Scouting Reports: Insight or Insane?

From books to magazines to Internet websites, it seems like everyone becomes a draft expert this time of year. But do those few paragraphs of insight ever tell the real story?

How much faith do pro football types put in the scouting reports on players on draft day. Every year, we're bombarded with terms like "non-stop motor," "bubble butt" and "fluid hips." But are they accurate? How could they have been convinced that Giovanni Carmazzi was worthy of selection 134 picks before Tom Brady?

Everyone from Mel Kiper on down has a viewpoint on the draft and aren't shy about praising some players and dogging others. I was looking at some analysis today and came across this pre-draft projection about a great player who has a few red flags that could get some teams to lower his draft status. Here are the highlights.

Positives: Rare, size, speed, hand-eye coordination, body control, athletic ability, jumping ability and timing. Very soft hands. Can pluck the ball with ease. Can run after the catch and return kicks. Always a threat to go all the way. Can do anything he wants to on a football field and dominate games.

Negatives: Has had a lot of problems off the field and still may not entirely "get it." At times seems to have his own agenda. Does not appear to be a hard worker. Looks nonchalant when he plays and his motor only seems to run at full speed when he is directly involved in the play. Loafs on plays he is not directly involved in. More of a free-lance type. Needs to learn how to set people up and run routes. Has always stood out because of his God-given talent and has never learned the finer points of playing the position. Called just before the Indianapolis scouting combine to say he was not coming because he had just had major emergency dental surgery.

Summary: This player is so big and so fast, and he does things so effortlessly, that he is either a freak of nature or very close to it. He has more natural ability than Jerry Rice and would be an all-time great who would be drafted 10 minutes before the first round began if he had Rice's work ethic and character. But, with all his baggage, his work ethic and his playing demeanor, he could be a huge and very expensive roll-of-the-dice pick, or at least a hard player to coach who could create some problems for his team. He could either be the best or the worst pick of the first round and I doubt anyone can say with certainty which way it will go."

What makes this analysis so chilling? If you haven't figured it out by now, this was the draft analysis given by the late draft guru Joel Buchsbaum in 1998 concerning Randy Moss. In hindsight, it's easy to see why some of Moss' problems happened and that the Vikings knew what they were in for beforehand. It just so happened it was worth it.

* VU has been told it's almost a certainty that the Packers will match the Vikings' $1.2 million offer sheet to restricted free-agent defensive end Aaron Kampman today. By matching, the Packers will try to work out a long-term deal that will have less of a cap hit for this year. The Packers have until today to officially match or decline the offer. In what looks like the remote chance that the Packers don't match, they would get a fifth-round pick from the Vikings.
* The chatter continues about the Vikings looking to move up in Saturday's first round from No. 7 to No. 2. ESPN has been all over the story, with veteran John Clayton saying he's hearing the odds are "better than 50-50" that the Vikings and Dolphins make a trade that would send both first-round picks to Miami for the rights to presumably take WR Braylon Edwards. The Vikings have been bold in the offseason, but not only would the cost of signing Edwards be astronomical, but the Vikings could be turning their back on the potential of adding a pair of immediate contributors like a combo of Cedric Benson and Mark Clayton or a potential pairing of Mike Williams and Marcus Spears. Who cares what that silly numbers chart says on draft value? There isn't even a consensus No. 1, much less a No. 2 or 3. The Vikings would be better advised to stand pat and take the best players (note the plural) available.
* The trade winds are blowing around in earnest as we get closer, and a pair came to fruition Tuesday. The Redskins acquired a second first-round pick with a trade with the Broncos, who get a third-round pick this year and a first-rounder in 2006. Meanwhile, the Raiders traded disgruntled CB Phillip Buchanon to the Texans for a second- and third-round pick in this year's draft.

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