It’s draft season (and mock season, so if you love mocks, check out our extensive listing) and there’s a ton of player evaluation going on.
Let’s take a look at a couple of receivers that Packer fans have been talking about this offseason: Randall Cobb and Antonio Brown.
Imagine you’re an NFL scout looking at these guys as college prospects.
These guys both started their college careers as quarterbacks before moving to receiver. Cobb was an All American from a big school, Brown was a nobody who transferred from North Carolina Tech Prep to Central Michigan (granted he was 2nd Team All-MAC in 2007).
They both came out as Juniors and had these stats their final year of college ball:
- Cobb: 84 catches, 1,017 yards (12.1 avg), 12 total touchdowns
- Brown: 110 catches, 1198 yards (10.9 avg), 12 total touchdowns
So Cobb looks like the more explosive player, doing more with each opportunity and doing it against tougher competition.
Then, before the draft, you get to the Combine and check out their results:
|Randall Cobb||Antonio Brown|
|Height||5’10 1/4″||5’10 1/8″|
|Hand Size||9 3/8″||9″|
|20 Yard Split||2.66||2.61|
|40 Yard Dash||4.46||4.47|
|3 Cone Drill||7.08||6.98|
They are basically the same person! Well, except for the eyes.
They came into the league a year apart with basically the exact same physical tools and both returned a kickoff for a touchdown in their first game ever in the NFL.
Since then, they’ve had completely different trajectories.
Sure, Cobb has had some great moments and was one of the top slot receivers in the league for a stretch, but Brown has been the best receiver in the game: he was a four-time First Team All Pro (plus a second teamer once) who led the league in touchdowns once and yardage and receptions twice. The one time Cobb went to the Pro Bowl was as an alternate after five other receivers declined (and he never led the league in anything).
So how would we know this? How would the guys who are paid to scout these things know this? How would anybody know this?
Nothing in the college background or Combine results suggested how different their on-the-field production would be.
Much like stats can’t tell us who is a better player, measurements can’t tell us who is going to be a better player.
So why the difference in performance?
There’s no easy answer. System? Mental approach? Heart? Hustle? Do you think Randall Cobb didn’t play in a receiver-friendly system with a great QB? Do you think his mental approach to the game isn’t top-notch? Do you think doesn’t hustle?
As I look back on these two guys, I have no idea how on Earth anyone would have seen this coming based on their college experience.
Cobb had a much more celebrated college career, then their combine measures coming out were as near to identical as you can possibly get…
This is why draft evaluations are so hard – it’s crazy how hard it is to evaluate these guys.
Just try to remember that when April rolls around.
Check out Packers Draft Central for all our 2019 NFL Draft coverage!