Before I get into my top 100 review, I want to touch on site content. I put a page count on the articles, and it was interesting to see that the most viewed page was my rankings – not the top 100 or mock. So, the demand for what I like to do most seems to be higher than the scored elements by the Huddle Report (top 100 and mock). I found that interesting.
In mock draft terms, I hate doing them and I’m rubbish at them. I scored well one year (2014), but that was just blind luck. After another pathetic year, I’m canning them on the site. They add no value to readers as I’m no good at them – and if I’m not enjoying them, it’s time to move on. I happened to see Great Blue North Draft Report didn’t do a mock before the draft, so that planted the seed in my mind. They are bigger than NFL Draft Line and didn’t do a final mock, so it’s not like I need to do one. I looked back at my early efforts and I had guys in the first round that went on day three – so it’s a bit of a nonsense really. There are enough sites out there that do mocks, so if you want them, check out the Huddle Report’s scoring and look at the best of them.
Now, in terms of the season, time spent etc., I always review things at this time of year. I ended up watching more tape than I had planned, 315 full games, which is a lot of work. The week of the Draft, page views exploded – but in the college season, they were low – as in not even 100+ average views per article. If numbers were up throughout the year, I could justify more in terms of writing – but I can’t. I know I could do more in terms of marketing, but I hate that more than mocks!! I did try to mention other sites and work it that way, but I got very little back. I guess sites are just focused on themselves, which is partly because you need to be like that to rank players objectively. It’s a difficult one because it’s a lot of work with little feedback, all for a week or two of concentrated page views as everyone gets excited about the Draft. I’m not sure I can do much with that…
I enjoyed the small school stuff this year, but I was working on those quite late and I don’t think it helped my top 100 score. Page views were also low for the small school articles, so I will scale that back next year. It was a ton of work, and while I love watching tape and “discovering” these guys and following them in the league, it’s a massive time commitment and one that doesn’t feel worth it right now. I’m actually thinking about not getting ESPN Player and relying on ESPN TV (I’m British, so there a lot less games on ESPN TV than in America) next season. I’ll see how much spare cash I have for ESPN Player and that might make the decision for me. Part of my reasoning is that it takes a lot less time to watch a game I’ve recorded from TV than stream one online.
In terms of off-season work, I think it sold me up the wrong river a couple of times this year, so I’m going to take a break over the summer. I’ll start when the new season kicks off, so this will be the last article until then (views for my off-season articles last year were low, so again not really worth the time it took). Also, I recently published book three of a series (I have written five novels now) and I want to give book four a good go. I would love to write full time as I hate my day job – but the Draft stuff hasn’t led anywhere, so I’ll try the novel route one last time and then will likely start looking for a more sufferable day job, something I know which might prevent me from doing this at all. We’ll see.
If you would have told me I would score 85 before I submitted my top 100, I would have taken it. However, that score this year was way off the pace – the joint winners scored 91. So, I’m miles away after having a better time of it in recent years. It has to be said, I’m bitterly disappointed. In some cases, I can’t do anything about my misses – but it’s always good to learn from your mistakes, thus this article. This year, this process will be a bit more painful than finishing joint second last year (with only one more point!), but there you go. I am really kicking myself about some of my decisions.
Last year I didn’t do rankings and I found my top 100 easy. This year, I did and I really struggled with it (believe me, there was a lot of indecision right up to the submission deadline) – which was reflected in my overall placing. I’m therefore presented with a quandary in that I can see people come here for my rankings, not the same old “where will someone be taken?” stuff, but it clearly makes the top 100 harder. The best way for me to get noticed is to excel in the top 100 – as no one scores the rankings stuff. I will think over the summer about this. It might be I finish my rankings right after the season and tweak them post-Combine – so I can then go through the post-season process with a top 100 mindset – I’ve always said it’s different and I think this year really showed that. In the back of my mind, I am thinking about not bothering with entering the top 100 contest and just doing rankings as a fun hobby. A 5-year average better than Mike Mayock, Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay and other big names suggests I should keep going. And boy, do I want to win the thing one year. I’ll think about it.
My top 100 looked great until the three quarter mark. From slot 74, I only had 12 taken – whereas slots 1-73, they were all taken. So the difficult decisions this year, I got wrong pretty consistently. So, let’s go through them.
Prospects in my Top 100 taken outside of the first 100 picks (actual Draft slot in brackets):
Nathan Peterman (171) – I was about 100 picks out here and I have to put my hands up and say I jumped on the buzz bandwagon. I was wrong to. In my tape study, I didn’t think his arm was strong enough for the league – I should have stuck to that.
Roderick Johnson (160) – this was a thin OT class and I forced it numbers wise. My thought with Johnson as well as Julie’n Davenport was that college football isn’t producing OTs, so the league would start to take developmental guys in the third round. Wrong.
Carlos Watkins (142) – as with OT, I forced the position numbers wise and was wrong to. With Watkins, I saw 10.5 sacks in 2016 and thought that would mean top 100. I’m still surprised that number didn’t mean a higher placing – particularly as he “won on points” against top 100 pick Pat Elflein in the Clemson/Ohio State game. I would probably put him in again, if I’m honest. Perhaps teams weren’t sure about his lack of consistency – so maybe his interviews didn’t address this? In which case, not much I could do…
Dorian Johnson (115) – if there’s one position I’m really angry at myself over, it’s guard. I took part in a 7 round mock as the Rams on the NFL (UK) website and waited until round 4 to attack their interior O-Line need. I knew the class was poor, but I put Johnson and two others in. I didn’t think Johnson played well in 2016, but went with 2015 tape – so that’s why I’m not going to do any off-season work. It can be hard to decide between a guard and a cornerback – but I made poor decisions with the guard group.
Joshua Dobbs (135) – when the buzz from the big boys is that someone is going to be a second round pick, it’s hard to leave him out. Heck, Todd McShay even said he might sneak into the first round. Coupled with the fact he was my #2 overall QB in my rankings, then that left me feeling unable to do so. I believe in him and it suddenly seemed the NFL was of the same opinion. A Tom Savage figment of the media’s imagination stock wise – we’ll see in 3-5 years’ time if the league should have taken him earlier and my rankings were right…
Julie’n Davenport (130) – see Roderick Johnson – plus I seemed to like his tape more than most, so my eyes/rankings sold me up the wrong river.
Isaac Asiata (164) – see Dorian Johnson. I have to admit I didn’t like his tape, but thought I missed something when I heard Greg Cosell say he really liked him. I think I let that get into my head as Mr Cosell has forgotten more about football then I’ll ever know. I know he doesn’t do stock, but he can pick a player…
Samaje Perine (114) – another one I’m angry with myself over. I had Foreman in and Perine out through most of the process – but changed late. I have no idea what I was thinking.
Desmond King (151) – I know King didn’t run fast at his pro day, but it wasn’t like he was 4.7’s. He’s skilled as a zone coverage corner – or for man heavy teams, you can see him playing safety (more two deep than single high I guess). Anyway, he’s a better college player than many taken before him – so perhaps my rankings influenced me too much again.
Amara Darboh (106) – I’ll take this one on the chin – I only missed by a few picks.
Trey Hendrickson (103) – as with Darboh, I’ll take this one – not like I missed by much.
Jaleel Johnson (109) – Johnson was in and out of my top 100 a bunch – I couldn’t decide with him. His tape ran hot and cold – but there was just enough there as a pass rusher to make me think top 100. But poor Combine numbers meant he just missed the top 100. I’ll take it on the chin to a degree, but I should have left him out with his poor workout numbers. I let his sack number influence me too much, I think.
Nico Siragusa (122) – I put Siragusa in solely on his Combine numbers. I assumed he had lost weight as in-season he looked heavy and slow. Tape won over workout numbers for NFL teams, so I forced this one.
Carl Lawson (116) – I debated Lawson because he’s shorter than ideal – but he’s one where I assume the medical was enough of a question to force him to day three. I have no way of knowing that – I have long learned to accept that the top 100 isn’t a level playing field – Mike Mayock/Mel Kiper Jr./Todd McShay etc. can just ask scouts/GMs – I don’t have, or want, contacts, so that’s life.
Jake Butt (145) – another medical one. I knew it was the second time his ACL had gone on that knee, but then we saw with a second round pick in 2015 (Hau’oli Kikaha) that didn’t seem to matter. I knew he wasn’t a top workout guy – so perhaps his junior timing day numbers were poor. Not much I could have done about this one.
Left out of my top 100, but taken:
D’Onta Foreman – I had him at #101. However, I should have put him in instead of Perine.
Cameron Sutton – I was playing around with my CB mix right up to the deadline. I just couldn’t decide with Sutton and got it wrong – just. He was #102 on my list and he went #94.
Alex Anzalone – I left him out on medical grounds, so not much I could do. He has yet to prove he can stay on the field – and I felt this was pretty important (understatement!). I felt (and still do) the selection of him on day two would be an expensive gamble. As with all medical and character decisions, I’m always going to have to wear a few. He was #103 on my list for what it’s worth.
Gareon Conley – I made a last minute decision to leave him out after the allegations came out on the day the top 100 was due to be submitted. I had little information, so it was just a guess and a wrong one. No way I could have made a more informed decision at the time. I do think that off the field/character stuff was less important in this Draft – I mean Joe Mixon in the second round says it all about the NFL wanting to win most importantly.
ArDarius Stewart – I left him out as I didn’t think there was enough there as a returner. I have to admit, it was a case of him or Carlos Henderson in my top 100 and I went for Henderson. Should have gone for both. I had him at #107.
Rasul Douglas – I got put off him a bit because of his poor 40 time at the Combine – which is usually pretty important. He only just sneaked in and I had him at #111, so I was about right stock wise, but not on the top 100 scoresheet.
Kareem Hunt – I didn’t click with him on tape – he looked slow and that was confirmed at the Combine. I wasn’t at the Senior Bowl, where he was apparently lighter and more explosive. So unless I win the lottery and can get to Mobile every year, not much I can do.
Taywan Taylor – I struggled with slot receivers in my early top 100 attempts. I then figured out the league would take them if they were good returners. Taylor didn’t return in college, so I left him out. Looks like the position is more important and lack of return experience doesn’t matter.
Kenny Golladay – I was late getting to his tape and perhaps should have watched more. I was too busy writing up my rankings to dig deep enough, so that’s on me – although I did question his ability to separate.
Delano Hill – I never got to his tape.
Dawuane Smoot – simply put, I didn’t think he was good enough. I might be right on that I guess, but in top 100 terms = wrong.
Eddie Vanderdoes – when I watched him, he looked heavy and slow. He lost weight in the post-season process – but unlike Siragusa, it still meant a top 100 slot. This one seems to fly in the face of things I’ve talked about above, so a head scratcher.
John Johnson – I didn’t think he was anywhere near good enough, to be honest.
Chad Williams – I liked quite a few other small school receivers ahead of him. He wasn’t at the Combine, so I assumed he had no chance of going this high…
Jonnu Smith – I quite liked his tape – although there wasn’t much out there. Interesting that HB types, who always used to go rounds 4-5, are going higher…
So, that’s it for the 2017 NFL Draft. I hope to see you back here for the new college season. My weekly “Notes from…” articles will be posted every Friday in the college season. Thank you for reading and I wish you all a great summer!
2 May 2017