This fade route from Williams presents a good exercise for discerning successful and unsuccessful execution.
Can a player earn a positive assessment from a negative outcome? It depends on the way you define your process for assessing the player.
Did he score touchdowns? Did he earn a strong production share of his offense? Did he catch the football on a high percentage of targets? What’s his production share and catch percentage on specific routes?
If your evaluation criteria are heavily outcome-based with the questions above, the answer is likely, no. With a system heavily rooted in this methodology, you’ll likely identify some of the top players and some of the underrated prospects that immediately surprise.
It’s also likely that you’ll be too bullish on productive athletes that were focal points of offenses where they could outrun and out-jump most of its competition. I’d bet that a system solely rooted in outcome-based criteria will miss on players that are a few techniques from developing into a productive pro.
Of course, “hit” or “miss” has to be defined in a meaningful way, but that’s a topic for another discussion. Outcome-based criteria in evaluations have an important place in the process of studying football prospects, but so does process-based criteria.
Imagine shopping for a car. If you’re not a mechanic and lack the budget for a fixer-upper, your options are limited compared to a trained mechanic or a buyer with a large budget and a trustworthy shop that will repair or rehab the vehicle.
The mechanic can spot a vehicle that only needs a little work to make it worth far more than what he paid for it. He understands the processes that will lead to a good outcome and he can make adjustments to the process to help that outcome along.
A less experienced buyer is heavily reliant on outcomes that he cannot generate on his own. It better deliver to expectation immediately and in the near-future. The less experienced buyer can find bargains through reviews of makes and models, but he’s not likely to visit an auto auction and buy a collector’s item vehicle with strong performance potential at a fraction of a new car price.
The mechanic is.
It’s a simplistic analogy, but if a college player has the right level of maturity, work ethic, and passion for the game, a team will win the long game of personnel acquisition when it has a healthy amount of process-oriented evaluation guiding its decision-making. This play from Chad Williams requires process-oriented thinking to glean the maximum amount of potential on display.
Even so, you need results-oriented thinking to balance out the process. Otherwise, you could overvalue talent that isn’t a good cost-benefit investment.
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