If you’ve ever Googled you or your son’s name to determine what kind of ‘buzz’ he’s getting, you’ve come across hundreds of draft websites. Some are pretty professional-looking, and many have robust Twitter presences with thousands of followers. What kind of information can you take from these sites? Are they reliable? What kind of information do they get from actual NFL sources?
Who are draft ‘experts?’: The short answer to this question is, whoever says he is. Every young man (and some women) who want to someday work as an NFL scout sees the first step as starting a website and spouting opinions on players. It’s even more common to start bouncing out opinions 160 characters at a time on Twitter, hoping to attract an audience and, by extension, stature. It’s really not hard to start getting lots of hits and even radio appearances out of it, and to start to really gain a following and even become known. But it’s still a long way from actually having influence on scouts, or gaining real information from NFL teams.
How reliable are draft gurus?: Some are better than others. Still, what you need to realize is that they all copy off of each other, and nowhere is this more true than in ‘mock drafts.’ Mock drafts are the bread and butter of the draft guru because they’re so easy to do and because they’re so popular. Make your site public and start tagging the names of top draft prospects, and it will start climbing the charts quickly, maybe even becoming part of Bleacher Report or Yardbarker. While this gives a site Internet credibility and makes it have a greater web impact, this is in no way a measure of its actual legitimacy in the eyes of NFL teams. A ‘draft guru’ can be part of the Scout.com family of websites and get cited on ESPN, Fox Sports or Pro Football Talk, and it’s still nothing more than entertainment to NFL teams (if it’s even on any scouts’ radar screens). Chances are, IF they’re talking to any scouts, it’s the odd regional scout who only knows of a the players in his area, or perhaps a team’s Director of Pro Scouting who responded to a mass email.
What does it all mean?: You’re probably going to use the Internet to gather more information about yourself or your son; it’s easy, fun, and doesn’t cost anything. But please be careful. The first thing to remember is that these people are entertainers and nothing more, and should be seen as such. Even the people you see on TV, who may have some NFL contacts by virtue of their place on a major network. The second thing to do is to make sure you don’t put too much stock in them when they say your son’s stock is ‘rising’ or ‘falling.’ There is so much that goes into a player’s evaluation that these draft experts don’t see, or aren’t aware of, and making an incomplete evaluation on a player can really sway the results. Don’t be led down a path, good or bad, with incomplete information. If you really want to get a fair evaluation of yourself or your son, talk to someone who’s really connected in the league or still works in the league. We can help with such referrals.
Inside The League (www.insidetheleague.com) is the consulting service for the football industry. We work with the contract advisors for about two-thirds of active NFL players as well as the combine trainers, financial planners, scouts, coaches and other pro league organizers that make up the game. Cost is $25/month, and you can cancel at any time. To register, click here.