Most potential draft picks come with questions attached

by Gary Shelton on April 24, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

Monday, 4 a.m.

Everyone's fractured. Everyone's flawed. Everyone in the NFL draft, it turns out, is a risk.

For months, we have heard of the measure of those who will selected by their NFL teams. Oh, the coaches will be filled with glee over the sight of the athletes in their uniforms. They'll talk about how surprised they were that the guy is still there. They'll pose for pictures and suggest that their biggest needs have been filled.

And, inside, they'll worry. Because higher-rated athletes than these have fizzled. Some get distracted by money, and some get hurt, and bow to the pressures of a family that sees them as an ATM machine. Some will be stiffer than their original evaluations. Some will be softer. Some will be less driven than others.

Some, a very few, will be stars against the odds.

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The truth is there. There will be very few — two or three – Hall of Famers who are drafted Thursday night. There won't be that many All-Pros. With a lot of athletes, scouts will have some explaining to do.

It is always this way. At some point in the evaluation process, the teams start worrying about the things an athlete cannot do as well as marvel at the things he can. They know that every draft pick is a minefield. Every pick can blow up in your face.

Look around. Myles Garrett seems to be the consensus No. 1 pick, but there are those who wonder if his production matches his physical attributes. Hall of Famer Warren Sapp suggested that Garrett is a player who will make four plays a day and then coast.

Consensus No. 2 Soloman Thomas? Some suspect he's a tweener. Marshon Lattimore has only one year of starting experience. Leonard Fournette isn't good enough as a pass catcher. And so it goes. Stare at a great painting long enough, and you'll notice a flaw in the corner. Stare at a sunset, and you'll notice rain clouds.

Deshaun Watson needs better vision. Jonathan Allen isn't long enough. O.J. Howard needs to be stronger. Christian McCaffrey needs to be bigger. Davin Cook's shoulders have had surgery.

And so it goes. There are times you wonder if the NFL teams spend two months building a player up, and the next two tearing him down. Right now, scouts are criticizing bacon and cherry pies. It's what they do.

But when you look at the history of the NFL draft, you can't blame them. Someone should have noticed that JaMarcus Russell was an unmotivated mess. Someone should have noticed that Ryan Leaf was so obnoxious his teammates were going to hate him. Someone should have noticed that Charles McRae simply didn't like football.

It gets to the point, though, where you wonder if anyone is good enough to be drafted. Maybe everyone should slide, and we should start the draft with round two.

Jamal Adams is big time, but he needs better coverage skills. John Ross has had injuries. Mitch Trubisky hasn't played a lot. Joe Mixon has so many off-the-field issues that teams have taken him off their boards. DeShone Kizer is a diva.

Get the point?

The truth, of course, is there will be about the normal number of busts. There will be the normal number of stars. The challenge for a team is to avoid the first and pick the second. Right?

For the Bucs, it's often been that way. The team would take exceptional athletes with blemishes, and they'd repeatedly ask those athletes to carry their team. And it never worked. Of course it didn't. Vinny Testeverde, Kenyatta Walker, Eric Curry, Trent Dilfer. The one thing that most of them had in common is that they didn't have that much help.

This time, it should be different. If the Bucs' draft an offensive player, he'll go into the huddle with Jameis Winston, Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson. If they draft a defensive player, he'll go in with Kwon Alexander, Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David. The Bucs will be able to afford putting too much of the load on a kid.

In other words, the Bucs have a chance to set a plan for whoever they draft. They can coax his best features out of him. They can try to help him smooth out his rough edges. It still doesn't guarantee a success, but it's a better chance.

Some players are too slow. Some are too raw. Some have injury concerns. Some simply aren't complete athletes.

We will find out about all of them. Some of them will make you feel silly for ever questioning them. Some of them will allow you to say that you knew it all the time.

But no one is perfect. No one is guaranteed.

Especially at No. 19.

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