Draftniks: The Rise of the Mini-Kipers

Although he recognizes that analysts who work for networks like ESPN have inside information and brand recognition, he says they aren’t better than anyone else when it comes to talent evaluation.

“It’s like American Idol,” he said. “Are you better than Paula Abdul at evaluating music?”

But McShay, the ESPN draft analyst, said there’s a difference between those who have training in film study and those who don’t.

He said he sees people out there who try to do it the right way—looking at film and evaluating players—but who were never taught how to break down film and therefore can’t provide accurate information.

“It’s not their fault,” he said. “I had the opportunity they didn’t have to break down film and scout.”

McShay learned the trade at the University of Richmond, where he moved to the film room when he was injured as a player. After graduation, he got a job with Scouts Inc., which, back then, was a small talent evaluation company. But Scouts Inc. grew bigger, and about two years ago, ESPN bought out the Company.

Working for ESPN, McShay has access to the same film NFL coaches have, which he says makes a huge difference in scouting players. Also, he said he is able to get information from his NFL sources that most draftniks don’t have access to.

But Serritella isn’t looking to take a back seat to anyone. In fact, he has over 20 people working for him, albeit on a volunteer basis. Among the “staff,” there are people with a range of experience levels, from recent college grads to 30-year-veterans who have developed contact within the NFL. In addition, there are people around the country who love the draft enough to do work for his site for free. In fact, five people from NFL Draft Bible attended the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

The guys hope to build up the site, much like the high school recruiting site Rivals.com, which was acquired by Yahoo last year for a rumored-$100 million, though the exact numbers were not disclosed.

Until the company hits it big, Mogollon is able to makes ends meet because, he said, “I have a wife who is letting me do this. I’m just a very lucky guy.”

For now, NFL Draft Bible continues to work out of Serritella’s apartment on a small budget using what they have lying around to make due.

As the radio show inched closer to its end time of 7 p.m., Serritella glanced at the clock on his cable box. On this Friday, he and his colleagues had interviewed two NFL draft prospects as well as a college coach, and were finishing up with breaking NFL news that Serritella was reading from his Gmail account.

Also at the table was 22-year-old Eddie Fonner. A few months ago, he responded to a Craiglist ad Serritella put out. (He w
as one of 200 respondents to the ad, he said.)

Fonner read off a handwritten script in his notebook, waving his arms for emphasis. It was his first time on the show, and he hoped to stick around. Even though no one was getting paid, Serritella wanted to create competition, so he had been bringing in new people and letting people go.

And the last guy on the show was 33-year-old Ralph Mancini, a writer at the Ridgewood-based Times Newsweekly newspaper who satisfies his draft habit on the side.

“Our knowledge just comes from years of experience, reading, watching and just talking about football,” Mancini said. “I’ve been watching football since I was 6. The stuff we talk about on the show is stuff we talk about just regularly—on the phone, in person. Oh, and you should see our e-mail chains.”

Draftniks: The Rise of the Mini-Kipers