Injuries and inconsistent play are often behind a college prospect’s falling stock, but there are various reason why certain players fall down draft boards.
Rob Rang of NFL Draft Scout offers up some thoughts about the most recent Chicago Bears draft class, but his belief in what might have held back the team’s sixth- and seventh-round picks requires additional attention.
“Late-round picks Kylie Fitts and Javon Wims struggled with inconsistency in their college careers but possess legitimate athleticism and may have posted significantly better numbers had they played for programs that took better advantage of their skill-sets,” Rang wrote.
It’s possible that coaching played a key role in the Bears potentially plucking a pair of late-round steals. Player development isn’t linear, and neither was the path to the pros for Wims or Fitts.
Wims took a long road to becoming the Bears’ seventh-round pick, going the junior college route before landing at Georgia for the final two years of his college career. Even still, there was a belief that Wims should’ve gone much earlier based on his skills and production as a senior against quality SEC defenses.
And then there is Fitts, whose path to the pros should have been smooth. He was a top-100 national prospect who played his high school ball in California before enrolling at UCLA. Fitts later transferred to Utah, but still played against quality Pac-12 competition.
Sure, injuries played a part in Fitts’ draft stock taking a tumble. But Rang calls into question the coaching he received at Utah, noting that the Utes put him on the line of scrimmage when he could have been better suited for outside linebacker – a role the Bears will have him playing moving forward. Further, Rang noted the similarities to ex-Bear Pernell McPhee, who like Fitts, was a college defensive lineman who the Ravens slid to outside linebacker.
We often look at the difference in the level of play and breed of athletes when dissecting the leap from college football to the pros. But maybe we should widen our net to analyze the coaching aspect, which could ultimately be a deciding factor in whether a player reaches his potential.
And if the Bears’ coaches can unearth some untapped potential from these late-round picks, it will say a lot of good things about the scouts that found these players … as well as the staff that helps develop them.