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Talent Vs Landing Spot

Updated: Apr 2

Talent versus Landing Spot 

What is more important to a rookie’s success in the NFL? Talent or Landing spot?  Does landing spot crush talent or can talented players rise above the landing spot?

I believe the answer is close 50/50. There have been a lot of players who were “generational and can’t miss” talents who were drafted to the wrong team and who never lived up to the hype. On the flip side, there have also been a lot of players who you never heard of who were drafted to right team for them.  

Every kid drafted to the NFL has talent and good tape, they wouldn’t be drafted if they didn’t, but so many will tell you look at those college stats and look at the tape, you can’t go wrong.  If these kids didn’t have stats and tape, you wouldn’t hear about them. 

Let’s use last season for example.  Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR) and Zach Charbonnet (RB) were both hyped as can’t miss prospects and were ranked in the top tier at their positions, then draft day and bam they are both drafted to Seattle, where they were behind established starters on a team with a so-so QB (Geno Smith) in 2023.  For dynasty players, this caused them to fall down draft boards, and if you drafted them you have to be patient.  Even though they are still behind those established starters, there is a new coaching staff there, so let’s see if they get a shot to showcase their talent.  Here is a situation where landing spot could impact if these two ever live up to expectations. 

Same goes for RB Jahmyr Gibbs, touted as the #2 RB prospect behind Bijan Robinson, but what happens, he get drafted by Detroit, a team that already had David Montgomery.  Doom and gloom set into the fantasy world but if you were patient, he paid off and even though Montgomery is still there, Gibbs should continue to show that talent can over-take landing spot.  

Speaking of Bijan Robinson, he was drafted to the perfect situation, and we were all stoked to grab him in our drafts but bam the perfect landing spot for year one turned out to be the not so perfect landing spot as Head Coach Arthur Smith decided to not use Bijan to his full skill set and we never saw him live up to his potential.  Hopefully that changes with a change in coaching staff and QB in 2024.  

Just look at history and you can find these stories everywhere. Tom Brady is one of the best examples in history.  Brady played four seasons at Michigan and was the starter for two (avg 2322 yards and 15 TDs and 8 INTs). He wasn’t athletic and was drafted in the 6th round. He was 3rd on the depth chart in NE but was handpicked by then Offensive Coordinator Charle Weiss and Head Coach Bill Belichick in the draft.  Nobody knew who he was but if they don’t draft him, does he even get drafted and if he does, is anything more than a backup? 

Same with Brock Purdy, no I am not saying he is Brady but last pick of the draft, a nobody but the perfect pick for the scheme in San Fran.  One more from that way back machine, David Klingler.  Drafted in 1992 6th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals.  He averaged over 4,000 yards and 43 TDs two years as the starter at the University of Houston.  He was out of the league n 1997 and never had more than 1900 yards in a season. What happened? He came from a “run and shoot” spread offense to a conventional, under-center offense with a bad offensive line.  He never had a chance. 

So, here we are in 2024. Who will rise to the top in the NFL Draft and who’s career will be sunk before its get off the ground because of a bad landing spot?  QB Caleb Williams has all the talent in the world on paper but will the Bears use all that talent properly?  Does Marvin Harrison jr. end up in Arizona where he should be the clear cut #1 WR or does he New England, where there are 5 WR #3s and no QB, yet?  

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