Name one or two prospects in the 2017 Draft that will likely be drafted on Day 1 or 2 that you think should be drafted much later.
PS: Taco Charlton, Edge Rusher, Michigan and Teez Tabor, Cornerback, Florida
JR: Davis Webb, QB, California and Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
AM: Cooper Kupp is an older prospect that can't get off press coverage and ran an abysmal 4.62 40 yard dash. I think he should be drafted in the middle of the fifth round, not on Day Two.
PG: I would not want my team to draft CORDREA TANKERSLEY/CB/CLEMSON until late, truthfully not at all. The kid is all hands, grabbing & holding. He’ll be like TRAE WAYNES for the first few years of his career, if not longer. Refs will get arm weary throwing holding & interference flags on him. DEMARCUS WALKER/DL/FSU I hate to write this one cause he has a big heart & works his ass off. But he’s not a big framed guy, nor is he stout. Lacks explosion out of his stance. Will not be productive as an edge rusher in the NFL. Too bad, great kid for your locker room & practice field. Might work out as a late round, backup player for a team on that basis. ARTAVIS SCOTT/WR/CLEMSON. I have a lot of respect or a kid who comes out early after he got his degree in 3 years. But he does not seem to have natural pass catching ability. His hands and body get turned around too often. He’s just not open & that’s against college DB. He’s not as fast as some folks think either.
JE: Dalvin Cook, Florida State - First Off: The quality/depth of this RB class and the longevity of the position dictates waiting for value instead of spending on a high pick. Secondarily: I love Dalvin's vision, anticipation and lateral explosion but I have a buyer beware notice on Cook for background, injury history, concentration/drops and character concerns. I honestly hope I'm dead wrong here because he is a talented back but if his career fell off the rails after a season or two, it wouldn't be a surprise.
How many prospects do you try to watch each draft cycle?
PS: When I first started, as many as I could. Increasingly, since I've narrowed my focus to just the Browns, I can focus my attention on a smaller group of players and just know far more about them.
JR: For in-depth I try to cover about 60-75. For working knowledge and a somewhat informed opinion, I shoot for 350-400.
AM: When I first started, it was 50 deep, now I have expanded my prospect viewing to over 120.
PG: I usually watch all or parts of about 10-12 college games per week with scouting players as my primary objective. By December I would say I have a watched list of 200 guys+. Then I watch the player action online for another 50-100 guys.
JE: Roughly 200-250 but each year ends up being different. This year, I have some 2018 assignments for NFL Draft Bible that are limiting my time on the 2017 class, so it might be down to the 200 area this draft season.
When did you start evaluating draft prospects?
Pete Smith: Officially, 2013.
Jeff Risdon: Started covering the draft and doing evals in 2004
Andrew Miley: I first started watching bowl games and other college games in 2009 for the sole purpose for me to evaluate players.
Paul Guillemette: Actually was interested in Draft before high school from watching the limited game action of both College & Pro football on limited TV. That would be mid-sixties when cable TV wasn’t even in existence. But actually “ranking” prospects didn’t happen until post-college, about 1974/75. Still, very limited info to help, not even Mel yet, nor ESPN. Got most of my info from the Hughes Bros. in a mail order football publication I cannot even recall the name of now.
Joe Everett: I have been buying draft magazines since 2001 for fantasy football purposes and dynasty leagues but 2007 was the year it really got started for me. I'm a huge Notre Dame fan, so I watch all their games. I remember watching Calvin Johnson shred the Irish secondary with a terrible QB and an offense that wasn't much more than lob it up to Megatron. I told everybody watching; "This guy is going to be a dominant NFL receiver." and "I'd draft this guy number one overall, he's a horse." to which everybody rolls their eyes. Anywho; I really started to break down that class and thought guys like Joe Thomas, Adrian Peterson, LaRon Landry and Calvin Johnson would be studs for years to come. (Three out of four ain't that bad.) I started writing for Rookie Draft the next year and the madness just continued with NFL Draft Bible a couple seasons later.
I started Deep Fried Draft in 2012 but I have been following the draft for the past 27 years. I have seen a great deal in those years. Since 2012, I have had the pleasure of meeting several others who share the same passion for the NFL Draft and everything that comes with it. I wanted to talk to them and ask them questions about their draft passions, their processes for evaluating and other questions pertaining to the 2017 NFL Draft.
What is the hardest position for you to evaluate?
PS: Not sure how the answer is anything other than quarterback. I know what I like and know what I'm looking at, but a number of things that can go wrong and how much can impact the situation makes it so difficult to be effective.
JR: My history of evaluation says safety but I feel like it's interior offensive line.
AM: I find quarterbacks is my most difficult; there is so much more than what is on film unless you are seeing all-22 where you see exactly what they are seeing. I'm an OL snob as I do not evaluate them as they do not have a place in fantasy football at this time. By the way, I played C/OG in high school and I am currently an offensive line coach for the school district I teach in.
PG: For me, the toughest position group to get a handle on is Defensive Backs, both S & CB. Biggest reasons are 1) college coverages are too loose to compare with pro work. On the whole, Safety can be even harder than CB because they are so far downfield in many cover schemes 2) TV cameras spend so much time on the ball that the DB is often not even on the screen for half the play. And I’m too cheap to pay to watch coaches film from end zone camera coverage.
JE: Quarterback; You can study a passer all you want but there's a certain degree of magic to the position. You have to find a multi-tasking, head on a swivel, tough as nails, razor sharp gamer and you just don't ever find that out until you've seen that first five to six games of live bullets being fired. How does the guy live through the pressure of being the face of the franchise? Does he even survive past the first season? Quarterback is a sink or swim proposition but there are so many different facets to being successful and the player development/coaching situation is so crucial to the success of the quarterback more so than any position.
Name one or two prospects in the 2017 Draft that are likely Day Three players that you think should be drafted higher.
PS: John Johnson, Safety, Boston College and Xavier Woods, Safety, Louisiana Tech
JR: Blair Brown, LB, Ohio University, though I might be biased as an Ohio grad. DeAngelo Brown, DT, Louisville and Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State
AM: Ishmael Zamora, the Baylor wideout, has a lot of talent but is a huge bonehead who abused his dog. His talent should make him a Day Two guy, but his serious character error will make him a PR nightmare. Chad Kelly, Ole Miss signal caller, is another good player who made some bad decisions that will fall as well.
PG: DEANGELO BROWN/DT/LOUISVILLE who dominated at Shrine venue. Wide body who can really plug the middle of the DL. Gets some push & has violent hands. Stays low. VINCE BIEGEL/OLB/WISCONSIN Getting lost in the shuffle because of T.J. Watt declaring, but go watch early SR Bowl game tape as he dominates the South's 1st and/or 2nd possession. Can stop the run, drop into shallow coverage & can edge rush. Also a high energy/positive attitude, smart guy. RYAN SWITZER/WR/RS/UNC is starting to get more pub but his size will keep him out of Top 100. We keep looking for the next WELKER, and here he is. Was watching Trubisky highlight tape on NFLN & on a short pass to SWITZER his legs/feet were moving so fast I thought they had sped up the tape. He spotted through & around about 4 tackles in a 10-yard area of the field. I sense his stock is rising. Love me some SHAQ GRIFFIN /CB/UCF. Love the back story about his one-handed brother, but also think he is the next AJ BOUYE coming out of that program. Heard a lot of talk about him during Combine coverage, all good.
JE: Chad Hansen, California & Trey Hendrickson, FAU - Hansen is probably borderline Top-100 but he is a fluid mover with outstanding ball skills, his back story, and motivational angle have me convinced that he'll be a solid pro. If he gets drafted outside of the Top-100, the team that takes him will get a steal. Hendrickson is a long base end with strong hands that will likely be a day three pick that I see playing a long time in the NFL. Maybe not a special athlete but a technician that compares favorably to Chris Long.
Meet the Panel:
Pete Smith is a contributor to Draft Breakdown and NFL Spin Zone.
Jeff Risdon is the editor of Browns Wire and Texans Wire. He also covers the NFL and NFL Draft for Real GM.
Andrew Miley is the Owner/Scout for Dynasty Blitz and is a contributor to Steelers Depot.
“Pigskin” Paul Guillemette is the Associate Editor/Chief Scout for Great Blue North Report.
Joe Everett is currently the director of college football scouting for NFLDraftBible.com, Director of IDP Content and statistician for InsiderFootball.com, as well as Founder of DraftScouts.com and contributor at BangTheBook.com.
Thank you for taking the time out of your schedules to take part in this for me and my readers.
Who/What inspired you to start doing this?
PS: The Cleveland Browns did. After the team came back in 1999, they were so bad at drafting, it became a matter of trying to understand how it was done and effectively, how a team could be so bad at it.
JR: I always loved football, grew up around the game, did my history thesis in college on the USFL. I felt like there was a market for draft perspective so I ran with it.
AM: I wanted to get better at playing dynasty fantasy football and rookie drafts were the best way to improve. Mel Kiper made it look interesting, so I gave it a shot.
PG: I think my primary inspiration was the continuity of tying college to pro, and the hope that smart drafting would help my favorite teams, which were the PATRIOTS & GIANTS. Neither team was particularly adept at drafting back then.
JE: Basically, I got into this to improve my own fantasy football prowess but along the way, I saw what a difference the offensive/defensive linemen made in the process to improve a team and it really became an obsession to see how teams were built. Two of my personal heroes in the draft industry are Cecil Lammey of Football Guys and Mike Mayock of NFL Network. I have met both personally and you couldn't ask to meet more humble and genuine people to talk football with.
Draft Meal Prep
Do you like making comparisons between incoming prospects and their NFL counterparts?
PS: No. Occasionally, a prospect will strike me as looking like someone and it can help explain to readers what you're seeing, but otherwise, I try to avoid it. I don't claim to be good at it.
JR: I do. It helps the reader more clearly understand and nutshell what you're seeing and saying.
AM: If there is something blatantly staring me in the face sure, otherwise I prefer to not label them especially comparing them to superstar players like Gronk or Aaron Rodgers. It's highly likely the comparison is not more than skin deep.
PG: Player comparison can be fun when they are pretty obvious, or I feel I have hit on a semi-obscure one to share. But it can get dangerous and overblown if we try to compare everyone.
JE: I enjoy player comparisons because they can (at times) give your readers, viewers or listeners a shorthand idea of the type of player you're talking about and what kind of scheme and role they could potentially fit into.
How do testing profiles (like those at MockDraftable.com), the use of analytics, SPARQ, and other elements like those affect your evaluations?
PS: Athletic testing is incredibly important to me and it's gotten more important every year I've done this. The more I learn, the more I can use it to really understand what a player's athletic potential is and evaluate in part based on that information.
JR: For me, they create a more visible ceiling and floor for a prospect. Comparative athleticism is critical to understanding what a player has the potential to do in the NFL. The key is to not ignore the on-field play or rely too much on the athleticism metrics to influence the overall evaluation.
AM: I glance at them after I have written my scouting report aka no bearing.
PG: Analytics/metrics for football do not interest me very much. Eventually, as metric use increases, I will fade away like a dinosaur. I cringed when BROWNS hired a Sabermetrics guy (DePodesta) to integrate that component into their front office. Good luck with that boys. Football ain’t baseball. My eyes on the field are still my biggest tool, for better or worse. I really spend a lot of hours watching tape of All-Star Games, which give me looks at 300-plus guys competing against their peers.
JE: Much like specific testing results, splits as opposed to forties and even the general triangle numbers, I feel they should be additives to the process in efforts to get an apples-to-apples comparison between two or more prospects that you're trying to differentiate from.
What position do you feel most comfortable evaluating?
PS: Wide Receiver. I've coached the position and know what I want, what I expect and how it's supposed to work.
JR: Tight end. My track record there is as good/better than anyone.
AM: Wide receivers, running backs, and defensive line come the easiest for me.
PG: Based in part because I played in the trenches in HS, plus they are always on camera, the OL/DL is my biggest comfort zone. I rely on my own eyes the most for those positions. Love the one-on-one drills during All-Star week practices. Although those drills heavily favor DL.
JE: Wide Receiver; I have been watching the wide outs the longest due to my origins in fantasy football but I also believe that the position is relatively self-explanatory. Can the guy separate? Are the ball skills there? Can he block? Does he have legit speed? Is there after the catch ability? Special teams experience is always a plus but there's always a plentiful amount of coverage for offensive players, which helps the cause for the position.
How many games do you try to watch of each prospect?
PS: At least 3, but for early round prospects, any and all I can find.
JR: I watch at least two, preferably 4-5. I hope to see both the best and the worst game for each prospect, plus one somewhere in between.
AM: I always try to watch five games each, but it can be very difficult to find that many especially when you have a small school guy like Ashland's TE Adam Shaheen.
PG: My goal on top guys is 5-6 games and for non-Top 100 I usually stop after 3 games.
JE: Four to Five. At least two from the last two seasons each if applicable and hopefully three games from the current season. I'm a firm believer that coaching changes, injuries/rehab, personal/off field changes can alter a player's performance and the evaluation process to some degree. Each season has it's own factors to take into consideration.
DEEP FRIED DRAFT