DFW is back with another article where we learn things the hard way so you don’t have to. On the docket this time around is a case of overlooking talent in one of its many forms. Talent comes in all shapes and sizes. And it comes from anywhere. Sometimes it shows in the blink of an eye, sometimes it presents itself slowly over time, and sometimes it’s just always been there. I made the mistake of misidentifying this “talent” a number of times so listen up and don’t do the same thing.
It all started back in 2005 with a guy we now lovingly refer to as BMW. He may not have been the first of my errors in this vein but he is the earliest one I can remember. Big Mike Williams came into the league and was thought to be as talented as anyone. His combination of size and strength and the possibility of being a prototypical number 1 WR drew me in. And Big Mike wasn’t the only one I fell for. Dwayne Jarrett, Robert Meachem, Limas Sweed, and Devin Thomas were all guys I overdrafted because I felt they had the size to be the go to guy on their team. If these giants with huge bodies, great physical presence, and solid hands couldn’t succeed; couldn’t catch touchdowns in bunches then who the hell could?
And while mooning over these prototypical WR1’s I was busy hating on players like Desean Jackson, Donnie Avery, and Eddie Royal and others. I just felt they were too small to hold up or make a name for themselves in this big boy league. They had speed sure but that only takes you so far. Guys like Wes Welker and Steve Smith were mere abberations. They couldn’t be counted on for steady production and it was just a matter of time until their lack of size caught up with them.
Well… I don’t even need to tell you how that all worked out. Sure a couple of the smaller guys I listed fizzled out but they put up big numbers at some point. And there are other examples I’m sure you all can bring forth that I’m simply not thinking of here. The point I’m getting at, and the lesson I learned the hard way, is that size does NOT matter. Talent comes in many forms and you shouldn’t base your decisions solely on prototypical size, strength, speed, or any other stat for that matter. Judge a player by what you see on the field and their play-making ability not just the opportunity their body type presents them.
In fact I’d argue that a lot can be said for the smaller players coming up the ranks. They have to work that much harder than the big guys to make a name for themselves. This brings us to the issue many of the guys I mentioned as favorites had. They had protypical size for sure but they didn’t have to work for it because of that fact. They got lazy and complacent. And in the NFL there’s no surer way to ensure your career will be short than that. Smaller guys also have to be that much more talented to go up and get a ball or to fight off a jam at the line of scrimmage when they’re shorter or weaker than the DB’s covering them. They need speed, agility, lateral quickness, and explosiveness that many other players lack.
Now don’t get me wrong here. I’m not trying to overcompensate for my prior love of big WR’s and I won’t tell you to go all out for the little guys. I’m just saying that all players have a chance to be successful. So don’t discount anyone because of his measurable. Keep an eye out for talent whenever it shows itself. Be it in college, training camp, a flashy play from a backup WR or anything else. Just identify talent in its many forms and hitch your wagon to those players that you feel can be successful based on that.
I’m sure you’ve all had situations like this where you’ve misjudged players or excluded certain people from your draft boards for one reason or another. If so I’d like to hear them. Add some comments or hit up our forums. And don’t make the same mistake I did by judging a book by its cover. If you do you’ll end up in the same boat. Learning yet another lesson. The hard way.