Awful college talent scouting causes problems

One thing in pro sports that’s always frustrated me is the impossibility of decent college drafts.

One thing in pro sports that’s always frustrated me is the apparent impossibility of decent college drafts, and it seems to be getting worse.

I’m not going to get into bad trades, such as the details of the infamous Eric Lindros draft/trade, which was probably one of the worst deals in pro sports history. That’s been talked to death; no need to go over that ground.

As a Washington Redskins fan, a deal brokered by the team a few years ago caused me consternation at the time. I balked at the idea of trading up in the 2012 draft to get a scrambling college quarterback. However, Robert Griffin III was drafted by the Redskins second overall in the 2012 NFL entry draft behind only the Colts’ Andrew Luck.

Quarterback has been a weakness for the Redskins for quite some time; the Redskins have generally had trouble adapting to the salary cap era, despite the fact the salary cap era has been in progress since the early 1990’s. The team insists on offering high salaries to decrepit free-agents whose ability to contribute to a pro football team is in question.

Prior to the 2012 draft, RGIII, as Griffin is known, had performed admirably in the college ranks. He attended Baylor and played for the Bears football team, and had an unbelievable career there, setting a number of records, winning the coveted Heisman trophy in 2011 (basically, league MVP) and being named player of the year by the Associated Press the same year. Griffin’s style of play was as a scrambler; his athletic abilities were beyond question but his pocket passing abilities were, at best, questionable.

American college football is full of scrambling quarterbacks who perform pathetically in the professional ranks. Recently, Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel are perfect examples. Playing against boys in college is one thing, but playing against men in the pros is another entirely, and it’s painfully obvious to see.

Now, teams that historically do well in the NFL are those with a solid pocket-passing quarterback (no scrambling, throws only) and consistent defense. Talent scouts worth their salt should know when they see these scrambling teenagers racking up huge numbers against pathetically bad college defense, they probably aren’t going to do that in the pros. But hope springs eternal.

Scrambling quarterbacks rarely succeed in the NFL. While editor of the Rocky Mountaineer in 2012, I heard sports reporter Scott Mackenzie talking up Griffin, but I stuck to my guns. “I know you weren’t sold on him,” said Mackenzie in an email Mar. 4.

The Redskins traded their first-round picks in 2012, 2013, and 2014, as well as their second-round pick in 2012 in order to move up on draft day and get RGIII, an unheard of number of draft picks for one player.

RGIII’s career with the Redskins went as expected, and it’s widely expected he will be released this month. Griffin will be a free agent able to sign with anyone and the Redskins will get nothing for the multitude of draft picks they squandered on him.

NFL teams have full-time, professional talent scouts, many paid in six digit salaries, who apparently do nothing but examine and rank college talent. Looking at debacles like the RGIII deal, which in essence threw three first round draft picks in the trash can, the scouts need to re-examine their approach.

Please, on behalf of all Washington Redskins fans in the world, re-examine your approach.

Stu Salkeld is the new editor of the Leduc/Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.

 

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