Thread: Prospect to Pro comparison
02-14-2007, 05:58 PM #1
Prospect to Pro comparison
Current pros make good prospect comparisonsBy Steve Muench
One of the easiest and best ways a front office can determine how a prospect's skills translate to the NFL level is to compare him to a player in the league. Is Cal DC Daymeion Hughes the next Champ Bailey or the next Ronde Barber? Is Fresno State WR Paul Williams the next Chad Johnson or Ashley Lelie?
In Williams' case, Minnesota Vikings WR Travis Taylor immediately comes to mind because Taylor is a poster boy for unrealized potential. Both possess a rare blend of size, athletic ability and speed that they just haven't taken advantage of on a consistent basis. They round routes off, give up on plays to the opposite side of the field and fail to come down with what should be routine catches. The good news for Williams is he is considerably younger so he has more upside.
Of course, prospects aren't clones. While they share key traits they aren't exact matches. Houston QB Kevin Kolb is an excellent example. Kolb compares favorably to Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck. Both show good pocket presence, can lead receivers when throwing underneath and are leaders on the field. It's also worth noting that Hasselbeck didn't start a game until his third season in the league because Kolb should need some time to get acclimated to the NFL. The differences are that Kolb loses the strike zone more than Hasselbeck but is slightly more athletic.
Here's how other top prospects compare to their NFL counterparts at the same position:
Florida QB Chris Leak
Leak is coming off a storybook ending to an impressive career at Florida but scouts should be concerned about his ability to produce at the NFL level because he lacks ideal height and arm strength. In fact, he may have to spend time on a practice squad or in another league such as the CFL before making an active roster.
With that in mind, Leak most closely resembles Philadelphia Eagles QB Jeff Garcia. Garcia played for the CFL's Calgary Stampeders for five years before the San Francisco 49ers signed him in 1999 and has played for three other teams since the 49ers. Two reasons he didn't get a shot earlier: he is just 6-foot-1 and he doesn't have a cannon for an arm. Sound familiar? The good news for Leak is that Garcia turned into a three-time Pro Bowler. The bad news is Garcia has struggled when he hasn't played in a scheme that fits his skill set.
Pittsburgh QB Tyler Palko
Another Philadelphia quarterback appears to be from the same mold as Palko. Current Eagle Koy Detmer is a career backup who has started just eight of the 103 games he has appeared in, but the former seventh-round pick is a 10-year veteran despite marginal arm strength and height. His success can be attributed to his strong grasp of the offense, leadership on the field and willingness to play within himself. Palko is a tough competitor who should be able to move the offense if he builds on a senior season that saw him improve his decision making and he is surrounded by a strong supporting cast. Unfortunately, his upside is limited by the same blemishes that prevented Detmer from maturing into a starter. With that in mind, Palko would be wise immerse himself in his new offense and not try to make too much happen like Detmer did in Philadelphia.
Florida State RB Lorenzo Booker
Former second-round-pick Kevin Faulk has never rushed for more than 638 yards in a season and has started just 24 games in eight seasons, and in most cases he would be labeled a disappointment. That's not the case. Faulk has developed into one of the most versatile backs in the league and played important roles in all three of New England's Super Bowl runs. He is a reliable receiver, efficient runner, surprisingly effective blocker and quality return man. Booker would be wise to try to follow in Faulk's footsteps because, like Faulk, he is an explosive back who lacks the bulk and power of a traditional every-down back.
Miami RB Tyrone Moss
It's important to note that Moss has to get healthy and stay healthy if he's make any kind of an impact at the NFL level. If he can, he compares well to Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Michael Pittman. Though neither is going to break many long runs both are classic between-the-tackles runners who reach top speed quickly and rarely go down with the first hit. One key difference between the two is that Pittman is a far better receiver out of the backfield and it's important that Moss improve in that area because he is too one-dimensional at this point.
Notre Dame WR Rhema McKnight
New England Patriots WR Reche Caldwell shares some key characteristics with McKnight. Both are more quick than fast, both run crisp routes and both come down with the occasional spectacular grab. The rub is that both drop passes they should catch and lack ideal top-end speed. One advantage McKnight has over Caldwell is he is five years younger and there is reason to be optimistic about him improving his focus and eliminating the drops that have plagued him thus far.
Georgia TE Martrez Milner
Getting open isn't the problem for Milner, much like Houston Texans TE Jeb Putzier. They are quick enough to separate from linebackers, fast enough to stretch the field and big enough to compete for the ball in traffic. It's their blocking that teams should take issue with. Neither shows great power at the point of attack and both struggle to drive defenders off the ball. Another concern about Milner is that he doesn't catch the ball as consistently as Putzier, weakening his value as a situational receiving tight end.
Texas OG Justin Blalock
Blalock may not be athletic enough or tall enough to develop into an upper tier NFL offensive tackle, but he certainly has an opportunity to develop into an elite guard like Vince Manuwai of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both are physical drive blockers who are relentless once in position and each can hold his own in pass protection. Manuwai does a better job of getting under the pads of defenders but that's a fixable flaw for Blalock.
Tennessee OG Arron Sears
Mentioning a guard in the same breath as the Kansas City Chiefs' Brian Waters is high praise these days, and while Sears isn't nearly as physical at this point the potential for Sears to follow in Waters' footsteps is there. One of the most impressive of their shared attributes is a powerful punch. They can uncoil on defenders and stop them in their tracks. They also have above-average athletic ability for their size. If Sears can develop a mean streak and keep his weight down so he doesn't wear down during games, he should be one of the best in the league.
Michigan DE/OLB LaMarr Woodley
A poor start to Senior Bowl practices followed by a hamstring injury that kept him out for most of the week has caused Woodley's stock to drop in recent weeks. That being said, he has the motor, athletic ability and upper-body strength to develop into a productive pass rusher similar to Arizona Cardinals DE Bertrand Berry. Like Woodley, Berry isn't a great run defender and he lacks prototypical top-end speed but his relentlessness and athletic ability make it difficult for tackles to keep him off the quarterback. There is also a chance that Woodley could move to outside linebacker in a 3-4-scheme. While his ability to hold up in coverage is the biggest concern about moving him there, he could develop into the same kind of caliber player as Baltimore Ravens LB Adalius Thomas, whose size allows him to set the edge against the run and whose ability to rush the passer makes his lack of ideal cover skills much less of a concern.
West Virginia LB Kevin McLee
McClee plays with reckless abandon and delivers some big hits but he lacks prototypical natural athletic ability and his poor technique prevents from making the most of his limited tools. All shades of Cleveland Browns LB Chaun Thompson. While there's a lot to like about Thompson's tenacity, he looks stiff in space and he gets caught out of position far too often. One key difference between the two is that Thompson has much better top-end speed and more value as a pass rusher. With that in mind, McClee could struggle to make an NFL roster.
Auburn DC David Irons
Cleveland Browns DC Ralph Brown's game mirrors Irons' in several ways. The negatives: neither is fast enough to recover when caught out of position, they have problems matching up with bigger receivers and they aren't going to make a lot of big plays. On the flip side, they don't make a lot of mistakes and they have above-average short area man-to-man cover skills, making them effective sub-package corners.
California DC Daymeion Hughes
Heading into Senior Bowl week Hughes projected as an excellent Cover 2 corner who wouldn't be nearly as effective lining up in man coverage on a consistent basis. Then he showed better-than-expected footwork and burst out of his cuts before sustaining a hamstring injury. His lack of top-end speed remains a concern but he masks it by slowing receivers down at the line of scrimmage. Give that description to a Green Bay Packers fan and he or she will likely think of Al Harris. Harris is also a physical and instinctive corner who isn't fast enough to run with elite vertical receivers. The part of Hughes' game that separates him from Harris, and most other corners, is the exceptional ball skills that should land him in the first round.
02-14-2007, 06:01 PM #2
Re: Prospect to Pro comparison
I guess it's good that Williamson is a poster boy, it must just eat him up inside to be such a bust.
He should have a machine tossing him balls 12 hrs a day.
I sure hope he gets it together.
The prospect to pro comparison is a good take though.
It's a big leap for many players to do well with the big boys.Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain
02-16-2007, 05:24 PM #3
Re: Prospect to Pro comparison
i think Williamson is required to have sports therapy this offseason..with that said trade up and get CJ
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