A good way to tell if a talent evaluator in football actually knows what he's talking about is to note if he ever downgrades someone due to the quality of his teammates.
If you're an Alabama fan, you know what I'm talking about. They say things like "He was surrounded by superior talent," or the team was "full of NFL-quality players."
Guess what: Every team in the NFL is full of NFL-quality players. Knowing that someone can already play at that level is actually a good thing.
Of course, the rhetoric regarding the former Crimson Tide players in this year's draft is already deafening, especially when it comes to quarterback Mac Jones.
Among the few knocks on him are that he was only a starting quarterback for one year, he isn't built like some other quarterbacks, and he doesn't have the arm strength of, say, Tua Tagovailoa.
Incidentally, the MMQB item that a team asked DeVonta Smith point blank: Tagovailoa or Jones, and he said Jones, please realize that it was probably a trick question. What they were really asking him was would your rather have a quarterback with more natural ability or is driven to work hard? Jones passed (pun intended) with flying colors.
No one is questioning his decision making, especially since his passer rating set an NCAA record last season. He also led the nation in completed passes at 77.4 percent. He showed poise. He showed toughness. He gets through his progressions and can complete passes downfield.
Those are things that good NFL teams are looking for, and gauge in their evaluations.
Meanwhile, consider the 1982 Minnesota Vikings, who had the seventh pick that year and needed a running back.
The Heisman Trophy winner was sitting there, Marcus Allen.
Did Minnesota take him?
Allen was a remarkable athlete, and had been recruited by John Robinson to be a defensive back.
As a freshman in 1978, he was backing up Heisman winner Charles White. So to get on the field more he moved to fullback in 1979, and then became the starter at tailback. He tallied 1,563 rushing yards, third most in the nation behind only George Rogers and Herschel Walker.
In 1981, Allen became the second player in NCAA history to top 2,000 rushing yards in a season, finishing with 2,342. Being a good receiver as well, he had 2,683 offensive yards and led the nation in scoring.
Allen finished his four college seasons with 4,664 rushing yards, 5,232 total yards, and 46 touchdowns, while averaging 5.2 yards per carry. He had 12 200-yard rushing games, an NCAA record that's been tied twice since then.
So why didn't the Vikings take him? A big reason was the belief that he was surrounded by too much talent with the Trojans.
They took Darrin Nelson from Stanford, a good running back, but who never had a 1,000-yard rushing season in the NFL.
Allen, selected 10th by the Raiders, is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Here's the top six picks in the 1982 draft:
- Kenneth Sims, Patriots, DT, Texas
- Johnie Cooks, Colts, LB, Mississippi State
- Chip Banks, Browns, LB, USC
- Art Schlichter, Colts, QB, Ohio State
- Jim McMahon, Bears, QB, Brigham Young
- Jeff Bryant, Seahawks, DE, Clemson
Banks was a Pro Bowl player and McMahon ended up giving the Vikings fits for years.
There were three other Hall of Famers selected in that draft: Houston Oilers guard Mike Munchak at No. 8, Andre Tippett by the Patriots in the second round, and kicker Morten Anderson by the Saints in the fourth round.