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NFL Draft is fantastic, but leads to wild expectations

Every year, we hear things about Player X. He’s going to be special. He’s going to be a 10-year starter. He’s going to be the face of the franchise (depending on position). He’s going to be a plug-and-play athlete.

All of that is nice and occasionally true. It is possible to draft the next Tom Brady or J.J. Watt. You might even land the next Eric Berry or Antonio Browns, anywhere from rounds one through seven. However, there’s a good chance you also bring in Blaine Gabbert and Trent Richardson, or Ryan Leaf and Mike Williams (any of them).

This isn’t to slam the NFL Draft. There is a ton to be excited about no matter which of the 32 teams you root for. At any given time, your franchise might pick a player who completely lifts it up for the next 15 years. But keep this in mind… none of these guys have ever proven a damn thing at this point.

It’s fun to look at college tape and try to compare some of the best players at this level to the best players on the pro circuit. There is no doubt that when you watch Myles Garrett on film, he reminds you of another former Texas A&M Aggies star in Von Miller. If you take a look at Deshaun Watson on tape, you can see a ton of Donovan McNabb in his game, and maybe even a dollop of Ben Roethlisberger.

Yet, so much of whether these players succeed or fail comes down to a basic truth that gets overlooked religiously this time of year. Is the player going to the right scheme, the right locker room and the right coaching staff?

Take Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs as an example. Hill came into the league with some serious baggage, having transferred from Oklahoma State to West Alabama after punching his pregnant girlfriend in the stomach. Kansas City, believing Hill was a changed man (and seeing immense talent too good to pass up) took him in the fifth round.

The result was instant stardom. Hill was the league’s most electrifying return man and a darn good receiver, racking up 12 touchdowns while being named All-Pro. Now, does that happen if Hill gets drafted by the Los Angeles Rams or the New York Jets? He might have lit it up on special teams, but there is no way that Jeff Fisher or Todd Bowles has the creativity of an Andy Reid. Reid, one of the best offensive minds in the game, saw a unique speedster in Hill and put him all over the field, giving him the chance to score in every imaginable way.

When your team is on the clock in April, just remember; pick the right player for your scheme and staff, and then hope. Because in the end, nobody, including the experts, really knows what is going to happen.

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