Contact High

by Nick Wershing

Here we are, just a few weeks removed from the 2012 NFL Draft, and the hype all the rookies are creating continues to increase. Teams are saying how good their rookies look and how they will be competing for starting spots in the upcoming season. But what are they basing their opinions on? These players are just going through OTAs right now. It’s all the guys vying for the last spots on the roster playing in no pads. No one will actually know who is going to compete for playing time this year until they are up against the best players, playing at full speed, and playing with full contact.

Yes, certain players were brought in to be the starter in the near future, if not now. Luck, RG3, Tannehill, maybe even Weeden, were all brought in to compete for the starting job now. But teams like the Seahawks, who are saying their 3rd round, undersized QB is competing for the starting job are jumping the gun a little too early. I’m sure that Russell Wilson is making all the throws right now. But I am also sure that B.J. Coleman (7th round pick from Chattanooga), is looking pretty good too. And I don’t hear anyone saying he is going to compete with Aaron Rodgers this year. Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying that Matt Flynn and Tavaris Jackson are on Rodgers’ level, nor am I saying that Wilson is not a great talent. All I am saying is that it is far too early for coaches, teams, and fans to be proclaiming their new draft picks, especially ones after the first two rounds, a key component in their offense. Quarterback may be the hardest position to adapt to in the NFL. How can someone expect a late round QB to immediately make an impact?

These coaches, teams, and fans are suffering from what I am going to call a contact high. For months now, they have heard great things about what these kids (or grown men in Weeden’s case) did in college. Now they expect that to directly transfer into the NFL. Does anyone really expect Luck to come in and have a 3.7 touchdown to interception ration? Is Luke Kuechly going to average close to 16 tackles a game for the Panthers? These are elite talent players, who looked even better due to the competition they faced in college. Now everyone they face is close to the same talent level as they are, if not better. I caution everyone to give their rookies time to develop, learn the system, and grow accustomed to the NFL. Alex Smith was said to be the answer for the 49ers when he was taken with the first pick in the 2005 draft. Well, he seems to be now, having led them to the NFC Championship last year, but it took him 6 or 7 years to get there. Teams need to relax and stop putting so much pressure on these kids. And everyone needs to ignore the contact high they are receiving from the hype of the draft. Remember, for every Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, there is a Jamarcus Russell and Aklili Smith.

Follow Nick Wershing on Twitter: @n_shing


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