Reads Listens Views 2/17/2012

Here’s What A Once In A Lifetime Player Looks Like

Lather, rinse, repeat . . .

Thank You And More Comin’

NFL Draft Season is clearly underway and there’s a lot of great information available online. For those of you just getting acquainted with the Rookie Scouting Portfolio, thank you for visiting – and thank you for the massive (at least for me) immediate following on my RSP Facebook page. Check it out and like it if you haven’t (I gave away 8 free copies of past RSPs there yesterday). If you’re a long-time listener be a first-time caller and leave me a post about the RSP on the wall.

Best of all, there’s been a terrific response here with the prospect analysis pieces (David Wilson, Quentin Coples, Ryan Tannehill, and Kendall Wright) over the past two weeks and I can assure you that they will continue not only through the 2012 NFL Draft, but year round as I prepare for future draft seasons. Jene Bramel and I appreciate the great feedback.

Coming Soon To The RSP Blog (No Order Determined)

  • (Bad) Luck – As much as I’m with the crowd that Andrew Luck is a fantastic quarterback prospect and the top player in the 2012 NFL Draft, he is human and will have issues that plague most rookie quarterbacks. This piece will profile some situations where I’ve seen Luck struggle.
  • Brandon Weeden: Knowledge Is Good, Wisdom Is Better: I just read The Atlantic Online article headline that bemoans Forrest Gump as a movie that should never have beaten Pulp Fiction for an Oscar. I love Pulp Fiction. In fact, I like it better than Forrest Gump, but I don’t think it was that much of a slam dunk injustice. One of the great things about Forrest Gumpis that the story shows the value of wisdom over intelligence. Gump may be dumb but his wisdom was off the charts. Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden has knowledge of his offense and understands where he’s supposed to go on paper. However I’ll show why his recklessness on the field needs a heavy does of Gump.
  • The Art Of The Return: Tulsa WR Damaris Johnson: Good return specialists aren’t just game breakers. In fact, many of them aren’t. Several good NFL return men are reliable, consistent, and get this, not speed merchants. Johnson is a game breaker, but more important are the things he does to put offenses in position to play their best game plan.
  • Robert Griffin III: If you’re seeking a comparison, his skill sets are more Michael Vick than Cam Newton, but with a more refined ability to throw the ball from the pocket than Vick had early in his career. I’ll examine one facet of his game under the RSP microscope.
  • Looking For Mr. Dunn: LaMichael James: Ever since the diminutive, but tough as nails runner from Florida State left the NFL we’ve been looking for a mighty mite to succeed him. Darren Sproles comes close but he won’t get to be the every down back that Dunn was later in his career with the Falcons. Could James be that guy?

Oldies But Goodies

Here’s a list of recent work (and older stuff) available on the blog. While I think the web site menus are up to date, I will begin revamping some of it in May to categorize the posts a little better.  If you’re new and want some immediate reads that are easy to find, see below:

  • Losing Your Football Innocence – Readers often ask me for advice on how to watch football with a more critical eye. My answers are below, but if you take my advice you’ll lose your football innocence.
  • Evaluating the Evaluator – With its vast knowledge of strategy and technique and a wealth of  financial resources at their disposal, NFL organizations not only have the potential to discover if that linebacker prospect fits their scheme, but they can also find out what he did with that blue pencil sharpener in Mrs. Beam’s second grade social studies class. So why do they still have a huge opportunity to improve as evaluators of talent? The answer is in the process.
  • Talent and Production: The Great Emotional Divide – much of what I have learned from my interviews of colleagues has less to do with technique, strategy, or what to physically seek from a player and more to do with what none of us know. Things that even NFL GMs and personnel directors will never know for sure: How a player will manage the great emotional divide that must be crossed in order to transition from college talent to productive pro.
  • The Rookie Scouting Portfolio: A Newbie’s Take– I have a lot of new readers-followers in recent months (thank you) who have asked me about the Rookie Scouting Portfolio. I’m a pretty transparent person. One of my goals with this blog is to spread the word about the RSP. I have to do this because as the letter at the end of this post states: I’m your secret weapon.

Views: My Draft Season Philosophy

There was a lot of buzz on Twitter this week about those that write about rookies or analyze the draft. I have some thoughts I want to share with this community and the great readers we have that participate and gather information from all the sources available with today’s technology. I want you to know where I’m coming from.

I just want you to understand my philosophy because I’m part of the Twitter draftnik community. If you choose to take the same approach with some of these things, cool. If not, that’s OK – I’m not trying to evangelize. Do your thing.

I Provide Information: I view my work as informational. I’m scouting players on an independent basis. Scouts provide information, but they do not make decisions. That’s what GMs do. I do rank as an exercise because its what readers want, its a great exercise that in some ways helps me become better at my job, and its fun. However, my first priority is to be as transparent about my process of evaluation as possible. Then you can see what I saw and make your own conclusions if you wish. It’s why I create a 120-170 page online publication that contains another 500-700 pages of supporting material. I know most of you won’t read that part but if you want to know how and why I score players the way that I do you can find it. I don’t want there to be a mystery about it. I want to help you learn.

I’m Still Learning: I’ve spent 7 years studying minute details of players year-round – in the FBS and NFL. I’m still learning about the game. That should come as no surprise. If NFL Films Executive Producer Greg Cosell, the dean of film study, is still learning after 30 years on the job, then no one knows it all and it means . . .

I’m going to be wrong: It looks like I was wrong about John Beck. I was wrong about Knowshon Moreno. I was partially wrong about Darren McFadden when he’s healthy (that part I was partially right about, unfortunately – I don’t root against guys). Studying the game and its players is a learning process. That’s were the word study comes into play. However I’m also going to be right and when I am, I’m going to brag about it (Ray Rice, Matt Forte, Ahmad Bradshaw, DeMarco Murray, Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, and Aaron Hernandez to name some). I take pride in my work and when I’m accurate about a player’s skill there will be times I’m going to point it out. There’s no shame in celebrating success. I just happen to believe it comes with showing one’s work and working hard (you can find my work here and in past publications).

But It’s Sometimes OK To Stand Firm: I still believe Cedric Peerman is a vastly undervalued RB. I believe if Trent Edwards didn’t have his brains scrambled in Buffalo that he wouldn’t have evolved into Captain Check-Down. Xavier Omon is better than at least two-thirds of the league backups as a pure runner. Although I bet the Steelers draft an RB, I think Chad Spann is going to surprise in a big way. There are some things you’re not going to convince me different until I see on-field evidence otherwise. Stubborn, maybe. I prefer to see it as believing in what you see until you see otherwise. 

Debate Is Good: One of the best learning tools is to engage in the exercise of debate. Twitter is a good starting point for it – to the extent 140-character bursts allow. If handled well, the debaters actually learn more than the witnesses to it. I don’t think the primary purpose of a debate is to win, but to clarify and learn. If any of you draft writers in the Twitter community have a disagreement about a player and do not wish to “agree to disagree” and leave it at that, you are officially invited to contact me and write about your takes here and I’ll post them for anyone to see.

I’ve spoken my peace and counted to three.




One of the great covers of all time of one of the great songs of all time . . .

Some Skunk Funk

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