American Football Stories with Matt Waldman: The RSP Process and Draft Talk

Matt Waldman joins Nick Knudson and Robert Parker at American Football Story for a conversation about the making of the 2021 Rookie Scouting Portfolio and some excellent discussion about a variety of skill prospects. 

This is my second appearance this year with Robert and Nick. It’s a strong hour of conversation. Here are the show notes in terms of topics they broached with me (I especially enjoyed discussing why there is such variation in grades with quarterback prospects in the media):

  • Walk us through your process in writing the Rookie Scouting Portfolio? (Position by position…jump around…pick players at random?)
  • What is the difference between what you do and what an NFL Scout does? Reference article: Why Film Study is The Best Evaluator of Talent…Do you get the opportunity to interview players in the same fashion as NFL Scouts? Or do you zone in entirely on film evaluation?
  • Throughout the draft process, there seems to be a weird level of groupthink about the following:
    • Zach Wilson is going to be the No. 2 QB off the board
    • San Francisco is strongly considering Mac Jones over Justin Fields
    • Kyle Trask seems to be near invisible in the most casual draft conversation
    • Chris Simms made headlines a few weeks back when he released his QB draft rankings and had Kellen Mond at No. 4 behind Wilson, Lawrence, and Mac Jones…while others feel he is a clear Day 3 pick. How can the gap in evaluation be so wide for a single prospect and why do you think there is a wide gap in what scouts think about Kellen Mond?
  • Do quarterbacks, more so than other positions, benefit from playing lesser competition in the eyes of scouts? (Josh Allen, BUF…Wilson/Lance this year)
  • How important is it for a running back to have good contact-balance in the NFL?
  • Mack Brown and the North Carolina Tar Heels boasted one of the best backfields in America last season with Senior Bowl star, Michael Carter, and second-team All-ACC back, JaVonte Williams. As the transfer portal continues to play a growing role in college football, is there valuing in sharing duties at the college level? Do you feel NFL evaluators are beginning to place more value on running backs with less tread on their tires than the old-fashioned workhorse running back?
  • One under the radar running back we like is Caleb Huntley out of Ball State. Who is a Day 3 RB you think could earn a starting role by the end of the year?
  • We just went through an unprecedented season in 2020 where many players chose to opt-out or were only able to showcase their abilities in a small window of games. How difficult is it to evaluate a player who sat out 2020 or, for example, Chris Evans at Michigan, who was suspended all of 2019 due to academics, but returned in 2020 after missing a year?
  • I’ve heard you use the term “clapping at the ball” as a knock against how a receiver catches the football. Could you expand on what that phrase means for our audience?
  • Does anyone pluck the ball out of the air better than Kyle Pitts in this year’s draft?
  • Will Elijah Moore’s skillset allow him to thrive in about any offensive system? If not, what type of offense would you like to see him in?
  • Outside of Kyle Pitts, name your favorite targets at the tight end position?

For the most in-depth analysis of offensive skill players available (QB, RB, WR, and TE), download the 2021  Rookie Scouting Portfolio for $21.95.  

Matt’s new RSP Dynasty Rankings and Two-Year Projections Package is available for $24.95

If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2020 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.  

Best yet, a percentage of each sale is set aside for a year-end donation to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse.

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