Playing Football vs. Making the NFL
I was watching the playoff the game earlier this year between Seattle and New Orleans. The commentators talked about the revival of Mike Williams, and how he went from draft bust to solid wide receiver with the help of Pete Carroll. Carroll told them the reason he failed was because "his dream was to make the NFL."
It seemed to me almost like a moment of eureka in thinking about the draft! We forget that many of these young prospects have lifelong dreams to get drafted, their bank accounts padded and their egos validated, but in actuality they have put virtually no thought into what lies beyond draft day. To many of them, they have already won, as they've made it into the league.
That being said, we have virtually no idea which players want to play football and which players want to just make it to "the show." Which players want to achieve the ultimate in a team sport, and which players desire only fame and money. Which players understand the insane competition at the professional level, and which players believe, although they won't say it, that their natural talent will always allow them to dominate.
That is what makes draft predictions so difficult, particularly for teams like the Patriots, who are always drafting players with those intangibles. Just because a guy has a "high motor" on the football field or works hard in practice does not mean he is looking to keep up this work ethic at the next level. We have our lists of prospects, but in truth we have no idea what good drafting teams actually think about them. With their experience, not just in the raw physical talent or game film, they are able to predict with better accuracy how the player will respond to the responsibility of playing for pride, success, and glory. Have you ever known someone who studied like crazy in college or high school to beat competition on a test or class ranking, only to put it into cruise control once the objective was accomplished? I know plenty of them.
Are the Patriots drafting for need? Are they taking the best player available? Who knows? I think their draft board would look extremely different from even the best "insider" we have on these message boards. We just have no clue. That's part of what makes draft day so exciting and unpredictable.
I realize I am captain of the obvious here, but I'm just pointing out that we as fans are probably even more in the dark than most of us believe.
Re: Playing Football vs. Making the NFL
We have "insiders?" Why am I always the last to learn these things!
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