For the last couple months, you could barely surf the Web without plowing into dozens of stories, tweets, blogs and the like telling you who’s going to go where in the draft. Naturally, you need to take all of these reports with a grain of salt, whether you’re an agent or just a fan. What makes predicting this stuff so hard, even with so many parties jockeying to get information out there? Here are a few reasons.
Best player available: Many teams (I think the Steelers are one) are welded to the idea that you draft the best player available at all times. These days, you can find dozens of reports on what teams need what, but for certain teams, you can throw that out. Unless you have first-hand access to their boards, you can’t know who they’ll draft. That’s all there is to it.
Top 30 visits don’t matter as much as you might think: The way things have developed, T-30 visits are kind of the catch-all for players a team thinks it might draft that didn’t go to the combine. With the new rules that have expanded the geographical area for local pro days, lots of teams can now have projected first-rounders in without having to burn a Top 30 visit. For example, the Bears worked out Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer as part of their local pro day. Bottom line, I won’t call T-30 visits plentiful, but I get the sense that teams are starting to use them almost to eliminate a player (and create false interest) rather than to get that up-close look they have to have before drafting them.
Opinions change: I’ve spoken to scouts who had great interest in a player at an all-star game, but subsequently lost interest in the player for any number of reasons. More often than not, no one tells the player or his agent. It doesn’t matter how many times a kid is interviewed at the Shrine Game or the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. If that interest doesn’t continue throughout February, March and into April, you can forget about that all-star heat.
Good ‘ol subterfuge: I think this happens a lot less than it used to. In the old days, I think team executives and scouts were more adversarial with the media than they are now. The Internet has changed how much information, good and bad, is out there, and it just makes more sense for scouts and directors to have the local writers and TV personalities on their dance card, so they don’t outright lie as much. Still, there are plenty of times members of the media (especially those that are from out of town, or who are new) are led to believe the wrong thing, or are not told the whole story (or are just plain ol’ lied to). After all, the draft is a huge card game. If a team can throw others off its scent with a false story, that’s a big win this close to the draft.