It was a beautiful and sunny Sunday morning on October 14, 2007. I was sitting in the owner’s suite of the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium, set to watch a game between the surprisingly 2-2 Oakland Raiders and the 2-3 Chargers.
What transpired on the field that day is well documented; the Chargers won the game 28-14. If you watched the game closely, and the tape after, you realize it was a much closer game than the score appeared. But it wasn’t what happened in the game that was interesting.
You see, the Chargers front office and ownership group invited me to the game to discuss Ketterlen Super Scouts, particularly because of our ranking of the soon-to-be bust of an NFL player, Jamarcus Russell. We had ranked Russell as the top prospect at his position, and the Chargers wanted to know why, even though he was far from becoming a bust at this point (2007 was his rookie season).
If you have read the previous two selections I have written for this website, I have been very outspoken about how at Ketterlen, we don’t miss on prospects … so what gives with the Russell ranking? What people don’t remember (largely because we are strictly working as a private entity) is our ranking of Russell was very controversial at the time.
Russell was a colossal bust as an NFL quarterback, but that is not where Ketterlen ranked Russell. Our testing indicated, with overwhelming figures, that Russell was one of the most complete left tackles we ever tested.
His score in the bowling slide (it’s exactly how it sounds, prospects slide down a bowling alley and crash into the pins; it helps Ketterlen determine how fierce of a cut block they can throw) was so impressive, he is the only player we ever tested twice to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. It wasn’t, his second score was even higher!
Russell was officially listed at a number of heights and weights leading into the draft, and the average of those figured to be about 6-6, 265. When we measured him, he stood 6-6 ¼, 287 pounds. After his results in the Kool-Aid Krash Test, our scouts literally started drooling.
(You want an offensive lineman to be able to krash through defenders with reckless abandon, which is why we developed the Kool-Aid Krash Test. We would literally set up 10 consecutive sheets of dry wall and have players bust through them, like the commercial. I would like to take this opportunity to say that no matter what the NFL led you to believe in their lawsuit, in no way did this test effect Russell’s ability to read a defense in the NFL.)
Think about it, a lineman who tested this well in all of our offensive line tests (my head scout C.L. Andrew actually hired Russell to demolish his bathroom in 2011 when remodeling his home after witnessing his record-setting bathroom destruction drill time) needing to only put on about 20-25 pounds to be a dominant left tackle! Don’t even try to say this is not making sense to you right now.
The final piece to the puzzle we were creating came in the very aptly named Chestnut Challenge (renamed after American hero Joey Chestnut). More often than you realize, NFL players eat something the night before a game that doesn’t agree with them, and you want players who are able to manage this challenge should it arise on the following game day (and let’s be honest, would you really put it past an NFL franchise to attempt to poison the dinner of an opponent before a game … Lawrence Taylor allegedly used to send "Ladies of the Night" to opposing players hotel rooms the night before games).
We would test players on their ability to eat large portions of regular food, raw food and poisoned food; and then test them in basic NFL situations the following day to see how they would react. Saying Russell was a natural in this test would simply be an understatement! No matter what we threw at him there was no effect the following morning. I can’t confirm this, but legend has it at age 15, he put the Flying Dutchman Seafood Buffet out of business in one weekend!
(The NFL legally challenged our attempts to continue the Lawrence Taylor Ladies of the Night test despite it being a strong indicator of a player's self-discipline.)
His testing as an offensive lineman and his uncanny results in the Chestnut Challenge gave us full confidence he could be a left tackle. A number of teams, and scouts, didn’t agree, but our logic spread through the league like wildfire after our discussion with the Chargers front office that day. Two years later, vindication was provided when Russell was a flop as a quarterback and removed from the league. Our business doubled in 2010.
Still, I can’t help but think back to that day and wonder what if? Russell sat on the bench and Daunte Culpepper ran for his life all day from Shawne Merriman (who had 2.5 sacks, the team had six I think). Had Lane Kiffin been able to think outside the box, maybe his career record would be 6-14, and not 5-15?
The point is, at Ketterlen Super Scouts, we aren’t afraid to think outside that box, like so many NFL teams are! And when we drop Charles Rogers to an "at-best" sixth-round grade, there is a reason. Scouts, general managers, media experts and even fans are never willing to take a bold stance. If someone grades out as a first rounder through "conventional testing," they have to be a first rounder, even though 58 percent of them fail in the first three years.
How can anyone question any scout saying a perceived first rounder shouldn’t be drafted when 58 percent of them are out of the league in three years? It’s mind blowing to us.
Meanwhile, a great number of players are drafted in the later rounds, or signed as un-drafted rookies, and become stars. But if Ketterlen puts a first round grade on one of these players, it’s often laughed at because Todd McShay doesn’t like his footwork and dumps him to round five!
Please keep all of this in mind when reading the exclusive information we are providing to you below on certain players. Also keep in mind I must be extremely careful, and vague, about the information provided due to NFL confidentiality agreements from previous litigation; and the exclusive contracts we have with our NFL teams.
I have enjoyed my time sharing our story and this information with you over the past week, and look forward to my final appearance in the live chat this evening.
Remember, "We not better, we’re Ketterlen."
What We Are Legally Allowed to Tell You Look Inside the 2014 NFL Draft
- Zach Mettenberger is a quarterback from LSU who rated very highly in our testing overall, particularly in the On-Coming Traffic Toss. Several different cars are coming at the thrower, but only one car has the intent to hit the thrower, the car without the windshield. The thrower must identify the car without the windshield and hit the driver with the ball, thus causing him to veer off-course. This test is particularly effective in determining footwork, accuracy and ability to handle a rush while reading the defense. Mettenberger received bonus points for completing the drill successfully just two weeks after ACL surgery.
- Cyril Richardson, an offensive guard from Baylor, won the sumo-wrestling competition and the belly-flop contest. He will be recommended as a mid-round draft pick to all our teams this year.
- Kyle Van Noy, an outside linebacker from Brigham Young, scored in the 99th percentile all-time in the 14,000 question, 4-hour N.E.G. IQ Test. That is psychological toughness right there!
- None of the prospects in the upcoming draft had mothers who were, are or are suspected of being, prostitutes. However, we did find three fathers who are secretaries, which was strange.
- Marcus Williams, a cornerback from North Dakota State, dominated the Ball Hawk Experiment. We trained real Red Hawks to fly from one end of the field toward a pass, and lined up defensive backs on the other end of the field. Both started at the same time, and we waited to see which "Ball Hawk" could knock down the pass first. Williams netted nearly a perfect score and was one of four prospects not to swat a hawk.
- Kony Ealy, a defensive end from Missouri, rated very highly in our Over-Shadowed Drill. Prospects often have to perform in games on simple muscle memory, because they cannot process every angle or situation on the football field. So we have them perform basic football plays relative to their position in the dark. Ealy did so well in this drill that he is our most over-shadowed player in the draft.
- Given the circumstances of what happened in Miami this season, we instituted a new Emotional Battery Drill, which tests a prospect’s ability to handle a number of different personal attacks on their character. Some of the best testers were Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, Iowa State punter Kirby Van Der Kamp and Bowling Green safety Boo-Boo Gates.
- Texas Southern tailback E.J. Perkins-Loving was the only prospect who enjoyed the movie Nebraska.
- Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix III had the longest La-Z-Boy Time this season. We simply ask a prospect to sit in a recliner and we leave the room. We then wait to see how long it takes for the prospect to get up and question what is going on. This is a big character test for us to determine mental aptitude, but also just general laziness. Nix III didn’t get up for 32 hours and took 7 naps.
- Nebraska fullback C.J. Zimmerer measured with the best Elbow Dexterity, UCLA receiver Shaq Evans had the best Shoulder Stretch and Colorado State center Weston Richburg didn’t do well in either. However, Richburg’s Toe-Grip faired higher than average.
- Stanford inside linebacker Shayne Skov edged fellow inside linebacker C.J. Mosley in the Misguided Missile Drill. Think human cannonball from American Gladiators, a quarterback on one podium with a football, waiting for the impact. But instead of the linebacker swinging on a rope, they are shot out of a cannon with the goal of dislodging the football from the quarterback. Linebackers have a split-second to determine the type of hit they want to deliver, while quarterbacks are tested at an even higher impact than they will ever feel on a football field, so it’s really a two-for-one type of drill. Logan Thomas of Virginia Tech was the only quarterback not to fumble, while South Florida inside linebacker Dede Lattimore was the only prospect who requested we didn’t use a safety net.
- And finally, Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans became just the second prospect in Ketterlen Super Scouts history to fail the Baby Toss. Take it for what it’s worth.