Scott Campbell on Matteral and Moneyball

Continuing our talk about the rookies and their performance Sunday night, what did you think of undrafted free agent CB Matteral Richardson?

He’s showed a lot of promise and good size. He made that interception at the end of the game, which caught some eyes.

Matteral Richardson

Matteral Richardson

Did you spot anything watching him that we might have missed?

His biggest learning curve, and I thought he did a pretty good job of managing it, is that he comes from a program that plays a lot of press technique, man-to-man coverage, and not a whole lot of off, or zone, coverage. When he’s playing off the receiver, not just jamming them on the line, he’s got to learn his technique, because he didn’t really do it a lot in Arkansas.

He looks like a player, though, the kind of guy who might be able to make a roster and give some help. Why did he go undrafted?

For one thing, I can’t recall the exact numbers, but there was a bit of a discrepancy on how fast he can run. I think during the college season, people were looking at him like a 4.6 [seconds in the 40 yard dash] corner, which isn’t quite fast enough. Then he ended up on his pro day running something like high 4.4s, which is much better. Maybe if he’d run 4.4 his whole career, it might’ve helped, but I think people were leery of the 40 time.

Also, like I mentioned, unless your team plays press all the time, you’re going to have to develop his skills.

He used to run a 4.6, and then he runs a 4.4, and… I mean, does two tenths of a second in a straight-line 40 yard run really mean anything specific about his ability to play corner?

There’s timed speed and then there’s play speed.

Right, the Jerry Rice thing.

Right. But even, not just Jerry Rice. Look at Malcolm Kelly as an example of really not believing in the watch, which scouts always get accused of. People think we’re just height, weight, speed, looking at the numbers, but the truth is we’re not.

Malcolm didn’t run 4.4, but when you watch his tapes, no one’s ever running him down.

Sometimes as an executive, you want to believe the watch, because that’s verified, and when you watch the tape, you have to hope it translates to the next level. It’s harder to reach for something you’ve only seen on tape.

This sounds like the big ideological conflict in baseball, the whole Moneyball thing, which … well, I’m sure you read the book….

Yeah. When Moneyball came out, I think people tried to translate it to football, but I think because the games are so different, it might be harder to translate. I’ve been doing this for 23 years now, and I do believe in scouting with your gut. I think that’s what separates me from other people, is that I do rely on my gut. That’s part of the joy of scouting to me.

If it was all numbers and measurements and production, it wouldn’t be a lot of fun for me. What’s fun is to draft a guy in the seventh or sixth round who people said wasn’t this or that, and then have him make the team and produce. Like a Reed Doughty, for example. Smaller college, didn’t run the fastest, but you knew he was a great football player and a solid character guy, and to watch him grow and develop into a key player for us … that’s what’s great for me in scouting.

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2 Responses

  1. These are really great comments coming from a pretty uncommon and particularly knowledgeable source. I love reading this, thanks!

  2. Really enjoying to Blog. It’s great for those us who no longer live in the area, but still need the daily updates. Keep up the good work Matt.

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