The Slippery Slope of Potential

Posted: May 21, 2010 in Uncategorized
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The NFL Draft was held this past weekend New York.  Lifelong goals and dreams of playing NFL was fulfilled. The NFL teams that selected these players are confident that the player will become caliber of players at their respective positions. 

As much hype as the draft receives it is very instrumental in the success of a team.  The draft allows teams to draft college football players to fulfill the needs of necessary positions.  This process however can be a gift and a curse.  Teams can be rewarded by selecting a player like Peyton Manning. The former first overall pick has become one of the best quarterbacks in league history by winning many games, setting numerous passing records, and winning a Super Bowl for his organization. On the other hand, failed first round selections can be the curse of any organization.  Look at Kentucky Wildcat alum Tim Couch.  In 1999,” Couch signed a 7 year contract for $48 million” (King, 1999). He rewarded the team by going out and becoming one of the biggest busts in NFL history.  He was cut after just four seasons in Cleveland.

Tim Couch had the potential to be great. He never lived up to the expectations

The draft can be an enigma.  Players that are projected to be selected in the first round are supposed to be destined for stardom. Sometimes this happens, but other times they fail miserably and become punch lines to jokes. Then there are players selected in the later rounds with no expectations and then they become superstars.

The 1st round draft picks can be the most intriguing.  These are the players that generate the most notoriety and the most hype.  Along with this they command millions of dollars.  They all were college All- Americans and they dominated their opponents and now they will take their skills and attempt to prove themselves on the professional level.   With their attributes and intangibles these players have the potential to flourish in the league and earn numerous accolades and awards right? Not necessarily.

First, I don’t care for the word potential.  Scratch that I don’t like the word potential at all! To me potential is an excuse as to why a player isn’t where he needs to be right now.  People use the word to try and sell a person on a particular player and make them sound even better.  It’s come to a point now where potential is being used along with other abilities. For example, “This wide receiver is great I’m telling you! He has great hands, great speed, and he has potential!  The last time I checked potential doesn’t score touchdowns and doesn’t win football games.  Tangible talent that people can see is what makes fans buy tickets and wins football games.

Potential is just a better word for hope.  Think about it.

 Look I hope to be a millionaire one day. I hope to have mansion next to the beach with chefs preparing all of the meals for my family.  That sounds nice but there is no guarantee that those situations will ever happen for me. Hope or potential is what these NFL teams are banking on for these college athletes.  Look I understand that almost of these players will need time to develop.  A team can’t expect a college player to step in and dominate like they did in college.  They need to adjust to the speed of the game and learn the perspective playbooks of their side of the ball. I completely understand this, however if I am NFL team and I’m selecting a player in the first round I am going to select the player that I am confident will excel at his position once he adjusts to playing at the professional level.

Look the at the 2005 NFL draft.  The top two project players in that draft were quarterbacks Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers.  There wasn’t a huge difference in talent between them.  Some people liked Smith better and others liked Rodgers.  One small element that people saw in Smith was potential.  Smith was a couple years younger than Rodgers and felt that in the long run Smith would be the better quarterback.  The same people that felt this way thought that Rodgers had already peaked in his career and didn’t think that he would develop into much better quarter back then he already was in college.  Ultimately Smith was selected with the first overall pick to San Francisco and Rodgers was selected later in the first round by the Green Bay Packers.  Potential wasn’t the main reason why Smith was chosen over Rodgers, however it was element that discussed by experts and other teams. 

Currently, Alex Smith is viewed by many as a bust and Aaron Rodgers has developed into a top tier quarterback in the league by already participating in the Pro Bowl and leading his team into the playoffs. Potential is a dangerous word.

49ers fans are would love to Rodgers in San Francisco.

These first round selections costs too much money have to the word “potential” attach to it.  If these picks don’t live up to their potential then the organization will be out of a lot of money and a few members within the organization can potentially lose their jobs.  In order for teams to have success in the draft they need to eliminate any thoughts of potential and rely on confidence in selecting players.

King, P. (1999, April 17). Inside Game. Retrieved April 24, 2010, from Sports Illustrated : http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/inside_game/peter_king/news/1999/04/17/king_insider/

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