Well, it’s always Draft Season, but, you know what I mean.
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.
The grind of the college football season can change the dynamics of NFL Draft boards. As early-season favorites fail to impress, a new crop of draft-eligible candidates can emerge.
We identify five running backs definitely worth watching:
1. SAQUON BARKLEY, Penn State
With big-league quickness and sports-car-like acceleration, Barkley boasts a complete set of tools including the ability to evade tacklers. In today’s multi-unit, heavy-passing game plan, Barkley can serve as an all-down back thanks to a fine balance of rushing and receiving yards. Adding a player with Barkley’s ability can really provide a wide range of options for quarterbacks at the line of scrimmage.
Amateur Scouting & Draft Season
If you’re our kind of person, this is your favorite time of the year. Baseball is on the horizon, and the NCAA tournament is in full swing, but the real March madness for us is scouting for the NFL Draft.
Like most of you, scouting is a hobby for me. I have no professional scouting experience, but I have been to one degree or another forming my own opinions about NFL Draft prospects since around 1985, when I was in college.
I’m an old-school “draftnik” (does anyone really use that word anymore?) and I was at the Marriott Marquis in person when Vinny Testaverde was drafted first overall in 1987 and the idea of actually attending an event that consisted of guys handing cards to another guy who would read the name on the card aloud seemed off-the-charts nerdy instead of mainstream nerdy.
In this article, I describe my process for scouting, which has evolved considerably over the years, in hopes that you can borrow from it to improve your own process and thus your enjoyment of draft season, or that you can share something from your own process that helps me improve mine. Spread the love.
It’s critical to keep in mind that what should matter most to you is YOUR opinion. You decide how to scout, what traits you like, how you value different positions, and what you think of individual prospects. That’s our entire raison d’être… we built a website that’s a virtual NFL General Manager simulation because we want YOU to be able to see how you would do if you could run a team YOUR way.
Amateur scouting may be a hobby for me - or at least tangentially, as I do run an NFL virtual GM website, a marginally-professional activity - but I take it very seriously and take immense internal pride in my work.
With both the NFL and college football seasons in full swing, it's not only time to enjoy both, but also time to crank up the scouting effort for the 2017 NFL Draft. We normally shoot for November 1st to get the draft prospects in place, but we beat that by a few weeks this year - the initial list of 1,000 prospects is now live on the Prospects page, under the Draft Room tab.
Thanks to our friends at CBSSports.com, once again our source for our draft prospects list. Rob Rang and his team are always among the first to not only produce a deep, comprehensive list, but also to write meaningful scouting content for our rabid draft fans.
The 2016 NCAA season is nearly upon us, and fans of the NFL Draft – as well as PowerhouseGM.com virtual General Managers – begin a new season of scouting the next generation of pro football superstars.
Here are five NCAA players who will draw attention at the top of the 2017 NFL Draft:
The 2016 NCAA season will re-focus on running backs as not only potential Heisman Trophy candidates, but top candidates to be selected in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Next year’s NFL Draft could see a number of running backs earn first-round grades. Experts say the running back position no longer presents high first-round value due to the trend of spread offenses and greater emphasis on passing.
What must a modern running back do to achieve a first-round grade?
- Pass protect. In order to become an every-down-back, runners today must be able to protect the quarterback first and foremost. Any ‘back who can't pick up a blitz will find himself second or third on the depth chart.
- Immediate acceleration fits in with draws and screens. Today’s passing schemes require backs to gain speed from positions where they have to wait for the ball.
- Yards After Contact is a key metric measured by “Moneyball” analysts. The ability to break tackles remains a key attribute running backs in any era.
- Pass catching due to screens, check-downs and flat passes.
Which running backs will garner the most attention this season?
With the 2016 all-star games and scouting Combine now behind us, it's full steam ahead through pro days to the 2016 NFL Draft, which begins on Thursday, April 28th. The NFL is unique among all major sports in that you could make a credible argument that the "business season" (don't call it the off-season around these here parts, buster) is every bit as dramatic as the regular season.
And that's just fine with us, as in our little corner of the world, this is our favorite time of the year.
We have had our 2016 NFL Draft Prospects up on our site since November. We typically start with about 1,000 draft-eligible prospects, then delete a few (more on that in a moment) and add a bunch. No matter how hard we try to get everyone, it happens every year in the sixth or seventh round, when we are beyond bleary-eyed: someone (I'm talking to you, Belichick) drafts a prospect that's not on our list, and we have to scramble to add him. Other additions come from our Members, so if there's a prospect you think we're missing, let us know.
Over the weekend, we made a major revision to this list that included 149 additions of prospects that got on the radar since November. We also removed a few dozen prospects who were generally expected to be in this draft class, but for whatever reason are not. Some of the more notable deletions are:
[Note: This article is the first in a long series of new permanent content being posted to the PowerHouse Library. Yes, long-suffering PowerHouse friends, the "under construction" image has been removed, and we are at last building out this content...]
A Standard for Communications
It's one thing to have an opinion of a draft prospect, but it's quite another to articulate that opinion to a group of your colleagues in a way that can be useful in the decision-making process, and can be understood even if you're not standing there waving your arms and gushing about him or crinkling your nose in disgust.
Real NFL scouts use descriptive language and common verbiage to clearly and efficiently explain traits that prospects have or lack, and they have plenty of opportunity to explain in words anything unique about the person behind the facemask.
We all have our favorite sources for NFL Draft content on the web. NFL Network, in addition to their coverage of the Senior Bowl, the NFL Scouting Combine, and prospect Pro Days, has catnip for draftniks (how's that for an awkward phrase?) in the form of their daily "Path to the Draft" show. Of course, in print, the best draft publication on the planet is Ourlads Guide to the NFL Draft, and our paid Members can get their guide for free this year.
Here at PowerHouse, we have SiriusXM NFL Radio on pretty much all the time, and their best show, hands down, is "Movin' the Chains," with former NFL personnel man Pat Kirwan and former journeyman (in case he reads this) QB Jim Miller. Every year, they do a series of mock drafts in a format where they take turns.
If you've never done a mock draft in this format, it's an eye-opening exercise that exposes you to other ways of thinking and eliminates that tendency we all have to slot guys where we think they are a best fit.
The truth is, the 32 real-life NFL General Managers are each making one vitally important decision for their team, and not trying to make their contribution to a first round that looks elegant, neat, and well thought out. When you draft with a friend doing half the picks, you're forced to stay focused only on the team you're picking for at the moment, those coming after you be damned.
Here are the results of their first mock draft of 2015, broken into three segments, which is how they did it on their show on Friday, March 27th: