Leach mostly on mark with criticism of draft process

Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach during the 2008 season against Texas A&M. (Matt Slocum / Associated Press)

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach has some problems with how NFL teams scout college players for the draft. (Matt Slocum / Associated Press)

The Lions, Buccaneers and Jets should beware. Those teams drafted quarterbacks in the first round last weekend but could fall victim to just following the crowd, according to Texas Tech coach Mike Leach.

After his former quarterback, Graham Harrell, had to find an NFL home through rookie free agency, Leach said he believes “the quarterback position is horribly drafted.” He cited the high number of first-round misses at quarterback as evidence of NFL teams’ ineptitude in effectively evaluating the game’s most important position.

“There seems to be a mentality with NFL teams where they follow the herd and it seems to be OK to shuffle to the edge, then head off the cliff,” Leach said.

“The media also influences who teams will pick because the coverage seems to give certain players momentum days before the draft, so the teams tend to follow the coverage, and there is no independent thought,” Leach added. “I’m sure most teams will not tell you that because they’d like to believe they came to that decision on their own.”

Leach seems to understand that over-analysis of players has led to paralysis, misses and out-right busts.

I agree with Leach in that some teams tend to upgrade a quarterback based on his workouts, in which he’s not facing a pass rush or reading coverage. Some teams also move players up or down the draft board for non-football reasons and ultimately disregard his on-the-field body of work.

During the months of over-analysis, good players become bad, and bad players become potential Day 1 starters. Then most teams feel the need to justify writing a big check to a player by forcing him into the starting lineup, thus beginning a domino effect of errors. What teams need to realize is that if a player doesn’t fit, they can’t force it.

I believe teams know which players to draft, but they struggle in finding the right round in which to take them. Therefore, teams reach for players, and some of those players fail.

If Leach is looking for a team that uses independent evaluation without following the herd, he needs to look no further than the New England Patriots, who have one of his former players, WR Wes Welker.

— Solomon Wilcots

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