By Bill Smith
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We all like to evaluate how badly our favorite teams have screwed up the draft. I though you might like to see how I evaluate players. I will be doing a draft rap up here on the Browns and other teams after the draft.
This outlines the system I have used for more than 40 years in evaluating college players for the NFL draft. The system is based on a point system. A number of years ago, I was in Indy the week of the Combine. I ran into a couple of Colt scouts in the hotel lobby. I suggested that they look at a C that I really liked but would probably not be drafted. He wasn’t drafted but the Colts signed him as a rookie undrafted free agent. The player was Jeff Saturday. All he has done is become an all pro for many years and the captain of the O line for Payton Manning. I found him using this system.
To use it, there are a few rules that must be followed.
Only use the first half of games except for all star games. That eliminates players taking quarters off or taking unnecessary risks from a blowout.
The point system is used. A single play can generate no more than 5 points for any player.
It is impossible to effectively grade O and D line live. Slow motion is necessary to evaluate plays in these areas.
To get a reliable grade for a player, you must see at least 8 quarters of play. With 4 quarters you can get a good idea but to be sure the more games the better. That also balances the quality of opponents.
Only grade the seniors and probable juniors entering the draft. It is almost impossible to evaluate all 22 players on every play unless you have no life what so ever. Most seasons I wait until the under classmen have declared to do my detailed study of players.
Only award positive or negative numbers for above (or below) average plays. An average player is expected to make average plays regularly. This is one subjective area of the evaluation. However, if you are consistent with your grading, you can compare players in the same position on different teams.
Up to 2 pluses or minuses can be awarded for a play. For example a 5 yard penalty is -1 (pn-) while anything more than 5 yards is -2 (pn=). These are still within the 5 point rule.
Credit the player that deserves credit. An interception that bounces off a players hands and is picked is charged to the receiver not the passer. The D player that forces a QB into the arms of another gets half a sack as does the tackler.
OL 1 point each—p-Pass block r-Run block (lineman pulls or blocks down field and makes the block) d-Drive block NOTE: If a lineman pulls and misses the block he gets 0 on the play not a -.
Scoring for “skill” players (includes the above plus the following):
QB 1 point each as am al (accuracy in short, medium and long passes) tou (touch) xr (avoid rush) r(run)
QB 2 points each aw (awareness/looking off the safety) rd (reading D finding open receiver)
QB -3 points each x(interception) fl (fumble)
RB/WR 1 point each c (catch) r (run) v (vision) add a + for each tackle broken b (block) a (attempted catch of a bad ball) o (get open) d- (drop)
RB/WR 2 points each yac (yards after catch/contact) e (effort) aw (awareness) fl (fumble) fr (fumble of another recovered)
Miscellaneous (Defense or offense)
1 point each t (tackle) ms mm ml (man coverage short, med, long) z (zone) pb (pass blocked) pd (pass defended down field) r (run d) p (pass rush)
2 points each h (hurry QB to inc. pass) aw rd (read play) s (sack) fr (fumble recovered)
3 points each x (interception) xc (interception caused by rush or tipped ball) fc (fumble caused) bkp (blocked punt) bkk (blocked kick)
Only for those that are really into evaluating DBs: If a sack occurs after 4 seconds of the snap, each DB gets a G (group sack) worth one point to each.
In addition, the pn is a minus as described above but if a player causes a penalty he gets a pc (penalty caused) worth one point for a 5 yard and 2 pts for more than 5 yards.
Now I am sure that everyone wants to know what is a good score and what is a bad one. That like beauty is in the eye of the evaluator. O line and D players should average more than 8 points in a half. QB and RBs should get 12+ to be considered very good. WR vary a lot depending on how many times they are thrown to. Those are scores according to my evaluations. Yours may well differ depending on what you call an above average play. It is a tool to rank different players in the same position. However, if you see a player that is not well thought of that scores very high in all games seen, he is probably going to be a steal in the draft.
One last thing. The scores for each player should be listed in order that the games were played. A good player that shows consistent improvement from 5 to 7 to 9 to 11 points during the season moves ahead of a player that is level or moves down from early to late. When you have players with different numbers of games evaluated, use the average score per game for each.
This is a lot of work and not many will want to do it. However, it also works for evaluating pro players but their scores should be a little higher to be considered above average. I hope you at least try this system and would love to know what you think after you have.
This system is copyrighted by W.E. Smith. It is posted here for the private use of our readers and may not be reproduced in any other forum, form or on the net without the written permission of the author.
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Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com/. He has also published several novels on and edits .
My email is [email protected]
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