He could be good, but he could be bad. It could be said about every player transitioning from college football to the NFL. When reading scouting reports and draft day analysis, it can seem like this is the basic assessment of every prospect.
Most Internet scouting reports aren’t written with the purpose of the analyst hedging his bets. The intent is to cover the full spectrum of a player’s strengths and weaknesses. But if not careful, the overall product appears wishy-washy.
In all fairness, every year there are prospects that merit this kind of “he could be good, but he could be bad” analysis. It’s understandable when considering the context of the times. The size of the NFL draft is smaller than any time in the modern era of football. Physical talent is better and the concentration of that athleticism is often as good at the top of the draft as it is at the bottom. It’s why we read about undrafted free agents who at one time were considered first-day prospects.
Rookie receiver Da’Rick Rogers -– a street free agent who tried out with the Buffalo Bills this summer and got cut -– is on the cusp of earning significant playing time this month for the Colts. With a playing style that reminded me a lot of Dwayne Bowe but with greater short area agility, there was a time Rogers was every bit the prospect – if not better – than his fellow Tennessee Volunteers matriculates. It’s a list that includes the likes of Justin Hunter, Denarius Moore, and Kenbrell Thompkins (although Thompkins never played a down in orange and white, opting out when Lane Kiffin left campus). It was Rogers’ off-field behavior that put him on outside looking in when the NFL held it’s annual “April Rush.”
Entering the 2013 season, Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert also had a wish-washy scouting report despite an on-field game that was brimming with confidence. Gilbert has first-day athleticism and versatility, but junior year lapses with technique and judgment made him the type of player who elicited a wide range of draft day possibilities before his senior year.