We’re more than halfway through the 2018 season already – I’m constantly amazed at how fast the NFL season passes. It’s been a season full of surprises, and I just came across a blog article I started back in September and thought it would be interesting to finish it now with the benefit of a little hindsight.
I’ve been an NFL Draft nut for more than 30 years. I’m not afraid to admit it, because I know I’m among friends here! My love of the NFL Draft is actually where PowerHouse came from. I was never really all that interested in how well I could predict who the real-life NFL teams would draft; I was more interested in seeing how I could do as a talent evaluator myself; what kind of team could I build if I was an NFL General Manager?
I started keeping a virtual team in Excel in 1995, and the rules that would eventuallybe baked into our web-based NFL General Manager simulation evolved from that over several years. When we first went live in testing mode, we used data from 2011. So, my flagship virtual team – the one you see if you go to the game pages on our site when you’re not logged in – has played eight virtual seasons already.
The NFL’s brief off-season is over (the way we see it, football never really stops; it just slows down in May and June)! We’ve had a great year so far here at PowerHouseGM.com, and it’s only getting better with the action starting on the field.
Long-time PowerHouse members should notice that, over the past year or so, our site’s performance and reliability has improved by leaps and bounds. That’s due to several changes we made here behind the scenes.
First, we brought in a new developer, Marianne, in July of 2017. She’s been a godsend, to put it mildly. One of our biggest problems historically was that our prior developer, talented as he is, had increasingly found it difficult to devote the time that our project needed to really keep things running smoothly.
That’s no longer the case. Now, when a technical issue comes up, it not only gets fixed more quickly, but we also take the time to hunt down the root cause and take steps to prevent it from recurring in the future.
We’ve also made a number of improvements to the site that I think make a big difference. Most notable is the new Draft Prospects page, which rolled out last spring. We left the old page up, too, if for some reason you prefer that one.
You can now also look at your team’s historical seasons with a year drop-down selector on the Standings page. This is the kind of high-impact, but relatively simple to build, enhancement that we’re trying to do more of. If you have any ideas that you’d like to see us implement, please let us know in the Forum, via the Feedback tab on the game pages, or post a reply to this article.
Another big improvement this year relates to player contracts. We have always gotten our contracts
This morning at breakfast, my younger son, who’s eleven, asked me, “Dad, would you rather not watch the Super Bowl, or not watch the NFL Draft?” He was absolutely not kidding, and it speaks volumes that I had to think about it before deciding I co
uld deal with listening to some live Draft podcast if I had to. Any other answer would be putting the cart before the horse, wouldn’t it?
The Draft is very different than when I first started following it closely as a collegian at Lehigh in the mid-1980s. The event has taken on a life of its own, spawning an entire cottage industry, and nobody says “Draftniks” anymore (because there are so many of us now that we’re no longer a fringe element?)
While I’m still looking forward to springtime here in White Plains, NY, the first annual event that fills me with a sense of renewal is Senior Bowl week. It starts with the East-West Shrine Game, followed by the NFL’s Conference Championship games, then the week of Senior Bowl practices, then the game. Oh, and there’s the Super Bowl after that before we shift entirely to free agency and the Draft.
Amateur Scouting & Draft Season
If you’re our kind of person, this is your favorite time of the year. Baseball is on the horizon, and the NCAA tournament is in full swing, but the real March madness for us is scouting for the NFL Draft.
Like most of you, scouting is a hobby for me. I have no professional scouting experience, but I have been to one degree or another forming my own opinions about NFL Draft prospects since around 1985, when I was in college.
I’m an old-school “draftnik” (does anyone really use that word anymore?) and I was at the Marriott Marquis in person when Vinny Testaverde was drafted first overall in 1987 and the idea of actually attending an event that consisted of guys handing cards to another guy who would read the name on the card aloud seemed off-the-charts nerdy instead of mainstream nerdy.
In this article, I describe my process for scouting, which has evolved considerably over the years, in hopes that you can borrow from it to improve your own process and thus your enjoyment of draft season, or that you can share something from your own process that helps me improve mine. Spread the love.
It’s critical to keep in mind that what should matter most to you is YOUR opinion. You decide how to scout, what traits you like, how you value different positions, and what you think of individual prospects. That’s our entire raison d’être… we built a website that’s a virtual NFL General Manager simulation because we want YOU to be able to see how you would do if you could run a team YOUR way.
Amateur scouting may be a hobby for me – or at least tangentially, as I do run an NFL virtual GM website, a marginally-professional activity – but I take it very seriously and take immense internal pride in my work.
As the NFL’s 2017 League Year opens, we here at PowerHouse and our Members and broader community are whipped into a frenzy. We’re in the midst of preparing for the NFL Draft, now just seven weeks away, but we’re taking a break from that work to focus on the veterans whose contracts are expiring and who will be on the market for anyone to sign.
With both the NFL and college football seasons in full swing, it’s not only time to enjoy both, but also time to crank up the scouting effort for the 2017 NFL Draft. We normally shoot for November 1st to get the draft prospects in place, but we beat that by a few weeks this year – the initial list of 1,000 prospects is now live on the Prospects page, under the Draft Room tab.
Thanks to our friends at CBSSports.com, once again our source for our draft prospects list. Rob Rang and his team are always among the first to not only produce a deep, comprehensive list, but also to write meaningful scouting content for our rabid draft fans.
When you sign up to run a virtual NFL team here on PowerHouseGM.com, you start in the timeline at one week after the most recent Super Bowl. We do this in order to give newcomers lots to do right away and an immediate opportunity to put a thumbprint on their teams. After all, if you start in July, you’ve already missed the NFL Draft and free agency, and the waiver wire options are pretty lean.
Since I posted Part 1 of this 2-part series, I’ve done a bunch more updates to our contracts. Hearty thanks to Jason Fitzgerald of OvertheCap.com, who was very responsive when I reached out with a bunch of questions and suggested edits. Jason’s site is a great resource for us, and belongs in all of our browser bookmarks.
Going through the process of updating the contracts in our system is always an interesting exercise, and there is much to be learned from the moves that teams make and how contracts are structured. Here are some things that stood out this time around, in no particular order…
I spent a ton of time over the past week meticulously going through all of the player contracts on our site and updating those that needed updating. As our General Managers running virtual NFL teams on our site know, their players’ contracts match (exactly, or nearly exactly) the real-life contracts of their players.
Going through this process can be tedious, but it’s also very educational, and it provides some great insights into how NFL General Managers manage the salary cap and their rosters overall.
First, a few words about our source, OverTheCap.com. Jason Fitzgerald, who runs OTC, is a kindred spirit – a fellow NFL geek (and I mean that lovingly,) who devotes countless hours to the tiniest contract details and gives us all a reliable resource for this esoteric data. So, thanks Jason!
Examining contracts on OTC is a great way to see the NFL’s salary cap rules in full effect. Most of our audience has a pretty good understanding of the basics of how the cap works. If you were not aware that signing bonuses are pro-rated over the years of the contract, for example, you may have some catching up to do, but don’t worry, you’ll get there.