Don't give up on these guys.
Its easy to assume. Everyone admits that. Assumption using information collected previously, is called by some, jumping the gun. Cliche aside though, this applies to the NFL as well. Making assumptions about a player or team before they even have a chance to prove themselves.
Scouts and fans alike will use facts about players from a certain college, who plays a certain position, fares in the NFL. If a player from a school does badly in the NFL, it can potentially tarnish the reputation of a players reputation before he even steps on the Pro Football field.
Just like years past, this is true this year as well. With accusations of being a system player, coming from an underachieving school, playing in an easy division, and others, can drop players on teams boards, though teams are usually better about focusing on the player as an individual. However, fans often let these titles and accusations drastically change their opinions of a player, and let the facts get in the way of the truth.
There are two common way to jump the gun and make assumptions and accusations about a player. The first is because of both school reputation of putting out players the don't hit it big, and school reputation of putting out players at a certain position who don't put it big.
The second way of jumping the gun is because of injury. A player who is injured in, say, his final year in college or during the offseason leading up to the draft, can have his reputation and stock dropped by the fans, and maybe even more this time by the teams of the NFL. A team has every right to be concerned about a players injury, but that shouldn't drop the player 10-20 spots, or even off of the draft board.
Players jumped the gun on because of school or position reputation:
- Graham Harrell: This may be the most common one this offseason that has had assumptions about his ability to be an NFL quarterback. Harrell is a quarterback from Texas Tech, which uses an offensive system created by the great offensive mind Mike Leach. While the spread scheme works great in college, quarterbacks from Texas Tech this decade, who have been highly decorated in college, have found little success in the NFL; such as Kliff Kingsbury(2002) and B.J Symons(2003). Both won the Sammy Baugh trophy in college, but never hit it big. Kingsbury is now a quality control coach for the University of Houston, while Symons is a quarterback in the Arena Football league. As a result, Harrell is highly doubted on by teams, fans, and scouts alike. He has a chance to make a team a climb the roster, but because of the school he chose, the odds will be against him. He has achieved great success in college, will he win a Super Bowl one day?
- James Laurinaitis: Laurinaitis has achieved great success as a linebacker in college at Ohio State. He has won the Nagurski award, is an All-American, and won the Butkus award in 2007. However, some write him off as not being a playmaker, and shoot him down because defensive players from Ohio State usually aren't successful at the next level. Laurinaitis is a guaranteed first round selection, but many mocks have him falling into the latter half, instead of 16 or before. He is smart, a sound player who is already developed, and is great in every faucet of his game.
- Everette Brown: Brown is a hybrid DE/Linebacker type out of Florida State. Some doubt his abilities at the next level. Brown looked dominant at times last season for Florida State, and really came on strong later in the season. It's been said the Florida State pass rushers don't do well at the next level. Brown could be a pass rush specialist until he bulks up for a 4-3 team, or he could play outside linebacker for a 3-4 team. Either way, he should be successful at the next level because of his great pass rush ability.
- Percy Harvin: Harvin is a Reggie Bush type playmaker out of Florida. While he was supposedly tested positive for marijuana at the Combine. Of course, he dropped his stock himself with teams by smoking close to the time of the combine. But Florida's reputation of turning out under achieving receivers is something Harvin can't help. The only recent Florida receiver that has had any success is Jabar Gaffney, currently on the Broncos, and Andre Caldwell, who had an OK rookie season with the Bengals. Harvin needs to prove that he is not just a slasher type player, but that he can run the route tree and be a bona fide threat as a standard receiver.
Players jumped the gun on because of an injury or injury history.
- Chris "Beanie" Wells: An Ohio State running back, who combines great size and power, with speed and a good deal of explosiveness. Nobody doubts his ability to make plays, but some do doubt his ability to stay healthy. Wells had had a wealth of injuries during his playing days at Ohio State, but that shouldn't drain his value. When he gets on an NFL weight training program, his injuries should subside or disappear. Quentin Groves even said himself that weight training in college isn't the same nor does it have the intensity of an NFL weight room. Wells has the potential to be a Pro Bowler.
- Michael Crabtree: The great receiver from Texas Tech. A hero on the Saturday night win over rival Texas, Crabtree has already become a household name. He is a two time Bilitnikoff award winner, and has drawn comparison to Larry Fitzgerald. The downside is that he has had surgery on his foot to insert a screw to counter a stress fracture, and was plagued by a high ankle sprain later on in the year last season. The truth is, both injuries are nearly gone, and Crabtree swears that he will be ready to go by training camp time. But as a result of his injury, he could drop out of the top 10, which he has no business doing, as he really could be a special receiver in the mold of Pro Bowler Larry Fitzgerald.
- Brandon Tate: A receiver out of North Carolina. Tate could be one of the top receivers in this years draft class, but he tore his ACL in october. Fans and teams alike have seemed to forgotten about him. Although an ACL is nothing to fool around with, he is expected to make a full recovery. Tate has great speed and quickness, and is good in the return game as well. If he falls as expected, a team can get a steal, and turn this player that will be left for dead into a #1 receiver.
All of the above players have potential to be outstanding players. Though teams/fans alike may jump the gun and make assumptions and accusations about these guys. As a result, the players will fall and teams who decide to ignore the talk will get steals.