I always roll my eyes at draft grades the day after the draft, even a week after the draft. But I always do them. Everyone does. We're trained to. We're also trained to buy into scouting reports and media analysis, because, let's face it, most football fans don't grind hours of tape. That forms preconceived notions of which players should be drafted where. (I'll cop to helping set those notions). The reality is that teams view players much differently. Greg Cosell of NFL Films tackled that issue on Monday using the St. Louis Rams 2nd-round pick of Brian Quick to illustrate.
The decision to draft Quick disappointed some, underwhelmed others. Conventional wisdom leading up to the draft put Quick in 2nd-round, below Rueben Randle and Stephen Hill on the draft board.
He comes from a small school. He played against inferior competition. He was just okay at the Senior Bowl. All of those things were the knocks on the Quick.
Not so fast, says Cosell.
Watch any college wide receiver, especially one that played in a spread, and you will see limited routes. Justin Blackmon went to Oklahoma State, and he has no greater route running experience that Quick. They both played in spread offenses. In fact, studying both extensively on film, you can make the argument that Quick, who's significantly bigger than Blackmon, is more naturally athletic. Quick is a very fluid and smooth athlete with excellent lateral quickness and deceptive vertical speed due to stride length. It's not a stretch at all, when you analyze Quick's physical and athletic attributes, to understand why the Rams selected him early. With his size and overall skill set, he has a chance to be the best wide receiver in this draft class. I know some teams saw him that way.
Receiver is a notoriously difficult position to peg in the draft. The Rams are hardly the only team that failed to get it right over the years.
Another thing to remember here is to keep expectations reasonable. Few receivers break out as rookies. It's a position that requires some real adjustment, learning an NFL route tree and, more importantly, the subtleties of pro coverage versus college secondaries, especially in smaller divisions or even those so-called defenses dotting the Big 12 last year.
The trend lately, with more spread concepts arriving to the NFL, has been to use plays taking advantage of a receiver's raw skills. I've said many times that Quick should be able to chip in early in a limited version of the route tree or simple sets taking advantage of his size and reach, i.e. the red zone.