Posted by Walter
Interesting article on SI.com today by Don Banks discussing how the proliferation of the spread offense in college has made evaluating college prospects for the NFL draft extremely difficult. In the article Banks quoted NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock who deftly observed:
"It's the running backs, with their first step being lateral, crossing the quarterback's face instead of running downhill....It's the tight end that's never in line as a blocker. It's the wide receiver who doesn't run a route tree. It's every position. It's the left tackle, like (Baylor's) Jason Smith, who's in a two-point stance 98 percent of the time."
I think Banks and Mayock have hit the nail right on the head. The NFL draft was always a crap shoot, even when the scouts had a chance to watch college players playing in NFL style offenses during college games. With the advent and subsequent explosion of spread offenses in college football, scouts no longer have the opportunity to watch a particular player operate under circumstances they will encounter in an NFL offense. This will lead to the evaluation process becoming even more erratic, which will almost certainly result in more and more first round draft busts, which will ultimately lead to NFL teams having more and more dead money tied up in wasted talent.
This is not good for the game. Think about all the teams that have been set back years (and in some cases decades) by a couple of bad draft picks. The harder it becomes to evaluate players, the more this will happen, and the more franchises will be harmed. Moreover, the teams picking at the top of the draft, who are more susceptible to that type of franchise crippling draft miss, are forced to have more money tied up in potential young busts because of rookie salary demands. This will hamstring those teams in the free agent market, and prevent them from ever righting the ship.
This growing trend is not going to stop, and offers yet another reason that the NFL needs to adopt a MLB slotting process for rookie salaries.