Wes Welker was interviewed on the Dan Patrick Show today and he gave some insight into how the New England Patriots continue to be among the NFL elite despite losing numerous Pro Bowlers and high-profile players over the past decade...it comes down to Scouting.
On the surface, players like Wes Welker aren't (and never will be) the type of players that most Scouts and GM types drool over. They show up at the NFL Combine and stand next to physically gifted players like Andre Johnson and Dez Bryant and you wonder why they are even there. Next, they run sub-par 40-yd times in comparison to the so-called "studs" and look even worse. So, guys like Welker often get overlooked and are drafted in the later rounds, if at all. But, in all honesty, how many times do players run 40 yards in a straight line with no pads and no contact? Never.
However, "Good" Scouts and General Managers (as Welker mentioned) take info gathered at the Combine and "combine" it with what these players show on film during the course of their careers and not just a few days in Indianapolis. Of course, 40-yd times along with Standing Broad Jump and Bench Press give you indications of what type of athlete these players are, but film and one-on-one interviews give you indications of what type of football players and what type of people they are. Those, to me, are more important factors in determining whether or not a player can help an organization win games. This is where teams like the Patriots of today and the 49ers of the past dominate other organizations.
Too often, teams take the approach of trying to gather as much "talent" as they can (see Dallas Cowboys & Washington Redskins in NFL, New York Knicks in NBA and, to an extent, the New York Yankees in MLB) and fail to take into account how these players fit into their system and how they can co-exist with the current players/coaches on their team.
Think about it, as a fan who makes you get more excited...Terrell Owens or Welker? Larry Johnson or Danny Woodhead? For most fans and GM types, it's Owens and Johnson. This is why, besides the Yankees, that none of those teams have won a Championship in over 15 years. In addition, many Head Coaches and General Managers have lost their jobs taking this approach. In contrast, Bill Belichick has been in New England for a decade. Question: Besides Tom Brady, how many multiple Pro Bowlers do the New England Patriots have on their current roster? Answer: Doesn't matter...they have the best Coach and evaluators of talent.