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Later this week, the 2008 NFL draft will take place. Thirty-two franchises will select players to fill out their rosters, hoping that they have pieced together a special draft class.
As you are reading this, players will be compared to each other, position-by-position. Each team will have a different assessment of these former collegiate standouts. The difference in opinion between the scouts and personnel managers leads to the respective classes being formed. Grabbing the wrong players will lead to a poor class being formed, and in turn, could lead to a team not being successful.
The selection of players is an inexact science that is almost impossible to quantify. The scientific process must be exact, though.
For instance, when the Indianapolis Colts had the rare opportunity to select No.1 in 1998, they opted to pick Peyton Manning instead of Ryan Leaf. General manager Bill Polian and his staffâ€™s ability to discern the critical differences between the two players led to his club making the right selection.
The question is: â€œWhat are the factors that these front office directors consider before they make their draft choices?â€
Profootball24x7 will break down the skills and characteristics that a potential pro prospect must possess in order to succeed at the next level. Today we will review the wide receivers, running backs and quarterbacks:
Â· Route Running: Running a precise pattern entails cutting hard, staying smooth through the stride and not wasting any movements. The greatest route runners of all-time — Jerry Rice, Raymond Berry, Steve Largent, Marvin Harrison, Lance Allworth â€“ moved through the stems of their routes in the same motion before breaking in or out of their cuts. If a receiver maintains the same speed and motion before breaking into his cuts, it will be that much tougher for a defensive back to read what type of route the wideout is running.
Â· Balance: Receivers are ballerinas by trade. They have to contort their bodies in order to keep their feet in bounds to maintain possession of the ball. They have to stretch, extend and slide to catch the football. There are times when wideouts have only a few inches of space to toe tap. The best acrobats are able to adjust their bodies accordingly.
Â· Hands: Ultimately, it does not matter what a pass catcher does to get open if he is unable to make the reception. There are so many receivers who ended up becoming busts because they had no hands. Receivers coming out of college often try to snag the ball by using their bodies, as opposed to clutching the ball with their fingers and then bringing it into their bodies to secure it. Receivers who lack visual concentration fail to consistently catch the ball. These players look to make a play with the ball before actually possessing it. In the NFL, the ball is attacked from every angle, so a receiver has to locate it and snag it cleanly before making any other moves up the field.
Â· Vision: It is not enough for a back to find the right hole to hit at the line-of-scrimmage. Once a tailback finds the initial lane, he has to be able sift through bodies to get to the second level. The top running backs are able to see where the blocks are set up, and they cut on a dime to get to those spots. Backs with poor vision end up picking the wrong hole to run through, and as a result, they donâ€™t make big plays. The home run hitters who score touchdowns are able to find open space consistently.
Â· Power: There is not a single successful rusher who is unable to break through tackles and push the pile when he needs to. An NFL running back must be able to run inside and gain positive yardage. Running inside the trench area is a thankless task that involves pushing through resistance. A back that runs with purpose dips his shoulders and stays low to the ground at the point of impact in order to deliver the blow. It is also imperative that a tailback does not stop moving his feet until he is brought down to the ground.
Â· Elusiveness: A tacklerâ€™s worst nightmare is facing a running back in open space. In the open field is where a tailback has the chance to use various moves to make defenders miss. Whether the back if a featherweight or a heavyweight, he will spin, juke, leap or use a stiff arm to keep rumbling towards the end zone.
Â· Accuracy: Being able to deliver the ball at the right spot, at the right time, is the most crucial task a quarterback has to execute. Quarterbacks with accurate arms are able to hit receivers in stride. They deliver the ball in rhythm, to a spot, and allow the pass catcher to keep running through the pattern. There are times when a quarterback has to place the ball in a specific area away from a defensive back, where only the receiver is able to make a play on the ball. If a quarterback is accurate, he is able to keep the offense moving at a steady pace.
Â· Pocket awareness: People are always amazed when analysts refer to Dan Marino as perhaps the most mobile quarterback in NFL history. Although the former Miami Dolphins great never ran with the ball, he was sacked infrequently because he had uncanny footwork within the pocket. Marino was able to take a step forward or laterally to avoid the rush. This type of movement is the essence of mobility. The most mobile quarterbacks have a keen sense of where the pass rushers are crashing from, and they slide to vacant gaps to keep the play alive.
Coverage reading: Before the snap and after, a signal caller has to decipher what type of coverage he is facing. Once he figures out the defensive alignment, the quarterback will only have a couple of seconds to scan the entire field and hit the open receiver. Processing information quickly from snap to release is a necessity in the NFL. A quarterback has to be able to sift through his progressions at a light speed pace.