Maybe it’s just me, but with the proliferation of Draft Twitter and the multitudes of fantasy football sites, I believe it is important to know someone’s background before reading their work aka “don’t follow false prophets”. Speaking of myself and only myself, I have watched football for over 43 years of my 47 years on this earth. That alone, however, does not make me a good judge of football talent. I played football for four years between junior high and high school where I was a starting guard, sometimes center and began defense as a defensive end, but eventually played both inside and outside backer spots. Once again, that does not qualify me to be an expert at football, just some experience playing the game.
In my college years, I worked for the intramural program as a football and wrestling referee. Once again, that gives me zero credibility as a talent evaluator, but some perspective about what role a referee has in a game and what they look for as I got trained by collegiate officials. Because I enjoyed the game of football, I read Steve Belichick’s (Bill’s papa) Football Scouting Methods and loved what I read. That book along with being introduced to fantasy football in 1993, caused me to watch more than my local NFL team and my favorite college team. I was also fortunate enough to have an uncle who coached high school football in Ohio with whom I could pose questions.
After watching Rich Eisen discuss the importance of Twitter during the NFL Draft almost eight years ago, I joined the medium and felt highly rewarded. Through Twitter I got to interact personally with ESPN’s Adam Schefter, CBS’s Jason La Canfora, NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling, professional sports agent Leigh Steinberg and then befriend fellow draft enthusiasts like Shane P. Hallam and Joe W. Everett. Hallam and Everett took me under their wing and we discussed for hours what to look for when scouting players. With media credentials, I went to the East-West Shrine Game a few years back (followed Packers GM Ted Thompson everywhere) and then went to the Senior Bowl for two years in a row (got to discuss things with Dr. Jene Bramel and a few NFL scouts on the sidelines), before my change in work made those Mobile visits no longer possible. I took turns writing for Pro Football Focus, Fantasy Alarm, and Dynasty League Football among other sites struggling to find my voice and a place that felt right (I always come back here to dynastyblitz.com). What I found though was many fantasy football writers didn’t have training in what to look for in an NFL perspective, so I took two scouting courses from the National Football Post to better understand the skill sets needed to be successful at the next level (it wasn’t cheap, but highly informative). My classmates included Brian Perez who now owns draftbreakdown.com and PFF’s Ross Miles. Remember, iron sharpens iron.
Two years ago, I began coaching high school football, which helped with my perspective on the impact that scheme, desire, and athletic skill place on an athlete’s ability to find success. I worked under two different head coaching styles: a strict disciplinarian and a player’s coach, which gave me different perspectives. In any given week from late August to November, I scout my opponent’s last two to three high school games, six or seven NFL games, and another two college games. Then I spend my off-season scouting for the next rookie sensations watching bowl games and using http://www.draftbreakdown.com, having watched over 104 prospects in over 400 games at the time of this writing.
Do I know it all, certainly not. Heck, creating GIFs is a skill I do not have. Having roots in the scouting community as well as the fantasy football community is very important. Knowing what you are talking about is even more important, as is surrounding yourself with people who challenge you to be a better writer and talent evaluator. Coaching is my first passion now, so I won’t be writing while my high school team is playing, but I love to talk the game of football. Make sure you find websites and podcasts that share that passion, along with the ability to expand your knowledge. Good luck.
Thanks Andy aka @AndrewMiley on Twitter.