Wes Bunting it the main draft guru at National Football Post and one of my personal favorite draft analysts even though he’s newer on the scene. Bunting’s big board has some controversy a little bit every year, but Bunting writes what he sees and believes. I remember last year that he had Maurkice Pouncey as #4 on his big board, which looks brilliant right now. He’s also not afriad to admit when he makes mistakes like he did here. Which is something we will do here. We’ll never delete our old big boards or evaluations as long as I’m editor here, for better or worse each year moving forward there’ll be a tab for all of our old draft stuff.
Bunting also has a True big board. His players are graded on a point system and ranked based on that point system, it is not a big board of where players will or should go in the draft. Just where they relate to their predicted impact in the N.F.L. by Bunting, not according to positional value.
This year some of the prospects he has higher than most people are: Julio Jones at #3, Aldon Smith at 8, Watkins at 13, B. Harris at 15 (100 percent on board with this one), Wisniewski at 21 (ahead of Pouncey, again 100 percent on this one), and Christian Ponder at 39th overall (and his top rated QB). And then the full back class as well with three of them in the top 30 (again not positional value, just overall talent).
Wes took some time out of his hectic schedule to interview over the phone with me and below is what he had to say.
How’d you get into scouting and the National Football Post?
It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I was going through college and figuring out exactly if I wanted to be a media guy or a NFL scout and I was interning everywhere under the sun and my senior year. My senior year I was a big fan of Michael Lombardi. I contacted him and sent him my resume, he contacted me out of the blue one day and said do you want to work for me and I said I would love to. I worked a whole bunch of hours with him 2008 football season writing up scouting repots for him and then I did the draft for him and they drafted me right after college.
My senior year I went down to a couple of training camps trying to figure out what I wanted to do and I realized I didn’t want to be an NFL scout I kind of like doing the media thing a little bit more. And just committed to that 100 percent.
What’s your evaluation process?
Starts in the summer with a whole big box of tape and everyday I just climb through one tape one team from each conference and I try to put about 1500 hours worth of tape for each major conference and then during the year I’m evaluating the smaller schools as well as going back and watching and writing up the major conferences and then once the year is over I go to all of the All-star games and watch them there. Do the combine circuit collect the information there. Talk to as many people as I can scouts and people close to the program to get a feel for character issues. That’s kind of how I got about it.
What are you hearing about trades in the top 10 to 12 picks with all the QB needy teams at the top of the draft?
I haven’ t heard a ton about trades to be honest. With not being able to trade players and the uncertainty of future picks I feel trades are going to be kind of small to be honest. You know teams only have 7,8, or 9 picks and I think that’s how many they’re going to try and bring in. You can’t sign free agents after the draft either, so I think trades are going to be down overall.
Do you think teams will focus on more needs of this draft because of the CBA?
I think it will be a more needs based trades overall, but you’re asking the wrong guy if you mention the three letters C.B.A to me to be honest. I wish I could give you a real answer, but we’ve never gone through it before. I think it’ll be a little more needs based, but overall. But the Patriots are going to go need based, the ravens aren’t going to go need base, the Steelers aren’t going to go need based. They’re going to draft the best player they feel is on the board.
Two of the players I love in the draft that are going to fall down the draft are Mark Ingram and Brandon Harris what do you see from them and where do you think they might end up?
You know I really like Mark Ingram I think he’s a better prospect than Ryan Matthews was last year who went 11th overall. He doesn’t run fast in a straight line which will make him fall a little bit, but he’s natural, he runs hard, he’s got a good pad level good short area quickness a good feel good short area quickness can accelerate in tight areas. I don’t know how long his NFL career is going to be because the runs so hard he can get beat up quickly. I think you’re looking at a good 5 6 years, but that’s pretty much all you can ask for from a running back. I didn’t have him going in my first round in my last mock but I think without a doubt he’s a first round talent. I have him as a top 10 prospect, it’s just tough to find a home for him in the first round. I think one of those teams will come up and get him in the early 2nd round.
Brandon Harris is a guy I really like. He’s my #2 corner right now. He’s more technically sounds. Has good versatility can play the nickel. He’s more of an off zone guy, he’s got a strong looking lower half. All in all I think he’s an off the zone guy but could play outside.
I like Harris a lot.
Yeah He’s a good player
What do you like about Ponder?
Ponder he’s just a guy that gets it. He has enough of the physical attributes, he’s battled tested. Gets the ball out on time. I don’t know if he’s going to be a first round pick, and frankly I don’t care he’s a guy I’d go to bat for on draft day and the one QB I would trust the most.
Newton’s a tough guy. Really physically talented, sky’s the limit, on the field he’s got a bit of a presence to him. Really a wild card. A boom or bust pick and right now I don’t have enough conviction in him that he’ll be a good NFL Player. I mean his physical attributes, good make him a good enough quarterback early on in his career like Vince Young was, but the league got onto Vince young and I think the same thing could happen to Newton. If he doesn’t clean himself up a bit off the field.
Is this the best fullback class you’ve ever scouted?
Yeah. It really is. Maecric can be a starter, Anthony Sherman can, Travis can. Hynoski can. Stanley Havili could be a single back on a a lot of teams. he’s that kind of west coast style full back, decent enough blocker who can run. I like that kid from South Carolina as well as too. He’s a nasty blocker in the pass game. I think there’s a lot of guys who deserve to be draft. I think Marcic,, Hynsoki will be the first ones drafted. John Conner went 5th round, I think they could go a smidge higher. I’d say 4th and 5th round Hynoski and Merecic come off the board and maybe later Sherman
Is the Safety class really that bad? I kind of like Jarret and Rahim Moore.
Yeah I like Rahim Moore, but I had six safeties rated higher than him last year. I think Rahim Moore is a 3rd round guy could start for you year one and two. Doesn’t tackle real well, doesn’t run real fast, but he plays faster [than his underwear Olympics speed]. There’s not a ton of wasted motion. Instinctive has good ball skills too. I think he can be a starter, I just don’t think he’s a dynamic center fielder.
I think Jarret is a potential starter. He can play teams. He can play nickel situations, but coming from Temple he’s not quite as sound as I thought he was, and he’s a little smaller than I thought he was. I think he gives you a chance to be a starter in the N.F.L and can play special teams and that’s’ pretty good for a guy you’re probably going to take in the 5th round.
Is there a G.M. you trust enough, to not question the pick, even if you didn’t think you’d like the pick before the draft?
Well obviously Belichick picks a guy you’re going to feel pretty good about that. Bill Polian, and Ozzie Newsome and Colbert from the Steelers, they do it as well as anyone. To win consistently. Overall prospects that I like, it’s all about the scheme they get into. For instance, I like Aldon Smith this year, but I don’t know if he’s a great fit as a 34 guy I like him more as a 43 guy. So a lot of these players it’s based on the schemes they get into and whether or not they’ll be successful.
What’s the best group of players, what position I mean, for mid round value.
Running back has a really nice deep group of guys. Roy Helu Jr. Jamie Harper, Shane Vereen. I think they could all be really solid mid round picks. The kid from Bradford from USC could be a really nice late round guy.
I think receivers has a nice group of players as well, a lot of these seniors feel because of the juniors that came out. Niles Paul, Austin Pettis. I think they’ll be really solid mid-round picks. Do i like any other positions for mid round value? No, those two are the deepest mid to late round to get some quality at. So if you have a need at one of these two spots like the Redskins there’s no need to press for it in first or second round.
Have you gotten any sort of feel for players who could go much, much higher than the casual draft follower expects on draft day?
Brook Reed’s a guy that’s been talked about late first. I don’t think he’s worth it to be honest, but he’s a guy who could go pretty high.
Phil Taylor is a guy that seems like he’s getting a lot of pub. Same with Kendrick Ellis. Character guy, talented (Referring to Taylor, I believe, not 1oo percent sure, so don’t quote me quoting Wes on the reason). I wouldn’t be surprised if he got a sniff of the late first round.
Jabaal Sheard is a guy I think could have a shot at going late first round. Talented pass rusher, he’s been kind of overlooked in this defensive line class. A 3-4 team that doesn’t ask him to cover a lot, just get after the passer would be a good fit. Packers at 32 I think that’d be a good spot there.
I’d like to thank Wes for taking the time to give us an interview and hopefully we’ll be able to do it again sometime after the draft to get his thoughts on how the draft turned out.
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