This morning at breakfast, my younger son, who's eleven, asked me, "Dad, would you rather not watch the Super Bowl, or not watch the NFL Draft?" He was absolutely not kidding, and it speaks volumes that I had to think about it before deciding I co
uld deal with listening to some live Draft podcast if I had to. Any other answer would be putting the cart before the horse, wouldn't it?
The Draft is very different than when I first started following it closely as a collegian at Lehigh in the mid-1980s. The event has taken on a life of its own, spawning an entire cottage industry, and nobody says "Draftniks" anymore (because there are so many of us now that we're no longer a fringe element?)
While I'm still looking forward to springtime here in White Plains, NY, the first annual event that fills me with a sense of renewal is Senior Bowl week. It starts with the East-West Shrine Game, followed by the NFL's Conference Championship games, then the week of Senior Bowl practices, then the game. Oh, and there's the Super Bowl after that before we shift entirely to free agency and the Draft.
I've been fortunate to go to Senior Bowl week a bunch of times over the past decade, and I'm bummed not to be in Mobile this week. But I'm totally psyched to be back in scouting mode.
I run two teams on PowerHouseGM.com. The one I care more about is my admin team, the Jesters, which is the team you see when you're not logged in on the site. Those guys won a Super Bowl back in 2015, but finished a pedestrian 7-9 this year.
My other team got by for most of 2017 with Trevone Boykin and Cody Kessler at QB, but I jumped on the Jimmy Garoppolo trade and got hot late in the season, winning our last seven straight to finish 10-6. We then beat the Titans and Patriots to lock up a spot in the AFC Championship Game vs. the Steelers. We'll see how that one goes. Fingers firmly crossed!
Scouting the NFL Draft Prospects
Historically, we've loaded our scouting pages with the top 1,000 NFL Draft prospects sometime in November with the list on CBSSports.com. CBS has made some changes, however, and they only had their top 300 available. We put those up in November, as usual, but it soon became clear that we had to find another source for our list this year.
Turns out it was sources... plural. It was a major hassle (that's the bad news, and it only affected me,) but Frank Cooney's information-packed site, NFLDraftScout.com, came to the rescue. We used it to build our list, and I had a couple of nice conversations with Frank, who has been in this business a very, very long time. Definitely visit his site to do your scouting due diligence.
I massaged our list with the updates provided by Scott Wright's DraftCountdown.com on the early draft entries, and checked a bunch of other sites to verify those who are returning to school to complete their college eligibility. Scott's a good guy who I've had the pleasure of hanging out with in Mobile over the years.
The good news is that our list is definitely way more accurate at this point than it's ever been in the past. If you're new to PowerHouse, go to Draft Room > Prospects to see them all.
There are currently 1,295 prospects listed (the numbers skip due to players we've deleted due to ineligibility.) These include the record number of early entrants who declared by the deadline of January 15th.
New and Improved!
We've made some improvements to the scouting pages, too. If you were around last year, you probably saw the pop-up player details that I built. They were, I thought, pretty good in many respects, pulling together some useful info on the prospects from around the web and hopefully saving our amateur GMs some time looking stuff up.
But, that was a very laborious process, and one that I didn't have time to finish for all 1,000+ prospects. This year, we are taking a step forward by automating the creation of these pages.
We are still tweaking the code behind these popups - I know they're not perfect yet. And we still need to populate them with the prospects' Twitter handles, their bios, their photos, etc. That's a work in process, but it's going to be a lot easier than what we went through last year, and I hope y'all find the popups to be the valuable resource that they're intended to be!
I'm sure there are many different styles that our virtual GMs use when you're scouting, grading, and ranking the prospects. If you're interested in seeing how I build my board and use the scouting pages, just log out of your account, go to the Prospects page and change the year to 2017 (I'm just now getting started on 2018.)
My specific order within each grading tier (e.g., "R1+/R1") got mixed up at some point, so, no, O.J. Howard was not my actual #1 prospect last year. I tend to ignore the opinions of others, even those I respect. I form my own opinion based on my own observations. To me, that's the fun of it, right or wrong!
We'll get the Draft order up on the site after the Super Bowl, then update it when the compensatory picks are announced and whatever coin flips happen. There will also be some fine-tuning related to conditional picks having conditions met or not.
Best of luck this scouting season. I hope you have as much fun with the process as I've now had for over thirty years!