There is a rhytm to the NFL year, and there’s likewise a rhythm to our year here at PowerHouse. In the fall, our attention is on the on-field competition on Sundays, but even before the Super Bowl, the college all-star games begin to usher in the next phase of the year. NFL General Managers and their virtual counterparts here on our site shift the focus to preparing for free agency and the NFL Draft.
This is an intensely busy time for the real GMs, for our membership, and for us here doing our work behind the scenes. Our work runs the gamut from uploading a ton of data to fixing and improving technical aspects of the site, and we’d like to update you on some of the things that are going on during this period of frenetic activity.
From Unplanned Downtime… to Faster Uptime
On the weekend of March 12th, we were minding our own business and getting ready to fix some stuff and improve some other stuff when, out of the blue, we had a server outage that originated at our web hosting provider. This was the first time since we have been up and running as a bona fide website that we have had such an outage.
Long-time PowerHouse Members will say, “Hey, that’s not true! Your site has been down before!” And from your perspective (which is really the only one that matters, right?) you’d be right. We have had “outages” while doing maintenance, changing stuff around, or just generally acting like the little startup we are. But this was different, at least from our perspective. This was our hosting provider – one of the big boys in that world – having a server go down, having their redundant systems fail to step in, and having basically not a clue as to how to fix it. Not good, and the outage lasted for about one full, unpleasant day.
But, I’m basically an optimist to a fault, and a big fan of “turning that frown upside down.” Our sincerely apologetic hosting company made some changes that essentially gave us new server hardware and a higher tier of bandwidth and processing power (we’re getting dangerously close to the limitations of my technical knowledge as the topic heads in this direction…)
The upshot is that all of you should now see faster response times and fewer server timeout errors than before, which should more than make up for the disruption.
New Content, New Look
We have begun the process of redesigning the content areas of the site, and developing entirely new, long-planned areas. In the coming weeks and months, you will see lots of changes and new, (hopefully) interesting content on the site. Those changes have already begun in our Help system, and you’ll notice that the “under construction” page that the Library linked to has been removed. The content there is still very much under construction, to be sure, but that work is happening.
One great benefit of this redesign is that you’re going to experience much faster load times for all of these pages, so it isn’t just the game pages that are getting faster!
2016 NFL Draft Prospects
We typically upload our first list of NFL Draft prospects for the next draft in early November. We get our initial list from CBSSports.com, where Rob Rang runs the draft scouting area. We update again early in the year, as draft-eligible underclassmen decide whether to enter the draft or return to college. After this refresh, we manage our list ourselves, correcting errors, making minor adjustments (“he’s a safety, not a corner,”) and adding prospects we missed earlier.
Despite all of this work, there are always a handful of guys who we still miss, and sometimes we even have players not on our list of 1,000+ who get drafted in later rounds (we’re talking to you, Bellichick…) Please, if you don’t see someone who you believe is draft-eligible and worthy of inclusion, let us know! Likewise, if someone is included who you feel should not be, it’s entirely possible that we’ve simply missed something, and you can help us fine tune our list.
One of the biggest coups we pull off each year is getting the official NFL Scouting Combine results – the same report that NFL teams get following the Combine. These are not the numbers reported on NFL Network or other internet sources; they are the real numbers. This is closely guarded information, so we do not publish the raw numbers. However, we run some calculations on them and publish those numbers on our prospect pages. If you see someone with a 40 time that doesn’t have an “e” for “estimated,” you’re seeing what we feel is the “real” number, and it will likely be different from what’s reported elsewhere on the web.
We will soon post blog, Help system, and Library articles describing our process in more detail and diviing into the importance of the various measurements, which are obviously a big part of the scouting and evaluation process.
Order Current for April’s NFL Draft
We put up a tentative draft order shortly after the Super Bowl. This order reflects the order determined by NFL rules, and incorporates any prior trades and other adjustments we know of at the time. However, big changes have to be made after the NFL announces the 32 compensatory draft choices allotted to teams for net losses of free agents. Interestingly, this year, all 32 compensatory draft choices are in rounds 3 through 6 – these are higher than “normal,” as it is more common to have only a handful of mid-round picks and many in R7.
The full seven-round NFL Draft order is now current on our site. It reflects the original order with compensatory picks added, and all trades made through March 18th (most recently, the Martellus Bennett trade to the Patriots.) Note that there are only 253 picks this year – three fewer than normal – because of the Patriots’ forfeited R1 choice for deflating footballs, the R5 pick used by the Rams (say it with me: “Los Angeles Rams…”) in the Supplemental Draft last summer on Clemson OT Isaiah Battle (who spent 2015 on the Rams’ Practice Squad,) and the Falcons’ forfeited R5 pick for pumping in artificial crowd noise during games.
Additional changes will be made as the NFL teams continue to wheel and deal in the coming weeks. Trades made immediately before and during the NFL Draft will show in the Live Draft as they occur. Keep in mind that compensatory draft choices are not tradeable. It appears that will be changing, but the change will not take effect until the 2017 NFL Draft.
Updates to NFL Player Contracts
With the start of the new League Year comes the annual free agency bonanza. Expiring contracts come off the teams’ books, and many hundreds of NFL players play a game of musical chairs that make some rich beyond belief and leave many others wondering why their market value is not what they expected.
On our side, we need to update our contracts data, as our virtual NFL General Managers running teams here on PowerHouse have player contracts that mirror those in real life. This is a seriously complex process – there are no two ways about it. The leading authority on NFL player contracts is Jason Fitzgerald, who runs the infinitely useful, if pessimistically named website OvertheCap.com.
We get our contracts data from OTC, but it’s not a real-time process. First, Jason needs to do his work, which can take some time, even when the technical details of new contracts are fully disclosed, which they are not always. Then, we need to pull OTC’s data into our site, which is an involved process, to say the least.
The net result is that, yes, we have accurate contracts data, but, no, the data is not current at all times. We do our best in this regard, and we definitely update more frequently at this time of year, but when running your virtual NFL team you need to keep the time lag in mind as you manage your cap. If you have Brock Osweiler, you need to allow for the fact that his contract is going to jump significantly, and soon, as we make our updates.
We are also doing things behind the scenes to improve our iGMTM NFL General Manager simulation, and our focus right now is on the scouting and draft processes. Some of the things we are working on include correcting some strange things happening in our Mock Draft system and streamlining/simplifying the way you grade and rank draft prospects.
We hope you are enjoying the NFL’s business season. For us and for our membership, this time of year is an annual delight. The moves made by the NFL teams and your virtual teams set the stage for the competition to come in the fall. Championships are won and lost as a result of decisions made now. We’re hard-core NFL nerds; truly, this is the stuff that fascinates us, and we savor every minute of it!