March 22, 2018

The Truth Behind “That Player is Not a Scheme Fit”

The 2014 NFL Draft is approaching and the draft prospects are being looked at from every angle from NFL personnel to the average fan. People have their favorite players entering the draft, but there has been one trending topic when discussing players that seems to lack validity.

It seems that there is a thought that if a certain player is “not” a scheme fit for a NFL team there is justification to take a lesser player that might be a better fit. To help us debunk this myth we talked to John Harris from The Sideline View and resident draft guru to discuss this trend.


Debunking the Myth

PDS: John, there is a statement we keep seeing regarding prospects in the NFL Draft that concerns me. The idea that a player is not a scheme fit which leads to the discussion that a lesser prospect could be the better choice because of scheme not skill. Is there any truth to this?



Five years ago, maybe I’d buy that, Pat. Maybe.

Not now.  Not at all.  Now, I do think there are particular guys that are horrible fits for certain schemes.  But, teams are so multiple currently that if a guy doesn’t fit one scheme, he may excel in  packages in others.  I think scheme versatility is the greatest thing a single player can have to increase his value but if he doesn’t, he can’t be written off with the multiplicity in today’s game. 

It’s not a simple as 3-4 vs 4-3 any more and I don’t think it was ever that simple to be honest.  I think it’s been a convenient excuse to blame scheme when a player doesn’t succeed.  The fit may not be perfect but a player, a true player, can make it work.  Earl Mitchell is a perfect example of not being the perfect scheme fit, yet having decent success.  He’s a prototypical three technique tackle in an even front but he played well as a one gap nose tackle.  You can argue that those two positions are more similar than at first glance, but guess what, a lot of them are.If a guy can play, he’ll prove it. In any scheme.


PDS: Do you feel any position could fall into this description of not being a scheme fit? Maybe the offensive line?



Still think the lines are as blurred as ever.  There are still guys that aren’t great fits in particular schemes but offenses are rarely one dimensional anymore.  Very few are running solely zone or just power.  Secondaries are playing zone and man, sometimes both on the same play.  Great receivers are moved into the slot to win the match up from there.  Again, I think there are poor fits in a particular scheme everywhere but the game has colored outside the lines for good and I don’t think it’s coming back.  So, draft a player with skills, forecast what you think he can do then coach him up and win.  Simple, no?

That said, I think for offensive lineman it’s even less of an excuse for scheme fit.

The tough part about it is that our experience here has been zone blocking scheme, with a hyper-focus on that scheme.

I’d boil it down to this: find a football player and figure it out until you’re good enough to know specifically what you lack.  If player doesn’t succeed, it’s not the scheme’s fault.



More than ever it is up to coaches to adjust their scheme to players than vice versa. The Texans have dealt with the “scheme fit” ideology under Gary Kubiak’s tenure as head coach and General Manager Rick Smith talked about “positional parameters” in regards to prospects last offseason. Thinking like that leads to missing on better prospects at times due to the Texans overlooking them because of the lack of height, weight or other measurables.

Now under new Head Coach Bill O’Brien there could easily be a shift in thinking on what players are taken in the draft and in 4 weeks there will be a better feeling on what exactly is being looked for by O’Brien and his staff.

Is this a flawed argument in regards to players not fitting a scheme or is justified to pass on a better player for a lesser player because of it?

Give your thoughts below.


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