What would become The Huddle Report actually started in 1993, when I began working to rate players for the draft. As a fan of the NFL and of the NFL Draft for years, I wanted to evaluate whether or not my favorite team was getting good players in the draft. I had worked as a scout for college sports; therefore, when I started the ranking system, I was looking at it from a scout’s point of view. I would rate the players from watching film or in the few college games I would see in person each year.
Then, when I watched the next draft with my Draft Board I quickly found out, some of my grades varied greatly from how NFL teams graded the same players. This was acceptable if I wanted to be a scout, but my goal was to have a pretty good idea of whom my favorite team would pick when their pick came. So, I changed my approach and started putting together a Draft Board by studying the NFL teams – which players they liked, how they rated them. Over time I developed some relationships with many NFL scouts, General Managers, Coaches.
What I came up with was a formula that rated how accurate the NFL Draft information I got from teams and other sources was to the actual outcome of the draft. Over the next few years, I tweaked this system until close to 80% of my top 100 players were selected in the first 100 picks of the draft. I believe this information is more important to fans than who I think is the best player because when you sit down to watch the draft, you want to know who has a better than 75% chance being available to your team when their pick comes up. This is what I sought to provide fans with when I launched The Huddle Report in January of 2001. In this, my role to the draft landscape changed from scout to analyst. In 2001 Aaron Freeman joined the staff at THR to provide research on each of the NFL teams and their individual position needs.
Following the 2003 Draft, I realized something was missing from THR’s draft site – a truly independent and exclusive analysis of each of the players I rank on our Draft Value Board. Drew Boylhart was added to the staff at that time to contribute his unique style of player profiles to the site for the 2004 Draft. Drew is the closest thing to a scout that we have at THR, even though he would disagree (see Drew’s article ‘Bring the HEAT’ for more information).
With the combination of Drew’s profiles, Aaron’s NFL team analysis and my Draft Value Board, I believe that draft fans get the best of both worlds – a Draft Value Board built on research and profiles based on scouting (but don’t tell Drew I said that).
Constructing the Draft Value Board
The staple of our draft coverage is our Draft Value Board. It tells you where our research and analysis says a player will be drafted. We stack and re-stack our board up to Draft Day to try and be as accurate as possible. We do this because we know that as a fan, you don’t care if we have a guy that is selected with the 99th pick was rated at #10. You will be better served by having a Draft Value Board that reflects how NFL teams draft so that if your team picks at 18, 50 and 82, you can be sure that if you’re looking at THR’s Draft Value Board, you have some certainty that the players we have rated at or around these picks will be there when your team makes their selection.
When I rank the draft-eligible players for a draft 1-200, I do so according to where my analysis of months of research tell me that player will most likely be selected. Our overall numbers for our Value Board since 2001 can be found on the Archives page. What does this show? It shows that our Draft Value Board gives you as close to a consensus of the 32 NFL Draft Value Boards as is available. Accuracy in our Draft Value Board is what I take pride in and is also why, when the draft is complete,
The Value Board
Our Value Board is based on conversations with scouts, coaches and front office people as well as other sources in and around the NFL. I use this information to rank the players on the Value Board where they will be picked in April. The Huddle Report’s opinion of a player is not reflected in this ranking. THR’s opinion of a player is on the Talent Board; this board is built by Drew Boylhart who watches a lot of film and writes our player profiles. He then ranks all the players he profiles by the round in which he thinks they should go; therefore, it can differ greatly from my Value Board.The Value Board
Starting in June, I research prospective players that will enter the following April’s NFL Draft. During that process, I gather information from many resources including NFL General Managers, scouts, coaches and others trying to build a consensus of where players may fall in the current year’s draft. I then rank the players 1-200. This gives you, the fan, an educated idea of where a player should be drafted.
The Talent Board
Drew Boylhart spends many hours watching game tapes of college football. He ranks players based on talent displayed on the field and how it may translate to the NFL.
Drew use his evaluations of each prospect (see his evaluation method here) to place them on the Talent Board according to the round in which that player’s talent warrants. This doesn’t try to predict where the player will be drafted. What it does tell you is how successful THR thinks that player will be in the NFL over his career, considering it may take a player 2-3 years to measure up to that potential.
Reaches & Steals
When watching the draft this April, all you’ll need are copies of the final Draft Value Board and Talent Board. On draft day, if your favorite team drafts at pick #22 and chooses a guy that is in the first round of the Talent Board, but ranked #45 on the Value Board, you know that THR believes two things for certain:
1) Your team got a player with first round talent.
2) Your team could probably have gotten the same player in Round 2
Originally Posted 8/30/2004