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The Weekly Gut Check - Vol. 75
The 2007 Rookie Scouting Portfolio: A Preview And A Look Back

Rookie Scouting Portfolio 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 this area.

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.

 Range  Overall Assessment
90-100 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 right situation.
80-89 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.
70-79 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 opportune time.
60-69 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.
0-59 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 wrong.

Pos Player Grade RSP Analysis
QB Jay Cutler 86 The RSP’s top-rated QB: "Cutler has the best combination of athleticism, passing skills, and mental toughness on the board."
QB Bruce Gradkowski 84 The RSP’s 4th-rated QB and 2nd rated by adjusted combine scores despite being a 6th round pick.
QB Drew Olson 60 The RSP listed Olson as an overrated player, not the underrated player as many publications listed him.
QB D.J. Shockley 81 The RSP described Shockley as a project with top-shelf physical skills and poise to be an NFL QB.
RB Mike Bell 85 The RSP rated Bell has a future NFL starter that had enough talent to play in a situational role as a rookie.
RB Wali Lundy 81 The RSP correctly stated in March that Lundy was best-suited for a zone blocking scheme and was mentioned as an underrated prospect.
RB Leon Washington 78 The RSP said Washington was overrated while many draft analysts mentioned him as an underrated player.
RB Andre Hall 86 The RSP felt Hall was a sneaky good player that will surprise.
RB DeAngelo Williams 92 The RSP rated Williams as the 2nd best rookie RB in this draft.
RB Maurice Drew 91 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.
WR Greg Jennings 86 One of the most NFL-ready receivers of this class that reminded of Derrick Mason
WR Sam Hurd 89 Labeled Hurd as a project that will make a team and eventually see time as a starter in the NFL
WR Derek Hagan 92 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.
WR Mike Hass 88 The RSP though Hass was going to be the surprise of this draft even as a rookie.
WR Charles Sharon 87 The RSP rated him much higher than most and still feels he will contribute in the future.
TE Joe Klopfenstein 85 The RSP believed he’d bea good all around starter.
TE Garrett Mills 94 One of the RSPs most underrated players and described Mills as a good potential FB or H-Back.
TE Joe Kowalewski 90 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 Dynasty Leagues
  • 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 position.
  • A look ahead to 2008
  • Grading previous drafts

Here’s an example Rookie Draft Value Chart for a 14-team league.

Rookie Draft Value Chart
Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4
1.01 841 2.01 233 3.01 113 4.01 57
1.02 713 2.02 217 3.02 109 4.02 55
1.03 649 2.03 209 3.03 105 4.03 53
1.04 585 2.04 201 3.04 101 4.04 51
1.05 521 2.05 193 3.05 97 4.05 49
1.06 457 2.06 185 3.06 93 4.06 47
1.07 425 2.07 177 3.07 89 4.07 45
1.08 393 2.08 169 3.08 85 4.08 43
1.09 361 2.09 161 3.09 81 4.09 41
1.10 329 2.10 153 3.10 77 4.10 39
1.11 297 2.11 145 3.11 73 4.11 37
1.12 281 2.12 137 3.12 69 4.12 35
1.13 265 2.13 129 3.13 65 4.13 33
1.14 249 2.14 121 3.14 61 4.14 31
Round 5 Round 6 Round 7 Round 8
5.01 29 6.01 19 7.01 11 8.01 2
5.02 28 6.02 18 7.02 10 8.02 2
5.03 27 6.03 18 7.03 10 8.03 2
5.04 26 6.04 17 7.04 9 8.04 2
5.05 25 6.05 17 7.05 8 8.05 2
5.06 24 6.06 16 7.06 8 8.06 2
5.07 23 6.07 16 7.07 7 8.07 2
5.08 22 6.08 15 7.08 6 8.08 1
5.09 22 6.09 14 7.09 6 8.09 1
5.10 21 6.10 14 7.10 5 8.1 1
5.11 21 6.11 13 7.11 5 8.11 1
5.12 21 6.12 13 7.12 4 8.12 1
5.13 20 6.13 12 7.13 4 8.13 1
5.14 20 6.14 12 7.14 3 8.14 1

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 and 20.

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