Today we tackle one of the most debated topics in FF-land. Is SITUATION or TALENT more important when prospecting players. I have had this debate so many times that I cannot count. Most recently this debate started over Robert Meachem and his recent move to SD. As I was thinking over this new situation, a new idea occured to me. The correct answer in most cases is…….you have to have BOTH.
This may seem like the easy way out, but really it’s the reality of it. Talent cannot be truly shown without the right opportunity/situation. There are of course rare exceptions where talent can triumph over a bad situation, but there are also examples of less talented players producing due to situation. I would argue that most NFL players are talented. Most just need to have the right opportunity/situation. There are so many examples of this that I really don’t know where to start, so I want to spend a few minutes breaking down the controversial Robert Meachem.
Talent: Meachem went to the Saints in 2007 via the 27th overall pick in the draft. He is 6′ 2″, 215lbs, and ran his combine 40 in 4.39 secs! In his last year at Tennessee, he caught 71 balls for 1298 yards….. pretty talented by anyone’s standards.
Situation: Many thought NO was the perfect landing spot. A great situation…. well let’s look closer. First, let’s all agree that most college wide receivers typically take 2-3 years to develop into a NFL-quality WR. Well in 2006, one wide receiver took exception to that rule. He also happened to be a “flyer” pick in the 7th round. We all know him to be Marques Colston. Colston, unlike most rookies, got the opportunity to start right away and his talent showed through. He immediately created chemistry with Brees and I would argue it was at this point, that Robert Meachem’s early-career fate was sealed. He was never able to overtake Colston for the #1 job for what I am sure is a number of reasons and that high powered offense turned into a ”Colston and a little bit for everyone else” offense (See Devery Henderson and Lance Moore). So let’s fast forward to last year….. Now all of a sudden more talent started to emerge in situations that had room for it. Jimmy Graham moved into the TE position and Darren Sproles into the backfield. At this point Meachem was now the 4th or 5th option on the team. Do you know how many plays are designed for the 5th option? Not many. Do you know how many QBs have enough time to read through their first 3 progressions and still have time to get the ball to their 4th option? Not many.
Let’s look at some of the top 5 offenses last year and see how their 5th option preformed:
Green Bay – Donald Driver 37 rec, 445 yds, and 6 TDs
Detriot – Javid Best 27 rec, 287 yds, and 1 TD
New England- Chad Ocho Cinco 15 rec, 276 yds, and 1 TD
Philly- LaSean McCoy, 48 rec, 315 yds, and 3 TD
San Diego- Mike Tolbert 54 rec, 433 yds and 2 TDs
New Orleans- Robert Meachem 40 receptions, 620 yds, and 6 TD
Does anyone want to argue that Robert Meachem is not the most talented WR of this bunch and notice that 3 of those afore mentioned guys are running backs? These guys are typically bail out options or check downs. The wide receivers who are the 4th or 5th option on any given play just simply do not have the opportunity to stand out and I can’t imagine ANYONE disagreeing with that. Now I know what you are thinking. He is probably the 5th option for a reason. He is behind Colston on the depth chart for a reason and you couldn’t be more right. The next step is to judge the talent ahead of him. Colston is a perennial top 15 wide reciever and if the Saints didn’t have Jimmy Graham last year, he probablly would have been top 5. He’s big at 6′ 4″ 225 and his 40 time is decent at 4.5 secs, but more than anything its clear that Colston rose to the occasion/situation and he was able to stay there. You can’t fairly compare him to Graham or Sproles because there “talent” fills different needs. So I have to ask, if Meachem and Colston’s situations had been reversed, would we still be drafting Colston as our possible WR2 or would it be Meachem
Meachem now has the opportunity to combine his phyiscal talent with the right situation. Can he rise to the occassion? Norv Turner has already “dubbed” him the #1 WR for next year. They are paying him to be a #1 WR and their #1 WR from last year is now in Tampa. The SITUATION is NOW! Meachem has never had this type of situation/opportunity. We will soon find out if Robert Meachem has the only ability that ultimately matters…. the abiltiy to rise to the occasion.
Talent WILL always win out…. …. when the situation is right.