The 2007 Rookie Scouting Portfolio:
A Preview And A Look Back
The “Gut Feeling” is often synonymous with a sense
of desperation resulting from a lack of preparation. The Gut Check
is a huge proponent of studying the numbers, but there’s
a point where one can place too much emphasis on the wrong information.
This can result in the undervaluing or overlooking a player’s
potential. Therefore, The Weekly Gut Check is devoted to examining
the frame of reference behind certain number-driven guidelines
that fantasy football owners use to make decisions.
Although The Weekly Gut Check doesn’t claim to be psychic,
he does believe that he can dispel certain numbers biases and
help you make the best choices for your team. We’ll keep
a running tally of The Weekly Gut Check’s insights. This
way you can gauge his views as something to seriously consider,
or at least seriously consider running the opposite way as fast
as you can!
With the preseason in the books and the regular season just underway,
now is the time to take an early look at some of the future prospects
for the 2007 NFL Draft. If you read this column with any regularity,
you know the Gut Check frequently references the 2006
Rookie Scouting Portfolio, a 379-page analysis of rookie prospects
at the offensive skill positions. Although it’s extremely
early to judge the accuracy of his insights, here is an explanation
of the grade ranges and an early review of some of his more prominent
hits and misses with the class of 2006:
Scoring The Checklists
The criteria in these checklists are defined and assigned a numerical
value. The more essential the defined criteria point to the player’s
projected NFL performance at their position, the higher the assigned
point value for that particular skill. The player earns all the
points for a score of “Yes,” or none of the points
for a “No.” A score of “N/A,” means the
question is not applicable to the situation being evaluated—for
instance, a running back that doesn’t have an opportunity
to make a difficult/acrobatic reception in a game cannot fail
All positional checklists are scored on a 100-point scale. The
overall score is my opinion of each player’s current skill
set, and contributes to my view of his overall potential to translate
those skills as an NFL professional. Fantasy owners should be
able to look at these scores and determine where they can find
value players in their drafts.
|| Overall Assessment
||This is a rookie with the talent to
contribute at a high level for an NFL team as soon as
their first year and at latest, their second season.
Since rookies are rarely top tier fantasy starters,
this overall number states more to their dynasty potential
to become an elite fantasy contributor in the years
to come. Although unlikely a player with this overall
score will amass this level of production on a consistent
basis to become a must start in his first year, a rookie
with this score will have the best opportunity in the
||This rookie should eventually contribute
at a high level for an NFL team early in his career.
The upper range of this score probably means the player
may need 1-2 years, but will eventually develop into
a solid, if not excellent NFL player. He will be a solid
fantasy starter usually taken in the top 3-5 rounds
of a re-draft league. A player in the lower range has
a chance to accomplish the same level of productivity
but may have a clearly defined weak area(s) that requires
improvement. He could contribute now, but he’ll
have liabilities an NFL defense will be able to exploit
within a game or two. Most struggling starters that
may produce decent numbers but make repeated mistakes
that cost their team are playing at this level. These
are players best used as a situational player or reserve.
If he doesn’t make progress with these skills
earlier in his career, he'll most likely remain a situational
player or backup.
||A rookie with NFL talent but falls under
one of three categories: he is new to the position,
lacked great coaching because his skill sets detract
from his physical talent, or he has decent--if not a
high level of skills--but he doesn’t have the
elite physical talent. Players in the upper half of
this range often become starters, and sometimes stars,
but the rate of progress is slower than their peers.
A player in the lower half is more likely to be career
back up with the ability to be productive in spot situations.
These aren’t players a fantasy owner will want
to draft in traditional leagues, but have nice value
as mid-to-late round picks in dynasty leagues with deeper
rosters. Even if not drafted to a fantasy roster in
their first year, a savvy owner will be aware of these
players and pick up them up on the waiver wire at the
||These prospects generally have more
than one deficiency in their game. The media labels
these guys as "projects," if they have the
physical talent. Another likelihood is the player may
have excelled in college but played in a system that
contributed to his success more than his individual
skills. These players are long shots to develop into
a quality NFL and fantasy starter. You will likely see
this player on various NFL rosters or vying for playing
time in other professional leagues (AFL, CFL, or NFL-Europe)
early in his career. A fantasy owner in a deep, dynasty
league may want to keep an eye on these players for
a few years but they aren’t likely worth a pick
unless the league has 40+ players and 16+ teams.
||A player with this low of a score has
major deficiencies in his game and probably lacks the
physical talent relative to the average NFL player.
With time, opportunity, and coaching this player has
a chance to develop into a backup, but the likelihood
of this player growing into a productive starter in
the NFL or fantasy leagues is too low for someone to
seriously consider until that player proves everyone
||The RSP’s top-rated QB: "Cutler
has the best combination of athleticism, passing skills,
and mental toughness on the board."
||The RSP’s 4th-rated QB and 2nd
rated by adjusted combine scores despite being a 6th
||The RSP listed Olson as an overrated
player, not the underrated player as many publications
||The RSP described Shockley as a project
with top-shelf physical skills and poise to be an NFL
||The RSP rated Bell has a future NFL
starter that had enough talent to play in a situational
role as a rookie.
||The RSP correctly stated in March that
Lundy was best-suited for a zone blocking scheme and
was mentioned as an underrated prospect.
||The RSP said Washington was overrated
while many draft analysts mentioned him as an underrated
||The RSP felt Hall was a sneaky good
player that will surprise.
||The RSP rated Williams as the 2nd best
rookie RB in this draft.
||The RSP rated Drew higher than most
publications and said he’d get a chance to be
a more complete player than Darren Sproles the player
many compared him.
||One of the most NFL-ready receivers
of this class that reminded of Derrick Mason
||Labeled Hurd as a project that will
make a team and eventually see time as a starter in
||Most publications labeled Hagan as an
overrated prospect that can’t catch with consistency.
The RSP had him as one of the top WRs in the class.
||The RSP though Hass was going to be
the surprise of this draft even as a rookie.
||The RSP rated him much higher than most
and still feels he will contribute in the future.
||The RSP believed he’d bea good
all around starter.
||One of the RSPs most underrated players
and described Mills as a good potential FB or H-Back.
||The RSP said he was an project that
should develop into a contributor despite his inexperience.
The 2007 Rookie Scouting Portfolio will be out in late March-early
April and will not only include the same information as last year,
but also much more for your dynasty leagues:
- Rookie Draft Value Charts for 8, 10, 12, and 14-team
- Draft Value Charts for Keeper Leagues with values for
veteran players in 8, 10, 12, and 14-team leagues.
- Dynasty player rankings of veterans at each offensive
- A look ahead to 2008
- Grading previous drafts
Here’s an example Rookie Draft Value Chart for a 14-team
Draft Value Chart
The values assigned to each pick create a direct relationship
between the higher picks and the corresponding point value. If
you plot the numbers on a graph it's a classic relationship that
you'd see in a math class. This is modeled after the values of
a draft chart used in NFL war rooms.
This chart could also help you with re-draft leagues where you
can trade picks. For instance, if someone offers you their second
and third round picks from the 4th position in exchange for your
10th pick in the first round, you can see if the values are close
enough to consider the deal.
Picks 2.04 (201 pts) + 3.04 (101 pts) = 302 pts
Pick 1.10 = 329 pts
The values are close enough that you should consider the the
trade. You could even negotiate a 5th round pick and claim that
makes the deal less lopsided in their favor and according to the
chart you’d be right. Of course if the value is within 20-40
points with picks this high in th draft, you don’t want
to make a 5th round pick the dealbreaker.
The keeper value charts will look similar but will also provide
values for players kept on existing rosters. This should help
you determine whether specific players in exchange for picks constitutes
a reasonable deal. The keeper league and re-draft value charts
will be formatted for additional rounds—likely between 16
These additions should provide more value to a fantasy rookie
draft guide that ESPN 1300 Baltimore’s Anita Marks said
“blew away” her parent company’s fine publication.
A publication the New Orleans Saints’ office requested a
copy of prior to their draft.
The Gut Check is already scouting players that should be a part
of the NFL’s 2007 selection process. One such player is
Washington State senior wide receiver, Jason
Hill. While the Pac-10 isn’t regarded as a great defensive
conference, the California Golden Bears do have two defensive
backs that are considered NFL prospects and senior corner Daymeion
Hughes, is a second team preseason Walter Camp All-American. The
Gut Check is providing you a complimentary sample of the film
study report of Hill’s dominating performance over both
Cal defensive backs in 2005 where he scored 3 touchdowns and posted
240 receiving yards on both corners. Everyone will be talking
about Calvin Johnson, Craig Jarrett, and Steve Smith come draft
day because the QB play at WSU is going to effect Hill’s
stats, but if you read this report and others like it, you can
benefit your fantasy squad in 2007.
Look for the 2007 Rookie Scouting Portfolio in late March-early
April at FFToday.com