Each NFL draft takes on a personality of its own. Every year produces a unique class with their own strengths, weaknesses and personalities. That being said, there are constants that remain present in every draft.
While some teams consistently draft well, others fail to do so. In order to avoid drafting a player who will eventually be labeled a bust, there are five mistakes teams make in every draft that render them poor results. In no particular order:
1) Falling in Love with Workout Warriors
I'm looking at you Al Davis. The Combine is a wonderful thing. It's the first event that makes you feel like draft day is finally approaching.
That being said, people get too caught up in who ran the fastest 40, who had the highest vertical and who put up the most reps.
While there are athletes that are able to showcase their athletic ability to back up their production on the football field, there are other athletes who blind teams with their workout numbers, and make them forget about the flaws on the tape.
Every year we see a guy soar up the draft boards after the Combine is over, even though they were projected as a late-round pick at best. See Vernon Gholston.
2) Taking a Quarterback Out of Obligation
How many times have we seen this? I'm not talking about the Ryan Leaf sort of obligation. He was supposed to be just a hair shy of Peyton Manning. I'm talking about the Alex Smith type of guy.
Usually teams with the No. 1 overall pick have many needs. Too often, they believe throwing the top rated quarterback in his draft class into the fire is somehow going to render results.
Just because you have a bad quarterback does not mean getting a talented quarterback with no weapons and no line is going to put you in the winner circle.
Don't take a quarterback until you are ready to take one and he is the one you want. Settling on a franchise quarterback doesn't usually work out. Ask the Bengals.
3) Allowing Need to Trump Talent
The worst thing a team can do is bypass a player they believe is more talented because they have a glaring need they want to address. That is not always to say need does not play a factor. The Titans aren't going to take a running back in the first round no matter who he is.
It is important to take the highest rated player on your draft board. By settling on a player because you need his position, you have not only probably not addressed the position, you have also likely missed out on a better football player.
Even so, some teams predetermine which position they are going to draft before the draft even begins.
4) Drafting Anything but CB, T, DL or QB in the Top 10
While there are Hall of Fame players in every draft at a position other than this, you are also at less risk when you take one of these positions in the top 10.
That isn't to say that it is impossible to find talent in the top 10 outside of these positions. After all, the Lions found Calvin Johnson after missing on Mike Williams, Charles Rodgers and Roy Williams.
Reggie Bush is a perfect example for this. I'm not willing to call him a bust, simply because he provides too much to their football team. What I will say is that he was the most hyped pick to ever enter the draft.
The Texans passed on him and took Mario Williams. People made it seem like they were passing on Gale Sayers because analysts were making that comparison. We look down the road and it's not even close.
The 2005 draft is the best example for this. The draft was weak in itself, but six of the top 10 picks were something other than these four positions.
Ronnie Brown, Braylon Edwards, Cedric Benson, Cadillac Williams, Troy Williamson and Mike Williams were all selected too high. Ronnie Brown is the one player you could make a case for being selected in the top 10, but he was selected at No. 2, which is far too high.
5) Getting Caught in 'Upside'
There are guys who teams believe can improve drastically once they enter the NFL. Guys who are a project, but under the right circumstances could flourish. It makes no sense to me why teams pass on a guy that has produced consistently in college for a guy that has been hit or miss because he has upside.
You see this a lot along the defensive line and especially with hybrid outside linebacker defensive end types. Everyone is looking for an edge rusher, so it is natural to want the next big thing at outside linebacker or defensive end.
The problem is that teams reach for guys with upside. These are the guys with intangibles, who at times lack tangible results.
It is easy to fall in love with a project, but ignoring a talented, hard-working football player because you think he has peaked is a recipe for disaster.
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