The D-Team: How to Better Develop NFL Players

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Dec 24, 2011; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver


Sometimes players are drafted with the expectation to come in and make an immediate impact. Generally those players are higher draft picks, but even deep in the draft some teams are still drafting for needs. Some teams will go ahead and draft “projects” because of the potential and high upside that some players have shown. They may still be raw and need to be polished, but have shown flashes of brilliance that makes NFL teams want to take the gamble.

There was NFL Europe and sometimes players get recognized by how well they play in the Canadian Football League (CFL). There is no better way to improve than actual game experience. A lot of these project players spend years on the Practice Squad or as inactives on game day. Who knows how many potential stars may have never gotten their chance because they never hit the field. Maybe they saw limited playing time because they were only given a handful of opportunities in practice. The number could be less than imagined, but missing out on one potential superstar could make the difference between a team making the playoffs or having a high draft pick the next season.

Now that rosters have been increased to 90 for training camp, that could give additional players a chance to show that they belong. Hopefully the NFL’s Competition Committee will expand the game day rosters up to around 60. Football is a war of attrition, injuries happen quite frequently. Injuries can also help to doom a team’s season. Due to injury, some of these players may finally get their time to shine, but often they can be overlooked because they haven’t even been given that opportunity in practice.

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