Gregg Easterbrook's column today contained this gem regarding the value of players in lower draft positions (or undrafted).
Is it actually an advantage to work with unwanted players? At the NFL level, in many cases a guy chosen in the first round has perhaps 10 percent more talent than a guy who just misses being chosen, such as Welker. If both performed with the same motivation, the first-round guy would prevail. But high-drafted megabucks players tend to devote a lot of time and energy to complaining, while the undrafted give you what they've got. The kind of players who give you what they've got benefit more from coaching. Note that Belichick's teams almost never have busted plays, blown coverages or wrong routes. Undrafted or unwanted players learn the playbook and watch film. High-drafted glory-boy types think they can just show up and wing it. Busted plays are a bigger factor in NFL outcomes than commonly understood. Working with humble players allows Belichick to nearly eliminate the blown assignment.
In 2010 it seemed as though one theme played out over and over was Texas getting ripped by Texas High School players who landed with other teams, presumably with less recruiting stars, etc. Did Texas fall victim to the phenomenon Easterbrook describes as occurring in the NFL; highly-prized, but unmotivated players?
Given the choice between a position coach who can recruit a 5-star player or a position coach who can get the most productivity out of a 3-star player, shouldn't we give more credence to the latter?