Good football analysis often provides answers, but it also helps frame better questions. Two plays from Randy Gregory’s USC tape frame a vital question about the potential top-five pick.
Read an Internet scouting report; watch a video breakdown; or check out a message board, Twitter conversation, or comment section of a football website (like the one you’re reading right now) and it’s easy to see writers, analysts, and readers fighting against the unknown at every turn. The unknown is uncomfortable — especially when trying to define, project, grade, and judge performance. There’s an expectation that in order to appear smart in the world of football analysis, one must minimize the unknown as much as possible.
But as much as film study accounts for a vast majority of player evaluation, it cannot be the entire process. Good scouting isn’t only about finding the right answers. If you’re maximizing the potential of any analysis, it will also help you find the right questions.
This week’s Futures examines two plays of Nebraska edge defender Randy Gregory — a potential top-five pick, who told Tom Pelissaro atUSA Today that he believes he’s “worthy” of the top overall spot. One of these plays is Gregory’s bread-and-butter pass rush move that he used numerous times against USC, and that helped him earn 17.5 sacks during the past two seasons. The other is a move he displayed only once in the Trojans matchup, but it may hold the key to Gregory’s potential value to a team come May.
Teams often ask the right questions that eventually lead to answers that help them make draft day decisions. The most obvious example to me involved Teddy Bridgewater. Among the salient criticisms of Bridgewater the prospect was the Louisville quarterback’s vertical accuracy. Watch the film on Bridgewater and it was clear that his passes beyond 35 yards were problematic. In some instances, these targets often overshot his receivers. In others, Bridgewater placed too much air under the ball and forced his teammates to wait on the target, giving the opposition time to recover on a route.
Identifying strengths and weaknesses is one part of the evaluation equation, but so is asking the question: “Is there anything the analysis illustrates that might reveal the prospect’s capacity to improve within this area?” Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner saw Bridgewater throw the deep ball and asked the right questions.