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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

When it comes to evaluating current NFL players, teams have access to more data than ever before. But when it comes to scouting college prospects, that same information isn't widely available, which leads to a lot of guesswork.

What's happening: In order to fill this analytics void, NFL teams have been forced to get creative in their approach to evaluating talent.

  • For example, some teams are analyzing in-season player-tracking data (something that wasn't available until last year) for the NFL's best players, then seeing if they can cross-reference that with combine statistics.
  • "If tracking data shows an edge rusher is quicker off the line of scrimmage than anyone else, teams will reverse-engineer his combine stats to find out how they could scout for that skill," writes The Ringer's Kevin Clark.

The other side: For other prospects, things like player-tracking data are much easier to come by. A handful of conferences generate their own data, as do powerhouse programs like Alabama.

  • When evaluating those prospects, teams face an entirely different challenge. Instead of working with an underwhelming amount of information, they have to wade through a sea of it — then decide what actually matters.

Go deeper: The race to make the NFL draft an exact science

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

Scoop: Google is investigating the actions of another top AI ethicist

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo by Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is investigating recent actions by Margaret Mitchell, who helps lead the company's ethical AI team, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The probe follows the forced exit of Timnit Gebru, a prominent researcher also on the AI ethics team at Google whose ouster ignited a firestorm among Google employees.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."

Justice Department drops insider trading inquiry against Sen. Richard Burr

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) walking through the Senate Subway in the U.S. Capitol in December 2020. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Department of Justice told Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Tuesday that it will not move forward with insider trading charges against him.

Why it matters: The decision, first reported by the New York Times, effectively ends the DOJ's investigation into the senator's stock sell-off that occurred after multiple lawmakers were briefed about the coronavirus' potential economic toll. Burr subsequently stepped down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.