A lot of NFL teams go into the draft with their eyes glued on a quarterback or top receiver in an attempt to structure an entire offense around one guy. I think this practice is ridiculous and obviously isn’t working for a lot of teams,*Cough* Jaguars *Cough*. But in college, the recruiting process is more about getting as many highly ranked high schoolers as possible to sign before weeding out what they don’t need and build around what they have. Essentially college is more like a game of Legos while the NFL is little bit more like a game of Jenga. So while this practice of “drafting” is more applicable to the pro level it can be used to discuss college teams as well.
In order to build a team from the figurative ground up, coaches must look at what they currently have and decide what they need to add in order to be successful. As I mentioned before, a lot of NFL teams look at quarterbacks as the shimmering light of hope that will help them win. WRONG. It’s wrong on so many levels. Consider the 2011 draft when Jacksonville scooped up college stud QB, Blaine Gabbert, in hopes that he would turn the team around. Then the team and fans had to watch for 3 years as Gabbert led the team down the toilet bowl of shame. A quarterback is only as good as his receivers who are only as good as their lineman. If a line doesn’t create a good enough pocket the QB has no where to go, and if a receiver can’t get open the QB has nowhere to throw. This leaves the QB with very few options before he gets sacked and there goes the 1st down.
However, consider this, a kicker as a first round draft pick. I recently saw a tweet from Bay News award winning sports reporter Jeff McAdam who tweeted:
“I never understood it.. After quarterback, my next biggest recruit would be a top kicker.. but so many coaches consider them an after thought”- @JeffMcAdamTV
And Mr. McAdam is right! Why do so many coaches look at these little golden nuggets as a last resort when in reality they are the key to turning a team who never scores into a team who at least puts 3s on the board? Think about how clutch Colby Delahoussaye has always been for LSU. He can score last second field goals to help the team win the game or he can put the Tigers in the lead with a simple field goal in the 3rd quarter when the team is losing their mojo. That is a key player if I ever saw one. In so many situations the kicker does the most for his team, if given the chance to. After all a kicker really only relies on himself and has no one but himself to blame if the kick isn’t good. Receivers, running backs, lineman, and QB’s, however, they all count on someone else in order to do their job right and that leaves a lot of talented players feeling confused and looking hopeless to the fans.
We, as fans, have a way of being too critical of our players and teams. We never seem to be satisfied with individual players when more often than not the blame should fall on the backs of multiple players who just couldn’t mesh to form a team. Kickers however don’t really need to mesh with anyone. They could waltz onto the field of a complete set of strangers and score 3 points if they’re good at what they do. And that is something coaches and fans overlook all too often.
Long-snappers are another asset we don’t really utilize the way that we should. These guys again really depend primarily on themselves and if a team has a good enough long-snapper they can do just about anything with the ball. Their job is to make the quarterback look good and to give him enough time with the ball in his hand to make a decision that would hopefully benefit his team.
LSU has both of these key players, a seasoned long-snapper in Mr. Reid Ferguson (whose interview you can read here) and a well known, dependable kicker… Mr. Colby Delahoussaye. With these two gems in the grasp of Coach Miles the team can do quite a bit of damage, but the Mad Hatter doesn’t seem to utilize the talent he’s got here the way I would suggest that he should, and that is a shame. It damns the entire team to losing and puts more pressure than necessary on freshman quarterbacks Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings as well as freshman wide receivers Malachi Dupre and Trey Quinn and running back Leonard Fournette. They are all still getting their feet wet and have a lot to learn before they’re able to step up the way we saw Jarvis Landry, Zach Mettenberger, Jeremy Hill and Odell Beckham Jr. all step up.
In conclusion, if I was in charge of helping Coach Miles make decisions I would suggest using the pawns he has who depend primarily on themselves to make plays and letting the freshman team build more chemistry before expecting major passes and touchdown runs from them.