I’m a runner. I get that most of you aren’t, but running is what I know; running is what I love. I got injured late Summer 2014. I knew I was injured, but I didn’t stop exercising anyway. Eighteen months later I finally saw someone about it, got the problems fixed, some that developed as a result of trying to press on without treatment. Then all of a sudden throughout 2016 I became significantly faster. I’m sure you have a hobby that you love. I’m also sure you screwed up something very obvious at some point when working on that hobby. Looking back on it, you felt like an idiot because the obvious was looking right at you. Well, that’s Malcolm Mitchell.
How would you describe Malcolm Mitchell’s playing style? Having followed him since his early days at Georgia, I’ve taken note of his tremendous balance on a variety of different routes. Routes that he has had ample experience showing as a more advanced route tree was demanded under former Head Coach Mark Richt’s system. He has shown his speed on the field and his testing at the Combine confirmed its legitimacy. Along with the balance skills he has shown, he has displayed very reliable hands and the ability to make plays with the ball in his hands as well. Maybe others with a better eye saw this before the Combine, but with an arm length of 32 5/8” and a hand size of 10 ½”, both being significantly longer/bigger than most other receiver prospects. So in total, we had a prospect with some freaky measureables, experience in a pro system, and success displayed within that system. He has to have off the field issues, right? Oh…you mean in his free time he writes children’s books?
Alright, I’m stumped. Then why did he fall to the 112th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft? Injuries, and while they were a big issue throughout college, there were no indications those issues would carry over. To be fair, there are lots of reasons for NFL teams to steer away from players they flag as injury risks. However, there are not the same reasons for players in our game to stay away. In our game, there isn’t much difference between a physically imposing receiver prospect with neck-up baggage than a physically imposing receiver prospect with health issues. In both cases, they may not play due to some intangible risk we can’t reasonably project. So we should prioritize those on great offenses, right? Well, we should have, but in Mitchell’s case? We didn’t. It was stupid then and we realize it now. Just like trying to continue to train through an injury; it was so obvious, but we just missed it.
If you got to him already then keep playing him; you’re in a great spot to compete for a title. If you didn’t? Remember this next draft season. Sometimes, it’s so easy we didn’t see it coming.