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Old 01-20-2013, 10:34 PM    (permalink
PossibleCabbage
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Default Draft Analysis Clichés

With Senior Bowl practices this week and the Super Bowl matchup set, it's officially draft season.

In the midst of draft season we'll hear a lot of people trying to comment on many more prospects than they've really done legwork on (sometimes because it's not reasonably expected for people to have done that much grinding) and so you'll hear a whole lot of people relying on clichés because they find themselves in contexts where they have to say something (since, for example, ESPN has a lot of airtime to fill). Oftentimes these clichés are annoying and frequently they're flat out wrong.

Here are some of the ones that bother me:

There's no middle ground between "a minus" and "a plus"
You see this a lot on TV, when a prospect has a characteristic that's neither deficient nor exemplary, you will hear talking heads talk about that characteristic as though it were a deficiency even when it's totally adequate for the position. You hear this a lot talking about offensive tackle arm length. Just last year you hear Riley Reiff being criticized for his "short arms" (at 33 1/4") while Mike Adams is praised for his "long arms (at 33 3/4"). Seriously, go look at a ruler and see how long a half inch is. Likewise, there was a lot of press given to Andrew Luck's "weak arm" before the draft last year. Now Luck certainly doesn't have a howitzer mounted on his shoulders, but his arm is certainly strong enough to make all the NFL throws. I think we need to reinforce that "less than ideal" or "average" is not the same as "deficient" or "inadequate." Lots of really good NFL players have had a lot of average characteristics in their complete skill set.

Defensive tackle has hot and cold motor or "takes plays off"
This tends to happen to be said about DT prospect who's not highly touted, particularly ones from non-premier programs. While certainly there are big guys who have motivation/conditioning issues, people frequently mistake "is asked to play too many snaps" for this. 300+ lb humans can't play on the DL at 100% for an entire game. NFL teams mitigate this fact by rotating guys in and out with regularity. A college program may have one DL who is significantly more talented than the next man up, and since they're only going to have that guy for 4 years max, there's no reason not to play the guy for 70+ snaps every week. So before you conclude a defensive big is lazy, check his snap count.

QB is automatically "NFL ready" because he played in "pro style offense".
Comparing the career trajectories of Jimmy Clausen versus Robert Griffin III, it should be clear this doesn't mean that much, right? The most complex of college offenses is much less complicated than the simplest NFL offense. Everybody who comes into the league, particularly at Quarterback, has a lot to learn. Taking snaps under center in college doesn't really prepare you for actually reading NFL defenses. Having less to learn doesn't necessarily mean a lot if you can't teach or he doesn't care to learn. Early success for rookie QBs these days seems more to hinge on "how the OC tailors the offense to the QB" than anything else.

So and So is "elite" or has "special" attributes
This is sometimes true, but absolutely overused. If everybody is special, then nobody is. If everybody has elite speed, then it doesn't really mean anything (since you can't reliably run away from someone who's just as fast.) These words lose their meaning when you apply them to the best player at a given position every year. If you want to praise somebody, grab the thesaurus and save "special" and "elite" for things that are actually "special" or "elite" rather than just "very good." There's lots of ways to say "very good" without relying on superlatives.

So and so is a "pro bowler" at his position
You see this generally when people are talking about what a team should have said, but you'll often see an analyst say something like "If [team] takes [player] they'll have a pro bowl [position] for the next ten years" (frequently when talking about a non-premium position). First of all, there are no pro bowlers in the draft; you have to actually play pro football to qualify. Second of all, nobody really sees the future that well, and though there's very little accountability in sports media in general it almost never comes true. Don't project specific accolades in a guy's career. It just makes you sound silly when you're projecting 2/3 of the first round to end up in the pro bowl.

Racial Profiling
You have to tread lightly on this one, but do you ever notice how many people are loathe to compare prospects of different races? Skin color has very little bearing on the actual play on the field but it's odd how many media professionals compare (for example) every black QB to Vick and every white WR to Wes Welker. Hopefully this is changing, as Jordy Nelson is very much not Wes Welker, and Mr. Newton and Mr. Griffin are suitably different football players that they can't both be the second coming of Mike Vick (IMO, neither is.)

Every player at the same position from the same school is the same
I heard this week someone compare Zac Dysert to Ben Roethlisberger. You hear every Iowa left tackle compared to Robert Gallery. This is ridiculous and lazy. Schools don't recruit guys specifically because they resemble guys they've had in the past, and you can't turn someone into someone else through coaching or experimental weight room technology. If the only reason a prospect reminds you of someone else is the position and the color or the uniform, you need to dig a little deeper. Zac Dysert is absolutely not the same kind of player as Ben Roethlisberger and Riley Reiff is not Bryan Bulaga is not Robert Gallery.

"Safest Pick in the Draft"
This label was once, nearly universally, applied to Aaron Curry. Four years after being drafted, Aaron Curry is out of the league. No pick is particularly safe. It seems like this cliche is frequently used to make it seem like players at non-elite positions (notably non-pass-rushing linebackers) seem worthy of high picks. But if a linebacker, say, is worth a high pick it's not because he's "safe" it's because of something else about him.

Close to the draft: Prospect is Rising/Falling
Teams don't make up their minds late in the process. Your board is close to done before the combine starts. But because of the fact that most media coverage is just projecting what will happen at the NFL draft, sources are much more important than actual scouting acumen. So when media finds out that their internal projections don't match those of well-connected sources, they have to change their rankings so as to save face with the public and so concoct this fiction that teams are changing their minds based on late breaking news. For example, teams did not find out about Da'Quan Bowers' knee issues on the day of the draft, they knew about them since soon after the combine. ESPN/NFLN didn't know, but teams did. The only people making last minute corrections were on-air analysts.

Are there any oft-used draft truisms that you feel have become annoying clichés?

Last edited by PossibleCabbage : 01-20-2013 at 10:42 PM. Reason: Typos
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Old 01-20-2013, 10:39 PM    (permalink
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Just to add to your pro bowl statement, the pro bowl is a joke and a popularity contest. So all it's really saying is that the player is going to be a fan favorite.

You see the "Big Name" players get several pro bowls even when they don't deserve it
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Old 01-20-2013, 10:40 PM    (permalink
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On the racial profiling thing, that's always bugged me. Why does every black QB only get compared to other black QBs. Teddy Bridgewater is more Aaron Rodgers than Donovan McNabb or Steve McNair, but guess what we'll read over and over again.
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Old 01-20-2013, 10:54 PM    (permalink
PossibleCabbage
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Originally Posted by jballa838 View Post
On the racial profiling thing, that's always bugged me. Why does every black QB only get compared to other black QBs. Teddy Bridgewater is more Aaron Rodgers than Donovan McNabb or Steve McNair, but guess what we'll read over and over again.
It's just so strange to me because everybody understands that when you have a common skin color/football position pairing, there's lots of different types of players that fit that description. I mean, nobody thinks Tom Brady is like Aaron Rodgers is like Tony Romo is like Joe Flacco is like Ben Roethlisberger. Likewise nobody thinks Calvin Johnson is like Steve Smith is like Anquan Boldin is like Torrey Smith is like A.J. Green.

But why is it when we talk about atypical (and honestly sometimes not all that atypical) combinations we assume there's only one way for people in that combination to play that position? Particularly when it comes to things that aren't really stopwatch positions (like QB) and even with a few stopwatch positions (Don Beebe was really, really fast, say.)
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Old 01-20-2013, 11:16 PM    (permalink
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So your saying Brandon Kaufman is NOT Wes Welker......
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Old 01-20-2013, 11:34 PM    (permalink
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Some more:

- All big offensive linemen are powerful
- All smaller offensive linemen should play in zone schemes, and are probably good at pulling
- All big and not overly fast LBs will succeed inside in a 3-4
- All slightly big but slightly slow CBs can successfully transition to S
- All big S should transition to LB
- All big and athletic OT's who struggle a little can/should kick inside to guard
- All 5'8 RBs are Ray Rice or MJD
- OTs who aren't elite, future HOF pass-protectors have no business playing LT
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Old 01-20-2013, 11:36 PM    (permalink
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"He's too short to play QB."
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Old 01-20-2013, 11:41 PM    (permalink
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"He's too short to play QB."
One or two outliers doesn't disprove the rule.
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Old 01-21-2013, 12:23 AM    (permalink
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All light DE's can/should successfully transition to 3-4 OLB.

All light DT's can/sohuld successfully transition to 3-4 DE.

Any above average player with good measurables from a small school is "the sleeper of the draft"
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Old 01-21-2013, 12:26 AM    (permalink
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He is a height-weight-speed guy.
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Old 01-21-2013, 12:34 AM    (permalink
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Originally Posted by broncosfan View Post
All light DE's can/should successfully transition to 3-4 OLB.

All light DT's can/sohuld successfully transition to 3-4 DE.

Any above average player with good measurables from a small school is "the sleeper of the draft"
Its more like all tall DT's can transistion to 34 DE.
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Old 01-21-2013, 12:47 AM    (permalink
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Some speed backs have "surprisingly good power."
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Old 01-21-2013, 01:18 AM    (permalink
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He got caught smoking marijuana, red flag.
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Old 01-21-2013, 01:45 AM    (permalink
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Some speed backs have "surprisingly good power."
Unathletic backs all have great vision.

All white guys love football,and have a high motor.
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Old 01-21-2013, 01:50 AM    (permalink
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He got caught smoking marijuana, red flag.
Depends on when. If it's a guy who gets busted for college at some point in college, well that's not a big deal since lots of college students try it at some point (many even like it.)

If you get busted for pot at the scouting combine, a drug test you knew the exact date of several months in advance, well then you're an idiot and that's a red flag.

NFL teams care whether or not you can pass drug tests, since failing them leads to you being unable to play. NFL teams don't care that much whether you like marijuana.
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Old 01-21-2013, 01:59 AM    (permalink
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There's a non pass rushing LB said to be a top ten prospect seemingly ever year and they never go in the top ten. Murray was the last one I can remember; with Mayo creeping into the top ten of a mediocre early draft.
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Old 01-21-2013, 02:00 AM    (permalink
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Whens scouts call a prospect a future 'pro bowl' player, I don't think they mean literally. It's just a way of saying if this guy's game continues to develop in the pros, he has the physical attributes to be one of the best in the league at his position.

It's not saying making the pro bowl validates his worth as a player.

I also don't have problem with describing a prospect as having special or elite attributes.

If a college WR routinely outjumps cornerbacks by two feet on deep balls, that WR has elite tools.
If a DT consistently can grab top college Olineman and throw them to the ground on his way to the QB, that DT is 'special'.

The words might be vague because of over-usage, but IMO most of us know when a prospect is truly ELITE or has very special attributes for his position.
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Old 01-21-2013, 04:51 AM    (permalink
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There's a non pass rushing LB said to be a top ten prospect seemingly ever year and they never go in the top ten. Murray was the last one I can remember; with Mayo creeping into the top ten of a mediocre early draft.
You mean Curry right?
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Old 01-21-2013, 04:56 AM    (permalink
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"QB is automatically "NFL ready" because he played in "pro style offense".
Comparing the career trajectories of Jimmy Clausen versus Robert Griffin III, it should be clear this doesn't mean that much, right? "

Exception, meet rule.
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:39 AM    (permalink
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"Scat backs" who don't run between the tackles, who proceed to go to the NFL and run between the tackles.

"A player Bill Belichick/the Pats would pick" a.k.a WWBBD?

I like the same school one - I'm not even sure what bringing it up in analysis is supposed to achieve.
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:22 AM    (permalink
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Originally Posted by norcalgsr View Post
"He's too short to play QB."
And if that analyst still loves that short QB for the draft, instantly point out that Drew Brees is only 5'9. (And I now assume, point out Russell Wilson as well)
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:12 AM    (permalink
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Hes deceptively quick
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Old 01-21-2013, 11:28 AM    (permalink
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Originally Posted by SenorGato View Post
There's a non pass rushing LB said to be a top ten prospect seemingly ever year and they never go in the top ten. Murray was the last one I can remember; with Mayo creeping into the top ten of a mediocre early draft.
You realize that just happened less than a year ago right?
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Old 01-21-2013, 12:08 PM    (permalink
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[quote=PossibleCabbage;3252266]With Senior Bowl practices this week and the Super Bowl matchup set, it's officially draft season.

In the midst of draft season we'll hear a lot of people trying to comment on many more prospects than they've really done legwork on (sometimes because it's not reasonably expected for people to have done that much grinding) and so you'll hear a whole lot of people relying on clichés because they find themselves in contexts where they have to say something (since, for example, ESPN has a lot of airtime to fill). Oftentimes these clichés are annoying and frequently they're flat out wrong.

Here are some of the ones that bother me:

There's no middle ground between "a minus" and "a plus"
You see this a lot on TV, when a prospect has a characteristic that's neither deficient nor exemplary, you will hear talking heads talk about that characteristic as though it were a deficiency even when it's totally adequate for the position. You hear this a lot talking about offensive tackle arm length. Just last year you hear Riley Reiff being criticized for his "short arms" (at 33 1/4") while Mike Adams is praised for his "long arms (at 33 3/4"). Seriously, go look at a ruler and see how long a half inch is. Likewise, there was a lot of press given to Andrew Luck's "weak arm" before the draft last year. Now Luck certainly doesn't have a howitzer mounted on his shoulders, but his arm is certainly strong enough to make all the NFL throws. I think we need to reinforce that "less than ideal" or "average" is not the same as "deficient" or "inadequate." Lots of really good NFL players have had a lot of average characteristics in their complete skill set.

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Long arms is very important for an OT and anything below the norm is a concern for teams. In a battle between an OT and say a DE, the player who can get his hands on the opponent often wins the battle between the 2, so even a 1/2 " can be crucial.
As for Luck, I never saw any reliable source that questioned Luck's arm strength to play in the NFL, they just said he didn't have a howizer.


Defensive tackle has hot and cold motor or "takes plays off"
This tends to happen to be said about DT prospect who's not highly touted, particularly ones from non-premier programs. While certainly there are big guys who have motivation/conditioning issues, people frequently mistake "is asked to play too many snaps" for this. 300+ lb humans can't play on the DL at 100% for an entire game. NFL teams mitigate this fact by rotating guys in and out with regularity. A college program may have one DL who is significantly more talented than the next man up, and since they're only going to have that guy for 4 years max, there's no reason not to play the guy for 70+ snaps every week. So before you conclude a defensive big is lazy, check his snap count.

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I don't get your point, the NFL knows exactly what it means when they say a player's motor runs hot and cold or takes plays off, it has very little to do with snap count and can be said about both premium programs and lower level programs. A player either gives a 100% on every play or he is lazy and only puts out when he feels like it. It can be corrected at the next level with solid coaching but it is definitely a red flag on draft day.


QB is automatically "NFL ready" because he played in "pro style offense".
Comparing the career trajectories of Jimmy Clausen versus Robert Griffin III, it should be clear this doesn't mean that much, right? The most complex of college offenses is much less complicated than the simplest NFL offense. Everybody who comes into the league, particularly at Quarterback, has a lot to learn. Taking snaps under center in college doesn't really prepare you for actually reading NFL defenses. Having less to learn doesn't necessarily mean a lot if you can't teach or he doesn't care to learn. Early success for rookie QBs these days seems more to hinge on "how the OC tailors the offense to the QB" than anything else.

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It is an overused term because pro teams are far more concerned about arm strength and intangibles, but if a prospect has a pro arm and the intangibles, then coming from a pro style offense used to help, however, it is pretty obvious, that it is changing as pro offenses change.


So and So is "elite" or has "special" attributes
This is sometimes true, but absolutely overused. If everybody is special, then nobody is. If everybody has elite speed, then it doesn't really mean anything (since you can't reliably run away from someone who's just as fast.) These words lose their meaning when you apply them to the best player at a given position every year. If you want to praise somebody, grab the thesaurus and save "special" and "elite" for things that are actually "special" or "elite" rather than just "very good." There's lots of ways to say "very good" without relying on superlatives.

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Yeah, but we aren't pro scouts or GM's and we aren't always aware of who the top prospects are until the post season arrives. There is also a meaning given to the term 'elite' at every position, just because you top a position doesn't make you elite, the term is only used for prospects who are very gifted. If the term 'elite speed' is used for a position, I know exactly what that analyst is talking about, so I don't see the point you are making.


So and so is a "pro bowler" at his position
You see this generally when people are talking about what a team should have said, but you'll often see an analyst say something like "If [team] takes [player] they'll have a pro bowl [position] for the next ten years" (frequently when talking about a non-premium position). First of all, there are no pro bowlers in the draft; you have to actually play pro football to qualify. Second of all, nobody really sees the future that well, and though there's very little accountability in sports media in general it almost never comes true. Don't project specific accolades in a guy's career. It just makes you sound silly when you're projecting 2/3 of the first round to end up in the pro bowl.

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That is how NFL GM's and scouts measure prospects, it is their terminology that people are picking up on and projection is their profession. I do agree that draftniks may overuse the term but not top analysts.


Racial Profiling
You have to tread lightly on this one, but do you ever notice how many people are loathe to compare prospects of different races? Skin color has very little bearing on the actual play on the field but it's odd how many media professionals compare (for example) every black QB to Vick and every white WR to Wes Welker. Hopefully this is changing, as Jordy Nelson is very much not Wes Welker, and Mr. Newton and Mr. Griffin are suitably different football players that they can't both be the second coming of Mike Vick (IMO, neither is.)

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I've long hated this kind of talk and agree it is often totally meaningless.


Every player at the same position from the same school is the same
I heard this week someone compare Zac Dysert to Ben Roethlisberger. You hear every Iowa left tackle compared to Robert Gallery. This is ridiculous and lazy. Schools don't recruit guys specifically because they resemble guys they've had in the past, and you can't turn someone into someone else through coaching or experimental weight room technology. If the only reason a prospect reminds you of someone else is the position and the color or the uniform, you need to dig a little deeper. Zac Dysert is absolutely not the same kind of player as Ben Roethlisberger and Riley Reiff is not Bryan Bulaga is not Robert Gallery.

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Your correct, they are not exactly the same, however college HC's who have been at their schools a long time do have preferences for certain type of players at certain positions and pro scouts and GM's are well aware of it. Every spring, college HC's move freshmen to the positions the HC thinks they suit for their college career, some HC's put their best tackles on offense(Iowa) and some HC's put their best tackles on defense. Each HC has to make a decision on the players he has recruited, and pro teams do their homework which helps them centre in on prospects at each position.
Pro teams are always going to look at Iowa's OT's as long as Ferentz is their HC.


"Safest Pick in the Draft"
This label was once, nearly universally, applied to Aaron Curry. Four years after being drafted, Aaron Curry is out of the league. No pick is particularly safe. It seems like this cliche is frequently used to make it seem like players at non-elite positions (notably non-pass-rushing linebackers) seem worthy of high picks. But if a linebacker, say, is worth a high pick it's not because he's "safe" it's because of something else about him.

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While I agree that no pick is 'safe', Aaron Curry draft year was considered to be a very weak draft class and I don't think too many people thought at the time that Curry was a sure thing.


Close to the draft: Prospect is Rising/Falling
Teams don't make up their minds late in the process. Your board is close to done before the combine starts. But because of the fact that most media coverage is just projecting what will happen at the NFL draft, sources are much more important than actual scouting acumen. So when media finds out that their internal projections don't match those of well-connected sources, they have to change their rankings so as to save face with the public and so concoct this fiction that teams are changing their minds based on late breaking news. For example, teams did not find out about Da'Quan Bowers' knee issues on the day of the draft, they knew about them since soon after the combine. ESPN/NFLN didn't know, but teams did. The only people making last minute corrections were on-air analysts.

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Here, I totally disagree, seniors are well scouted and there is tons of film on them as starters that has been gone over by scouts and GM's in placing them in their draft positions, although teams still use the Senior Bowl, combine and pro days to make some alterations to their boards. However, the junior class is a totally different story. Pro teams don't know who will declare until around Jan 15th, their scouting and film work is only rudimentary on the junior class till that date. Many juniors at top schools only get extensive playing time when the group before them graduates or declares and there are many one year wonders in the junior class. Pro teams take the post season very seriously for this group and risers and fallers are many. Their draft positions can change dramatically as they go through the post season process.
Team boards for junior are very flexible even through pro days.

As for injuries, the doctors do a thorough and extensive examination at the combine but the blood work and ex-rays can take a month to get back to them before they know the full results so boards can change due to the process and players can rise or fall based on the results. Of course, prospects get injured sometimes late in the draft process and that can affect their draft positioning considerably.


I do agree that draftniks can overuse some of these cliques quite often, but in the end, if you are smart, you only listen to reliable sources.
I also agree that the media and even gurus, can have their projections altered considably whenever a very reliable sourse says it ain't so. It always amazes me when I compare gurus' projections right up till December, when NFL Network projections start to be posted, how dramatically they change.
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:43 PM    (permalink
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You realize that just happened less than a year ago right?
So throw Keuchly on the list then. That makes three, with one of those being a completely unexpected tenth pick (Mayo) in a weak top ten.
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