NFL Draft “risers & fallers” – 5 reasons not to buy it

As Pro Days wind down and the clock towards the NFL Draft continues to tick there’s not much else for the pundits to do but tweak their positional rankings and adjust their 1st round mocks.  The analogy often used is a player’s stock “rising or falling” as if the current economic crisis in Cyprus is going to have much effect on the commodity of tight ends taken.

Contrary to the picture that’s painted, NFL draft boards don’t fluctuate with the price of pork bellies.  College prospects won’t drastically rise and fall at the whims of a busted 1 on 1 at the Senior Bowl or a slip in the long shuttle at the Combine.  I recently saw a top 5 list (by position) that had shifted since the Combine.  Two of the players added had not been mentioned prior to the publishing of this “updated” ranking.  The only event that had transpired since the original list was the Combine itself.

Both players had struggled to post anything but pedestrian results in their skill drills in comparison to the rest of their position group over the past 5 years.  In fact neither had Exceeded Peer Average (EPA) in more than one of seven events.  So if the player hadn’t participated in a game or competed in a practice drill, what was the elevation based on – a sub par 40 yard dash?

More than likely the pundit had just gotten around to really evaluating the players to compare & contrast them with the rest of the position group.  So the ebb and flow of draft momentum at this particular position had probably been based upon incomplete information or hearsay.

Here are my 5 top reasons why real DRAFTNIKS shouldn’t put much stock into “risers and fallers”.

  1.  Evaluation of game footage is the end all.  Clubs spend a lot of money sending their scouts cross-country to watch tape, attend practice, and speak with coaches.  The cross check system is extensive enough to require an additional one to two evaluations.  This is where the board is REALLY built.
  2. NFL clubs draft based upon their own needs and requirements, not upon trying to prognosticate a particular order of selection.  If a player is passed at #3 he may not get picked up until #33.  The teams in between are not necessarily wrong to pass.  There is no such thing as League scouting in the NFL, otherwise everyone would use National & BLESTO reports as their final say.
  3. All-Star games aren’t as swaying as you’re led to believe.  What coaches and scouts want to see the most are 1 on 1 drills between offensive linemen and pass rushers, defensive backs and receivers.  The rest is gravy and because of the very nature of a one week crash course in pro football, taken with a grain of salt.  The real challenge is trying to stay warm in Mobile.
  4. A player won’t “rise or fall” based on a single event at the Combine.  The Combine is about its entirety.  Sure, each skill drill is individually analyzed and evaluated in comparison to others at the position (both past and present).  But a poor vertical jump isn’t likely to yank a player out of the first round or the top 10 at his position.
  5. Player Personnel and Coaching Staffs don’t make it a habit of revealing what they really think about their draft boards.  That is the information often published as strictly “Insider” isn’t likely coming from anyone inside that has much of a say.  So to move a player up or down a mock draft board based on “what you’re hearing from the clubs” is likely just background noise.

I harp on this only because I want you to understand the actual process.  While most of us were enjoying the regular season of pro and college football, the scouts were out pounding the pavement and setting the actual draft boards for most of the 32 NFL clubs.  There will be some fluctuations based upon internal perceptions and bias, perhaps even due to an explosive 3-Cone or elevated bench reps.

But no player is going to catapult or collapse their “stock” on the board with anything less than a flunked physical, failed drug test, or social faux pas at this point.  For a prospect to magically appear out of nowhere makes no sense.  Their body of work has been done, the resume is complete.  Quit paying attention to the Consumer Price Index, the market is already set.

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