Spread Offense: Good or Bad for NFL Prospects?

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Spread Offense: Good or Bad for NFL Prospects?
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

This past week Texas Tech Head Coach Mike Leach criticized the teams that passed up the opportunity to draft his former quarterback and wide receiver.

Graham Harrell, former quarterback of Texas Tech, and star wide receiver Michael Crabtree saw their names slide down during the draft this past weekend.

Crabtree who was slated as the No. 1 receiver, was the 10th player taken overall by the San Francisco 49ers, but not the first receiver taken.

The Oakland Raiders who were thought to have interest in Crabtree decided to go with speed receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey with the seventh pick.

Harrell was projected to be a late round selection, but with a poor showing at the Senior Bowl and not so great performance at the NFL Combine in April dropped his stock.

Leach told reporters that his players deserved better and even took a shot at former Texas A&M quarterback, Stephen McGee, who was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in fourth round.

One of Leach's arguments was that his players are putting up amazing offense numbers, but are not being rewarded for it.

Most scouts and analysts seem to say the reason that teams are not picking these types of players is because of the system they are coming from.

At Texas Tech, along with some of the teams in the Big 12 Conference, run a spread offense.

In a spread offense, the quarterback is typical out of shotgun and most of the passes that are made are short, quick passes.

The census in the pro game is that teams are not looking for quarterbacks that played in these type of systems, rather looking for quarterbacks that have experience from playing under center and have the ability to read defenses and sense what they are going to do.

In a shotgun formation, quarterbacks seem to have that extra split second to react to a blitz and have the ability to throw the quick out or slant pass before the defense has enough time to react to it.

Same thing goes for wide receivers in the spread.

Receivers also have to worry about a couple of routes and do not really see the regular defense schemes, 3-4 or 4-3, because of the other two or three receivers on the field with them.

Harrell and Crabtree are not the only ones that saw their draft stock slide during the past weekend.

Chase Daniel, who set numerous records while at Missouri, comes from a similar type of offensive scheme.  He went undrafted, but has signed a free agent deal with the Washington Redskins.

Willie Tuitama, who was coached under Sonny Dykes at Arizona, also comes from a spread offense, but has some experience under center as Arizona did run a handful of plays with a singleback set.  He has not signed an undrafted free agent deal yet.

The bottom line is that Leach can complain about how his players deserve better and that they are indeed NFL ready, but in reality teams are looking for those players who came from systems that resemble ones played in the pros and believe that they do not have that much a learning curve so they can go out and contribute in week one.

If Leach wants NFL Scouts to take more value in his players, maybe he should try to move more away from the spread offense, but the chances of that happening are very likely because of the success that it has brought him at Tech.

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