Playing to Type--and Against It

For these kinds of prospects, potential pitfalls abound-but the decision-makers know that past performance is no guarantee of future results
April 30, 2006

Some pass-happy college offenses enable
QBs to run up big stats. But how will those numbers translate in thepros?
BOOM Drew Brees, Purdue (Chargers, 2001, second round-32nd pick) Huge numbersin college spread attack were no fluke; 104.8 rating in 2004 was third best inNFL
BUST Tim Couch, Kentucky (Browns, 1999, 1-1) More TDs (73) his last two collegeyears than in five-year pro career (64)
2006 Omar Jacobs, Bowling Green Like last year's No. 1, Alex Smith, Jacobspiled up yardage in a college spread option. Smith had a rough NFLtransition

NFL personnel evaluators must project whether players with off-field issueswill mature and be manageable in the pros
BOOM Warren Sapp, DT, Miami (Bucs, 1995, 1-12) Predraft reports of positivemarijuana tests caused him to fall out of top 10; he's played in seven ProBowls
BUST William Green, RB, Boston College (Browns, 2002, 1-16) Suspensions at BCfor rules violations may have foreshadowed NFL woes, including substance abuseban
2006 Winston Justice, RT, USC Suspended in '04 after misdemeanor pellet-gunoffense; won starting job back in '05

All-star games, the combine and pro days can bring hidden gems to light, butscouts can be blinded by the sudden brilliance
BOOM Brian Urlacher, LB, New Mexico (Bears, 2000, 1-9) Muscled build and 4.5940 at combine solidified first-round status; four-time Pro Bowler forChicago
BUST Mike Mamula, DE, Boston College (Eagles, 1995, 1-7) Legendary combine-26reps at 225 and a 4.62 40-had scouts drooling; undistinguished as pro
2006 Ernie Sims, OLB, Florida State A 4.50 40 at combine and 4.48 at Seminoles'pro day bump him into mid-first-round

Sometimes talent evaluators have to weigh a player's poor showing at thecombine against his great game performances
BOOM Anquan Boldin, WR, Florida State (Cardinals, 2003, 2-54) Slipped to secondround after 4.75 40 at combine; two 100-catch seasons in first three proyears
BUST Peter Warrick, WR, Florida State (Bengals, 2000, 1-4) Concerns about size(5'11") and speed (4.55) proved well-founded; hasn't hit it big as apro
2006 Chad Greenway, LB, Iowa Once thought second-best LB in draft, he'sslipping after 4.76 40 and 16 bench-press reps

A player might burst on the scene in his final college season, but is thatenough to make him a high pick in the draft?
BOOM Javon Walker, WR, Florida State (Packers, 2002, 1-20) Had 45 catches inone year as Seminoles starter; NFL breakout came in '04 (89 catches, 1,382yards)
BUST Akili Smith, QB, Oregon (Bengals, 1999, 1-3) Set Ducks' TD pass record assenior; out of the NFL after four seasons
2006 Maurice Stovall, WR, Notre Dame His 69 catches in '05 season more thandoubled output for previous best year; could be a tempting pick in the secondround

Running quarterbacks who may lack the passing skills to make it in the NFLstill attract teams because of their athletic ability
BOOM Antwaan Randle El, Indiana (Steelers, 2002, 2-62) Former college scramblerwas invaluable as receiver-return man-trick-play passer in Pittsburgh
BUST Scott Frost, Nebraska (Jets, 1998, 3-67) Conversion to safety didn't work:one start, 56 tackles in six pro seasons
2006 Brad Smith, Missouri Only collegian to pass for more than 8,000 yards andrush for 4,000, his NFL future is at wide receiver, possibly halfback

When a fast-starting college career tails off, NFL teams are left wondering howmuch value to place on early brilliance
BOOM Dan Marino, QB, Pittsburgh (Dolphins, 1983, 1-27) After his disappointingsenior season (17 TDs, 23 ints.), five QBs went ahead of the future Hall ofFamer
BUST R. Jay Soward, WR, USC (Jaguars, 2000, 1-29) Reception yardage declinedfrom sophomore to junior to senior seasons; lasted one year in NFL
2006 Gabe Watson, DT, Michigan Mediocre play cost him starting job for fourgames in '05; strong Senior Bowl moved him up charts

One of the toughest quarterback calls to make: How will a big fish in a smallpond fare in the roiling waters of the NFL?
BOOM Steve McNair, Alcorn State (Oilers, 1995, 1-3) Despite lack of competitionagainst top-flight college defenses, has been NFL co-MVP and Super Bowlstarter
BUST Giovanni Carmazzi, Hofstra (49ers, 2000, 3-65) Set 11 records at I-AAschool but he never threw an NFL pass; waived after two injury-plaguedseasons
2006 Ingle Martin, Furman Strong-armed transfer from Florida threw for 42 TDsin two years as a Paladin; he punts, too!

They don't fit the prototype for pro receivers, but small, speedy wideouts canbecome big producers in the NFL
BOOM Steve Smith, Utah (Panthers, 2001, 3-74) Didn't thrill scouts at 5'9",185, but is now one of NFL's most productive receivers; led league with 1,563yards in '05
BUST Troy Edwards, Louisiana Tech (Steelers, 1999, 1-13) Career never took offafter promising first season (61 catches); in '05, had two receptions forDetroit
2006 Sinorice Moss, Miami Santana's brother is only 5'8", 184, butlightning speed could make him third wideout off the board

The worry about smaller defensive ends is that they'll get swallowed up by theNFL's larger, more athletic offensive linemen
BOOM Dwight Freeney, Syracuse (Colts, 2002, 1-11) Relying on speed and anunstoppable spin move, 6'1" 260-pounder has become an NFL sackmachine
BUST Jamal Reynolds, Florida State (Packers, 2001, 1-10) His 6'3",260-pound frame didn't hold up in pros; three sacks in four-yearinjury-shortened career
2006 Elvis Dumervil, Louisville Only 5'11" 258, he led nation in sacks lastyear with 20. Is he another Freeney-or Reynolds?