As the draft approaches, more and more members of the media are exchanging opinions from anonymous scouts and coaches regarding the players who will be drafted later this week. Our advice this year is the same as every year.
Ignore these opinions.
Facts reported anonymously often fuel journalism, if those facts can be properly verified. Opinions reported anonymously mean nothing. They cannot be verified or debunked. These are opinions. Without knowing the biases or the prejudices or the objectives or the agendas of those who share these opinions without attaching their names to them, what is the point?
For the media, the point is obvious. Stories based on the opinions of anonymous scouts and coaches regarding the pros and cons of incoming players generate clicks, interest, buzz and so on. This does not make the basis of these stories any less reliable.
Think of the number of coaches and scouts employed in the NFL. Without knowing the name of the person expressing the opinion, there is immediately no way of knowing whether it should be taken into account.
Beyond the skills and abilities of the anonymous scout or coach who praises or belittles a prospect, there is another important reality. THEY LIE. And they have a good reason to lie. It’s a competitive process with teams dibbing on players before others can. Teams that want a certain player have two ways to try to get him: trade or hope he drops.
It’s always the first thing I think of when I see anonymous scouts or coaches hitting a prospect. They want him to fall so they can recruit him. Otherwise, why would they say anything about him?
If they don’t like it, their motivation is to keep quiet about the player’s flaws or, better yet, praise them. They want teams higher in the pecking order to take players they don’t want. This pushes their best prospects further down the board.
This basic reality makes the whole process of sharing anonymous opinions from scouts and coaches regarding draft prospects inherently suspect. It’s unfair to the public, and it’s definitely unfair to the players who have to put up with reporters presenting negative comments that scouts and coaches refuse to add their names to.
Some would say it doesn’t matter. It absolutely is. While most owners aren’t involved in the picks made in later rounds, they usually pay very close attention to the first-round picks their teams make. If an errant observation sticks in the boss’s throat, it may be enough to get the person running the show to make it clear that they don’t want that player on the team. And then the player falls.
And if he drops just enough, the team whose scouts or coaches anonymously broadcast negative opinions about the player will get exactly what they want – the ability to draft him.