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Bedard With Socci: Difficulty For NFL GM’s Is Weighing Potential Versus Polish

Bob Socci's NFL Draft Preview Show
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A group of offensive linemen listen to instruction during the 2014 NFL Combine on February 22, 2014. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

A group of offensive linemen listen to instruction during the 2014 NFL Combine on February 22, 2014. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – NFL writer Greg Bedard of TheMMQB.com appeared as a guest on Bob Socci’s NFL Draft Preview Show Sunday morning and, as always, provided keen insight and analysis as football fans near and far look toward the NFL draft on May 8.

With a record number of underclassmen entering the draft pool, Bedard wrote in his latest column that now more than ever scouts and general managers need to weigh the great debate of “potential vs. polish.”

Meaning, do you take the more proven player, or the player with a higher ceiling?

It’s a difficult, thankless job that Bedard himself would never want any part of.

“I think some of the fans, and even some of the media look at this guy in the college level and say, ‘Oh he’s a good player obviously he’ll do good in the NFL’ and it just doesn’t work out that way for a variety of reasons.

“You’re projecting so much with so many underclassmen coming out. You’re talking about a lot of 20-year-olds and projecting not only does this guy fit into our scheme next year, but you’re looking down the road 5, 10 years. How is this guy gonna develop? Not only physically, but also mentally. How is he gonna react to money? Is he gonna look at this as a job? Is he gonna be dedicated enough, or is he gonna goof off and shut things down once he gets paid?”

Bedard highlighted two prospects in Greg Robinson (Auburn) and Jake Matthews (Texas A&M) and proved his point around these two players.

Considered two of the best offensive line prospects coming out, there’s disagreement among personnel people about who projects better in the pros. One comes from a passing system (Matthews), while the other was mostly run-heavy. One is more NFL-ready while the other is more raw (Robinson).

“It gets into a ‘Well what do you want?’ Do you want the safer guy short term, or do you want the guy who has more potential long term? It’s amazing what these guys do and the debate that they go through.”

What complicates matters more is when your owner is always firing people. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has hired and fired more head coaches in two years than the Steelers have in over 40 years. There’s something to be said about organizational stability and team success, which ultimately trickles down into the level of patience of those controlling the draft board.

“The teams that are consistently competitive year in and year out, it’s no mistake that these teams have coaches and front offices with job security. It never enters into the equation, ‘What do I gotta do to save my job this year?'”

One player thought to be a job saver is Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, whom Bedard became a huge fan of after witnessing first hand the demolishing of Nick Saban’s Alabama defense for the second straight season.

But the question with Manziel is not ability. . . it’s commitment.

Bedard gave the example Texans coach Bill O’Brien shared with him, that when he was coaching on the Patriots staff Tom Brady would call him in the middle of March wanting to tweak and make changes to OTA practice scripts.

“Is Manziel going to be that dedicated?” Bedard wondered aloud to Bob Socci.

Another player with commitment issues is South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Bedard’s high on him too, but is weary of what he sees on film.

“He’s a transcendent talent that has the ability to dominate the league for years to come. … The tape shows that. The tape also shows him shutting it down at times. … Does he want to be great? You can’t just be great off natural talent [in the NFL], that’s for sure.”

Listen below for the full discussion, including Bedard’s take on which position the Patriots will draft in the first round, the Ron Wolfe theory on quarterbacks and much more:

Greg Bedard Interview

Bob Socci's NFL Draft Preview Show

Bob Socci’s NFL Draft Preview Show airs every Sunday through May 11 starting at 8am on 98.5 The Sports Hub!

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