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The veteran scout tackles some free-agency and draft questio

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Why were the Bears unable to sign Antwaan Randle El? They made a really good run at him and put together a nice offer but the Redskins paid great money for a good receiver. Although his versatility will really help ...

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Old 03-19-2006, 09:51 PM   #1
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The veteran scout tackles some free-agency and draft questio

Why were the Bears unable to sign Antwaan Randle El?

They made a really good run at him and put together a nice offer but the Redskins paid great money for a good receiver. Although his versatility will really help the Redskins and justifies some of the money, they overpaid which is something the Redskins are prone to do.

Should the Bears add another quarterback to the roster?

A veteran like Gus Frerotte or Brian Griese would be a huge plus because they have young, capable guys. An experienced guy would fit well for a contending team like the Bears.

What determines an unrestricted free agent?

A player with four or more accrued seasons whose contract has expired. He is free to sign with any team, with no compensation owed to his old club, through July 22 (or the first scheduled day of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later). On July 23, his rights revert to his old club if it made a "tender" offer (110 percent of last year's salary) to him by June 1. His old club then has until the Tuesday after the 10th week of the season (Nov. 14) to sign him. If he does not sign by Nov. 14, he must sit out the season. If no tender is offered by June 1, the player can be signed by any club at any time throughout the season.

What constitutes an accrued season and other than accrued seasons, what determines a restricted free agent?

Six or more regular-season games on a club's active/inactive, reserved-injured or "physically unable to perform" lists constitutes an accrued season in the NFL.

A player is a restricted free agent when he has received a qualifying offer (a salary level predetermined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and its players) from his old club. He can negotiate with any club through April 21. If the restricted free agent accepts an offer sheet from a new club, his old club can match the offer and retain him because it has the right of first refusal. If the old club does not match the offer, it can possibly receive draft-choice compensation depending on the amount of its qualifying offer. If an offer sheet is not executed, the player's rights revert to his old club after April 21.

What determines a transition and franchise player?

A club can designate one transition player (or one franchise player) in any given year. His club must offer a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of last season at the player's position or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, whichever is greater. A transition-player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires. If the club matches, it retains the player. If it does not match, it receives no compensation.

For a franchise player, the salary level offered determines what type of franchise player he is. An exclusive franchise player -- not free to sign with another club -- is offered a minimum of the average of the top five salaries at the player's position as of April 21 or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, or the average of the top five salaries at his position as of the end of last season -- whichever of the three is greater. If the player is offered a minimum of the average of the top five salaries of last season at his position, or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, he becomes a "non-exclusive" franchise player and can negotiate with other clubs. His old club can match a new club's offer, or receive two first-round draft choices, if it decides not to match.

A club can withdraw its franchise or transition designations and the player then automatically becomes an unrestricted free agent either immediately or when his contract expires. The club cannot name a new franchise or transition player that year. It can name a new franchise or transition player the next year.

With the first wave of free agency under our belt, assess which teams have fared well?

Cleveland, Minnesota and St. Louis have stood out. In the Browns case, they have many needs to fill while the Vikings and Rams have to acquire different personnel to fit their new schemes. Carolina and Miami have helped themselves as well.

Can you give an example of a NFL team's grading scale for draft prospects and why is it so important to the team's draft board and draft decisions?

Teams have their individual styles but here is one that I have used for some time and is employed by several of the teams that I work for. The letter grade serves to place players in groupings while the numerical grade helps to separate players within those groupings.

A+ (7.5-7.0) -- Superstar potential. Definite Immediate Starter. Top of first-round caliber.

A (6.9-6.5) -- Immediate Starter. Likely 1st Rounder. B (6.4-6.0) = Eventual Starter. Second round.

C (5.9-5.5) -- Will make an NFL team and contribute. Thirrd to fourth round.

C- (5.4-5.0) -- Has a chance to make an NFL team. Fifth to seventh round.

D (4.9) -- High-priority free Agent.

D- (4.5) -- Low-priority free agent. A camp body.

F (4.0) -- Reject as a NFL prospect.

When you grade and then slot players on the draft board, you have to align players correctly both horizontally and vertically. Grading vertically means aligning the players within their position correctly. Horizontal grading is being able to look across the board and see how the quarterback is graded in relation to the offensive lineman to the defensive tackle to the cornerback.

It's important to understand that you must grade the players accurately regardless of your team's needs. Once you have set up your draft board, you can still opt to go for need instead of the highest graded player, if you wish, but the rule of thumb is to never take a player in a lower graded category.

I have read that scouts grade players on every play. Can you explain how this is done?

When grading a player, there are five key areas in which you need to evaluate him on every play: assignment, technique, athleticism/strength/power, execution and result.

In grading all of these areas, the grades range from:

7 -- outstanding

6 -- good

5 -- above average

4 -- average

3 -- below average

2 -- poor

1 -- reject for NFL

Do teams have a grading scale for current NFL players?

Yes. A color code is used to make it visible on your pro personnel board. The grading system is designed to separate classes of players and skill and athletic traits of players. The grades are only reflective of what the player is currently--not what he was or can be.

^ -- Ascending player. - -- Desending player.

BLUE (B) -- The best. The top line players in the league. Blue players make the plays that are the difference in close games. Superior talent, big plays and consistent.

RED (R) -- Red players win for you. They have starter type production in the league. Top line Reds are usually Blues in either the running or passing game but fall short in the other. Red players are impact players and start on contending teams.

PURPLE (P) -- Purple are players you can win with. They are usually Red in some areas and can match up with some Reds but overall fall a little short of Reds. A very good player, a solid starter who will usually get the job done at least in some areas. NFL scouting axiom is to not play anyone who is below purple.

The above 3 ratings are what a club must have to win. Any player or trait below Purple must be upgraded or the club does not match up there, creating a mismatch in your opponents favor in most cases.

ORANGE (O) -- A player with back-up production only. He does not match up versus the Reds and is dominated by the Blues. An Orange can make your squad if he is a Blue or high Red special-teamer. The NFL scouting axiom is to replace your Oranges.

GREEN (G) -- Greens are young players worth keeping alive because they have upside potential. You cannot afford to play them much this year. You prefer to have Greens more than Oranges in the long term but it is a question of how many you can afford to carry on your team.

BLACK (B) -- Injured veteran who did not produce much or at all this year but must be kept alive for when he returns healthy based on previous ability and skill level.

YELLOW (Y) -- A player lacking ability and skills to contribute even as a backup, a player who is injury prone or a player lacking character. They are players not worth developing for any or all of these reasons.

How does the top of the draft change with the Saints signing Drew Brees?

I look for the Saints to move down one or two spots and then have the option to take either Mario Williams, DE from North Carolina State or D'Brickashaw Ferguson, OT from Virginia.

Remember, the rule of thumb on trading down is to never move down unless you have as many players on your draft board graded equally as the number of spots you move down.

Who are the top five players in the draft regardless of position?

Reggie Bush, Mario Williams, D'brickashaw Ferguson, Matt Leinhart, and Vernon Davis.

Chris Landry is a veteran NFL scout, having served with the Cleveland Browns, Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans and formerly ran the Indianapolis Scouting Combine. He now runs his own scouting consulting business where he scouts NFL and college personnel for NFL teams and helps universities and NFL teams in their coaching evaluations and searches. He can be heard nationally on FOX Sports Radio as their college football and NFL analyst.

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