I've been following and reading a lot of former NFL scout Dave Razzano's stuff the last few months. Razzano is an interesting analyst - he's very outspoken in the fact that he tends to grade guys differently than the consensus - and this is why I like him. You know he's not going to be right all the time but it's honestly really refreshing and entertaining to read something about a prospect that most people aren't saying.
(Aside: after I had written this post but before I had published it, I saw Razzano state on his twitter feed: "Just got referred to as "rogue" scout by some blog site. I love it!! You will get the real stuff from me. Not in to kissin NFL's butt!!!", and I immediately thought to myself "oh that's me for sure" - I had posted an article about Razzano's endorsement of Colin Kaepernick and referred to him as a former NFL scout and 'rogue-opinion enthusiast'. So I retweeted it and said "I hope @daverazzano is talking about me" and sure enough, he responded: "Definitely you! ... Great word!! The "yes" men in NFL sickening". Anyway, I found this to be funny... But I digress.)
I found out about Razzano when I was doing some research on Nate Davis, the brief 'future starting quarterback' for the Seahawks, who has since been dropped. Razzano absolutely loves Nate Davis and thinks he can be a starting QB in the NFL. He went on record last season and said that he thought the 49'ers were starting the wrong guy in Alex Smith. He believed, and most likely still believes that Nate Davis, though playing tight-end mostly on the 'Niners practice squad most of last year, should have been starting. He may be right, considering the quarterback play for most of the year San Francisco got from the Smiths. When the Hawks picked up Davis, Razzano stated on the Calabro show that Davis would be the X-factor here in Seattle. Obviously, that won't be the case as he's been dropped, and he may have 'swung and missed' on Nate Davis, - the jury is still out on whether he'll make in the NFL - but it was an interesting point of view and one that not many people were getting behind so I did some more research on Razzano to see if what he thought should hold any weight.
Turns out, it should. Now, as with any rogue-opinion spewing analyst, you should take what he says with a grain of salt. But, he actually has a pretty good track record of getting picks right. According to this Matt Maiocco article about Razzano:
Scouts typically work in anonymity. Their opinions are generally acted on by their teams only if others in the organization share the same strong views. Most scouting departments want a consensus before deciding on a draft pick. Razzano told me too many scouts follow the pack. Razzano said he makes his evaluations without any influence from others.
Because his views are not always shared by the consensus, Maiocco asked Razzano to share some of his hits and misses. Here is what he said about his biggest hits:
Razzano and his father, Tony, left the 49ers before the 1992 draft. Dave Razzano had safety Dana Hall rated as a player who would struggle to make the team in training camp. The 49ers took him with the 18th overall pick. (Hall never panned out for the 49ers)
While with the Rams, Razzano was the only person who submitted a scathing 1996 report on running back Lawrence Phillips. Razzano said, "If we take Lawrence Phillips with the sixth pick in the draft, we'll all be fired." The Rams took Phillips with the sixth pick, but Razzano was not fired for another 10 years - after he and the general manager clashed over (Alex) Smith.
I read his paperwork on Hall and Phillips. Here are some of the others in which he said he went against the grain:
--Lobbied Cardinals to take Patrick Willis at No. 5 in 2007 draft if Adrian Peterson weren't available, but club took tackle Levi Brown with Peterson still on the board.
--Defensive end Chris Long, drafted No. 2 overall in 2008, rated in second round.
--Defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, drafted fifth overall in 2008, rated as late first-round pick.
--Receiver Ted Ginn, selected 10th overall in 2007, rated as fourth-rounder.
--Marshawn Lynch, selected 12th overall in '07, rated late second round.
--Reggie Bush, early one, had mid one
--Safety Michael Huff, selected 7th overall in 2006, rated in third round.
--Quarterback Matt Leinart, selected 10th overall in 2006, rated as late-second-round pick.
--Receiver Troy Williamson, selected seventh overall in 2005, rated in third round.
--Receiver Reggie Williams, selected ninth in 2004, rated in fourth round.
--Receiver Wes Welker, undrafted in 2004, rated in third round.
--Running back Priest Holmes, undrafted in 1997, rated as second-round pick.
--Linebacker Brian Urlacher, selected ninth overall in 2000, had rated as top pick in draft over Courtney Brown and LaVar Arrington.
--Receiver Anquan Boldin, selected in second round (54 overall), rated as first-rounder.
--Receiver Donald Driver, selected in seventh round, rated as late first-rounder.
--Quarterback David Klingler, selected sixth overall in 1992, rated in fifth round.
--Linebacker Brian Cushing, selected 15th in 2009, rated top player in the draft.
Now, it's easy to go back and say "I said this" or "I said that" about certain picks, so you have to take that with a grain of salt as well, but with the Dana Hall and Lawrence Phillips picks, Razzano's paperwork is there as proof, so I am inclined to believe what he's saying about the others. Razzano points out that he doesn't want to seem arrogant and come across as someone that never misses, but as he says in the Maiocco article, "I swing at a high percentage."
He then shared his biggest misses:
Quarterback Drew Brees rated in third round.
Running back Maurice Jones-Drew rated in fourth round.
Defensive tackle Kevin Williams rated in third round.
Running back DeAngelo Williams rated in fourth round.
Defensive end Jared Allen rated as a late-rounder.
So as you can see, nobody is perfect - rating players is not a science, it's an art. So many factors go into it, it's really a crap shoot a lot of the time. I only give this background to lay out that regardless of how you feel about him, he's had some success in the past and certainly knows a thing or two about football.
Now, with that being said, I wanted to talk about an article that Razzano put together about the Best Value picks at each position after the first round, to give you an idea of some guys to watch for on day two and three of the draft.
Here are the players he lists at each position - go to the article to read why he thinks they're value picks.
- QB - Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
- RB - Allen Bradford, USC
- WR - Vincent Brown, San Diego State
- TE - Julius Thomas, Portland State
- OT - Jarriel King, South Carolina
- OG - Julian Vandervelde, Iowa
- OC - Taylor Boggs, Humboldt State
- DE - Sam Acho, Texas
- DT - Drake Nevis, LSU
- OLB - Malcolm Smith, USC
- ILB - Lawrence Wilson, Connecticut
- DC - Curtis Brown, Texas
- DS - Dejon Gomes - Nebraska
The active and smart linebacker was not invited to the combine this season. Watch the USC tape and he is in/out of the lineup due to roster depth but is easy to spot when he plays. Excellent speed and play demeanor. Prototype 4-3 "will" backer.
Intriguing to say the least. Anyway, just thought I'd bring up this article because I found it interesting - particularly because of his endorsement of Malcolm Smith, who doesn't get a lot of love nationally from draft experts - and who by most accounts will be a late-round pick or UDFA.
Could be a good thing if the Hawks take a chance on him.