NFL Draft 2014: Introduction to crowdsourcing the Bowl Games

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Without purpose, your slothful beer, chip, and dip-fueled college football watching is one of the seven deadly sins. So let's do some Community Scouting to transform it into a labor of love.

I used to be a bigger draftnik. Well, one thing that comes with a little age is that eventually you have to pare down your sports tree. For me, college sports apart from my alma maters (Missouri, UW-Whitewater*, and Arizona), and my employer (South Carolina), have suffered. As a result I don't know nearly as much about 2014 prospects as I have in the past. Fear not though.

For behold! Seahawks draftniks Jared Stanger (@JaredStanger) here at FieldGulls.com and the SeahawksDraftBlog.com crew, Rob Staton (@robstaton) and Kip Earlywine (get on twitter, Kip!), bring you great tidings with video breakdowns. In fact Staton and Earlywine got me on the Russell Wilson bandwagon before Seattle drafted him in 2012**. And even though he's no longer posting regularly at his old website, Derek Stephens (@DStephensScout) will still drop nuggets from time to time on twitter.

Add to them a small group of national draft experts who "get" Carroll and Schneider. I like (Seattle's own) Rob Rang at CBSSports.com and Matt Waldman's Rookie Scouting Portfolio (and Football Outsiders) for his excruciatingly-in-depth looks at skill position players. And, I would be remiss if I did not include the indispensable pure film work at DraftBreakdown.com. I assume many of you have your own sources for draft info. So, add them in the comments.

* Division III National Champs... again! Fourth in five years. So, eat a bag of d delicious but high cholesterol snacks, Mount Union! Go Warhawks!
** One of Wilson's first college starts was at South Carolina, where he was at his over-scrambling worst. The Gamecocks nearly broke him in two. So I always saw him as "meh" until Rob and Kip basically force fed me his Wisconsin film.

All that preamble was to set up why we need to community scout these games. Obviously, it won't impact who Seattle drafts. It will just give us a better idea of who is available and how they might fit.

Suffice it to say, regardless of what happens this season Seattle stands to lose good players in the off-season. Last night on twitter, as Davis Hsu (@DavisHsuSeattle) laid out potential cap casualties it grew increasingly frightening. There will be departures. Granted, everyone who might leave won't but Carroll and Schneider will have holes to fill. 12s will need to get acquainted with a new kind of roster churn, at the top half of the roster rather than the bottom third. One way to moderate the shock that will surely come is to get familiar with upcoming prospects. And frankly, on the heels of a 2013 draft that has not yielded an impressive return so far, this 2014 draft is big.

So, what to do? Well, for your part just watch football and comment on what you see. Easy enough. What I'll try to do is put up a post prior to a slate of games that lists the games and (perhaps) a handful of prospects. I'll also post a template for discussion in the comments section designed to (a) limit repetition and confusion, and (b) create a "paper" trail that we can potentially revisit in the spring. I'm pasting a sample template below the stars.

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SAMPLE FIELD GULLS COMMUNITY SCOUTING FORM

SUBJECT LINE: PROSPECT NAME, POSITION, SCHOOL, BOWL GAME

MESSAGE

1.      Comments on any special qualities - We know that PC/JS look for "special" qualities, things that jump out on film. Where do you see special qualities? Is it size? Speed? Length? Hands? Football IQ?

2.      Comments on athleticism/build - If athleticism/build is the special quality, no need to reiterate. Apart from that, what's the prospect's athleticism/build like compared to peers at his position?

3.      Comments on position fit with Seattle - Where does the prospect fit on Seattle's roster? Does he do what Seattle asks for at his position? Does he have position versatility? Is he a candidate for a position switch in Seattle (e.g., college OLB à Leo)? How does he fit on Seattle's current roster (quality depth, ST, potential starter)?

SAMPLE DISCUSSION THREAD

MARQUISE LEE, WR, USC, LAS VEGAS BOWL (USC vs. FRESNO ST.)

1.      Special qualities - Lee doesn't wow in any one category, but is very good in every category. He has no glaring weaknesses. His productivity has been hampered by poor QB play. In the first quarter he beat coverage on a stop and go route, but the pass was overthrown. His ability to sell that route, sink hips and get out of the break was exceptional. His run-blocking is more shield and ward off than bulldoze. It's not a straight liability but also not a strength. I can't see spending a first round pick on Lee, but second round, easy.

2.      Athleticism/build - Lee has the size, length and speed Seattle likes. He also has the frame to play up over 200# without losing speed (I think).

3.      Position fit with Seattle - What I like about Lee for Seattle is his versatility. He can play the Sidney Rice role, but he can also play in the slot.

LEE, WR, USC, LAS VEGAS BOWL (sample reply comment)

1.      Special qualities - Lee has special size/speed ratio. The knee injury has limited his speed a bit. He just blew the doors off coverage on a deep post pattern and the QB hit him in stride for a 50+ yard touchdown. If he is available at the end of the first round I don't see how Seattle can go in another direction.

2.      Athleticism/build - Lee is a prototype WR for Carroll's offense.

3.      Position fit - He fills a need with Rice departing, and could challenge Kearse right away.

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