Category: Uncategorized


“I’m just going to come out and say it: I love insecure women.

That was the introduction to an article entitled “The Case Against Female Self Esteem” by Matt Forney. I refuse to post a link to it because I don’t want to give his site any more traffic than it has already gotten, but if you are hell bent on reading the awful things that he wrote in that article then feel free to Google it on your own.

The deep-seated anger I felt after reading this article was palpable. The more I read the angrier I got. I realize that my blog is almost entirely NFL Draft focused, and quite literally is 100% football focused, but thanks to all of the people who have read my work and supported me since I started writing, I have a platform from which to speak. This blog isn’t a big platform. In fact, it is extremely small, but it is a platform none the less. After I read Forney’s article I knew I had to respond to it. I apologize that this isn’t football related, and perhaps some of you will be turned off by the fact that I am discussing something other than football. That’s fine; you are entitled to your own opinion, but I would be remiss if I didn’t respond to this article because I strongly disagree with many of the assertions Forney makes. The claims made were so egregious I honestly thought it must have been a joke or an article on The Onion, but unfortunately I don’t think that is the case.

For those of you who didn’t read the article yourself (which I thank you for, by the way, because I am not proud of the fact that my response may direct additional traffic to his article) I will highlight some of the claims that the author makes. If you are anything like me, you will likely be offended, and I apologize for that too. However, I need to discuss them briefly so I can illustrate why they are wrong. Here are some of the claims:

“The idea that women should have self-esteem or need it…is one of the most disastrous social engineering experiments of the modern era… [confidence] prevents women from fulfilling their natural biological and social functions. ”

“In order for America to right itself, there needs to be a massive and concerted war on female self-esteem.”

“From the moment they are old enough to speak, girls in America are bombarded with propaganda that artificially boosts their self-esteem.”

“Most girls have done nothing to deserve self-esteem.”

“Women claim they want equal rights, but don’t want equal responsibilities. As such, they demand respect not based on their merit as people, but for merely continuing to breathe. Most girls’ so-called achievements, the ones they take pride in, are complete jokes.”

“If anything, having a college degree is a strike against a girl…as it shows that she’s a conformist who thinks credentials are a substitute for knowledge and experience.”

“The same goes for having a job. The vast majority of girls work useless fluff jobs…If every girl were fired from her job tomorrow, elementary schools would have to shut down for a couple days, but otherwise life would go on as usual.”

“In squelching her inborn insecurity with you-go-girlisms and drugs, the modern woman has become an emotional cripple.”

“They [girls] want to be collectively led back to the kitchen, told to make a nice big tuna sandwich with extra mayo and lettuce, then swatted on the ass as we walk out the door. I say we give them what we want.”

Are you angry yet? I certainly was. It might seem like I quoted a lot from the article, but trust me those are just the things that made my blood boil. Very little of this article was based on actual fact, rather it was largely based on the author’s personal opinions. Normally I would disregard an article so reliant on opinion and not on fact, but the notion that someone actually believes all of the things written in this article, much less advocates for other people to think the same way, warrants a rational response.

I hardly know where to begin in my response to this, but I suppose the assertion that America needs to start a war on female self-esteem in order to “right itself” is as good a place to start as any. I don’t really think I need to spend much time on this thanks to this article as well as this article. Those are articles discussing the government shutdown and the FEMALE Senators that helped end the shut down. Senator John McCain was quoted as saying “Leadership, I must fully admit, was provided primarily from women in the Senate.” Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas added “The truth is, women in the Senate is a good thing, we’re all just glad they allowed us to tag along so we could see how it’s done.”

It isn’t a stretch or exaggeration to say that, had it not been for these women (who one might say are probably pretty strong and confident) the government shutdown would not have ended as quickly as it did. So knowing that, why would you advocate for a war on female self-esteem that discourages women like those who helped lead the charge for the end of the shutdown? These women prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that confident women aren’t bad, in fact, they are essential. These articles debunk the myth Forney proposes that “most girls have done nothing to deserve their self esteem” and that “most girls’ so called achievements are complete jokes.” Obviously female senators aren’t in the majority, but given their effectiveness in working together across the aisle to end the shutdown maybe they should be.

I previously mentioned that no rational person would advocate for a war on women’s self-esteem. Unfortunately, the mass media has been doing a number on female self-esteem for years. Do you ever watch television ads? Do you see the scantily clad women in them? Do you ever read magazines? Do you ever notice the photo-shopped women on the cover or in the advertisements? If you aren’t aware of how often women, even women who are objectively gorgeous without photoshop or even make-up, are photoshopped in magazines, advertisements and billboards, you should take a look at this article that highlights some considerable doctoring of women in the media. If you don’t believe that women are bombarded with images of nearly perfect women that they are expected to emulate, check out this study that articulates similar thoughts.

I didn’t realize that someone could be so completely oblivious to these facts, but that is my mistake. Still, the point is that when many young women see these images it negatively impacts their self-esteem. It can also ruin their own body image because they don’t look the way the women in the pictures do, even though the women in the photos are not real. That leaves young women striving for an unattainable level of beauty that not even the women paid to be photographed were able to reach. Doesn’t that sound like a problem to you? It might sound strange to some people, but if a woman close to you struggled with her body image or had an eating disorder I can assure you that you wouldn’t find it funny in the least. It’s a serious problem, particularly in the United States, and the portrayal of women in the media contributes to a myriad of problems for young women. So the author doesn’t need to advocate for a war on female self-esteem to begin; it has been raging for years.

Unfortunately, the war on female self-esteem goes beyond pictures in magazines or advertisements on TV. Perhaps the most pervasive attacks on female self-esteem are in mainstream music, particularly rap music and music videos. I spent some time reading through a 26 page study titled “Misogyny in Rap Music” to further educate myself on something I already knew to be true: Women are not portrayed as equals in rap music, and are regularly degraded. In fact, according to that study, women are rarely portrayed positively and are often degraded in rock and country music as well.

This study focused on all rap albums that attained platinum status (selling at least one million copies) from 1992 to 2000, a timeframe the authors Ronald Weitzer and Charis E. Kubrin claimed had not been examined in previous research on misogyny in rap music. Weitzer and Kubrin pointed out that while they were solely focusing on studying misogyny in rap, a study done in 1999 indicated that in 57% of rock music videos women were portrayed in a “conventional” manner. That includes being passive, dependent on men, or accenting the woman’s physical appearance. Only one third of the videos presented women as strong and independent.

Country music isn’t much better, as a study done in 1999 determined that country music videos portrayed women in a traditional or condescending manner in two thirds of the videos, and only 9% of them presented women as fully equal to men. Just for the sake of being thorough, a study done in 1993 indicated that “blatant abuse” of women is uncommon in heavy metal songs.

That leaves rap music.

Surprisingly enough, misogyny was only found in 22% of the 403 rap songs that were randomly selected for Weitzer and Kubrin’s study. They made sure to point out that while this is less prevalent than many people would expect, it is still clearly a significant theme. They also added that “significance is not simply a matter of frequency. Also important is the nature and intensity of the messages.” They argued that the intensity of the derogatory messages aimed at women in rap music are much more intense than in other genres.

Weitzer and Kubrin also argued that “Much rap music… seeks to restrict, rather than broaden, women’s proper roles and resuscitate male domination. The messages are thus both essentialist and normative—portraying men and women as inherently different and unequal.” This leads me to the topic of “hegemonic masculinity” which Weitzer and Kubrin discussed at significant length. For those that are unfamiliar with this term, hegemonic masculinity has been defined as attitudes and practices that perpetuate heterosexual male domination over women (does this sound anything like Matt Forney?). “It ideologically legitimates the global subordination of women to men” (Connell and Messerschmidt 2005, 832).

According to the definition of hegemonic masculinity, to be a “man” requires the acceptance of attitudes that objectify women, practices that subordinate them, and derogation of men who adopt an egalitarian orientation equally affirmative of men and women and all sexual orientations (Connell 1987; Donaldson 1993; Connell and Messerschmidt 2005). “To remain normative, it requires ongoing reproduction via the mass media.” Weitzer and Kubrin claim that, stated differently, “popular music can be seen as part of a larger ideological process of persuading the population that heterosexual male supremacy is natural and normal.”

Weitzer and Kubrin also added that a number of rap songs can be described as a full-fledged “status degradation ceremony” directed at women. In these songs it is typically women in general, rather than a specific woman, who are shamed with derogatory names. This theme was present in half (49%) of the misogynistic songs in their study. Additionally, sexual objectification of women was evident in 67% of their misogynistic songs. Sexual objectification refers to the idea that women are only useful for sex.

The sexual objectification of women, according to Weitzer and Kubrin’s study, has a flipside in the sexual empowerment of men. Male sexual bravado and hypersexuality were present in 58% of the misogynistic songs. Just as young men may earn respect from their peers if they are viewed as having casual sex with many women, rappers likewise frequently brag about their sexual exploits, and are rewarded for doing so.

Finally, Weitzer and Kubrin claimed that although women are presented as subordinate to men in a majority of rock and country songs as noted earlier, rap stands out for the intensity and graphic nature of its lyrical objectification, exploitation, and victimization of women. Rare are lyrics (in rap) that describe women as independent, educated, professional, caring, and trustworthy. Although the majority of songs in the original sample did not contain misogynistic lyrics, even these songs failed to present women in a favorable light. In other words, the absence of misogyny does not equate with a positive representation of women.

Now, that was a lot of information, so I hope I didn’t overwhelm everyone reading this article with all of those statistics. I didn’t include anything from the study that I didn’t think was eye opening or significant. At the risk of dumbing down such a well done study, the point is that rap music, and other popular music in general, thrives on age-old stereotypes of women, degrades women, and rarely describes them as strong or confident. Now think about how prevalent this music is in our culture, and how easy it is for young women to hear this music or see music videos for these songs. It’s just as easy for young men to listen to this music, and while mainstream songs certainly aren’t solely responsible for how young men learn about how to interact with women, it certainly isn’t helping them learn to treat women with respect and dignity. In fact, this study argues that many rap songs are doing the complete opposite.

Once again, if you are curious to read any more about the misogyny in rap music, refer to that study. My point has been made: the mass media isn’t artificially propping women up as the author claims, it is dragging them down. The irony of this is that even in spite of this onslaught of negative messages from the mass media, women outpace men in college enrollment by a ratio of 1.4 to one. According to this article describing a book called ‘The Rise of Women’ a 2010 study showed that 36% of all women graduate from college versus only 27% of all men. That might have something to do with the fact that the rate of women being the primary breadwinners in their household has quadrupled since 1960. This article claims that in 2007, before the recession started, only 20% of women told Pew Research Center that their “ideal scenario” would be to work full time rather than part time or not at all. That number has jumped to 32% by the end of 2012.

The fact that women are out-earning men or solely supporting their household is made all the more impressive considering the significant gender wage gap in this country. According to data from the US Census Bureau, women still earn 77 cents for every dollar that men earned in 2012. That equates to a wage gap of $11,500 between men and women. While that may not concern Forney, it certainly concerns women who are being paid less for doing the same work as men (though Forney likely doesn’t believe they do the same work) and all this wage gap is doing is hurting households that rely on income from women to support their families. That is a serious problem, and the backwards ideologies Forney propagates in his article contribute to the lack of progress in solving these problems.

I do have one confession to make. I hate to admit it, but the author does have a point about finding vulnerability attractive in women. Maybe it’s how I’m wired, but I have always been drawn to women who might “need me.” Maybe it’s because of where I grew up, or maybe it’s because when I was 16 my mom needed me to provide her with a little bit of extra emotional support when she was going through chemotherapy after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Or maybe it’s because my little sister, who I love more than anyone on this planet, has been dealing with self esteem issues since she was a little girl. But even though I admit that I feel the same way as this author does in this particular instance, I hate that I feel that way. I love being there for people, whether they are women or men, and I think all of my close friends would echo that statement. Nothing makes me more proud as a person than someone telling me that I am a good friend, except for people telling me that I am a good brother to my sister.

Forney and I are different, though, in that I do not wish vulnerability on women. I do not want women to lack confidence. I do not want them to struggle with self-esteem issues. I do not want women to look at themselves in the mirror and hate their bodies. I want women to be confident, to have a strong self-esteem and healthy body images. That is what every man in this country should want, because if they advocate for anything else then they are doing potential harm to any woman they love, whether it be their wife, their daughter, another family member, or just a female friend.

So I have to ask, why must so many men spend so much time tearing women down instead of building them up? Clearly women are capable of doing spectacular things (the fact that I even have to say that in the year 2013 made me die a little inside) so why do men cling to these backwards ideas of what women are capable of or what they should be asked to do?

The opinions described by Forney are, unfortunately, ones that a number of men in this country share. Looking at the comment section for his article made that clear to me. That brings me to my next question. Why are confident men revered as strong leaders, but confident women are ridiculed and often pigeon-holed as “bitches”? I don’t have any evidence for this, but I think men who hate confident women are threatened by them. What is more terrifying than something you don’t understand? I don’t profess to be an expert on confident women, but I can tell you one thing: I’m not afraid of confident women. I have been trying to help my sister become more confident in any way I can since I was 16, and the strides she has made are amazing. She’s about to graduate from college with a degree in psychology and is a better student and academic than I could have ever dreamed of being. I am so proud of her for all she has ACCOMPLISHED, especially because of all she has overcome in her young life, and because she is becoming more confident and self assured. I almost feel like a proud father watching her grow up and become stronger and more confident with each passing year.

Why isn’t that the norm? Well, unfortunately it’s likely because of fathers. Some refer to them as “daddy issues” in jokes, but they are not a joke. Studies have shown that the relationship between a daughter and her father are incredibly important because they shape what women know and look for in men. When the father is either absent or emotionally closed off those young women tend to be insecure, lack self confidence and have poor self esteems. As a result they go looking for male attention and approval from other men. Take a quote from this article, for example:

“A father’s love gives a girl strength, empowers her, makes her feel worth of a man’s love,” says the counselor. What she means is a father’s affirmation goes a long way into building a woman’s self esteem. Girls loved by their fathers tend to be very confident. “Even if they encounter partners who may try to abuse them or tear down this confidence, they are not easily demeaned,” she says.

From another daddy’s girl, Milly Babirye, 37, “It is the best thing to know that you are valuable. If you grow up hearing positive things, knowing you are capable it makes you able to weather anything. No one can take that away from you.”
This explains why most of the confident women I know also boast of a very close relationship with their fathers, or at least did in cases where he is deceased.

This perfectly illustrates my point, and this article illustrates the negative aspects of absent or emotionally insufficient fathers:

Women with ‘daddy issues’ are usually seen to have an unhealthy need for male attention. Sometimes that plays out as being clingy, sexually aggressive, or promiscuous; other times as using men and then abandoning them (often just like fathers have done). Women let themselves be mistreated by men because they so desperately ache for male attention.

Did you have a father in your life growing up? Without a safe male role model, women can have a difficult time developing a healthy view of self and sexuality. Think about it. Without a father, you don’t have anyone to show you love that has nothing to do with sexuality and everything to do with who you are. If your only experience with men is distant or sexual, it’s easy to see yourself as a sexual object versus a complete person with much to offer a relationship.

It is obvious that fathers are integral to the development of their daughter’s self-esteem and self worth. Absent fathers or fathers who do a poor job of connecting emotionally with their daughters perpetuate a vicious cycle that is causing women to struggle with self esteem and self confidence. This isn’t to say that every father is like this, which certainly isn’t the case. However, if we are going to correct the problem with women’s self-esteem it starts with our fathers. So to all the men reading this: be a good father to your children whether they are boys or girls. Teach your sons how to treat women with respect, and teach your daughters that they are worthy of respect and love.

I think it’s safe to say that I have gone on a long enough rant on this subject by now, but hopefully this sufficiently evidences how strongly I disagree with so many of the things Matt Forney wrote. I have been lucky to be surrounded with many strong women in my life, from my grandmother, my aunts, my cousins, their friends, my female friends, and most importantly my own mother. I can say without a doubt that if it were not for these strong women supporting me since I could first form memories I would not be who I am today. I can only hope that any man reading this will take this time to think about all of the women in his life and how they have helped shape the person he is. I know this isn’t the case, but I wish every man had the chance to be surrounded with such a strong, positive group of women. Having read the author’s thoughts on the subject, I am inclined to make the assumption that he hasn’t had this luxury. That would certainly explain some of the negative opinions he seems to have of women. I hope by writing this I am able to restore some faith in this country’s men–faith that any female who read Forney’s article surely lost.

Thanks for reading,

–Tom

P.S. I’m sure a lot of people who read Forney’s article will become angry and feel the need to lash out. I would ask you not to do that. I spent some time looking at the author’s Twitter account yesterday and he is clearly feeding off of the backlash and vitriol some women are spewing back at him. I am not saying that it isn’t deserved, but he is clearly enjoying the fact that he is causing women so much anger and frustration. Either don’t respond to it, or do so respectfully. Don’t stoop to his level.

Size: Bernard is officially listed at 5’8” but weighs 202 pounds. I would personally like to see him add a little more weight to his frame, but packing 200+ pounds onto a 5’8” frame is no joke. He may not be a prototypical power back, but I personally really like shorter, compact running backs and the NFL has seen a number of those kinds of backs succeed lately. Bernard may not be a giant, but he is definitely big enough to be a successful NFL running back.

Speed: If you’ve been watching Bernard since he burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman last year you know that his speed isn’t what makes him great. He ran an official 4.53 at the combine and that is about what I expected from him. I knew he wasn’t a sub 4.45 guy, but I also didn’t expect him to be any slower than 4.55 or so. He isn’t going to rip off a lot of 50+ yard runs at the next level thanks to his straight line speed. He has enough speed to be an effective back, but it’s not where he excels.

Quickness: This is one of Bernard’s best attributes. He is extremely quick and he demonstrates this via his acceleration, his change of direction speed and when he eludes defenders in the open field. He may not run a sub 4.4, but he accelerates quickly up to his top speed and that is incredibly important at the running back position. He can stop and start on a dime, and regularly uses this quickness and change of direction ability to gain additional yardage when he gets in the open field or when he has a blocker in front of him.

Running Inside: Bernard is at his best when he is running zone plays where he can patiently wait for a hole to open up on the front side or find a cutback lane on the backside, hit the gas and get through it. If you ever talk to a running back or a running back coach you will hear the phrase “slow to the hole, fast through the hole” and Bernard epitomizes that. He runs patiently which makes him a great fit for a zone heavy scheme that relies on patience and good vision from the back. He frequently turns potentially negative plays into no gain or positive plays. By this I mean he can create for himself thanks to his quickness and elusiveness, meaning that even if the play is disrupted he has the skill set to salvage the run and get back to the line of scrimmage or beyond it if he isn’t immediately swallowed up once he gets the hand-off. This has been displayed a number of times when he runs between the tackles, and that has a lot to do with his impressive elusiveness but also with his terrific balance. Because of his size he tends to naturally be running with good pad level, but because of his thick lower body and good pad level he isn’t easy to take down with arm tackles. He may not be a pure power back, but he can run between the tackles very effectively and gain tough yards after contact thanks to his lower body strength.

Running Outside: Running outside isn’t necessarily the strength of Bernard’s game, but it isn’t a weakness either. I don’t think he has the straight line speed to consistently get the edge at the next level, but I don’t think he’s going to be getting caught from behind by defensive linemen either. He does a good job of utilizing his quickness and shiftiness to help make up for it, but running him outside the tackles and attempting to let him outrun the defense to the corner isn’t playing to Bernard’s strengths. He showed that he can run outside at North Carolina, but having a very talented (not to mention athletic) offensive line that could get out in front of him certainly played a role in his success on outside runs. He does have the vision and burst to bounce runs outside if he sees the defense over-pursue though.

Receiving: This is another strength of Bernard’s game. He may not be elite in this area, but he is still very good. He isn’t a terrific route runner at this juncture, but he has more than good enough hands to make an immediate impact in this aspect of the game as a rookie next season. He looks the ball into his hands, can make catches away from his body, and rarely drops catchable passes. He is lethal on screens and when you get him into the open field as a receiver he can be very dangerous. He is one of the more NFL ready running backs in this class when it comes to contributing to the passing game.

Blocking: Bernard may only be a redshirt sophomore, but he has shown significant improvement as a pass blocker since I first watched him as a redshirt freshman. He isn’t great in this area, but he is definitely above average (if not good). He has shown a willingness to meet his man in the hole instead of waiting for the defender to engage him, he has demonstrated the ability to shock and anchor with a solid base, and he has shown he can cut the defender when necessary. He should certainly improve in this area with NFL coaching, but he has demonstrated more than enough ability to project him as a reliable pass protector within the next couple of years.

Vision: This is part of what separates Bernard from other running backs in this class: his vision. As I mentioned earlier he runs patiently, allowing his blocks to set up, and he reads his blocks well and finds running lanes effectively. He does a fantastic job of using his blockers, especially in the open field, and consistently uses them to keep defenders out of the play as long as possible to gain additional yardage. He may not be the fastest back in the draft, but he uses his blocks as well as any of the other backs in this class in my opinion.

Ball Security: Bernard carries the ball high and tight to his body just like you are supposed to when you are carrying the ball. I’m not sure that I have ever watched him fumble after getting a carry or after making a reception, but at the very worst he does it very infrequently. He has had some issues muffing punts at times, but that is an entirely different skill than protecting the ball on a carry to carry basis.

Overall: Bernard is one of my favorite backs in this class and I think he has a chance to thrive in the NFL, particularly if he goes to a pass-happy zone team. Bernard may not be a straight-line burner, but he has more than enough quickness, vision, elusiveness, receiving ability and pass blocking upside to warrant spending a top 40 pick on him in my opinion. Will he be a 1st round pick? I’d be a little surprised, but it’s not impossible. This is an extremely deep and talented running back class, so unless running back is a glaring need for your team I wouldn’t expect them to invest in one in the first two rounds. That might mean a lucky team gets Bernard later than they ordinarily would, but regardless of when he gets selected I expect Bernard to make a positive impact early and often at the next level. However, what you see on the field from Bernard is essentially what you are going to get. There isn’t an incredible amount of upside with him because he is already a pretty polished back despite starting for just two seasons at North Carolina. That will turn some teams off, but a wise team will take advantage of that.

Projection: Top 64. I thought he might have a shot at cracking the 1st round, but this is such a deep and talented class that I think he will likely be a mid 2nd round pick when all is said and done.

Super Bowl Prediction

The day is finally here. It’s time for the Super Bowl, the culmination of another memorable NFL season. And perhaps most importantly, after today NFL Draft season officially begins.

This game has a number of story lines between John and Jim Harbaugh coaching against eachother, Ray Lewis playing his final game as that fateful night in Atlanta continues to be rehashed, and two young quarterbacks seeking to etch their names into the annals of history by winning the Super Bowl. Joe Flacco is seeking to prove he is elite, Colin Kaepernick is attempting to prove that the moment isn’t too big for him despite having substantially less starting experience than Flacco.

Much has been made of the 49ers’ utilization of the pistol formation and the zone read concept, and that is undoubtedly one of the keys to this game. I personally believe the 49ers are the better team in this game on offense and on defense, but the leaders the Ravens have (particularly on the defensive side of the ball in Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed) are the reason they have been able to beat the Colts, Broncos and Patriots despite being definite underdogs in the final two contests. The Ravens defense has been elevated by Ray Lewis’ presence despite his relative lower level of play, but trying to stop Kaepernick, Frank Gore and LaMichael James is going to put a lot of pressure on the Ravens front 7. The 49ers will have a tough task keeping a lid on Ray Rice and Torrey Smith, as well as Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta. I never thought I’d hear “Ravens offense” and “explosive” in the same sentence, but thanks to Smith’s ability to get behind defenses and Flacco’s rocket arm it isn’t entirely inaccurate. Jim Caldwell may not be Chip Kelly or Bill Walsh, but it’s hard to deny that his influence has helped improve the Ravens offensively.

If the game comes down to a field goal it’s hard not to give the advantage to the Ravens, but David Akers has made big kicks before and I won’t pretend to fully understand the psychology of kickers and the pressure of making big kicks like a potential game winner in a Super Bowl. Despite the Ravens edge on special teams I am going to give the 49ers the edge and predict a 31-27 win for the 49ers.

I also believe two of the overlooked story lines in this game are longtime veterans Matt Birk, Ed Reed and Randy Moss playing with the opportunity to win their first Super Bowl despite long, productive careers. Birk and Moss actually played together for a long time in Minnesota, but today one of them will leave with that elusive Super Bowl ring. I’m a huge Randy Moss fan, but thanks to growing up in Minnesota I also respect Matt Birk quite a bit as a player and as a person, and I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t revere Ed Reed as a NFL safety. I’m looking forward to this game and I’m excited to see what unfolds. I don’t think the moment will be too big for Kaepernick, and I think he’s going to have a great game tonight.

Enjoy the game everyone!

–Tom

Conference Championship Predictions

Atlanta-San Francisco:

I want to pick the Falcons so bad for this game, but I have a feeling they are going to have issues bottling Kaepernick up and slowing down the 49ers run game. Hopefully it’s a good game, but I think the 49ers will come out with the win in a close one: 27-24

New England-Baltimore:

Ray Lewis has had a heck of a run and I’m sure there are a lot of people rooting for him to go to the Super Bowl, but I don’t think Tom Brady is going to be out-dueled by Joe Flacco in this game (even if it has technically happened before) and I think the balanced attack the Patriots are wielding this year will be too much for Baltimore to keep up with. I’m taking the Pats 31-21

Enjoy the games! Hopefully I don’t miss much of them as I am traveling to Mobile.

–Tom

Alright guys, I went 1-1 yesterday (I should have known better than to pick the Bengals) but the Packers came through for me. Today we have two more games to pick so I’ll try to finish strong today.

Indianapolis-Baltimore:

This is a tough game to pick and it could completely go either way in my opinion. The Colts are playing great and are playing with a lot of emotion for their Head Coach Chuck Pagano after his battle with cancer, and betting against Andrew Luck has never been a wise decision. However, betting against a Baltimore Ravens team that has just gotten their general back in Ray Lewis is an equally risky decision, and not one I’m inclined to make. I think the Ravens are going to be incredibly motivated to win this game for Ray Lewis, and while the Colts are a good football team (and vastly improved thanks to Andrew Luck at the helm) they won’t have their offensive coordinator Bruce Arians calling plays today and while they can survive without him, that’s not something you want to have to compensate for the day of the game. I’m picking Baltimore even though I’m not a big Joe Flacco fan (and wasn’t when he was coming out) but if the Ravens feed Ray Rice and play better on defense with Ray back in the fold I think they can pull this off.

Seattle-Washington:

This one is a tough game for me to call, but as much as I like Russell Wilson I think I have to pick Washington. The Seahawks aren’t the same team on the road as they are at home, and Washington is going to play with a chip on their shoulder since they probably aren’t getting the respect they deserve since they are an underdog in their own house. The Seahawks have a good defense though and if the Redskins are going to win this game their running game is going to have to be good, because the Seahawks two corners Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner will take away any receiver they want on the Redskins. I hate to bet against Russell Wilson and I often say that doing that is a fast track to being wrong, but I have to go with the Redskins today.

Let’s see how I do and enjoy the games today! I’ll be live tweeting them so follow me @TMeltonScouting if you haven’t already.

–Tom

Intro: Austin has really emerged in the past few weeks as a dynamic playmaker. Many have taken to calling him Tavon Harvin, alluding to his playmaking ability that reminds many (including myself) of the former Florida Gator, or Tavon Awesome, alluding to the obvious- Tavon Austin is awesome. He is obviously undersized, but he compensates for his lack of size with great speed, elite burst, acceleration, change of direction and impressive vision. He doesn’t have great hands, but when he has the ball in his hands anything can happen. He has made some truly amazing plays and put together some extremely impressive performances this season, and almost single-handedly jump-started the West Virginia offense by balancing the offense when they gave him touches at running back out of the backfield. He’s a dynamic player, and he looks like he has a shot at the 1st round. A creative offensive coordinator could get a lot of mileage out of him, but even in a traditional offense he will make plays on offense and on special teams.

Size: This is one of Austin’s biggest drawbacks as a prospect. He is listed at 5’9” 172 pounds but I wouldn’t be surprised if he measured in at 5’8.” His size is definitely concerning but the way the NFL is changing to protect receivers and essentially eliminate big hits players with Austin’s size will have a better shot at avoiding injury. This is going to be a negative grade from pretty much every scout, but with kick returns being less violent than in previous years Austin should be somewhat protected as a dynamic slot/return man at the next level.

Speed: Austin has sub 4.5 speed without a doubt. I don’t think he’s going to get into the 4.3’s even though it might seem like it at times. He’s in the 4.45-4.48 range if you ask me, but that’s fast enough to outrun angles and rip off big chunks of yardage at the next level. He’s shown that he can take a short reception, a run of the mill carry or any return the distance with his speed. I think it’s one of his strong suits, but I think a lot of people will see his long runs and assume he’s a 4.3 guy. I have to say I’m not convinced of that right now.

Quickness: This is easily the strongest part of Austin’s game. His quickness is something straight out of a video game. He stops and starts on a dime, he gets up to top speed almost instantly, he makes anyone, even quality defenders, look absolutely ridiculous in the open field. He is a very fast athlete so I don’t want this to be taken as an insult, but as fast as he is he is even quicker than he is fast. I actually think that is a very big compliment, because so many fans and teams get wide-eyed looking at very fast 40 times but you can succeed in the NFL without blazing speed, but if you don’t have a certain amount of quickness you will struggle to create separation as a route runner and make people miss in the open field. Austin has quickness in spades and that is clear after you watch one play of him.

Release: I haven’t seen Austin jammed at the line of scrimmage when I’ve watched him, and his lack of size will hurt him when teams attempt to jam him. However, he has more than enough quickness and explosiveness to beat the jam. As I mentioned previously his burst and acceleration is great and that is evident on his release at the snap.

Route Running: Austin can be as good a route runner as he wants thanks to his change of direction ability. I think he runs routes pretty well at this point, but I think there is plenty of room for improvement thanks to his incredible quickness. He ran a lot of quick screens, drag routes and crossing routes at West Virginia and while I think he can run every route in the route tree I think with NFL coaching he can improve this aspect of his game and become a very, very good route runner.

Hands: This is one thing that I think will hold Austin back a little bit. He’s got pretty reliable hands, but he doesn’t make an abundance of catches outside of his frame and he’s not going to snag passes out of the air like receivers with great hands will. He will have concentration lapses every now and again, but his hands are definitely reliable enough to not be considered a negative. He doesn’t have great hands, but they are good enough to be a dangerous option at receiver.

Body Control: Austin has amazing body control when he has the ball in his hands and that is demonstrated consistently in all of his highlight reel runs after the catch or in the return game. He’s a special athlete and this is one of his strengths.

In Traffic: Austin isn’t great in traffic because he doesn’t have the size to shield defenders away from the ball and his lack of size means that plenty of defenders he goes up against will have a size and strength advantage. He will drop a pass in traffic every now and again, and I think there are times when he takes his eye off the ball because he anticipates an oncoming hit. I think that’s why West Virginia worked so hard to get him the ball underneath, in the flat or deep where he wouldn’t be as susceptible to big hits.

YAC: This is one thing that Austin has in absolute spades. I can’t think of many players I’ve ever scouted who are better after the catch than Austin is. He is truly elite after he gets the ball in his hands. I am a big fan of Geno Smith as a prospect, but Austin’s YAC ability has really helped make his stats look better than they are at times and he will continue to do that at the next level as well. He won’t break a lot of tackles thanks to his size, but his amazing quickness keeps defenders off balance and gives him the chance to avoid defenders all together and it helps him encounter more arm tackles that he has the strength to run through.

Blocking: Because Austin is such a focal point of the offense he doesn’t often block so we don’t have a ton to evaluate. As everyone will point out he’s a smaller kid so he’s not going to be able to effectively block some bigger, stronger defenders at the next level. However, when I have seen him block, I saw him give solid effort and sustain fairly well given his size. He’s never going to be a dominant blocker, but that has as much to do with his size as it does the fact that he will consistently have the ball in his hands.

Overall: Tavon Austin is a special player and he definitely reminds me of a smaller Percy Harvin. He doesn’t have Harvin’s insane strength that makes him so rare, but his playmaking ability is comparable and his versatility is certainly similar. Some teams will knock him for his size and wonder if he can hold up at the next level, but as long as he’s not relied upon to be an every down back I don’t think that will be an issue for him. He’s going to be able to get touches out of the backfield as a running back thanks to his vision and burst, he’s going to be a playmaker in the slot and as a return man. His limited range that he presents as a target will hold him back a bit, but he is so versatile and such a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands that I think he will have a long, successful NFL career as long as he can stay healthy. I personally believe he will.

Projection: Top 40. I think he has a shot at the 1st round, but if he doesn’t go to a playoff team late in the 1st I think teams desperate for difference makers on offense will jump all over him early in the 2nd round.

I had a few question marks surrounding Williams’ game coming into the season, but he has answered them emphatically with his fantastic play this year.

Intro: Terrance Williams is a player I’ve been watching since he was a sophomore at Baylor. That was back when Josh Gordon looked like the top WR prospect on the team, and Kendall Wright played a supporting role along with Williams. After Gordon’s dismissal Wright stepped into the spotlight and Williams was the second option, albeit a good one. This year, Williams was expected to be the man but he had never been a #1 option during his college career. I was unsure how he would do, and actually expected him to finish with similar production that he had as a junior- about 60 receptions, 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. Well, I was completely wrong. Williams has completely gone off this year, totaling 89 receptions, 1,693 yards and 12 touchdowns through just 11 games. He has totaled under 100 receiving yards just three times, producing 84, 87 and 91 yards in those contests. He has also only played three games where he hasn’t had a touchdown this year. Needless to say he has been incredibly impressive, and I have seen improvement from him in more than just his stat line. Here are my updated thoughts on Terrance Williams as he projects to the NFL.

Size: Terrance Williams is listed at 6’3”, 205 pounds. He looks like he could add a little bit of weight, but he isn’t skinny by any means. He has been learning how to use his size to shield defenders from the ball and it gives him an advantage on jump balls down the field.

Speed: Williams has legitimate sub 4.5 speed and I think he will run around 4.45 at the NFL combine. His straight line speed is definitely an asset and it allows him to beat athletic defenders using nothing but pure speed. He has shown that he can pull away from defenders when running vertical routes and when running after the catch, and that’s something that will appeal to a lot of evaluators. A kid with his size and athleticism doesn’t come around very often.

Quickness: Williams’ quickness isn’t as good as you might think considering his straight line speed. I wouldn’t say he has “build-up” speed, but I don’t think he has great quickness either. He isn’t stiff or anything, but I don’t think he’s a “quick-twitch” athlete either. Some players are quicker than fast, and I personally believe Williams is faster than he is quick. I don’t think this will hold him back much, but based on what I’ve watched I don’t think his 10 yard split at the combine will be particularly impressive.

Release: This is one of the areas where I think his quickness shows up. He doesn’t “explode” off of the ball, and part of that may involve his stance. I haven’t seen him jammed a single time so far since I have been watching him, so I have no idea how he deals with physical press man coverage. I don’t think he’s especially tough when he’s contacted when running routes though, so I’d definitely like to see him pressed to see how he handles it.

Route Running: This is one area where Williams still needs some work. I went back and watched a couple of his games from 2011 and his route running was a serious question mark. He was running curl routes by simply running and then stopping without sinking his hips or chopping his feet. He got away with that with RGIII at quarterback, but someone must have taken him aside and told him he needs to run better routes because he has improved significantly this year. He can still get better, but he runs better routes on curls and slants than he did last year. Like I said, he can improve, but the fact that he has already shown improvement is very encouraging. He’s not great at this yet, and I’m not quite convinced he has a complete route tree since he runs a LOT of curls and 9 routes, but despite my questions about his quickness I think he could develop into a good route runner at the next level if he continues to work and gets good coaching.

Hands: This was another question mark for me the past couple years with Terrance Williams, but I am comfortable giving him a good grade in this category right now. He has consistently shown that he can make catches with his hands outside of his frame, tough catches in traffic and that when he’s concentrating he can make very tough catches whether they are diving receptions on low throws or catches that require good footwork on the sideline. His concentration is the only question mark for me because he still drops routine catches more than he should, but he has improved on this from 2011 and that is good to see. If he has a mentor at the position or a good position coach I think he will continue to work on and hopefully eliminate this problem. His hands aren’t the issue, it’s his concentration. But like I said with his route running, it is encouraging to see him improving in this area.

Body Control: Williams’ body control is one of his best assets in my opinion. He adjusts very well to deep passes, attacks the ball in the air at its highest point and I think he may have the best footwork and feel for making receptions along the sideline of any receiver in this draft. He consistently gets not one but two feet in-bounds, doing a great job contorting his body to make the reception and get his feet in. This was something I definitely didn’t identify until I watched him more extensively in 2012, but his body control is definitely impressive.

In Traffic: Williams may not be the toughest receiver in the country, but he consistently makes tough receptions in traffic and has shown that he can go over the middle (though I have rarely, if ever, seen him make a catch and take a huge hit). I do think there are times when a defender gets a little handsy or grabby and he throttles down and looks for the flag, and I would prefer to see him fight through it and force the refs to throw the flag rather than expect them to. He shows that he will fight through contact to make the catch, but I think there are times he looks for flags when he should attempt to keep running his route.

YAC: Williams is definitely dangerous after the catch, particularly if he can get up to speed and outrun some angles. He’s not particularly shifty and I haven’t seen him break many tackles so I wouldn’t expect him to do so at the next level either. But if he catches a crossing route with space in front of him he will pick up plenty of yardage, and if he catches a deep pass in stride he can run away from the defense. He won’t have many electric runs where he makes a lot of guys miss with his short area burst and shiftiness, but he can pick up yards after the catch.

Blocking: I have seen a solid but not spectacular effort blocking when I watch Williams. He isn’t a dominant blocker by any means, but he has shown some ability to sustain and help the ball-carrier gain additional yardage as a result of his block. He can stand to improve here, but in an offense like Baylor’s I wouldn’t expect him to be a dominant blocker.

Overall: Williams was a guy who I characterized as a size/speed guy coming into the season, but I wasn’t sold on him from a hands/concentration aspect or from a route running perspective when I previewed Baylor this summer. However, Williams has answered a number of questions I posed before the season- Can he match his production without Kendall Wright? Obvious yes, he has vastly exceeded it. Can he be the go-to receiver or is he more of a complementary guy? This year he has proven that he can be extremely productive as the go-to guy and he has shown he can thrive in a complementary role in the past. Not only that, he has shown that he can be a go-to guy without a Heisman winner at quarterback. I’m not sure if he’s a NFL #1 yet, but thanks to his size and speed he has that upside. Can he improve his route running and work to eliminate his concentration lapses? He hasn’t completely fixed these issues, but he has definitely improved on them from what I saw from him in 2011. That’s a very good sign and it makes me think he’s going to end up in the first round. This is one reason I like to watch players before they are draft eligible, not just after they are seniors or likely to declare juniors. Being able to see their progression and improvement with your own eyes, not just on a stat sheet, is really beneficial in my opinion.

Projection: 1st round. I think Williams looks like a top 40 pick right now and he still has a couple games left (the regular season finale against Oklahoma State and then a bowl game) to attempt to boost his stock. I expect him to be at the Senior Bowl as well where I look forward to getting a chance to talk to him more in depth. Guys that are 6’3” with 4.45 speed don’t grow on trees, and Williams has really improved his overall game since his junior season. He’s becoming a more complete receiver, and even though he has things to work on I am really intrigued by his upside. He’s not all the way there yet, but the improvement he has shown is more than encouraging enough for me to give him a 1st round grade at this point.

Here is my Pre-Season Heisman List. It’s a shot one right now, but these players all have a legit shot at it coming into the 2012 season:

1- Matt Barkley, QB, Southern Cal- Barkley will have to prove that he is the engine that makes the potent USC offense go, but he has all the weapons back to replicate his terrific junior season.
2- Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech- Many think Thomas is being overrated coming into the season, and perhaps to an extent that’s true, but Thomas will be expected to carry Virginia Tech’s offense this season until a true running back emerges. He’s got all the ability to do so, and I think he will surprise some people this year.
3- Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia- Smith has all the talent to be a top 10 pick and honestly has the highest NFL Draft grade of the top three quarterbacks on this list right now. He’s got weapons to throw to and that offense provides a lot of opportunities for big plays, so Smith will likely be a Heisman finalist.
4- Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan- Robinson has flirted with Heisman contention every year he has been the starter and this may be the year he puts it all together and gets serious consideration. His passing will have to improve, and that’s a question mark as always, but he’s the heart and soul of that Michigan offense and that means he will at least have a shot at the Heisman.
5- Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin- Ball was a finalist last year and if he doesn’t get worn down he should help support another ACC transplant at QB lead the Badgers to the Big-10 title game and potentially the Rose Bowl for a 3rd year in a row.
6- Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina- Lattimore is a special talent and if his knee is all the way healthy he has a great shot to be a Heisman finalist because he is the engine that makes the Gamecock offense go much like Ball is for Wisconsin’s offense.

There’s the list, keep an eye on them to see if they live up to the hype I’ve just given them!

–Tom

I will readily admit that I was opposed to playing Christian Ponder this week against the Packers. I tend to be more conservative when it comes to quarterback development, and if you commit to sitting a QB and letting him learn I believe that you should stick to that and not rush him into the starting role before he is ready. The Vikings don’t exactly have a beautiful track record when it comes to developing quarterbacks (the last one they developed that amounted to anything was Daunte Culpepper if I remember correctly, unless you’re one of the few Tarvaris Jackson fans left) so it’s hard for me to trust their judgement on playing Ponder this early in his rookie season. I had my reasons, and I thought they were legitimate. Why play your rookie quarterback in his first start of his career against the defending Superbowl Champion Green Bay Packers, especially when they love to apply pressure off the edge with interesting blitz packages?

Shows what I know.

Ponder didn’t have an insane stat sheet at the end of the game, completing only 13/32 passes for 219 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He had a QB rating of 59.2, and threw a couple of passes that could have been potential turnovers. The Vikings couldn’t complete the comeback against the Packers, and the Vikings limped to a 1-6 record on the season.

But somehow, that all doesn’t seem to matter.

I haven’t watched every single Vikings game this season, but it’s safe to say they looked like a different team than they did previously. They fought throughout the entire game, they didn’t look like absolute garbage in the second half (though they did struggle in the 3rd quarter as Green Bay adjusted to take away Ponder’s roll-out plays that accounted for so much of their success in the first half) and Ponder gave the Vikings a significant spark on offense. It will be interesting to see what happens the rest of the year, but I have to give the Vikings credit: They were in the right when they chose to start Ponder today.

Had McNabb started the offense would have had no confidence, it would have been the same vanilla play-calling, and McNabb’s seemingly disinterested attitude would have continued to permeate through the offense and the rest of the team. Instead, Ponder’s excitement and up-tempo attitude became contagious and the team seemed to be fighting harder than they did in other weeks. I was very impressed by this, and it was actually fun to watch the Vikings on offense today. That’s not something that I’ve said often when watching them in previous weeks.

Adrian Peterson had a great game against a very good rushing defense, and while you have to give credit to the Vikings offensive line and blocking schemes, it’s hard not to argue that a lot of it had to do with Ponder. McNabb struggled to stretch the field vertically and I have seen him get sacked so many times off of play-action I’m not sure he even expected to throw the ball after he turned around to scan the field anymore. Ponder was only sacked twice tonight, which says a lot about the game-plan the Vikings had (AKA, get the ball out early and let Ponder use his mobility to extend plays outside of the pocket) but it also speaks to Ponder’s ability to process information and how ready he was to play this game.

Now, this wasn’t just about Ponder. Ultimately, Ponder and the Vikings lost and that had everything to do with Aaron Rodgers. It has been said time and time again, but he is without a doubt the best quarterback in the NFL right now. The things he is doing right now are just out of this world. At one point Rodgers had thrown three incompletions in the first half. Two of them were a result of dropped passes that should have been caught, and the other was a spike. He was unbelievable in this game and it was really something amazing to watch. He hasn’t had a QB rating under 100 yet this year and he had one of his best games of the season against the Vikings. You have to feel for the Vikings because their defense was just not up to the task of slowing him down, especially in the secondary.

Overall I was obviously incredibly impressed with Rodgers, but Ponder really impressed me because the Vikings offense just looked totally different. It looked like he was unleashing some of their potential whereas McNabb was holding them back in previous starts. Again, I didn’t think Ponder should play in this game because I like to be conservative with QB development, but it is clear that he was ready to start. The Vikings absolutely made the right decision playing him in this game. It will be interesting to see how he does the rest of the year, particularly when teams make a concerted effort to take away so much of his passing outside of the pocket (especially on designed roll-outs).

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

My Experience With Film

I have been interested in the NFL Draft pretty intensely for about 5 years now. I still learn a lot every year, because it is inevitable that you will make mistakes every year. There is no avoiding it unless you don’t make any predictions or go out on a limb and say you are sold on a prospect. I never used to do that when I first started off because I was afraid to be wrong. However, at some point it clicks that there is nothing wrong with being wrong, as long as you aren’t always incorrect. It is frankly more fun to watch the games, scout the prospects and come to your own conclusions about the players, regardless of what others think. Then you can state your opinions so you can judge how well you are doing rather than just saying you thought that “so and so” was going to be good after the fact. That is one of my favorite things about scouting prospects, seeing how well they all do once they get to the NFL. But it took me a while to become mature enough to admit that I missed on a prospect or that I wasn’t high on him. If you are scouting and you are in that place don’t take this in a negative way because I’ve been there. The reason I wanted to grow and develop into a person who sticks to their guns and trusts their convictions is that if I get a job as a scout and we are watching film of a prospect and the GM asks what we think of this player I have to say “I am sold on this guy” and sell them on him. If I don’t sell them hard on him (if I am truly convinced that he will be an asset) and he turns out to be great and we don’t pick him then I have hurt the team just because I wouldn’t stick to my guns. I don’t want to be that guy, and I doubt anyone really does. So just experiment with taking some risks, make some mistakes and see what you learn. It really is gratifying.

Now that I have given you a little background on my life, I just want to make it clear that I’m not an expert. I’m still learning just like anyone else. I’m only 20 years old, I haven’t figured out how to get every pick right. No one will ever do that. I simply do the best I can, put in as much effort as I can while balancing school and my life outside of football and enjoy the results of my work, especially when I see players I was really high on succeed. I made my blog and decided to write for NFL Draft Monsters because I want to share the knowledge that I have gained over the last few years with anyone who wants to learn more about the NFL Draft, scouting and anything else I bring up when I write something. I’m not trying to say I know everything, but I like to think I know a lot about the Draft process now that I have been around it for a few years. But like I said, I learn something new every year without fail. That’s the best part about the draft to me: No matter how long I am around it I can expect to continue to learn something from it, and continue to adjust how I scout prospects. My ultimate goal in life is to be a General Manager of a NFL team, and to do that I will need to get a job as a NFL Scout, so that is what I am working toward when I scout prospects. It’s a lofty goal, but it’s my dream so I am going to chase it.

When I came to Beloit I decided that there had to be a way I could pursue my goal of becoming a NFL Scout. The best way to do this was to get a job with the football team, so I talked to the Head Coach who referred me to the Defensive Coordinator and Video Coordinator, who offered me a job filming games for the football team. By the time I graduate from Beloit next year I will have worked for the team for three years (barring a surprising end to my employment that I do not expect) and I will have a great deal of experience with film. I have already filmed a year’s worth of games and practices, and I have a good deal of experience cutting film, prepping it for the coaches to watch it and I helped put together a highlight video for two of our best players last spring. If you are interested in a career in sports of any kind and you are in college I would seriously suggest that you pursue a job like the one I got. It doesn’t matter if you are just a team manager, if you are doing equipment or if you do film work like I do. Get your foot in the door, show them that you take your job seriously and work hard and you will move up. They will start to trust you more and you will gain more responsibility and gain more experience. Plus it will look great on a resume.

Now, naturally I have been around a lot of our coaches tape, and it can be hard to watch coaches tape when I work for the team and then go back and try to scout NFL prospects with ESPN’s shitty camera angles. They aren’t bad for the offensive line, defensive line, quarterback or running back, but for wide receivers, tight ends (if they get to the second level or beyond), linebackers and especially the defensive backs ESPN is borderline worthless. Unless they come up to support the run you have to hope for a different angle replay to see how they were in their backpedal or how quickly they closed on the ball. And to even see that they have to be challenged, but if a DB does his job correctly his receiver will be blanketed in coverage or he will be taken away with good safety help over the top. But you won’t see that on their camera angles, which is frustrating.

Anyways, I have been pretty lucky when it comes to seeing coaches tape. In addition to my job with Beloit’s football team I have had a month-long internship at the end of my senior year of high school with the Minnesota Vikings, and I had a summer long internship with The Institute for Athletes this past summer, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. I had my internship with the Minnesota Vikings in May, so I had unlimited access to all of the film from that year that they had used for the draft, so I would show up to Winter Park, go into the defensive line’s film room, and watch tape for as long as I wanted. I watched as many players as I could: Matt Ryan, Jake Long, Joe Flacco… the list goes on. It was a terrific experience. I wish I could do that every year. My internship with the Institute for Athletes, a sports agency that represents NFL players, wasn’t centered around watching tape.  However, I ended up having to put together a highlight video for a few of our clients that got cut from NFL teams after mini-camps, so I ended up contacting Oklahoma State and UNLV asking for tape from their previous season. That way I could watch it, find good clips of our clients, and then use them to make a highlight video. I also watched tape of Northern Iowa, but that tape we had on hand. I literally watched every single snap of Oklahoma State’s defense from the 2009 season, and I found every play our client, Andre Sexton, made that season and we put that into a highlight video. I felt very motivated to watch all of the game tape for these guys because they were fighting for a job, and the highlight video we made could help get them a workout and a job or it could contribute to a stretch of unemployment. So I burned through that game tape, sometimes watching four or five games a day, to try to get the video done and sent out as fast as I could. I can’t disclose whether or not any of them got jobs yet since no contracts have been signed, but that was one of the more rewarding things I have ever done when it comes to watching tape and scouting. Plus Oklahoma State is in the Big XII, so I got to watch some prospects that I would have never normally gotten to see on coaches tape, which was really cool.

So I have gotten at film from just about every angle other than actually being filmed. I have filmed football games, I have cut up the film and gotten it ready for scouting, I have done the dirty work putting in the play by play information and matching up the camera angles, and I have been on the other side watching the final product whether it is coaches tape or a highlight video. I am hoping that my experience in the film room will help me get an intro level position with a professional team one day. If you pursue a job in a competitive field you will probably hear this phrase two million times like I have but it is fitting that I say it here: You just need to get your foot in the door. Once you do that it is all up to you putting the work in, and proving your worth to the organization or a competing organization. Right now I am doing all I can to help the Beloit football team win, and I am taking on more responsibility by making sure both of our camera angles are set up correctly, that our employees are filming everything they need to, and if anything goes wrong it is my job to fix it. That way our defensive coordinator can worry about the defense and not the film. I am enjoying the added responsibility, and I plan on scouting our opponents with anyone on the coaching staff that will watch tape with me during the season. The more experience I have scouting and watching tape the better.

Like I said at the beginning of this article, I am no expert. My friends may joke and say that I am, I may get props from people on the internet, but at the end of the day I am still an amateur and at 20 years old I still have a boatload of things to learn. How does scouting actually work when you go to the college campus? How do you change your scouting style depending on the player? What is the best or most effective grading scale to use? How does your scouting change if you have access to five or more quality tapes of a player versus just one or two? These are all questions that I have yet to answer. I do my best to watch two or more games of each prospect before writing a scouting report on them which is why I won’t be churning out a lot of scouting reports until later in the year. I will post reviews of specific games and mix in my thoughts on the player as a prospect, but nothing is set in stone. One thing I have learned over and over again is that you can’t base your entire opinion of a player on one game. It is simply too small of a sample size. Arguably four or five games could be too small of a sample size, but that is vastly better than just one game or even two games. I know that two games isn’t ideal for getting a feel for a prospect, but as a college student I have too many time constraints to be able to watch 100 prospects in more than two games and write scouting reports. It’s just not realistic. But I promise you that I will do the best that I can, and I appreciate all the feedback I get, positive or negative. Feel free to call me out if I am completely wrong, I need to learn from my mistakes just like anyone else. The more feedback I get the better.

Hopefully this article helps people improve as scouts or if you aren’t interested in scouting at all hopefully you found it interesting and potentially learned something that you can apply to your own life. That is the only reason I’m writing right now. Not to profess my own expertise, but to show people what I have learned to try to help people learn from my own mistakes that I have made and the things that I have done that worked out well. There is a quote I have heard, I think it is by Eleanor Roosevelt, that said something along the lines of: You have to learn from other people’s mistakes because life is too short to make them all yourself. I really took that to heart when I read it. That is precisely why I am writing this article right now: To help anyone who reads this learn from my own mistakes. Hopefully I am accomplishing that goal, but if I’m not then hopefully I will be soon. I know that I will be doing my best to do so.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this article.

–Tom

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