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Fact or Fiction: Offseason evaluation debate

Posted Jan 12, 2018

The Giants.com staff debates Big Blue topics as the offseason evaluation and 2018 planning gets underway:  



A prospect’s ceiling is more important than his floor in evaluating potential.    


JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - This is a great question that isn’t asked enough. Too many people only look at a prospect’s ceiling without looking at what the worst-case scenario, or what the floor is for a player. Often times, the most important first question to ask about a player is: What do we know that he can do with some high level of certainty? Dalvin Tomlinson was a high floor player. The team was fairly certain he would be a very good run defender with a chance he could develop pass rush skills. When you consider a player’s floor, there’s a smaller chance of drafting a complete bust, even if there is a slightly smaller chance you don’t get a superstar. A player’s floor is certainly a part of the draft evaluation that isn’t talked about enough.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - Especially when you’re talking about a top five draft pick like the Giants have this year, franchises cannot afford to miss on the P-word. Potential is the trickiest part of personnel evaluation in sports and is what makes the NFL Draft so fascinating. For the most part, you know what college players are going to be All-Stars in the NBA. In football, you could go from being the Heisman Trophy winner to just hoping to get drafted. That’s why what you know (i.e. the floor) is more important.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - The easy response here is “Fact” since a team ultimately wants a prospect to reach his ceiling, but projecting the floor correctly is more important because that represents the worst case scenario.  If your projections are off with the ceiling, it’s not the end of the world as that prospect could still end up being a very productive player. But if you make a mistake on the floor, it may be difficult to salvage the pick or get anything in return later on.  When you draft a player, you have to consider whether you can live with that decision in the event he ends up closer to his floor than his ceiling.

If you could acquire an All-Pro running back or a Pro Bowl pass rusher, you would choose the pass rusher.

JOHN SCHMEELK: - It Depends (Yes, I’m copping out): This is a loaded question because I don’t know what level of Pro Bowler the defensive end is. If the defensive end is a starter in the Pro Bowl each year -- and not a third alternate injury replacement -- he is much more valuable. If you’re talking about a 7-10 sack defensive end or Adrian Peterson, I’ll go with the running back. If you are talking about a top pass rusher like Khalil Mack, I will go with the pass rusher because there is far more longevity at that position. Even the best running backs might only last five to seven seasons, but a great defensive end might get to 10 to 12 years at a fairly high level. Dave Gettleman said there are three things a good team must do: run the ball, stop the run, and rush the passer. Drafting both an All-Pro running back and a Pro Bowl defensive end will accomplish that, but I’ll go with the end because they will be at their peak level for a longer period of time. 

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - If the curious case of Damon Harrison has taught us anything, it’s that Pro Bowl nods can be pretty suspect. The truly elite players are All-Pros. I’ll make it simple. Would you rather have a Le'Veon Bell or a Melvin Ingram?

LANCE MEDOW: Fact - Although the NFL is a pass happy league, the running game is still extremely important as it can cover up other issues on offense and even protect your defense.  With that being said, even if you draft a future All-Pro running back, the production of that player is still dependent on a variety of factors, not the least of which is the play of the offensive line, a lineup that will no doubt change over time. That’s not necessarily the case for the Pro Bowl pass rusher, who can still be disruptive despite other issues on defense.  I’ll lean toward the player that doesn’t have to rely on so many other parts.




Coming from a powerhouse college program is overrated for NFL prospects.


JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - The type of program a player comes from doesn’t matter nearly as much as the competition he played against, the system he played in, and the coaching he received at the college level. I would rather draft an offensive lineman from Iowa because they play in a big conference in a pro system and have been coached well than an offensive lineman from a powerhouse like Oklahoma that runs a spread system and doesn’t ask their linemen to do things NFL teams will ask them to do.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - From Morehead State’s Phil Simms to Texas Southern’s Michael Strahan and Michigan’s Amani Toomer, you can find greats from non-powerhouse schools. Okay, that last one was a shot from a Buckeye to a Michigan Man. But seriously, players from the bigger schools do – and should – get the benefit of the doubt in most cases. They played a higher level of competition while testing their mettle on massive stages in front of 100,000 people week in and week out. That makes the jump to the biggest stage of all – the NFL – less overwhelming. 

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - Have many successful NFL players come from small college programs? Yes, but those players are still considered risks given the competition they face on the collegiate level.  Coming from a powerhouse program doesn’t guarantee you success, but it certainly doesn’t hurt your stock when it comes to the draft.  Case in point, of the 32 first round picks in the 2017 Draft, just two were from schools outside the Power 5 conferences.  From a scout’s perspective, it’s much easier to gauge how a player from a high-level college program will translate to the NFL than a player from a lower level of competition.  

The NFC is more wide open than the AFC in the remaining playoff field.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - This is the easiest answer of the week. I think everyone would be shocked if the Patriots don’t play in the AFC Championship game next Sunday. The Steelers are also favorites, despite their loss to the Jaguars in the regular season. The NFC, meanwhile, features a No. 1 seed in Philadelphia that is an underdog to the Falcons. In the other NFC game, both the Saints and Vikings have realistic paths to victory. The NFC is far more wide-open. You didn’t ask, but I’ll give my prediction anyway: Falcons over Eagles, Vikings over Saints. Steelers and Patriots meet in the AFC Championship Game.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - I could talk about how I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of the four remaining teams in the NFC make it to the Super Bowl, but it really comes down to one thing. One conference has the Patriots, and the other does not. Have a good weekend.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact - In the NFC, all four remaining teams won at least 10 games during the regular season, and I can easily make a case for each of the four to get to the Super Bowl.  Even if you don’t want to put much stock in Nick Foles or Case Keenum, both the Eagles and Vikings have strong run games and solid defenses.  The same can be said for Drew Brees and the Saints and Matt Ryan and the defending NFC champion Falcons, the lowest remaining seeds in both conferences.  While the Patriots and Steelers are both strong contenders with veteran quarterbacks, the Titans and Jaguars have their fair share of questions and not nearly as much balance as the four NFC teams.