Ask an NFL Scout: Who has it worse, NFL agents or scouts?

You might have already participated in the poll we posted on Twitter Wednesday comparing the jobs of NFL agent and NFL scout, and asking which one is tougher. You might even feel convicted on your choice. However — and especially if you chose the scout as having it tougher — you might consider what actual NFL evaluators say.

Here’s the question I posed several NFL scouts: All things considered, based on your experience, do you think scouts or agents have it better? Which job is harder and offers more uncertainty, in your opinion?

Here are their responses.

  • Agents do. They lack the ground work intel and the experience to appraise the value of the player, unless it is a big firm with large resources.”
  • Agents have it better these days. Scouts make less and have less input than they have had on who gets selected. More information-gatherers now. Scouts also have to deal with job security issues more then they did in the past because teams overpay directors and want cheap road scouts, and with the league rules of hiring minorities and getting draft pick compensation, this will further decrease veteran scouts. Independent agents will struggle to compete against bigger agencies, but have a chance if they can identify players and build relationships and create their own niche.”
  • “I would say agents have it harder. Kids now want everything given to them and expect to have training, housing, etc., and then, in the middle of the process, can fire the agent if they aren’t happy.”
  • “Good question. I think the agent business is more uncertain. Harder to get established in it. Have to get so much money up front to even get started. Once you’re established and get some players in the league, then I think scouting is probably harder. If that makes sense. Feel like there’s a lot of entry level scouting jobs. But to get started as an agent, you need to have a family connection or some sort of backing.  I feel for those young agents that are constantly trying to recruit players then get beat out late by the big firms.”
  • “I would say scouts have it better. The recruiting agents have to do would be terrible I think. If you’re an agent that has some just average guys who knows if they even make rosters. At least scouts get guaranteed wages from salary.”
  • “There is at least a path for new/young scouts to grow in the business. Getting into the agent game without being attached to a big firm is darn near impossible. Even long shot prospects are so entitled and so unrealistic about their ability that agents have to invest resources that will take until the player almost hits their 2nd contract for them to really turn a profit. That’s before you start talking about babysitting and dealing with the personalities.”  
  • “I would say maybe agents now because as the game has evolved, it’s almost like, with everything slotted, is there really a necessity for agents the first go-round? . . . Then the nature of the game with agents, I could say, ‘I represent Neil Stratton,’ but you get one of these other agents, and they could steal you from me, you know what I mean? So from that standpoint, even when your work is done and you think you have your guys, you constantly have to be on top of that relationship to prevent another agent from stealing him.”

Of course, it wasn’t all one-sided. Some scouts felt their job is more challenging:

Agents have it better. There’re both hard to get started. Agents have to shell out money to get started (but) scouts don’t make much and the opportunity for advancement has a lot to do with things out of your control. Agents control their own destiny based on how hard they hustle to get clients.”

What do you think? Make sure to make your voice heard on our Twitter feed and by participating in our poll. Coming Friday, agents tell us whose job they think is tougher. Don’t miss it; you can register for it here.

Three Insights from our Pro Development Session with Doug Whaley

Wednesday night, about 20 people — some of them aspiring scouts, some of them active and former NFL scouts — gathered for a little more than an hour with former Bills GM Doug Whaley. The topic was team-building, both on and off the field. Doug discussed how he approached building the Bills’ roster after spending a decade with the Steelers, as well as how he went about populating and managing his team’s scouting department.

Here are three (of several) takeaways from Doug’s discussion.

  • Steelers scouts/administrators are rarely approached by other teams despite their great success: Pittsburgh is a model franchise, yet Doug is one of the team’s few former executives who got a shot to run another team. “Everybody (in the league) believes none of them will leave, so no one gets approached . . . If you talked to (Steelers scouts and executives), you could ask them. They would entertain it. Do (the Steelers) pay? They’re not the top-paying club in the industry. Now, they treat you well, but I remember Mr. Rooney always saying, ‘we’re not the highest, we’re not the lowest, but we’re on the high side of fair.’ But again, you know, you’re going to win. They treat you right. But I’m telling you, nobody. And I talked to some of the scouts and was like, ‘what is it out there in the league that people don’t come and ask us?’ No one knocks on the door. The only other thing that I could say is maybe the owners are like, ‘hey, we respect the Rooneys so much that we won’t raid their staff.'” 
  • You can’t force a first-round QB: Then-Bills GM Buddy Nix wanted to have the team’s franchise QB in place before retiring and handing the reins to Doug, which is why he reached for Florida State’s E.J. Manuel at No. 16 in 2013. “At the time, I was Assistant GM, and the GM there was Buddy Nix, and he had talked to me before about, ‘hey, before I get out of here, I’m going to make sure that we have a quarterback’ . . .  And unbeknownst to me after the draft, he was going to retire. So I gave you the backdrop of that to say this: don’t ever back yourself into a corner by saying, ‘I want to get a specific position,’ because then you overdraft, which leads to some mistakes. So, E.J. Manuel, that was (Nix’s) favorite quarterback out of that draft. He wanted to get him and he didn’t want to lose him. Now I know why. So he got him in the first round. He removed all doubt. If we would have drafted him in the third round — which that’s probably where he should have gone, maybe third or fourth round — he may have still been in the league today as a backup. But don’t back yourself in a corner or of overdraft because of need.”
  • In the minds of some scouts and executives, center has eclipsed left tackle as the most important position on the offensive line: It’s due to today’s complex defenses and the center’s need to make the right line calls. “It was always offensive tackle, but the last two coaching searches, a lot of them switched to center, and it was because of the mental part of the game and (identifying) the (middle linebacker) and being able to make the line calls. And that’s so important now because of the intricacies of the defense. (Today’s coaches are) saying we need that center; it’s more important than the right or left tackle, which was interesting. . . I struggle with that, but I also understand where they’re coming from, especially if you have a young quarterback. If you can have that center take a lot of that mental part of the game off your young quarterback (you can) help him be able to function at a higher level with a lot less mental taxation on him.”

We’ll have another GM on next month to discuss the finer points of running a franchise. Stay tuned to our Twitter if that’s something you’d like to tune in for next time. In the meantime, if the business of football is your bag, make sure to sign up for our Friday Wrap

 

2021 NFL Agent Exam: Agent Stories

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With the 2021 NFL Agent Exam just over two months away, we’re trying to do our part to get people ready for the test. However, it’s not just the exam that we’re preparing agent hopefuls for, but their new career. Part of that preparation is managing  expectations about what players seek during the recruiting process.

To do that, I reached out to several of my agent clients who recruit the Day 3/UDFA prospects that often take the long road to NFL stardom despite tough odds. The difficulty these agents face is that, increasingly, players are not willing to share the risk. Check out the following texts.

  • “I had a rotational player (non-starter) at a top-tier SEC school tell me he wanted $10k to sign and $2500/month through the draft. I told him best of luck and went on about my business. Kid signed (as an undrafted free agent) for less than $5K signing bonus after the draft and is a long shot to make a team.”
  • “(Defensive lineman from a P5 conference). Really good kid. Can’t emphasize that enough. Was a solid college player but didn’t have ability/tools to play in NFL. I knew, and the scouts confirmed, that he was going to be a low-level UDFA, but I liked the kid and told him to train at school and I’d give him some cash for supplements, position work and massage. His demands weren’t outrageous, but other agents, one in particular, (were) offering him a crazy package that included training and the works. I said good luck to the kid, he trained at this relatively big-time facility, tested poorly, signed as a UDFA and was cut after rookie minicamp a couple weeks ago. He didn’t have crazy demands but I think his teammates and other agent offers took him away from reality.”
  • “Ya know, this year, honestly, It wasn’t so much ridiculous demands that caused us to lose players. One player went with an inexperienced agent with zero clients (but bragged to have connections with a rapper), (and) he unfortunately went undrafted. Another player went solely with his mom’s choice (undrafted). A lot of clients we lost this year actually went back to school because their coaches sold them a promise for the returning year, which I hope to God they fulfill for the kid.”
  • One agent sent me a text, verbatim, from a young man at an FCS school who was a maybe UDFA/probable tryout (i.e., rookie mini-camp then sent home) prospect. He wanted a formal “list,” in writing, of the agent’s offer (training, stipend, per diem, etc.), which was also to include reimbursement for other costs like new cleats, gear, or whatever else came up (in other words, a blank check). Among his other demands: 
  • “I had one where the kid didn’t show for the (Zoom) call so I said I am out. He had (training) demands related to Florida. Not drafted. Kid’s brother showed for the call. . . but the kid didn’t show. So (I was) out. I can (also) describe another agent’s experience. He knew he was (losing the bidding war) on a (priority free agent-level prospect) so (the agent) drove the stipend up at the end. (The agent the player chose) wound up paying $2,500/month, something like that, on top of training, car, food, housing, etc.” (editor’s note: the player went undrafted and signed a UDFA deal).
  • “(A P5 defensive tackle) said within 5 mins of our meeting ‘what’s my stipend and what kind of rental car do I get?’ We (stopped recruiting) him immediately.” (editor’s note: he went undrafted)

Don’t stop here. Make sure you’re following us on Twitter, where we’ve had some interesting discussions with major agents on the realities of the industry (make sure to check out this thread in particular). You’ll probably enjoy our newsletter, the Friday Wrap, as well. Register here.

2021 NFL Agent Exam: How to Pass

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As of today, we are an even 70 days away from the 2021 NFLPA Exam (and 68 days until the start of the pre-exam seminar). Lots of people have picked up our study guide and practice exams this week, which tells me they’re bearing down on their preparations.

Inevitably, those people ask my advice on the best way to pass the exam. I figured that might be a good blog topic for the week, so here goes.

  • Give yourself plenty of time: I usually recommend two months of robust study for the exam. Now is a great time to get started, but if you wanted to wait until the beginning of June, that wouldn’t be terrible. Like anything else, however, it’s better to have too much time than not enough.
  • Set aside recruiting for ’21: Some of the people registered for this summer’s test ask me about the best prospects for ’22 and ask me when to start recruiting. I get it — identifying players worth recruiting is part of the fun of the business. For a number of reasons, however, I feel this is pointless right now, especially before you’ve passed the exam. Hold off, at least until September or so.
  • Learn all the basic concepts: A lot of people wade into the exam thinking they’ve followed the game, and how hard could the test be? It’s really hard. That’s why 55 percent of all test-takers fail. You must learn all about P5 contracts, accrued vs. credited seasons, etc. Don’t think you can just learn everything during the pre-exam seminar.
  • Test yourself: It’s not enough to feel like you know the material, in my opinion. Current contract advisors from virtually every major NFL firm have used our practice exams to see what the questions look like in advance and really get a feel for the material. I think you’re taking a sizable risk if you don’t do that before you actually sit for the test.
  • Get tips from others on how to pass: This is something we will do as we get closer to the exam. One way we’ll do it is our daily email series that starts next month; its chock-full of tips, ideas and examples on what to expect and how to pass the exam. It’s free to everyone who’s purchased any of our products or services. However, if that’s not enough, we also have an affordable in-house instructor who’s available for personal tutoring or Zoom sessions that we’ll have in the coming weeks. We’ll talk about him more in our newsletter. Bottom line, there are too many materials for you to risk failing.

I hope this helps, and if it doesn’t, I hope you’ll reach out. As I say so often in this space, I believe in the win-win, and would love to be of assistance if you’re winding your way toward NFLPA certification. For more on who we are and what we do, check out our website, our Twitter feed or our weekly newsletter, the Friday Wrap. You can register for it here.

 

The Best Player Available Podcast: Eagles Content Mgr Fran Duffy

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If you read this blog regularly, you probably already know who Fran Duffy is. If not, I’m glad you’re reading this, because you need to.

I’m not a big fan of the usual NFL Draft-related podcasts that tout players and make predictable predictions. When I invest 30 minutes or an hour, I want to know I’m gonna learn something, and that’s what happens when I listen to Fran’s podcasts, Journey to the Draft and the Eagle Eye in the Sky. They’re both insightful and far from the run-of-the-mill podcasts out there these days.

This week, as I wrapped up the Best Player Available Podcast on the 2017 NFL Draft, I invited Fran to join me to discuss the lessons we both learned from the series. Like me, Fran is passionate about learning and dedicated to his craft. Truth be told he’s either a junkie or a nerd about this stuff, just like I am. 

Here are a few things we talked about in this week’s edition.

Best player available vs. need-based drafting: I think there’s a perception that real scouts, real evaluators, the mature people in the business, adhere tightly to their boards and only take the very next name on the list, everything else be damned. The truth is that few teams can afford to be purists. In today’s NFL, there are two places to fill holes, free agency and the draft, and if there are no fits in free agency, you have to be practical.

Culture and cohesion count: Fran made the point that the Saints have had success in the draft because AGM Jeff Ireland and head coach Sean Payton are both products of the Bill Parcells tree. That allows them to more often be on the same page, which is especially valuable in an era when collaboration between coaches and scouts is the new way. I made a point about this on Twitter this week, as well. 

It’s getting harder to evaluate players: One recurring theme of the podcast was the risk that comes with making decisions on players that have very limited college playing experience. Look at the quarterbacks in this draft class; Mac Jones, Trey Lance and even Justin Fields were far from old hands at playing quarterback at the highest level. Now that we’ve seen elite players skip their final seasons with no reprisals on draft day, that could become even more pronounced. It will require teams to guess more. I guess that will lead to more volatility in the selection process, which is one of the fascinating parts of the draft, anyway.

I hope you can check out this week’s podcast. It was a full hour of intense discussion of the process and how it works as described by nine men who played prominent roles in NFL front offices in 2017. In the meantime, I’m working on an idea for my next series. More to come. If there’s something you’d like to hear, or have an idea, let me know on Twitter. DMs open. 

 

Best Player Available Podcast: Saints AGM Jeff Ireland

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I was really excited to welcome Saints Assistant GM Jeff Ireland to the Best Player Available Podcast this week. He was kind enough to join me post-draft to discuss one of the best draft classes any team has had in the last decade, at least. In fact, he took home an award on behalf of his team’s work in 2017

Here are a few of the best quotes from my discussion with Jeff.

On his concerns about drafting Ohio State DC Marshon Lattimore: “You know, Marshon really only played the one season there at Ohio State, and that was a little bit of a concern. And look, there’s some old axioms that I learned over the years in the league, a lot of them being from (former NFL head coach Bill) Parcells. He’d say, be careful (with) the one-year player, the one-year starter, and those were all kind of echoing in the back of my mind as I’m taking Marshon. But again, we felt like the talent was too good. We just saw a competitive player with Marshon with tremendous ability, good ball skills, good character. So we weren’t as concerned and I just felt like it was worth the risk.”

On stacking up talent at impact positions: “I’ll say it one hundred times. If I have to say it a thousand (times), I will. I won’t hesitate to build strength at a core position. That’s something I learned a long time ago, and it was echoing in my head in this year’s draft with the (Houston DE) Payton Turner pick. Don’t be afraid to build a strength at a core position. Defensive end, (cornerback), offensive tackle. I’m not afraid to do that. And when you have a strength, you can do a lot of things and you can kind of maintain consistency at difficult positions.”

On whether the Saints would have taken North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky or Clemson’s Deshaun Watson if they had been available later: “We had them both in the first round. You know, I would rather not say who we liked more, but we saw the as first-rounders. . . We felt like they were both capable starters. We loved the athletes, and with (Watson), we loved his makeup, and it’s very, very sad to see what’s going on with him now. And Trubisky had the arm and and the upside and, you know, again, the makeup as well. So we liked them both. I would be lying if I didn’t say we like them both.”

On the selection of Utah’s Marcus Williams and the urgency to find a way to get Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara: “I give credit to Sean (Payton) and really one of my area scouts at the time, Cody Rager. Cody just nailed the makeup and the character of Alvin. And the more we spent time with him . . . we obviously went to Tennessee and worked him out. I think I talk about that in your book foreword, and we just kind of fell in love with him. Certainly, Sean did, and he had a clear vision for him. So after we took Marcus, we were trying to . . . there was a huge sense of urgency. Now, we . . . had two third-round picks in our in our back pocket and really kind of felt like we wanted to use both of those, because we just had some targeted players that we had wanted to kind of go after. So we were really trying to to get another pick either in the bottom of the second or the top of the third. And we were calling everybody at the bottom of the second, everybody at the top of the third. . . I think we traded with the San Francisco 49ers for the top of the third-round pick, not at the very top, but it was close to it. . . But yeah, there was a lot of urgency.”

Next week, Fran Duffy of PhiladelphiaEagles.com will join me for the last episode of the 10-episode series, and we’ll talk about the first nine shows and our observations about the ’17 draft class and how teams draft. I hope you can join us. Fran is outstanding and I can’t wait to talk football with him. I’m sure you already follow him, but if you don’t, I highly recommend it.

The Best Player Available Podcast: Ep. 8 with Will Lewis (Chiefs)

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For the eighth episode of our new podcast on the 2017 NFL Draft, our guest was former Chiefs Director of Pro Personnel Will Lewis. Here are a few of the thoughts he shared on the broadcast, which we published Thursday.

On the role of then-running backs coach Eric Bienemy in developing Toledo OH Kareem Hunt, as well as the team’s decision to draft Hunt: “As far as, you know, being able to learn and being able to to get to that point where he could be a pretty good player, I think when you have Eric Bienemy as the running backs coach, you feel pretty good about what he can get out of almost any player. So I think with all those things factoring in, I think we felt pretty good about (Hunt).

On the other running back Will, in particular, liked for the Chiefs in 2017: “Everybody was impressed with (Florida State’s) Dalvin Cook, and I think I can’t speak for Bienemy, but I think Bienemy had him up pretty high in the mix, partly because he could run downhill, he had speed to bounce outside, and, I mean, he could catch the ball. He was pretty good on the screens. So in our offense at the time and Kansas City’s offense, that was one of the things that you were looking for in a running back. So I have to think that Dalvin Cook was up there pretty high for us.”

On the “tree” of general managers who learned under former Packers GM Ron Wolf: “I think the background for a guy like (former Chiefs GM John) Dorsey started with Green Bay, and that’s the way Ron Wolf did things, and Dorsey was a little bit of a clone, so to speak. He liked to do things exactly like Ron did, whether it was antiquated or not. But, you know, that’s the system that he grew up with and believed wholeheartedly in. So (former Packers GM) Ted Thompson did the same thing. (Seahawks GM) John Schneider did it the same way. (Former Washington GM Scot) McCloughan did it the same way. I imagine (former Raiders GM) Reggie McKenzie does the same way. So a lot of those guys . . . were in Green Bay at one point and (when) then branched off, I think they ran similar systems.”

On the team’s slow buy-in on Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes: “Patrick was an interesting study, and I say that because initially he was kind of missing from the top tier of our board. I mean, he was on there, and it’s like, ‘OK, well, we’ll kind of get to him a little bit.’ So it was it was kind of a little bit of a quiet deal. It was more of a deal where you could see him building momentum as it came along, and I think that was partly because of who was pushing him and who knew a lot about him, who had studied him a lot. And as all that information started coming in, you can see him gradually working his way up the boards.”

On why Iowa TE George Kittle fell to the fifth round: “I would say coming out of Iowa, I mean, with their ground and pound, that it probably didn’t showcase his skills where people would say, ‘this guy is a first- or second-round type tight end.’ So I think that hurt him a little bit as opposed to, had he gone to some West Coast team or down in the SEC where they threw the ball all the time. . . You got tough guys (at Iowa) that just play hard. So I think that was the perception of Kittle, is that he is an in-line blocker. He is a tough guy, I mean, with adequate hands. And he sure went to the right place at the right time.”

Be sure to check out this week’s podcast with Will, who was really sensational. For more on our podcast, and this year’s first round, check out our Friday Wrap. You can register for it here.

The Best Player Available Podcast: Ep. 7 with Charlie Peprah (Packers)

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This morning, our partners at NFL Draft Bible on SI.com released the seventh edition of our new series, the Best Player Available Podcast. This week, our guest is former NFL player and scout Charlie Peprah.

Not only did Charlie play defensive back at Alabama, followed by time with the Packers, Falcons and Cowboys, but he also served as an area scout for the Packers, one of the best-drafting teams in the league. That makes him not only an expert on the scouting process, but also holder of a unique perspective on the preeminent college football program in the country and a perspective on actually playing cornerback and safety in the league.

Here are a few of his thoughts from this week’s podcast:

On liking Clemson’s Deshaun Watson as his QB1 in 2017: “Watson just had more of a complete picture, I guess. Played at a bigger school. The Alabama game really did it, too. If you don’t remember, when they beat Alabama his last year, he actually kinda started out a little slow, got rattled quite a bit in the beginning, and I’m thinking, ‘OK, we’re about to see what he’s made of,’ and then he kinda settled in, stood up tall and brought them back, so that showed us something. It showed me something. That, for me, is what pushed him up there.”

On Green Bay’s front office/scouting staff philosophy: “There’s a lot of great football minds in that building, and so, when they hire guys, they’re not just kinda hiring guys that are just gonna go out and collect data. They got guys that, they’re gonna trust their opinion, and they believe in them, so the process kinda handles all of that, and they really put a lot of trust in the process, and I think you put all that together, the area guys have a lot of clout.”

On Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon playing ability and on-field performance for the Sooners: “Now, for me, he was my favorite running back. I liked him the best. Just his height/weight/speed, combination, agility, just his overall game. I liked him the best. . . I liked him more than (LSU’s Leonard) Fournette because I’m not a huge fan of just kind-of big bruisers. I give them the respect because, obviously, he was an elite prospect, but play style-wise, I liked Joe Mixon. I thought he was built. If you’ve ever seen him in person, his lower body, his trunk, is thick. He was a young kid. I felt he could do everything (Stanford’s Christian) McCaffrey could do, (Florida State’s) Dalvin Cook could do, (Tennessee’s Alvin) Kamara, all those guys, and was built stronger, and he was younger.”

On BYU’s Taysom Hill, who signed with the team as an undrafted free agent: “I remember the last line in my report, I was like, ‘this guy is a hell of a football player. I just don’t know what you do with him.’ . . . When he was with us, what happened was, his pro day, I guess he went out and had a spectacular pro day, and they kept talking about how great it was, and how he was throwing the ball, this and that, but when he came to camp, I remember talking and thinking like I didn’t really see him as a quarterback. But again, I thought, maybe there’s something I don’t know. They really liked him, but he wasn’t there yet developmentally.”

These are just a few of the top observations by Charlie this week. You’re missing out if you don’t listen in, I promise you. Click here to check it out. Also, click here to check out the first five weeks of our podcast, and click here to register for our weekly newsletter, the Friday Wrap.

The Best Player Available Podcast: Ep. 6 with Mike Murphy (Giants)

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After our “bye week,” we’re on a new platform, and we’re pretty excited to be part of the NFL Draft Bible on Sports Illustrated network. There are a lot of informative podcasts there, and we encourage you to give them a listen.

You came here to read about our Best Player Available Podcast, however, so here are a few things I found interesting from my discussion of the 2017 NFL Draft with former Giants scout Mike Murphy.

On the value of quickness vs. size over the football: “What happens with (quicker defensive linemen) is they can get isolated on the guard, and they’ve got the quickness inside, they’re close to the football, and that’s Tony Dungy’s thing. He wants the quickness and speed closest to the football, and that works out. Depends on what you’re running. I know with Bill Parcells, he wanted the speed outside, would make everything spill outside, and Tony Dungy was more, he wanted the speed and quickness inside because they’re close to the football, so it all depends on what you’re running.”

On why he believed in Washington WO John Ross despite his limited resume out of college: “He had . . . elite speed, and that’s the scary thing to take the top off of things. I remember (longtime NFL defensive coordinator) Gunther Cunningham, (he) always talked about (James) Jett in Oakland. That was the thing. If you stretch the field, it changes things for your defense and your offense. If somebody can take the top off, and then catch the ball, it changes what you do on the back end and helps your running game out, and I guess he hasn’t, obviously, lived up to the hype.”

On the role of coaches in scouting: “If you run into a situation where the coach doesn’t want (a draftee) at all, and you pick him, they’re not gonna play them. Now, granted, the coach might not be there very long if that’s the case on a consistent basis, but you have to be able to come to some kind of agreement where, ‘OK, they’re not gonna coach this guy, so let’s not bother taking him for one reason or another.’ So yes, (Jerry Reese) was a scout’s GM, but he also very much took into consideration the coaches.”

On the mock drafts NFL teams use: “You know, everybody’s got their own mock draft. I think it was (former Dallas Morning News columnist Rick) Gosselin, and he had his top 100 out of Dallas, and he was kinda somehow tapped into the league and had a good idea of who the top 100 players were gonna go off the board, but you had different mock drafts you used. . . (Gosselin) was a big part of our draft process, especially in Seattle. That was one that they used out there with (GM) Tim (Ruskell) when he came in, so that was one that he would put up there and he would follow through who the top 100 guys were.”

There’s a lot more where that came from. Make sure to tune in. For a look at our coming shows as we round out the series, check out tomorrow’s Friday Wrap. You can register for it here.

 

 

 

 

Best Player Available Podcast: Thoughts During our Bye Week

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With five weeks of the Best Player Available Podcast in the books, we’re taking a week off. Though we’ve been discussing the 2017 NFL Draft, there’s been plenty to learn beyond just the players picked. If you’ve been listening so far, I’m sure you’ve learned quite a bit about evaluation and how NFL teams think. I sure have. 

Here are my five takeaways from the first five episodes of our series. 

  • QBs are often poorly evaluated: With three weeks until the draft, we’re hearing glowing things about Alabama’s Mac Jones and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, two passers who might go in the top 10 despite having very limited starting experience. I think drafting teams should consider the Bears’ decision to draft North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky. On the other hand, Ohio State’s Justin Fields seems to be devalued despite his considerable playoff experience. Teams similarly downgraded Clemson’s Deshaun Watson despite his participation in two national championship games. Watson’s current issues aside, clearly, teams didn’t give him enough credit for being a winner.
  • If a prospect only started for one full season, buyer beware: Trubisky wasn’t the only player with a limited resume that didn’t live up to expectations. As we discussed in last week’s Friday Wrap, Washington WO John Ross, Alabama TE O.J. Howard, Michigan DE Taco Charlton and Miami (Fla.) TE David Njoku entered the draft with minimal starting experience and wound up disappointing on the NFL level. It’s something to consider when reviewing the cases of Penn State OB Micah Parsons, Miami (Fla.) defensive ends Gregory Rousseau and Jaelan Phillips, Jones and Lance.
  • Don’t draft a player who’s a ‘B’ player at several positions but an ‘A’ player at none: Stanford’s Solomon Thomas was considered an athletic defensive lineman who could play inside or outside, though there was no consensus on which position was his best. He probably hasn’t lived up to being selected at No. 3. Similarly, USC’s Adoree Jackson was seen as an athletic type who not only played cornerback but also excelled at returning kicks. However, he didn’t turn out to be good enough at cornerback to warrant sticking with the Titans the full five years of his rookie deal. Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers was very similar and has also not lived up to his potential.
  • There are strata of first-round picks; there’s the top 5-6, then everyone else: Talking to scouts and evaluators, it’s pretty clear that Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett, LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Jamal Adams, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey and Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore were the players everyone knew would be NFL stars. After that, there were doubts. I’d say each of these players have proven that scouts were right.
  • In the era of free agency, BPA is a fallacy: I’ve joked that next year, if I do a podcast on 2018, I’ll call it the Need-Based Draft Podcast. While many teams do make some or all picks based solely on their respective boards, the lion’s share are made in reaction to the holes in the roster. I guess that’s human nature. 

We’ll be back next week with former Giants Mike Murphy. In the meantime, make sure to check out the Friday Wrap for more info on the business of the game. Register here.