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Recruits Need Not Be Concerned with the Spread Much Longer

Courtesy of Chris Low:

"The only time I really see [Florida] lose kids is because kids want to play in a pro-style offense," Kiffin said. "It’s such a great place to play, and they do such a good job of coaching. But you see some kids that don’t want to play in that system because a lot of times it hurts them going to the next level for their draft status."

If there's one thing we've learned about Lane Kiffin, it's that he's all about recruiting. It's unlikely that recruits are getting this idea all on their own, and hey, who better to introduce it than a guy who runs a pro-style offense, right?

It may still have some merits, but it's not going to stay around for long. Why?

  • New England runs a spread offense, and the guy who catches more passes than anyone in it (and became a Pro Bowler) is Wes Welker. He played in Texas Tech's spread offense.
  • Michael Crabtree, for whatever his mania in relation with holding out, was a top ten draft pick from that same Texas Tech spread offense.
  • Three spread offense receivers (Crabtree, Missouri's Jeremy Maclin, and Florida's Percy Harvin) were taken in the first round of last year's draft. The only tight end taken in the first round (Oklahoma State's Brandon Pettigrew) came from a spread offense.
  • Both Harvin and Louis Murphy, from Florida's very spread offense, started on opening day for their teams and both caught touchdown passes.
  • Sam Bradford was predicted to be a top ten pick had he come out last year and is the top quarterback prospect for 2010. He plays in a spread offense in Oklahoma.
  • The top two offensive lineman prospects for 2010 according to ESPN (Oklahoma State's Russell Okung and Oklahoma's Trent Williams) block in spread offenses.
  • Jonathan Dwyer is one of the top running back prospects, and he plays in the spread version of the wishbone.
  • Despite what Mel Kiper would have you believe, Tim Tebow is probably going to be a high draft pick. Bill Parcells thinks he'll go top ten, Jon Gruden thinks he could "revolutionize the game," and Mike Tomlin thinks highly enough of him to compliment his quarterback by making a comparison:

It's true that spread offenses do some things differently than pro-style offenses do. You would expect that to be the case since they are two different kinds of offenses. However, all that means is that NFL coaches will have to do some, you know, coaching.

Spread offense principals are gradually infiltrating NFL offenses anyway. Both Super Bowl participants last year operated from spread sets more often than not, and the highest scoring NFL offense ever (the '07 Patriots) ran a spread offense. The Kansas City Chiefs switched to a spread offense in the middle of last year with a second year quarterback from Coastal Carolina and doubled their points per game.

I suppose if Kiffin wants to perpetuate, or at the very least, exploit the perception that spread offense will hurt draft position, it will work for now. He'd be a fool not to, but It won't work for much longer.