FanPost

Athlete characterization - 1st step in the NFL draft

There are lots of prospects aspiring to become NFL players. Over 350 at least. And of the 220-250 draft picks each year (not counting undrafted free agents) that are picked, less than 100 go on to become prominent starters in the NFL. Even less than that are deemed elite - or for lack of a better description, distinctively better than everyone else at their position.

As a youth sports coach, I'm often asked questions from parents or other coaches about what makes an athlete special or stand out from other athletes and/or what specific skills should their son/daughter possess to become special. I'm told that my answer usually surprises most people; it's not shooting the basketball better or throwing a tighter spiral or anything of the sort. In fact it has more to do with the athlete specifically. In my 20 years of coaching, I've found what sets some athletes apart from others is their frame of mind and their mentality.

Elite athletes have a special viewpoint toward their sport and life in general as they all seem to understand their craft to a deeper level than everyone else. Of course, all athletes possess skill. This skill is displayed in various forms and with differing degrees of mastery so I'm not saying elite athletes aren't skilled. So believe me, regardless of the sport, skill is always necessary, especially at the pro level. But that skill isn't the most important aspect that makes them special. In fact, it's a small portion of it. Most people can actually remember the first time they threw a baseball and the fact that they could do so with relatively decent accuracy after about 1/2 a day of practice. The ability to throw a baseball is relatively easy to learn and practice. There are many pitchers in professional baseball but few that can do so well. Those that can all seem to possess an understanding of how to throw a baseball to a specific spot or in a way no one else can duplicate. And often you find that particular thrower possesses an understanding of the sport of baseball and all its nuances to a greater degree than everyone else.

It seems as if the experts all agree Andrew Luck is shoe-in for eliteness. He'll be picked 1st overall. But I'm curious if there are other prospects who might possess that other level ability and understanding. And, is it always a QB that we think of whenever we talk about elite? So with that, my question to BTB is who besides him do you feel could possibly be an elite player, be selected for multiple pro bowls, lead his team to a Superbowl appearance and quite possibly be one of the best to ever play the game at his position?

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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