2008 Rookie Scouting Portfolio Preview
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 regular season winding down for most fantasy owners, I’m
taking the opportunity to let you know that the 2008
Rookie Scouting Portfolio is now available for a special pre-order
discount of $9.95 from now through April 1st. The feedback in
2007 was excellent for this publication, now entering its third
year, and those who purchased it early will tell you that getting
this 400-page publication at half-price is a steal.
The 2006 and 2007 RSPs are also still available for purchase—for
details on how to order these previous publications, e-mail
About The Rookie Scouting Portfolio
The Rookie Scouting Portfolio is an intensive game film
study of over 100 rookie prospects at the offensive skill positions
(QB, RB, WR, and TE). The intent is to provide the fantasy owner
and draftnik information that goes beyond the general, one- and
two-paragraph summaries of player strengths and weaknesses. The
2008 Rookie Scouting Portfolio delivers play-by-play examples
to illustrate the why a player receives a certain grade.
In mid-September, Bill Parcells stated on ESPN Monday Night
Countdown that NFL personnel evaluators tend to overanalyze
the components of a great player and ignore the overall package
because they feel the need to cover themselves. With huge sums
of money tied to contracts that will be offered to top prospects,
these evaluators tend to over-emphasize measurements and reputation
of college programs so they don’t take risks that could
get them fired. This is the underlying reason why a former GM
such as Tex Schramm would make a comment on NFL.com about RB Brian
Westbrook when he was drafted that, if he were an inch or two
taller and 10 pounds heavier, he’d be a top ten pick.
In contrast, The Rookie Scouting Portfolio is carefully
constructed so the player’s potential is not lost in the
minutiae of details that can allow measurements or specific techniques
to overshadow football talent. It’s about the game film
getting more emphasis than the combine. Thus far, the analysis
has been on target, projecting good things from players many NFL
personnel evaluators under-valued. Just ask fantasy owners who
read these nuggets (and more) prior to the 2006 and 2007 drafts:
THESE WERE ALL ASSESSMENTS MADE PRIOR
TO THE NFL DRAFT AND SOLELY FROM FILM STUDY!!!
- Maurice Jones Drew’s ability to be a viable inside
runner at the NFL level
- Undrafted free agent Mike Bell possessing the skills to perform
like an NFL starter
- Vince Young is a better passer than most media analysts said
and had more potential to succeed than Matt Leinart.
- Joseph Addai would be a great fit for the Colts offense.
- Greg Jennings was a better than advertised receiver who could
make a quick impact.
- Undrafted receiver Sam Hurd, the best blocker at his position
in recent memory and signed immediately by the Cowboys, would
stick with a team and see the field as a contributor sooner
- WR Brandon Marshall projected as a future starter.
- TE Jeff King scored as a future starting quality player despite
much lower grades from other draft analysts.
- Andre Hall is a fundamentally good inside runner with all-around
skills that could make him a surprisingly effective NFL player—he
graded out better than fellow surprise Bronco, Mike Bell, but
not as high as the guy ahead of him on the depth chart, un-drafted
rookie out of Texas, Selvin Young.
- While most everyone else touted Brady Quinn and Jamarcus
Russell, the RSP said John Beck and Trent Edwards were the best
two QBs who were most ready to play in the NFL.
The emphasis of game film to evaluate a player is based on the philosophy
shared by some of the NFL’s best personnel men in the history
of the game such as Joe Thomas and Ron Wolf. Commissioner Pete Rozelle
recommended Thomas to the Minnesota Vikings in the 1960’s
as their first personnel manager. Thomas went against the grain,
and built a team around scrambling QB Fran Tarkenton, a player who
didn’t have ideal measurements but possessed far greater qualities
that could only be seen on the field.
Former Packer’s GM, Ron Wolf credits Thomas as someone from
whom he learned valuable lessons about the art of personnel decisions.
Wolf was the driving force behind the Packers acquiring Brett Favre.
The choice of Favre was one of the cornerstones of the Green Bay
franchise when they became Super Bowl Champion. Wolf was convinced
Favre was a special player, not because what he saw from Favre at
the combine, but film study of the future Hall of Famer’s
junior season at Southern Mississippi.
Each player’s game performance is scored on a position-specific
checklist containing all the necessary fundamentals that answer
the key questions about a prospect’s potential to develop
into an NFL starter, and fantasy asset:
All positional checklists are scored on a 100-point scale and commentary
accompanies each checklist to support the reasons behind the scores.
The overall grade is my opinion of each player’s current skill
set and is a basis for my view of a prospect’s overall potential
to perform in the NFL. Fantasy owners can also look at these scores
and determine where they can find value players in their drafts.I:
- Does the player demonstrate consistently sound techniques
and decisions in game-day situations?
- Does the film provide examples that support or differ
from the combine results?
- Does the player translate his physical skills to the
- What is the player’s comfort level with physical
|| Overall Assessment
||This is a rookie with the talent to
contribute at a high level for an NFL team as early
as his first year. Since rookies are rarely top tier
fantasy starters, this overall number states more to
a rookie’s dynasty potential to become an elite fantasy
contributor in the years to come. Although it is 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 right situation.
||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 of on-field experience, 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 of this score has a chance to accomplish
the same level of productivity but may have a clearly
defined weak area. 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 who 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 starters or reserves.
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,
he 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 multiple 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
And this film study has worked quite well for me as a fantasy
owner in dynasty leagues. In both my dynasty leagues I have assembled
league-leading squads in points scored and/or win-loss record
with players I observed with this type of film study. Although
I did not publish an RSP prior to 2005, I used the same philosophy
to evaluate players I acquired to build these teams.
Sample Checklists and Profiles
QB Chad Henne,
Michigan—Several talent evaluators have placed Henne
fairly high on their list of pro quarterback prospects, but his
performance on film does not warrant the praise. See why here.
Albert Young, Iowa—Young is a tough runner on a frequently
overmatched college squad. He won’t likely be a star at
the next level, but he could be a surprisingly effective contributor
and will be worth monitoring his progress early in his career.