Since we're entering the real guts of the college player personnel/evaluation part of the NFL off season, I wanted to take a brief respite from the current going ons at the 2009 Combine and flash back to 2007.
QB Tyler Thigpen, drafted in the 7th round of the '07 draft by the Minnesota Vikings, didn't get an invite to the NFL Combine that year but of course he was analyzed and picked apart by the draftniks like all of the other potential draftees. Well, maybe not like all of the other players. Thigpen came from the I-AA school Coastal Carolina and even went to another workout on the campus of Clemson University to increase his visibility.
With each passing year, the details kept on potential NFL draftees become more numerous. As salaries and expectations dramatically increase every year for the top picks, teams must become more precise and more accurate in their analysis of college prospects. The alternative is fewer wins, a weakened fanbase and potential decades of futility. In other words, if you don't draft well, you become the Detroit Lions. Or the 2008 Kansas City Chiefs.
Yes, yes. You already know all of this. Let's get to the point of this post. Did the scouts correctly assess Tyler Thigpen's strengths and weaknesses prior to him being drafted?
Here are the positive pieces of Thigpen's scouting report from 2007, courtesy of NFL Draft Scout:
- Very good at improvising on the football field
- Has developed quick load and reload ability
- Excels at eluding pressure in the pocket, showing the keen field vision and awareness to avoid the rush and is a dangerous open-field runner when flushed
- Rhythm passer who might be able to throw the deep crossers, but is better served staying away from throwing the long ball
- Has decent acceleration heading up field, but is best when changing direction sharply while maintaining balance throughout his run
I think those descriptions are accurate according to what Chiefs fans saw through 11 starts last year. I think the last point was especially observant.
Now, let's check out the negatives of Thigpen's college game:
- Has to work on his release and delivery, as he stands on his toes in the pocket
- Tends to force his passes into traffic and needs to show better judgment
- Seems to lack the ability to locate his secondary receivers, zeroing in on his primary targets too long
- Will force the ball into traffic rather than throwing it away
- Most of his sacks come when he fails to locate his receiver and finds himself standing right in the path of the edge rusher
Again, I've got to hand it to the scouts. Thigpen seems to have had issues with poor judgment for a long time and I think we saw that at some point in nearly every game he started last year. Granted, there has to be room for rookie mistakes. I'm not really trying to make a point about Thigpen here. I just wanted to point out that for all of the draft busts out there and misreads by scouts, they generally do a heck of a job.