Interview With A Draftophile: The Art of Uncovering the Small School Sleeper

Rutgers v Ohio State
Rutgers v Ohio State / Ben Jackson/GettyImages
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“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”

We’re merely days away from the clock’s start in Kansas City, and Denver Broncos Fans throughout the realm all have the same nagging question - who in the world is George Paton going to select that has us scouring the dark web for bootleg cellphone footage of some random guy from a school we never knew existed? Am I right? Well, perhaps it was just me.

As a guy who takes a lot of pleasure and pride in knowing quite a bit about the key players in each year’s draft class, there’s little more maddening than having three guys still on my board, prematurely celebrating the selection of my self-proclaimed premiere player, only to find myself scrambling to scribble down the name of a selection that has Daniel Jeremiah digging through his notes and praying for a commercial break. It’s in this spirit, then, that I endeavored to be better this year - to know just a little more. And I was feeling pretty good about myself, too… that is, until I met the subject of today’s article: Fellow Draftophile and Small-School Savant, Wil Masisak, Site Owner of

Throughout this season, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of joining Wil (and several other hopelessly addicted Draft Junkies) for two live-action NFL Mock Drafts. The first was a format like any other you’d expect (although thankfully filled with amazingly talented men and women who had more than just a passing interest in the Draft - I’d found #MyPeople); the second draft, however, was next level - the goal of this particular 24-round draft was to fill two phases of a roster for a fictitious team (an entire offense, and an entire defense), composed entirely of draft-eligible players from the 2023 NFL Draft.

The first couple of rounds were easy enough, but as the rounds wore on, the gap between those who actually ‘knew’ and those who ‘thought they knew’ became pretty evident - Wil Masisak was clearly in the category of the guys who actually knew, and most especially when it came to the category of Small School Prospects. The draft came and went with varying degrees of success, but it was really the conversations behind the scenes that made the event worthwhile. Sure, I could have kept the nuggets of wisdom gleaned from time spent with this pocket of NFL Draft subculture, and perhaps there are some of you reading this who wish that I had, but whether or not you decide to read on, I did what any good team player would do and dug a little deeper.

When the virtual clock hit quadruple zeroes on our draft, I reached out to Wil - a very busy man this time of year, indeed - to see if he’d be willing to donate a little time to helping us to see behind the curtain. How does a guy go from throwing himself at the mercy of some indiscriminate online mock machine - where you’ll be lucky to find more than one or two small school sleepers - to being able to pull dozens of sleepers, late-round gems, UDFAs, and future XFL-ers from a mental (and digital) catalog faster than you can say, “Dewey Decimal?”

Well, thankfully Wil agreed to submit to my interrogation for just long enough to let us behind the scenes just a bit. Here's what he had to say:

Although I know you’ve spent some time in the Rocky Mountain Region, our readers may not have had the privilege of making your virtual acquaintance through your many online ventures - tell us a little bit about yourself and your various projects, if you don’t mind.

I'm a lifelong creative, starting out as a composer, touring musician, & record producer and roughly 15-20 years ago moving into making film & TV. I even was in a band with a bottom-of-the-charts hit in the 80s and was briefly in Wild Cherry of Play That Funky Music. These days, I produce mostly International films, like award-winning Mongolian epics, kitschy Turkish horror films, African Shakespeare, and Icelandic comedy. I have won Downbeat Magazine deebee awards, the Oldenburg Spirit of Cinema Award, and I'm randomly in the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

So, how does that lead me to draft and football analysis? Well, I originally hail from a coal mining town near Pittsburgh and came of age during the greatest dynasty in the history of the NFL, so I'm a lifelong Steelers fan and a diehard fan of the sport over many eras, going back to the late 60s. Despite the fact that I'm now in my late 50s, I still play weekly competitive touch & flag football vs guys in their 20s-30s. They think I'm a genetic freak, which I guess is basically true, but it also helps me learn the game and apply things I've learned from 50 years of experience playing to help evaluate play & prospects. I've even played pickup with a couple of guys who played in the NFL!