For the last couple of seasons, I have tried to fill some of the slow off-season downtime in May and June with profiles of the Undrafted Free Agents that the Redskins bring to camp.
Click here to see the UDFA profile on current Redskin Timon Parris
It feels, at times, a bit fruitless since we all know very well that only one or two of the undrafted players are likely to make the 53-man roster, and even then, are most likely going to be primarily special teams players and backups.
Click here to see the 2018 UDFA profile on current Redskin Casey Dunn
But then I think of the hundred-plus draft profiles we publish in February, March and April ahead of the draft, when the Redskins typically select 7 or 8 players, and I think that maybe it’s not so fruitless. It’s around the same hit rate.
Besides — what else have we got to do in May and June?
Click here to see the 2018 UDFA profile on current Redskin Cam Sims
In fact, many fans might be surprised how many UDFAs eventually end up on the Redskins roster.
Right now there are 7 players under contract with Washington who were profiled in the 2018 UDFA series, several of whom were on the 53-man roster at some point last season.
There are a couple of issues with writing UDFA profiles
The first is that the Redskins front office sometimes cuts the player before the profile is finished. This can be frustrating or not, depending on just how much work went into the profile.
I tend to prioritize the players from most-likely to make the team to least, hoping that I minimize frustration. Also, I tend to post the profiles as soon as they are done — though I don’t normally post more than one per day. With other articles it’s not unusual for me to put them in the queue days, and sometimes weeks or months, in advance. Not so with free agent profiles... I publish them quick, before Jay decides the guy is no good in punt coverage and needs to go.
The second issue is that it isn’t always easy to find information about the players. Remember, 256 guys got drafted... these are the leftovers. Some of them have a lot of information floating around because they were stars on their college teams, and some were thought to have a chance at being drafted, so profiles are out there waiting to be plagiarized.
But when you get down to the 9th and 10th guy on the list, with 32 teams, we’re now talking about guys that didn’t make the top-500. Some of them came from small colleges, spent most of the season injured, or were actually backups on their college teams. You type their names into Google and the reply on the screen says: “WHO?”
Anyway, despite the downsides, I enjoy writing the UDFA profiles following the draft, and there are two or three readers who seem to enjoy reading them; mostly nighttime security guards trying to fill up a lot of dead time.
Last year, in the 2018 off-season, one of the readers that I had a bit of an email relationship with, Chris West, volunteered to help me ‘spice up’ the profiles a bit by doing some simple film study on the UDFA players and writing a short opinion about each player’s on-field skills based on the film.
Chris’ contribution turned out to be something special.
For each player, I would do some background research and try to find something about his life, some quotes about his career expectations or his personal goals. I’d include his career statistics if they were notable, relevant and available and whatever measurables I could lay my hands on. I tossed in pretty much anything of interest I could find — for some of these players that’s little enough.
Chris agreed to write a profile for each player based on what he could see on film. We had a basic format of: Strengths, Weaknesses, How he would fit with the Redskins, Likelihood of (i) making the team, (ii) making the practice squad, (iii) being released.
For the first profile or two, Chris sent exactly what I had asked for — about 150 words describing what he’d seen on film.
Chris then asked if I would be interested in some screen shots, as he thought it would enhance the profile. Of course, I said ‘yes’. He sent me 3 or 4 screen shots with a few paragraphs about the player on the next profile.
With each successive profile, Chris seemed to increase the number of screen shots and the number of plays he was breaking down.
We soon developed a rhythm where Chris would send me the text for the breakdown in an email with his screenshots attached and numbered in order. I would lay the text and photos into the article, adding some circles and arrows as needed (which was a skill that Chris never really mastered).
I think that the HH members who read the profiles unanimously appreciated the value that these short film breakdowns added to the profiles.
The current situation
At the end of the 2018 UDFA series last season, Chris told me that the film work he had been doing on behalf of Hogs Haven had inspired him; he re-started an old online sports related business that he used to run, and re-ignited his Twitter presence in support of his business.
He’s been successful at that, and the upshot is, Chris is no longer available to do the film breakdowns he did last year.
I know from the comments sections of articles that a lot of Hogs Haven readers enjoy watching film and breaking down player performance as a personal interest.
I figured I’d toss it out there and see if any HH member is interested in an arrangement similar to the one I had with Chris last year.
I’m looking for someone who would be enthusiastic about doing film breakdowns on roughly a dozen college free agents for profiles that would be published in May and June. Typically my goal is to post about 2 per week, though there’s no real commitment or time pressure. If a UDFA profile isn’t forthcoming, I can just post something else.
If you’re tempted by this ‘opportunity’ let me offer a few words here:
- I am perfectly happy with a simple 150 word written profile of the player in a relatively standard format.
- There’s a lot of freedom about the format and style of the profile if you are interested in ‘going above and beyond’. You could add screen shots or video; you might want to write more or less. I’m not fussed. The goal is just to add value to articles about Redskins players that fans would otherwise know almost nothing about.
- As mentioned above, this isn’t a pressure filled commitment. We would agree to a list of players at the start of May (usually around 10-12 names) and the target would be to cover them by the end of June. The list would be a little fluid; usually the ‘Skins front office will ‘churn’ a couple of UDFAs between the end of the draft and the start of training camp, and I try to adapt and cover the new guys that get added. I typically don’t draft the initial list until after the team finishes tryouts a week or so after the end of the draft.
- This would be a strictly volunteer gig that you do for the pleasure of contributing. There’s no budget allocation for UDFA profiles, though I will absolutely highlight your contribution in the article. If you want to promote a Twitter feed or website, I’m happy to add links as well.
- I found out from Chris last year that sometimes he had to get really creative to find film of players who are buried this deep. Cutups of the player often simply weren’t available. In those cases, Chris would often watch film on a high-profile teammate, and simply look for our UDFA to show up now and then. In some extreme cases where there was no draftable teammate, Chris would watch film where the cutup focused on a star player on the opposing team, hoping to get lucky. If there was no film to be found, we just didn’t worry about the breakdown on that player.
As you can see, it’s a difficult and thankless task.
So, if you’re interested, you can either leave a comment below with your contact details, or — if you prefer not to go public with your interest — you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.