I’m constantly reminding readers of The Football Educator to take into account the ripple effects of uncontrollable dynamics on player production. There’s so much that goes on within the game (on & off the field) that has a profound impact on the play and development of young players. We as a football following public put way too much pressure on the rising prospects in the college ranks.
The blur between college and pro football has become so faint that it’s really hard to tell much difference anymore. About the only thing you can count on is that players are only going to be around campus for 3 to 5 years, with some reaching out for a rare sixth opportunity.
In the NFL the chances of getting to 3 years are about the standard, with long term production past that really an exception to the rule. And yet an entire industry has emerged outside of the actual industry itself (NFL Personnel Departments) that plays a role in the universe of evaluation & ripples into future careers. Draft pundits with seven figure incomes make off the cuff remarks, preseason prognostications, and otherwise speak about things they’ve never done, and the football rabid media/public slurp it up as the gospel.
That’s why I agree with Nick Saban’s point of order about Mel Kiper and the pressure that’s placed on underclassmen as a result of all the pundits’ superfluous statements. Look, I understand the interest in “all things football” and that includes the annual NFL Draft. But the dynamics within a club’s War Room and with an individual team are not what guide the myriad of “mock drafts” and prospect lists that have no agenda. These all might as well be the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny rolled into one supersized MOCK. They just don’t matter.
So if you choose to engulf yourself with network analyst evaluations and made up mocks, do yourself a favor and cross check their work with your own. Here’s Justis Mosqueda’s (OptimumScouting.com) look at some of the dynamics of “mayhem” that rippled into Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas’s play, as well as the North Carolina cutup created by Adrian Ahufinger of DraftBreakdown.com.
The Football Educator
2014 NFL DRAFT: WHAT TO LIKE, AND DISLIKE, ABOUT VIRGINIA TECH’S LOGAN THOMAS
by Justis Mosqueda – OptimumScouting.com
Over the weekend, Nick Saban exclaimed his disdain for pressure put on prospects, due to how many experts project a player to progress. The Alabama coach noted, “I hate it that Mel Kiper and all these guys say this is the No. 1 guy at his position. They don’t even have an idea.”
What Nick Saban was talking about is near exactly what happened to Virginia Tech’s quarterback, Logan Thomas. Following the 2012 NFL Draft, which featured Cam Newton going first overall, Kiper pinned Logan Thomas as his number one quarterback heading into the 2012 season and compared him to the then number one pick. Instead of projecting who he was, many followed Kiper’s lead and projected who he could become. The big, strong, fast quarterback was supposed to be the next breakout superstar in college football, but a Newton only comes around once a decade, if we’re lucky. Therein lies the “disappointment” of his 2012 season.
Looking at his stats, it may seem that Thomas regressed, but that doesn’t reflect on film. What did change between 2011 and 2012 was the personnel around him. His leading receiver, Jarrett Boykin, and starting running back, David Wilson, were no longer with the program. Boykin has nearly every Hookie receiving record in the book, and David Wilson was selected in the first round by the New York Giants. David Wilson and Josh Oglesby (a senior in 2011) combined for 387 of Virginia Tech’s 590 carries that year. Of the remaining 203 touches, Logan Thomas had 153 of them, leaving Tony Gregory, who rushed the ball 16 times for 27 yards in 2011, as the leading running back returning in 2012.
Thomas had to do virtually everything himself from that point on, and he did. Thomas not only threw the ball 429 times, but he rushed it 174 times, leading the team in rushing yards, carries, and touchdowns in 2012.
Unfortunately for Thomas, the personnel changes didn’t stop. His top three 2012 targets, Marcus Davis, Corey Fuller, and Dyrell Roberts, and left tackle graduated out of the program, leaving him with an inexperienced wide receiver corp heading into 2013 and a true freshman starting at left tackle.
Logan Thomas’s 5-of-26 stat-line vs Alabama is a team statistic. Those incompletions include drops by his new receivers, poor conditions caused by his offensive line, and missed pass interference calls, so while it looks like a poor performance, that wasn’t not totally the case. Excluding throw-aways and obvious missed PI calls, Thomas’s throws were on-target 12 of 20 times against Alabama. And while that number isn’t great, it’s a huge improvement.