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Ravens Draft Evaluation Process

I believe sunlight is the best disinfectant, so I wanted to share a little about my process for putting these reports together.

First things first, every player on this list has taken me many hours to get to the report you see on the page.

My process starts with an initial watch of the best returning prospects from June onwards, I’ll watch as much as I can on the highest rated guys and I make early notes.

I have no allegiance in College Football so my Saturdays are spent watching prospects not games. At the end of the season, I begin watching prospects in earnest, starting the process of writing reports.

I watch four games on each player from their final year of eligibility or the year immediately preceding their declaration for the Draft as a minimum. I will get as much All-22 film as I can and will often wait on finalizing reports on players until I can get more of this type of film. But I will also resort to TV footage when necessary, and when I believe I can get a good view of a trait I’m not yet sure of, from the broadcast angle.

Four games is the minimum but most players require more to understand who they really are, and what their potential is. So I often watch a lot more. And often go back and watch previous years to assess their potential to grow.

That is also why you won’t find 500 players evaluated here as you would with Dane Brugler or Lance Zierlein. I have a day job, and something of a life, so there simply aren’t enough hours in my days to get too far into the class. But what reports you do find here, you can trust the work that’s gone into them.

I have a process for my evaluations now, that has evolved over time. It’s a process that I’m still not happy with, I’m not sure I ever will be, but it works. I work for an organization that has been responsible for assessing potential and know how important a clear process can be to ensure our biases are left at the door. But I also know that people evaluation is an art, not a science. And human judgment cannot be removed entirely from the process.

Player evaluation for projection to the NFL has many potential pitfalls created by biases. A clear process to follow for your evaluations, is therefore vital. Mine is shaped by my years of doing this, but most clearly, recently, by my time at The Scouting Academy.

There are three layers to my evaluations posted here on Ravens Draft Central and published in the Ravens Draft Guide I will make available in April.

First Layer – Critical Factors

The Scouting Academy teaches you that there are five critical factors that every player can be judged on regardless of position. These are…

Athletic Ability

Competitive Toughness

Play Speed

Play Strength

Mental Processing

Crucial to evaluating potential future performance, these are evidenced in different ways by different positions.

Second Layer – Positional Factors

Each position has five factors that I judge players on. These are specific to each position and will include traits such as, Range for a Safety, Hands for a Wide Receiver or Anchor for an Offensive Lineman.

For both the Critical Factors and the Positional Factors, I use a scale that scores players from 1-7 and these scores then inform my grade on a player before moving on to the third layer.

Third Layer – Ravens Factors

The Baltimore Ravens have given us clues over the years through their selections and the words of their leaders about what it means to “Play like a Raven”. From this we can begin to assess how the Ravens might add a purple lens to these prospects on what is important to them and therefore how they might fit in Baltimore. In this, I assess…

Athleticism

Intelligence

Versatility

Grit

Scheme Fit

I give each prospect a rating out of five for each factor, some of which are largely repeated from some of the factors already assessed – for instance Grit has a close relationship with Competitive Toughness. But, each has a Ravens slant to it, on what I think they may be looking for specifically. And if they’re very similar – like Athleticism to Athletic Ability – it doesn’t hurt to add a second weighting to athleticism in the evaluation, as we know how much the Ravens prioritize this.

Scheme fit is the most important of the five and has the most weighting when I give a final Ravens Fit score to each prospect, out of five.

One other thing I take into account, but not always, as it’s not always possible to see from the film, is growth. We know the Ravens like players who can grow and develop, and sometimes you are able to see this on film over time, which is why I try to watch games in chronological order.

I don’t take into account something that we know the Ravens covet; character. If you want to understand more about a player on that front, check their local College press for profiles or read Dane Brugler’s excellent Draft Guide which gives great background on each prospect.

The Scoring

The 1-7 Grades from the critical factors convert into a scoring system I’ve used for a long time and give me a good frame of reference from previous evaluations. This part of my process will certainly evolve, but for now, the 1-7 grades convert into a score out of 100 that correlate to this scale:

100 – Perfection

95-99 All Pro Potential

92-94 Pro Bowl Potential

90-91 Very Good Immediate Starter

85-89 Solid Immediate Starter, Could Develop into more by end of 2nd Year

81-84 Good Early Contributor, Could Develop into Starter by end of 2nd Year

76-80 Could Develop into Contributor within one year, Starter within first 3 years in the league

70-75 Solid Backup, Could Develop into Contributor within two years

60-69 Developmental Prospect, Could Develop into more but will take the life of first contract

Then the scores of 3, 4 or 5 for the Ravens Factors will be added to this prospect score to determine a Ravens focused Draft Board at the end of the process. A score of two for Ravens fit will be subtracted from the prospect score and a score of one will remove the prospect from the Board entirely.

The final Ravens Draft Guide when published will also contain my red stars which denotes the players that most fit the mantra “Play like a Raven”.

Writing the reports

When I write the reports on a player you’ll find a short summary of the player, a short projection of their potential and best fit at the next level, and a summary of how I believe they fit in Baltimore. Their Ravens fit scores, stats and measurables are also available.

In addition to this, you’ll find my full report on my evaluation of that player. I write up these reports, not with strengths and areas for development sections but split into two parts for two different phases of the game, depending on the position.

There are some choices I have made about how I write these reports, that I could not make if I was evaluating players for a team and writing for an audience of one – the General Manager. These reports would not stand up in a team environment because…

*The language I use is not on a scale – I use my vocabulary to ensure you as a reader aren’t bored, my purpose is to both entertain and inform. If I was writing for a team I would use language linked to my grades on a player i.e. run blocking grades as a 5, that means his run blocking is “good”. Teams do this for ease of comparison from player to player.

*I do not consistently work snap to finish. I do my best to write about a player’s traits in chronological order, i.e. a WR’s release from the line of scrimmage, followed by their ability to separate, followed by their ability to catch the ball, followed by their ability to get yards after the catch. But again, I’m writing to entertain as well as inform so I will allow a narrative to develop that people might find interesting, even if it takes me out of the snap to finish order.

*I do not split my reports into what a player can do versus what he can’t do. While that is the best way to paint a picture of a player efficiently for a team decision-maker, I don’t believe it’s the most entertaining read for a wider audience

I wanted you, the reader, to know I’ve made certain choices to make these reports more interesting to read and they are not simply there to inform, though that is a big part of my purpose.

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Ravens Draft

April 27, 2022
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