 1st pick of the draft you had better put more weight on a player’s intangibles than his talent because history tells us if you do that, you have a better chance of that player being a success in the NFL. History proves my point. Intangibles must be given more weight over talent when evaluating a player to be the first pick in a draft. It’s just that simple.