If you recognize the hideous piece of web design above then you’re qualified to call yourself a draft nerd. Walterfootball, the website that started in a high school computer class now boasts over 700,000+ hits per week, and has become one of the best spots for insider info, talent eval, and a constantly updated 7 round mock draft. Its one of a handful of sites I check and reference daily. The site’s founder, Walter Cherepinsky was nice enough to take some time out of his busy schedule and answer a few questions for me. Walt is the kind of guy we like at Patskrieg: an average guy who does his homework and isn’t writing on anyone’s agenda.
Patskrieg: Your Facebook says you live in Philly. I’ve definitely been yelled at
and flipped off for being in a car with a Pat Patriot sticker driving
through the Philly/West Jersey area, but in your own opinion do you
think that the hatred of the Patriots is as real as the internet makes
it out to be nationwide?
WC: Yeah, it is. I don’t hate the Patriots, but my girlfriend absolutely loathes them, and she’s from Colorado. I think people are just turned off by the arrogance. The Spygate thing didn’t help
Patskrieg: One of the things that really sets WF apart from the rest of these sites is that you gradually build up from 32 picks to all 7 rounds. How exhausting is it to put 7 mock rounds together? What’s your criteria for mocking a guy to go in the 6th or 7th vs. ending up an UDFA?
WC: It gets pretty tiring once I’m in Rounds 5-7, but it’s fun at the same time because I love trying to project what will happen. What I like to do in the later rounds is match players who have received interest from teams. When I’m stuck, I just rely on my big board and slot the top available prospect to the team, as long as it makes sense.
Patskrieg: Are there any players in this year’s class that you think are going to
make big unexpected jumps up the board on draft day? Any sleepers you
think are going to go low and excel in the NFL?
WC: There are always prospects who make unexpected jumps. For instance, no one saw Tyson Alualu coming. There will be one player who goes in the top 15, and the pick will draw a collective “WTF?” from everyone on Twitter. I can’t exactly pinpoint who that might be, but some candidates include Terron Armstead, Menelik Watson, Justin Hunter, Desmond Trufant and Datone Jones.
Patskrieg: You seem like you’ve been big on Hunter all along, but only recently has he been getting first round buzz. Where is the disconnect with Hunter?
WC: Justin Hunter dropped a lot of passes this past season. He needed to show well in the drills, and he did. His measureables were off the charts as well. That was to be expected, but teams still came away impressed.
Patskrieg: Manti Te’o, Tyrann Mathieu, D’Rick Rogers, Alec Ogletree: which one of these prospects do you think scares GMs the most? If you’re a GM on the clock in the bottom of the 2nd round with needs at all those positions who do you bite on?
WC: I’d say Manti Te’o scares GMs most because of the distraction he’d bring. Teams are looking at what happened with Tim Tebow and the Jets, and they’re saying that they don’t want any part of that. A personnel man on an AFC team in need of an inside linebacker told us that they will be staying away from Te’o. If all are available in the bottom of the 2nd round, I’m taking Alec Ogletree. He’s the best of the group.
Patskrieg: New GM in place for the Jets. You gave the Idzik signing a C- and
pointed out that he has no scouting or player eval history. How do the
Jets find a way to blow the draft this year? And how hilarious will it
WC: Oh, they can screw it up a number of ways. I recently outlined one way, by drafting Matt Barkley when they already learned what USC quarterbacks bring to the table. I fully expect the Jets to reach for players. Maybe they’ll start with a guard in the top 10. It should provide everyone, aside from Jet fans, with a good laugh.
Save some of those chuckles for the season, fellas…
Patskrieg: One of the big discussions going on right now is whether an interior lineman could be a top ten pick. Right now you’ve got two in the top 16 (Warmack at 10, and Cooper at 16). How real a possibility is this? Do you think teams are looking at clubs like the 49ers and re-evalutating the importance of a running game? Or are these guys really the best talent available at those spots?
WC: Normally it’s not a possibility, but in this type of a draft class, where the top-level talent isn’t there, you could see a guard sneak into the top 10. Teams do like to copy others, but what teams are stealing from the 49ers is the read-option, pistol-style offense. Unfortunately, there are only two real read-option quarterbacks this year, and neither is a first-round prospect. There will be a bunch in 2014.
Patskrieg: How difficult is it to predict draft picks for a team like the Patriots?
WC: The thing about the Patriots is that they seldom let any information leak out. They’re great with that. Plus, they always seem to trade around. Predicting their draft is pretty difficult. I’m not sure I’ve nailed down their tendencies quite yet.
Patskrieg: It’s funny you should mention that. NEPatriotsdraft reported recently via Tony Pauline that the Patriots are very interested in taking Miss State corner Jonathan Banks in the first round. Does this trip your B.S. sensors?
WC: I think this could definitely be legitimate. The Patriots are pretty tight-lipped, but it’s possible that Draftinsider does have a good source with the Patriots. Tony Pauline is pretty spot on with his rumors.
Patskrieg: So you spend months and months coming up with these mocks, and usually the whole thing starts going to hell somewhere in the first 20 picks. How do you account for teams that year after year just make stupid picks that don’t really have any reason to it?
WC: It’s tough to account for teams that make stupid picks, but what I like to do is study draft tendencies of teams. For instance, I nailed multiple picks that the Bills and Eagles made last year because I knew what they were thinking. Having some inside info helped, but it was a combination of that information and the data I found while studying teams’ draft tendencies.
Patskrieg: You had Tavon Austin mocked to the Pats for a long time. Post-combine you’ve got him going higher and higher. Do you think a guy his size can really succeed in the NFL if he’s got a Welker-esque workload coming his way?
WC: Well, he’s 10 pounds lighter now, but he could add on 5-10 pounds in an NFL strength-and-conditioning program. Austin has the potential to be the best slot receiver in the NFL in a couple of years. That’s huge, especially in today’s spacing-prevalent NFL. That’s why I moved him up to 9.
Patskrieg: Would you care to defend your most recent mock which has NC State’s David Amerson going to the Pats in the 2nd round? The last time the Pats took a corner as contact shy as Amerson it was Jonathan Wilhite and that went terribly.
WC: The Patriots just seem to like players who are versatile at cornerback and safety. David Amerson would fit in comfortably at both positions. He’s a better prospect than Jonathan Wilhite.
The Wayne/Wilhite matchup from 2009: worked out about as well as any terrible idea.
Patskrieg: Who do you like as far as draft analysts? Is there anyone in particular whose opinion you trust? On the flip side, are there any guys you just think are total hacks?
WC: Scott Wright of DraftCountdown always puts out great content. He’s one of the reasons the NFL Draft is so huge. I’ve also been a fan of Daniel Jeremiah’s work on the NFL Network. I don’t want to call anyone a hack because I don’t want to make any enemies, but I definitely do think there are some hacks out there. Fortunately for the draft community, there is more quality analysis than poor analysis.
Patskrieg: You were extra critical of the Alex Smith trade as far as the Chiefs are concerned, and rightfully so. Looking at the potential ramifications of the trade: how much is the rest of the league cringing that the Niners have the draft capitol to do whatever or trade for whoever they want? What do you think is the big move they’re moving towards? On the AFC side what do you think the Pats are loading up for with the Brady re-structure?
WC: Oh, I’d have to believe the rest of the NFC is cringing right now. The 49ers were already going to be a super power for years to come, and now they’re even stronger. I love the Brady restructure, but Belichick better do enough to help his team win now, or it’s all for naught.
Patskrieg: How did you first start doing Walterfootball? Did you have a background in football, or were you just a fan with something to say?
WC: The closest I came to playing football was working out in the weight room with the football team in high school. I was the captain of the swim team, and being that I went to a broke public school, our football coach doubled as the swim coach. He suggested that I should try out, but I wanted to concentrate on swimming, which I was definitely better at. I was just a big football fan when I started this Web site back in 1999.
Patskrieg: From your email signature it looks like you’ve got a handful of projects in the works. Exactly how much do you have going on in your life?
WC:I run this Web site full time. I have two other Web sites, but those are just other side projects (ProSalesGuide.com and DraftDebacled.com). I’ve also written a book, Jerks on My Floor. I’m currently looking for a literary agent for that.