Dave Razzano recently gave Von Miller a snotty thumbs down, seeing him as another Vernon Gholston bustaroni type. Rob Rang then chimed in via Twitter and “strongly disagreed” with this assessment. “Strongly disagreeing” is PC speak for he’s FOS. Both of these guys are considered to be Draftnik Gurus and one of them is dead wrong.
Being dead wrong about a top five pick in a draft is a good way to get yourself fired, and perhaps a head coach or GM, too. How can two guys who supposedly know what they are doing have radically opposed views about such a highly visible player? Maybe twenty years ago this type of disagreement would be understandable, before RedZone and YouTube and game tape galore. The only way you should miss on a top tier player now is if he gets to the NFL and loses his incentive or passion, a la JaMarcus Russell. There’s no way to predict what is inside a guy — even the guy himself probably doesn’t know.
But Rang and Razzano are arguing about his skills, not his inner psyche. I don’t get it. Razzano is a former NFL scout, meaning he’s been pink slipped from his profession. Rang is a high school poetry teacher. Whom would you trust?
I’ll take the poetry teacher. Poetry and Athletics have very similar requirements of beauty, symmetry, and precisely executed expression. Professional scouts are basically just grunts who have connecs and a dictionary of scout speak mumbo jumbo and don’t mind living in their cars as they motor around the country getting free tickets to watch college football games. It does not appear to be a job with any sort of official degrees or graduate trained skills. “He’s got an eye for talent” is about the only positive evaluation ever uttered regarding these fellows.
One of the concepts often presented regarding the draft is that it is an “inexact science.” Hahaha. Baloney! Science, by its very definition, cannot be inexact. This is clearly an effort to raise the act of guessing to some sort of elevated and measureable skill. It’s used by GMs to either cover their butts or explain bad choices, and by Mel Kiper to make an otherwise dubious living.
The plain truth is all these draftable athletes are just kids. They have not finished growing up physically or, more importantly, mentally. That, more than anything, is probably what makes the draft a crap shoot. These kids are all great athletes. But many of them are dumb as a rock and socially inept. To this point in their lives, they have been coddled and their behavior has been controlled, monitored, covered-up, and excused. This is not what will happen in the NFL and the shock of discovering it can wipe these fellows out in a hurry.
The NFL knows this and makes an inexact attempt to measure this failure pronicity by making these chaps take the infamous Wonderlic Test, which purportedly separates the dumb guys from the smart guys. Teams also conduct interviews and try to throw these young dudes off stride with rude questions designed to put them under stress and see how they handle it.
This is all well and good, but some of the best players in the game have been borderline wackos. And there’s no way to test how each athlete is going to measure up in the locker room, in his own mind, when faced with a room full of peers for the first time in his life. There’s also no way to know how each guy is going to handle the sudden wad of cash that comes roaring into his life, and the fawning aura that surrounds him when he orders a hamburger and gets recognized as being an NFL Player.
The more I think about it, the scarier the draft gets. One or more of these guys drafted in the top ten is going to fizz out or be a marginal player. Please, football gods, don’t drop the ugly wand on us.