The biggest missed opportunity for most regular readers of Hogs Haven is in the NFL draft profiles. Day after day in the winter and spring, HH publishes excellent profiles of players at all levels in the draft, and those players play every position. (Well, we’re still waiting for Mr. Party’s long snapper and punter profiles, but I’m sure those are coming soon.) But the profiles do not generate much discussion. Many very good profiles get 10 or fewer comments.
Why so little discussion of specific draft prospects when the NFL draft is the number one topic of interest on the board for months each year? Maybe people read the profiles but don’t know what to say in the comments. Maybe people feel like they don’t have the expertise to comment intelligently. Maybe people aren’t sure how to make sense of the profiles. Maybe there are other reasons I haven’t thought of.
I’m going to do two things here. One is to invite readers to make any suggestions they think would make the profiles more accessible and engaging. I have no doubt that those of us who produce draft profiles are open to suggestions here. We follow a standard outline, similar to one that you might see on other sites; there is always room for improvement.
The second thing I’ll do here is to offer a few suggestions on how to read the profiles and make comments about them. I hope people find these helpful. I invite people who comment on the profiles to offer up any tips of their own. Here are my tips.
1. There is no substitute for watching the film that accompanies the profiles. The film is the most important thing in them. Offering opinions about a player without watching play is like voting on the Oscars based only on other peoples’ reviews. See for yourself. Usually, you can see half of what a top scout would see with a few minutes of effort.
2. Speed it up. Most videos allow you to go into settings and set the playback speed that you want. I typically watch enough at normal speed to get a sense for the player’s real-time speed – typically a minute or two. I run the rest at double time. That lets you see 20 minutes of video in 10 minutes – and you’re much more likely to do it with less of a time commitment.
3. Use the strengths and weaknesses in the writeup to give you things to look for on tape. If a TE is said to have trouble tracking deep balls, does the film back that up? If an OL lacks prototypical length, do they compensate for that with good foot movement, hand placement, and punches? The strengths and weaknesses can be thought of as more like hypotheses than proven facts – you get to make up your own mind.
4. Good commentary is constructive. My favorite article about pro scouts appeared many years ago. It said that the best scouts root for prospects to be successful. Good scouts are perfectly capable of being critical, but their real value is in helping the team think about how a player could fit their team and how the prospect realistically could be better. You’ll have more fun in the comments if you take that kind of constructive stance.
5. You don’t need to be an expert to make good comments. I have gotten compliments about my comments on draft prospects, but I don’t have any special training. I’m an armchair fan who never played anything more than sandlot football. Mostly, I just observe and report what I see. Anybody can do that.
Now, time for your thoughts in answer to two open-ended questions.
1. What can we do to improve the profiles and generate more discussion?
2. What tips do you have for others on how to get the most out of the profiles?