Every year the draft brings rookies into the league and many of the prospects have question marks about their game. Pick a player and there’s a criticism: too short, too light, too slow, not muscular enough, didn’t play well against top competition, came from a lesser program, you name it.
This is why I love YouTube as a football fan. With Marshall Faulk heading to Canton this August, I wanted to check out his highlights at San Diego State. The second overall pick in the 1994 NFL Draft, Faulk was the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and the Pro Bowl MVP. However just for kicks, watch this highlight package from his years as an Aztec and tell me from a physical standpoint – height (5’10”) and weight (207 lbs.) – and the plays you see on the highlights, whether you would project him as an every down back, much less a Hall of Famer.
There’s no question about his speed and lateral agility, but nowadays Faulk might have been classified as a third-down back.
A video like this one is also why NFL teams should never judge a player based on prepackaged highlights (see my piece Evaluating the Evaluator, which highlights an argument that resulted from Rams GM Charlie Armey trying to push that style of evaluation onto former scout Dave Razzano with QB Alex Smith). Imagine a compilation of highlights like this one where we see very limited evidence of his balance after contact? A GM with Armey’s mentality could intend to show his staff the big-play ability of Faulk with the unintended consequence that Faulk lacked every down skills as a runner.
It sounds like a stretch to say this about Faulk, but remember, major college programs like Nebraska recruited him as a defensive back. Faulk could have never even gotten a whiff of the pros if he didn’t stand his ground and state he’d only play running back.
Just some things to think about when consider the value NFL teams place on the wisdom of major college programs as well as the value of highlight packages….