Bock’s Score: Scouting Players is Not Easy


Understand first of all that the world of sports is unpredictable. That’s what makes the games so appealing.

Perhaps the most dramatic crap shoot nature of the business occurs in the player drafts used to restock rosters for the future. Scouting reports can be glowing but somehow first-round selections sometimes flame out.

There were two examples of that last week when the New York Giants cut bait with wide receiver Kadarius Toney and the New York Islanders unloaded forward Keiffer Bellows. Both were former first-round draft picks and both fell well short of the promise that accompanied them when they were selected.

This business of player prospects is not an exact science.

The Giants traded down in the 2021 draft and chose Toney out of Florida to beef up their receiving corps in an effort to help out quarterback Daniel Jones. Good idea. Bad outcome. Toney blew off voluntary workouts in his rookie year and seemed to be perpetually injured with hamstrings and two bouts of COVID.

In two seasons with the Giants, a span of 24 games, he made it onto the field in just 12 of them. He was a non-factor in the team’s 6-1 start this season, appearing in just two games, making two catches for zero yards and carrying the ball twice for 23 yards. In two seasons, he never found his way to the end zone.

Tired of waiting for some production from Toney, the Giants cashed him in for a third and sixth round draft pick from Kansas City. `”We wish Kadarius well,’’ was the obligatory trade day farewell message from coach Brian Daboll.

The Giants had been down this road before. Erick Flowers, Eli Apple and DeAndre Baker were previous first-round choices who never made it through their rookie contracts with the team. Toney joins that infamous rogues’ gallery.

The Islanders picked Bellows in the first round of the 2016 NHL draft but since then he appeared in just 68 games with them, managing 11 goals and 14 assists in parts of four seasons.

The team tried to sneak him through waivers after failing to find a trade partner. Nothing doing. The Philadelphia Flyers claimed Bellows, ending a failed relationship with the team that picked him 19th in the draft and got nothing in return, then it cut him loose.

The message here is clear for teams. Do your scouting. Do your interviews. Do your due diligence. Then make those first-round draft choices and hope for the best.




About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock is a contributor with NY Sports Day. He has covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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