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College Football & the 2014 NFL Draft The future stars of the NFL

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Old 01-23-2014   #2
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Default Defensive Ends: What's After Clowney?

Defensive Ends: What's After Clowney?
Matt Waldman

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Jadeveon Clowney is one of the headliners of the 2014 NFL Draft, but defensive end is not this year’s marquee position. One of the predominant reasons is the current prevalence of the 3-4 scheme in the NFL. A true 4-3 end capable of stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback at an equally high level has always been a rarity. While it’s possible that a team with a 3-4 scheme drafts Clowney and converts him to outside linebacker, the fact that the South Carolina defensive end has the potential to develop into a superstar 4-3 end is enough for him to earn top-five consideration in any draft class.

Remove Jadeveon Clowney from the equation and this class of defensive end prospects is not an exciting one. However, the NFL isn’t comprised solely of superstars. Teams still derive value from players that do one thing well. The popularity of the 3-4 defense, plus 2-to-3 years of development time, could make several of these defensive end prospects valuable contributors.

The names I’ve seen at the top of most draftniks’ lists lack the all-around game required of a 4-3 end. Most of these players will have to make some kind of switch. Some will move from defensive end to outside linebacker, others will become 3-4 ends, and a few might earn a shot at 4-3 defensive tackle. With time, some of these players have the potential to help an NFL defense -– and a few may even blossom into viable 4-3 ends.

This week, I’m not profiling any of the defensive end prospects that I believe an NFL team will convert to outside linebacker. This is strictly a list of potential 4-3 and 3-4 ends. Here are my thoughts on five of these future rookies. One of them is not high on many lists, but he has the potential to develop into a quality 3-4 end...
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Old 02-16-2014   #3
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Default Re: Matt Waldman/Rookie Scouting Portfolio on 2014 Draft

Embracing The Craft of Player Evaluation
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Player evaluation is an imperfect endeavor. Understanding one’s limitations is a huge step towards getting better at it.

The most compelling thing about the NFL Draft is that no matter how hard it tries, it cannot escape its humanity. It’s this human element that makes player evaluation – and evaluating what good evaluation is – so difficult.

Evaluating human behavior is a craft. It’s not science. It’s not intuition. It’s not history. And it’s not life experience.

It’s all of these things layered with perspective and applied with doses of humility, pride, and appreciation of the perfection of imperfections. It’s limitations and imperfections that are the root of character.

Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice weren’t deemed big enough to carry the load. They are two of the toughest backs in football and proven bell cows.

Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Brandon Lloyd are too slow to play wide receiver if looking solely at the speed data. However, what they do to catch a football despite these limitations is like a gorgeous birthmark on a model’s face.

Frank Gore is a former physical freak-turned-mortal whose sight, decision-making, and patience make fans wonder “what could have been” if he didn’t suffer two knee injuries that took away his immortality. Tony Romo and Brett Favre have embodied the sum of human failings, but often supplied its most inspiring heights.

I joke that Romo and Favre are often the dividing line among fans who embrace humanity and fans who think we’re better off eliminating humanity and evolving into androids.

Self-loathing aside, it’s the humanity in these players’ games that shine the brightest to fans – the production despite imperfection and the feats that for a briefest moment stretch beyond limitation. Likewise, player analysis is a willingness to both embrace and stretch beyond the humanity inherent in the process.

Every human being has characteristics of their personality that, depending on the situation, will have positive or negative expression. If one looks hard enough, this is true of scouts, writers, and draftniks when they evaluate prospects.

We all have several of these traits, but there is often a few predominant traits that are easier to notice. One of mine is...
...
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We all want a silver bullet – an attribute, a stat, or a measurement that will override the imperfection of craft. But player analysis is a craft.

You may not like it. I may not like it. It doesn’t matter.
Know thyself... and know you won't know.
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Old 02-19-2014   #4
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Default Re: Matt Waldman/Rookie Scouting Portfolio on 2014 Draft

Futures: A Trio of Sleepers

by Matt Waldman

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...

WR Paul Richardson

At 6-foot-1 and a 2013 listed weight of 170 pounds, the receiver from Colorado will be told by NFL beat writers that he needs to go on a two-week diet featuring three squares of two-dozen biscuits sopped in lard, topped with fried Snickers, and chased with heavy cream. Itís the only on-field reason...

RB Tim Flanders

Refined route skills and competitiveness for the football are two factors that I value with receivers. For running backs, itís...

QB Dustin Vaughan

Bill Parcells compared Saints rookie Khiry Robinson to Curtis Martin. Robinson is from West Texas A&M, where he played with Vaughan, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound quarterback with a 62.5 percent completion percentage and 70 touchdowns to 19 interceptions during his 30 career games.
Iím not as enthusiastic about Vaughan as I am Richardson and Flanders, but...
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Old 02-19-2014   #5
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Default Re: Matt Waldman/Rookie Scouting Portfolio on 2014 Draft

Nice to see Vaughan in there.

He has a good arm.
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Old 02-19-2014   #6
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Default Re: Matt Waldman/Rookie Scouting Portfolio on 2014 Draft

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Originally Posted by Playoffs View Post
Embracing The Craft of Player Evaluation
now thyself... and know you won't know.
Translation:
Everybody is basically GUESSING.
Some are just luckier at it than others.
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Old 02-19-2014   #7
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Default Re: Matt Waldman/Rookie Scouting Portfolio on 2014 Draft

Super in depth scouting reports, I'll be pouring over these for hours.
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Old 02-19-2014   #8
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Default Re: Matt Waldman/Rookie Scouting Portfolio on 2014 Draft

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Originally Posted by jradMIT View Post
Super in depth scouting reports, I'll be pouring over these for hours.
Matt does great work. Always uncovers some gems and challenges draft groupthink. RSP is well worth the $$$, imo.
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Old 02-20-2014   #9
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Default Re: Matt Waldman/Rookie Scouting Portfolio on 2014 Draft

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Originally Posted by kiwitexansfan View Post
Nice to see Vaughan in there.

He has a good arm.
http://rotobahn.com/scouting-report-...west-texas-a-m

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGsJ5hpdjqs
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Old 03-05-2014   #10
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Default Re: Matt Waldman/Rookie Scouting Portfolio

Scouting QBs: Separating the Dark From the Dark
by Matt Waldman
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After spending an insane amount of time during the last decade studying players, talking with scouts, and paying attention to history, I have learned three things about evaluating football talent:
  • Scouting and quarterbacking are about detail and nuance.
  • Experience matters, but not like you think.
  • Quarterback remains the untamed wilderness of football evaluation.
These are my personal lessons. No one shared these three points as teachable nuggets from the book of scouting. The last two insights are unintended consequences of professionals making opposite statements.

After 10 years of studying football games, I have gained enough experience to see that I’m not an expert. As the great poet Philip Levine wrote, I’ve "begun to separate the dark from the dark."

Today, I’m sharing these degrees of darkness about scouting quarterbacks. The hope is that separating the dark from the dark may one day provide a process that is a more reliable way to find the light.
...
Quote:
Good quarterbacking is craftsmanship. There are a basic minimum of tools (details) to complete the job: height, weight, speed, arm strength, accuracy, etc. However the craftsman integrates the tools, his knowledge, and his experience to execute at the highest level of performance.

Skills integration is nuance. Pocket presence is a collection of details integrated in variety of ways to achieve a desired result:
  • Understanding how the down-and-distance of a play shapes the risks a quarterback should take or avoid.
  • Footwork.
  • Ball security.
  • Shoulder movement.
  • Timing of movement.
  • Reading the defense.
  • Disguising one’s intentions from the defense.
  • Peripheral vision.
  • Rapport with blockers and knowledge of blocking schemes.
  • Knowledge of routes.
  • Knowledge of the small adjustments his receivers will make on certain routes.
Each of these details can differ from one play to the next. It’s not intangible; it’s often too multi-layered and complex to capture with data. Touch, placement, and reading defenses are also examples of nuance.
...
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Teams should not only have an idea of what makes a quarterback good, but what prevents a quarterback from ever achieving his potential and stick to those guidelines. They should show more restraint in the first round when it comes to overrating quarterbacks with numerous tools and discernible lack of nuance.

At the same time, they need to formulate processes that identify and value the types of nuance that elevate players beyond their details. As I said before, there are certain details that are "must haves" but if a team is tallying good details on a player without examining the nuance he displays with them then they will continually pick quarterbacks where the whole never equals the sum of their parts.

If a team selects Derek Carr or Jimmy Garoppolo within the first 50 picks of this draft, it’s a good sign they are in this rut. This is especially true if the pick is Garoppolo.

The Eastern Illinois quarterback possesses a lot of the details that NFL scouts and general managers like, but he lacks the nuance to succeed long-term as a starter.
Details to like:
  • Quick drops.
  • Fast release.
  • Thorough play fakes.
  • Use of pump fakes.
  • Velocity in the short and intermediate game.
  • Short and intermediate accuracy.
  • Prototypical height and weight.
  • Mobility
...
Controlled environments downplay the importance of nuance. The pocket is not a controlled environment; quarterbacking-by-numbers doesn't win there.

Garoppolo’s pocket presence is similar to Gabbert’s. The Eastern Illinois starter has a bad habit of altering his body position during his release as if an opponent is within a step of delivering a hit that will alter the accuracy of the throw when there isn't a defender within 3-4 yards of him.
Moreover, Garoppolo is more likely to duck his shoulders and drop his eyes from his receivers to brace himself for a hit in situations were top prospects climb the pocket, keep their eyes on their receivers, and maintain a good throwing position. When a quarterback's first inclination is to freeze, brace for a hit, or turn tail from pressure and run well before the pressure arrives, it's a red flag.

The problem inherent with having a high grade on Garoppolo is that teams are rewarding quarterbacks for the wrong things...
http://www.footballoutsiders.com/fut...ting-dark-dark
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Old 03-05-2014   #11
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Default Re: Matt Waldman/Rookie Scouting Portfolio

Good stuff
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Old 03-05-2014   #12
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Default Re: Matt Waldman/Rookie Scouting Portfolio on 2014 Draft

Jimmy G is a wasted pick in the top 50. I definitely thought that, but Carr in the top 50 being a wasted pick is interesting.

I don't like Carr by any means, but he should be top 50. Anyways, Fair enough.
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Old 03-08-2014   #13
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Default Re: Matt Waldman/Rookie Scouting Portfolio on 2014 Draft

The Little Things That Make Sammy Watkins A Big Deal
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If Sammy Watkins didnít possess excellent hands and speed, he wouldnít be a top prospect at his position. However, itís the little things that make Watkins a special prospect.
...
Attention to detail is an essential reason why Watkins is ahead of the rest of his draft classmates. The Clemson receiver is like a jazz musician playing in a pop band Ė few appreciate every nuance because the knowledge often requires hours of study or an enormous intuitive feel for the game to get beyond the environment of the performance to see everything that makes him special.
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