Unless you're a member of an NFL scouting department, or in a war room congratulations- you're a third wheel. It sucks to be a third wheel; always the last to get invited, always the last to get the joke, and occasionally you'll get the wool pulled over your eyes. Never is this notion more prevalent than leading up to the NFL draft where 'unnamed scouts' get to toy with the emotions of stressed out football fans desperate to ensure their team doesn't miss out.
From the time the Superbowl ends we've become conditioned to pore over scouting reports, watch draft shows and postulate where, and when players could wind up. The most hilarious aspect to this is the comical concept of 'rising and falling' draft stock, which should just be synonymous with 'playing catch-up'.
Here's the deal folks: The framework for NFL draft boards was finalized months ago. Regional scouts have been spending the better part of a year learning everything they can about a player; from watching their film, talking to their friends and family... shoot, most of these guys know the prospect's favorite food. This is a process that asks players in interviews to tell them 'how they'd point a gun' not as a trick question, but as a test to determine their dominant eye which indicates which side of the field they can play on.
It's hilarious that a process this in depth, examining all the minutia would get erased in the last two weeks by these wild mood swings, or 'scout PMS'. You have 15-20 analysts who are desperate for a story, and 150+ people desperate to prevent them from getting one. Who do you think is going to win?
More after the jump
So we arrive at the ubiquitous 'draft rise' and 'draft fall'. It's the most sublimely stupid thing we all fall for, and yet we all do it (me included) every single year. Now, I don't want to pick on one prospect or outlet because they're all guilty of it, but here's how it goes:
Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
- Scout.com pre-combine ranking: 5th DT, Projected round: 2nd
Okay, so Poe is a 2nd round pick. We have scouts who have looked at the film, talked to coaches etc and determined that he's a raw player but with enough physical upside that he's worth a second round pick... got it.
- Scout.com post-combine ranking: 1st DT, Projected round: 1st
Alright... so Dontari Poe blew away unnamed scouts in Indy. Wowee... everyone just can't stop talking about this guy. His stock is really on the rise after a dominating performance, and he's rising up draft boards!
So the darling of the draft is cooling off. @I can't believe it... he may even fall into the 2nd round!@
The moral of this story: The player who 'rose' and 'fell' will probably wind back up at that initial, second round, film-based analysis.
It's not just Poe who is going through this- all the prospects are. The terms 'rising' and 'falling' are little more than placating terms that point to people who are paid to analyze the league not having a clue what teams are trying to do. So, like a dog chasing a ball they run for anything... even taking off halfway across the yard when an 'unnamed scout' is still holding that tennis ball in his hand.
RGII is 'selfish', Matt Kalil is 'entitled', new information says Janoris Jenkins was still smoking weed and Mike Adams tested positive to something 32 teams knew about two months ago.
No, we're playing catch up. WE overrated them, WE fell for the bait, WE got suckered in and now we'll see how much longer we can look like fools. I don't blame 'unnamed scouts' I'd probably have some fun at the media's expense too.
What I find so hilarious about the whole process is that sane, logical fans will acknowledge organizations like New England and New Orleans will do anything it takes to get an edge, but when an 'unnamed scout' says something we take it as gospel. For all we know that 'unnamed scout' works for the Patriots or Saints! If you're a playoff team why wouldn't you seed the media with bad reports to try and see if a desperate team in dire need of a draft 'hit' will get spooked? It's that same competitive edge you're looking for.
Then on draft day you can preen like peacocks when that player you had graded #10 overall is still there at #40 because you planted word that he could 'fall' while that sucker of a team has bought that your #123 prospect is worth the 10th overall pick.
I've fallen for the hyperbole of the draft in years past... not anymore.