Matt Waldman’s RSP Boiler Room showcases a target to NFL Draft prospect, Michigan State TE Matt Sokol and the benefits of tracking the football properly.
Every choice a player makes on the field changes the outcome of a play. It’s why even the smallest details are so important with a player’s execution.
Matt Sokol’s decision to turn back to the football on this play-action pass is an excellent example. He chose the easiest path to track the football but created the most difficult situation at the catch point. As you’ll see below, if he chose the most difficult path of tracking the target, he would have created the easiest catch point.
Tracking the ball directly overhead is one of the most difficult for a receiver in football and reading the field well enough pre-snap (and if even possible, during the split-second he had between fighting through the edge defender and reaching the seam) to spot the flat defender who could work up the seam and defend the catch is a lot to expect from Sokol. It’s a situation where, as an evaluator, I don’t count the play against Sokol for mistracking the football.
However, if he made the wisest decision, the play would have potentially set him apart from his peers in terms of field awareness and ball-tracking. Sometimes, you don’t penalize a player for not spotting a better course of action that would have been difficult to assess but you reward him significantly if he does.
An important part of player-evaluation is building a process where the evaluator gives proper weight and perspective to a situation. This target highlights that challenge. Evaluation processes that give a lot of room to the evaluator may handle this situation better than one that has tight parameters but there is a chance that the looser process generates an unhealthy variation among scouts for simpler scenarios.
A process that strikes a balance between having clear definitions for scouting criteria but enough information to account for potential ranges of situations like these will yield the most context and deliver a balanced view of the situation.
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