Friday, April 20, 2012

NFL Draft "Gurus"


[goor-oo, goo-roo] Show IPA
Hinduism . a preceptor giving personal religious instruction.
an intellectual or spiritual guide or leader.
any person who counsels or advises; mentor: The elder senator was her political guru.
a leader in a particular field: the city's cultural gurus.

It is April 20th, which means a few things: 1) Smokers are lighting up like it's Christmas Eve, 2) The NFL Draft is 1 week away! For people like me, the NFL Draft is CAPTIVATING! It starts with the great sport of college football and watching players go from highly touted recruits to college stars, then on to some of our favorite NFL teams. Fans of NFL teams find it intriguing to be able to get better in a matter of a few days. From the college season to the NFL Scouting Combine, where a matter of a tenth of a second can decide millions for you, to pro days where players are evaluated doing scripted workouts they have done 100 times (another topic completely). It is a bit of a circus, and the circus ring leaders for all of the hysteria are your NFL DRAFT GURUS on television.

There are so few NFL draft analysts that you would assume this is some sort of highly skilled profession, or that scouting was some sort of inexact science. Let's first examine what a NFL DRAFT GURU's job entails. For one, they glance at college football during the season, and glance at the NFL during the season, and cover no other sports, they are as seasonal as they come. They do not have to fly to the USC/Notre Dame game to watch it live, they can watch it on film. Secondly, they are there to give their take and scouting eye to the general public tuning into their stations (which is actually rare). And finally, they must be able to project who will go where in the NFL Draft in mock drafts. Some of the more famous draft analysts are Mel Kiper Jr. (THE GURU, ESPN),  Todd McShay (ESPN) and Mike Mayock (NFL NETWORK). Here is some background on each of these people who people look at as modern day football prophets: 

Mel Kiper Jr. - It's no coincidence if you WIKI this dingbat, there is NOTHING RELEVANT THERE. Not where he went to school and was an All American (chuckle), all ESPN info, and I'm sure ESPN wants to keep it that way for their "GURU". All they want you to know about him is that his father was also named Mel Kiper and works for ESPN. I dug a little further, and our genius Mel attended Essex Community College in Baltimore. And as you probably figured, he never actually PLAYED football, so he has no inside opinion on the sport he is a guru analyzing, go figure. He WAS way ahead of his time, he created a draft publication at the age of 19 (1979, how you analyze players at the age of 19 for a sport you never played is beyond me), and ESPN brought him on in 1983. Is he a pioneer? Yes. Do his credentials read GURU? Absolutely not.

Todd McShay - He comes across as the kid who did the athletes' homework in high school and carried their book bags around the campus while he rode the pine.  He too has very limited background information out there, no coincidence. He did play football in high school and walked on at D 1-AA Richmond, but from all accounts was a scrub athlete, but at least he played. He basically piggybacked his way to the top, his grandfather connected him with a former NFL scout who had a scouting service called "The War Room" which McShay interned for. The War Room later became Scouts Inc. and ESPN hopped aboard, however, how McShay got on from being an intern of a service/entity to the face of it is beyond me (POLE SMOKING).

Mike Mayock - Mike to me is one of the good guys. He formulates his OWN opinions by watching countless hours of film, and I feel he does not suck on the man vein of NFL GMs and live off of "inside information". No coincidence that he played football (and baseball) at Boston College and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also played in the CFL as well. He can also color commentate (which the others can't do). If you think for a second that he does not have an advantage over Kiper/McShay because he actually played FB at it's highest level, please sign out and stop reading my blog. To me, ESPN should hire him and fire the other 2 buffoons.

To me, NFL GMs are actually the scouting GURUs. They get paid money to put their scouting expertise (along with the staff) on the line and actually invest in their decisions, that have consequences. I know for a fact (yes for a fact) that for the most part NFL GMs/insiders believe television analysts are A FUCKING JOKE to put it mildly. At the 1994 NFL draft, Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Tobin was told that Mel Kiper had questioned his team's choice of linebacker Trev Alberts over quarterback Trent Dilfer. Tobin responded, "Who the heck is Mel Kiper anyway? He has no more credentials to do what he's doing than my neighbor, and my neighbor's a postman." How do you think a GM/scout for a team feels after the draft when he goes on ESPN and sees a former Essex CC grad who never wore a helmet gave his draft a D+? You know who NFL scouts don't take as a joke? Brian Billick (former NFL coach, NFL Network), Bucky Brooks (5 year pro, ex NFL scout, NFL Network), Charley Casserly (24 year NFL exec, responsible for Mario Williams > Reggie Bush, NFL Network). I think we see a trend here, the "gurus" with the most visibility are actually the worst skilled and least respected.

1 of my biggest beefs with these TV draft analysts is that in actuality, we don't know if they watch film. It's no coincidence that come draft time Kiper/McShay both have the same people "flying" up the draft board when there is no new/relevant information about prospects being released, here is why: inside information. All of these guys really do have NFL insiders who let the cat out of the bag, this gets released to the analysts, and they regurgitate it to us. This requires no "tireless" hours of film. The only question is how many hand jobs Kiper has had to give out over the years for this inside information, he is the 2nd most relevant snitch on ESPN after Chris "Lewinski" Mortensen, the 2 of them smoke pole for football gossip make no mistake about it. I would rather Mike and Mike just do a mock draft without watching film than hear some information Kiper got in a text message like it's one of his guru revelations. Us, the viewers want a true unbiased opinion of these prospects based on film (like Mayock), sure the Rams may take Morris Claiborne at pick 6, but if you watched film and you feel that in 5 years that will be a mistake who cares what you are hearing, put your guy there and show us that you are an expert.

I will leave you with this, if you watch ESPN or go to right now, look at the several mock drafts these experts have. What % of accuracy would you guess a guru would get in predicting a draft order (which is the only thing he covers)? 80%? 70%?  If you have ever wondered how much weight these psychic predictions hold, just know Kiper and McShay average 28% accuracy in these from their FINAL mock drafts to the actual draft (a few days later). Fill out your own mock draft this year and put it up against theirs, you will do just as good a job, I'm sure of it, I did last year and beat them by 5%. #AFuckingJoke

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