Wes Bunting: Upshaw Has the Upside to Interest Dallas’ Scouts in 2012

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Part Two of this week’s chat with the National Football Post’s Wes Bunting reviews his method of projecting and grading players in their senior years and gives a scouting report on a highly rated outside linebacker prospect.

Cowboys Nation:  Talk about projecting players.  That’s part of any scouts job and certainly of any draftniks’ job.  You have to take these guys who are 20, 21 years old and tell us not only where they’ll be in October, November and December of this year, but in October, November, December of 2012 as pros.  How tricky is that?

Wes Bunting:  It’s very hard.  When did we start talking about Danny Watkins, October?  November?  I was in love with his game, but when I watched him him as a junior, and everybody knows his backstory, it was only his third year playing football.  When I watched him as a junior, I thought he’s strong, he’s really raw.  I gave him a late round grade, to be honest.

Then I saw him again as a senior, and that maturation process had taken place, and he was more comfortable with his technique and his offense with just one more year of playing, and I thought, this isn’t the same guy I saw before.  I had to throw out his junior report and write another one, because this guy got tremendously better.  As a junior he was learning his trade and as a senior, he was one of the best offensive linemen in the country.

CN:  Tell us then what you do now?  People can go to your site and read the Alabama and the Auburn reports and you’ve singled out players, but are these preliminary reports?  How do you modify them during the season?

WB: If I had to submit a scouting report to the National Football Post for a Josh Chapman, this is what I would give them.  I’d slap a grade on him, but this is what what it is.  Now, I’ll have to watch these guys again as seniors.  What I’ll do during the year, I’ll start watching some of the bigger school guys on TV, just to get a feel for where they are, then I’ll get another big shipment of tapes around gave five or game six and I’ll go back and watch, with these junior reports sitting next to me.

If what I see matched up with what I wrote initially, I’ll keep it pretty much the same, and I’ll be happy because it’s less work.  But if I’m watching another Danny Watkins and the initial scouting report says this guy gets a 5.0 grade and his senior tape says he’s a 7.5, then I’m way off and I’ll have to write up a new one.  Now not everyone is that significant in his change.  Some seniors might change their instincts and their feel for the game.

I was doing Lawrence Wilson the other day, the linebacker from UConn.  I said he didn’t have a great feel in coverage as a junior.  Now I watch him again as a senior and he greatly improved.  Now, I’m not taking out the part which said he struggled as a junior.  That’s a fact, but at the same time, I’m adding that he’s dramatically improved in this area as a senior and I now feel he can hold his own as a nickel backer.  So you’re just adding, or taking stuff away, based on what these guys do from their junior to their senior years.