An Introduction To SKOL Search

·4 min read

The NFL Draft process is a wonderful time for fans and analysts alike. It brings a sense of hope to each fanbase and excitement for the following season. The process in making decisions in both the front office and mock drafts derives from in-depth film study and understanding the analytics that contextualize the film.

Last season, I started to SKOL Search series, profiling the Vikings draft needs, mock drafts and scouting reports of various prospects that the Vikings might target in the NFL Draft. Over the course of the series the next 20 weeks, there will be a lot of varying opinions on what the Vikings should do in the offseason.

The purpose of this series is to educate about prospects and process. This piece specifically is meant to lay out my process including grading scale, what I prioritize and how I have my big board and positional ranking structured.

Grading scale

Photo: Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports

Everyone has their own scale. One of the more popular ones in the scouting community is the eight-point scale. Players are graded from 2-8 points with eight being recognized as a perfect prospect. Like a lot of people that watch prospects, I created my own scale. It’s based off of 100 points with a score of 85 representing a first-round pick.

100-95

All Pro

Early Round One

94.99-90

Pro Bowler

Mid Round One

89-99-85

Day One Starter

Late Round One

84.99-80

Potential Starter/Early Contributor

Round Two

79.99-75

Potential Starter/Early Contributor

Round Three

74.99-70

Spot Starter/Special Teams Day One

Round Four

69.99-65

Backup/Special Teams

Round Five

64.99-60

Backup/Special Teams

Round Six

59.99-55

Potential Backup

Round Seven

54.99-

Practice Squad

Undrafted

Each position has different skills with an assigned point value that equates to the value of each trait for the position. For example on the structure, here is how I grade EDGE prospects.

Bend

/10

Quickness/Burst

/15

Finesse/Hands

/5

Power

/5

Counters

/10

Awareness

/10

Run Defense

/10

Versatility

/10

Size/Length

/15

Tackling

/10

Grade

/100

What I prioritize

Photo: Robert McDuffie/USA TODAY Sports

When I grade players, I grade mainly off of what I see on film paired with analytics and put it all into context. The biggest thing that I don’t do is give out grades based on potential.

Why is that important? Potential is good and can be a reason why you draft a guy higher than what his grade is, but that also shouldn’t be why you grade him higher. The grade is where the player is at now and I add the caveat that they have a sky-high ceiling even though they aren’t there quite yet. This year, Liberty QB Malik Willis is likely to earn a grade lower than I would draft him for that exact reason.

Structure of big board and positional rankings

Photo: AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio

When you structure a big board and positional rankings within an organization, they will build them based not only on overall talent, but also scheme fit.

A great example is last year’s draft. Guard Deonte Brown guard/tackle D’Ante Smith were both in the same range as far as talent is concerned. Because of how teams structure it, the Vikings likely would have had Smith ranked much higher on their board because of size profile. Smith has the requesite size and athleticism to thrive in a zone scheme, whereas Brown is a 375 pound mammoth that would struggle in that style of play.

When I build my board, I don’t consider style when stacking my rankings. I am just trying to identify which players are more talented than others. In the reports I write on players, I will discuss which schemes I believe they fit best in.

What can you expect moving forward?

Photo: Douglas DeFelice/USA TODAY Sports

Over the course of draft season, I will be releasing scouting reports on all the players that I evaluate, along with Vikings specific and league wide mock drafts. I will be mainly focusing on positions that the Vikings will need to prioritize in the draft. Along with those positions, the top prospects will also get attention from me at all positions, as they are important to the story of the 2022 NFL Draft. Strap in folks, it’s going to be a fun draft season.

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