Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Jared Knight: The Sebastian Vollmer factor?

Here's a brief interlude from the prospects series, but had a quick flash of inspiration after reading my daily Boston sports links today.

I was glancing at Mike Reiss's always excellent mailbag over on ESPN.com Boston, and I came across an interesting discussion about Patriots offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer, who was a second-round selection of the Pats in 2009, and was considered in some circles to be a reach at the time, and had very low expectations going into the 2009 NFL season. He ended up being the team's most impactful rookie (although you can also make a case for WR Julian Edelman) but, as I read the exchange between Reiss and a Pats fan, I couldn't help but be reminded of the similarity between Vollmer and Bruins '10 second-rounder Jared Knight, who like Vollmer, was not invited to the draft combine, but still managed to sell the team on his merits.

Granted, there's a world of difference between a pro football prospect and a hockey one, but the whole thing has me thinking: could Knight end up being the B's version of Vollmer? A player who was drafted pretty high but without the requisite pedigree, but who comes in an overachieves despite where he was viewed in the public/conventional/media-based scouting reports?

Here's the excerpt from the Reiss mailbag, and I do think that there are some interesting parallels between the two players. Again-- not saying that Knight is going to come in and light it up and be playing in the NHL at 18 (he's got some very limited options and stiff competition up front, so I don't see it happening), but you don't want to count guys like him out, either.

Q. Hey Mike, I was reading a bit about Sebastian Vollmer today and I came across this piece from last year, in which you provided analysis on the Pats selecting Vollmer in the second round. I don't mean to rake you over the coals, but I did get a chuckle reading your comment that "Even though he played on the left side in college, he won't be asked to protect Tom Brady's blindside." Not that many could have predicted his development, but it really is amazing to see how opinions change on a draft after a year or two. At the same time, it got me thinking about how some players work out great in a particular scheme, but might not have the same impact for another team. There were a lot of circumstances that lead to Sea Bass starting for the Pats, but BB [Bill Belichick] and [assistant head coach Dante] Scarnecchia didn't seem to have any reservations about keeping him on the line when [[Nick] Kaczur came back. Do you think that Vollmer was an underrated talent coming into the draft, or do you think the particular circumstances in New England are what has lead to his quick development? -- Jon (Chicago)

A. Great submission, Jon. I like it because it shows how quickly opinions can change, adds some accountability to the process, and shows how some of the media-based draft "scouting" reports influence opinion. A lot of people were wrong on Vollmer, who was an underrated talent coming into the draft (he wasn't invited to the combine). I also think the Patriots' system has aided in his development.

Link to full story here:

http://sports.espn.go.com/boston/nfl/columns/story?columnist=reiss_mike&id=5395135

I like Mike's answer, and I think it is certainly an interesting development to watch if you happen to be a Bruins and Patriots fan.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting comparison, and makes a lot sense. Vollmer was a guy with all of the tools who might have slipped under the radar because he was from Germany and didn't have the level of football experience a typical top rated American HS player. Knight probably slipped under the radar because in part because the diabetes issue hurt his production in 2009-10.

    Interesting you should bring up Reiss... I think he's hands down the best sports reporter in Boston over the past 30 years. Well, maybe best, but definately the most likely to write stories that I want to read. This blog is the closest thing Bruins fans have to a Mike Reiss, BTW!

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