Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Bullshit of NFL Draft Scouting

It's NFL Draft season. If you are a fan of a bad team, this may be the best time of the year. As a Bears fan, I understand this better than most. But no matter who you cheer for, it is, without a doubt, the dumbest time of the year. There is so much bullshit being said, very confidently I might add, that some of it may seem believable at first glance. That is why I am here to help you cut through the shit to get to the actual truth.

This is one that happens again and again when discussing quarterbacks, but I have even heard it with running backs. If somebody doesn't play much in college, they must have not been that good to begin with. At first glance, it makes sense, but if you actually look into the situation, it's pretty clear that there are certain situations where this is patently false. A great example for running backs was Alvin Kamara. Kamara is an incredible talent, but Butch Jones got comfortable with playing top prospect Jalen Hurd who was good but simply never got better as he progressed through college. Hence, it took some time before Kamara got his shot, but when he was on the field, he was incredible, and it doesn't matter that he didn't get a ton of playing time, because it didn't hurt his development, in fact, it really just kept him fresher for the NFL.

My boy, Mitch Trubisky, is a great example at quarterback. Last year, he was ripped into because he had very few starts at quarterback in college, and Bill Parcells came up with a evaluation 30 YEARS AGO that said that you needed lots of starts to be successful. They never came up with any reason that his inexperience affected his play. Well, wait, they came up with one reason, but that was just putting another layer of bullshit on their evaluation.

Clutch and winning seem to go together as areas where you can just throw something out and have it stick without actually watching a single play of football. Great quarterbacks win. If you don't win, you're not a winner, and if you're not a winner you can't be clutch. People looked at some close losses and deemed Mitch Trubisky not clutch. They failed to see how well he actually threw the ball in close games, just that his team didn't win. It was not a clutch problem; it was a North Carolina doesn't have enough talent to beat far superior teams problem. Eight wins isn't going to wow anyone, but after Trubisky left, they dropped to three wins.

This year, people are bringing up the fact that Josh Allen didn't win much in college. And herein lies the problem. Josh Allen didn't win because he isn't an accurate quarterback, but when Josh Allen sucks in the NFL, they will point to an unimpressive win-loss record instead of realizing that he was never good at throwing the football. The former is a symptom, the latter is the disease. Focus on the disease.

Now, don't get me wrong, being tall has advantages over being short. It's easier to see down the field, and you're less likely to have a pass batted down if you have a higher release point. Those are real things. But being short has advantages too. Longer limbs means that it is mechanically more difficult to have clean releases. There is a reason that we don't see any super tall quarterbacks succeed, but nobody has ever claimed that a guy is too tall to play quarterback, because this is the United States so if some of a good thing is good, then a lot of a good thing must be great.

Obviously, this is the one that Baker Mayfield is struggling with. He's only 6'0" so that means he's too short to be a quarterback. Yeah, he's as tall as Drew Brees and taller than Russell Wilson, two guys who have had moderate success (and Super Bowl wins) in the NFL, but Mayfield's too short. And those issues I mentioned for shorter quarterbacks are not things that Mayfield struggled with in college. Will it be tougher in the NFL? Definitely, but that's true of EVERY SINGLE PLAYER EVER. Don't assume issues without any evidence.

Negative Plays
A great running back gains yards. Therefore, a running back who loses yards on a relative high percentage of his carries cannot be a great running back. Even I almost fell for this one as I do think a running back that consistently gets some yards is better than a home run hitter who often gives you negative plays. Luckily the Move The Sticks podcast opened my eyes when it came to Saquon Barkley. I mean, after watching him against Iowa the last couple years, my opinion was never going to tank on the man, but it may have made me a bit more skeptical. The problem with this argument is that Penn State runs a heavy run-pass option offense. If the quarterback is reading the defense correctly, it should be incredibly rare that you would lose yards on the option, so the problem was more that Trace McSorley was trying to force the ball to Barkley instead of taking what the defense gives him. Barkley was stuck trying to make something out of nothing, and yeah, you're going to have some negative plays when that happens. Negative plays are bad, but that's not a real issue. A guy being indecisive in the backfield is an issue, which is something that I do not see in Barkley's game.

Decrease in Production
So a guy has a great sophomore year and his stats drop off as a junior. Wait, let's go with great junior year, could go out for the draft, but loves his college experience, wants to get a degree, and stays for his senior season and his numbers drop off. Let's say, oh, just for a totally hypothetical, that he is a cornerback for a prominent midwestern institution, had eight interceptions, won the Thorpe award for best defensive back, but then fell off to three interceptions during his senior season. Just a random hypothetical. Anyway, his drop in production was more for the fact that nobody threw the ball anywhere near his side of the field which should be more evidence for how great of a player he actually was.

Anyway, Desmond King, I mean, random player from Midwestern school, somehow fell to the fifth round, and then had an incredible rookie season where everybody was shocked that he was such an impact player. Anyway, my anger will never cease that the Bears didn't go for Desmond King before the Chargers selected him, because anyone who watched him instead of just believing a bunch of bullshit, knew that the guy was a football player who was always in the right spot at the right time.

Anyway, that's all the time we have for today. I am sure there are a lot of other bullshit reasons that people use to justify disliking a player, so feel free to send them my way, and I can continue this for a part two.

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