The NFL Draft is a rite of passage for many football players. The grueling process that draft hopefuls go through can be long and difficult, but getting drafted into the NFL is one of the most powerful moments in any athlete’s career.
The “nfl draft date” is a question that many GMs are asking themselves. The NFL Draft has gone to a three-day event, and the GM needs to know when they should be ready for it.
NFL personnel departments spend the whole year assembling a draft board that will be used for just three days in April.
Hundreds of names, thousands of hours of review, plenty of heated argument, stacks of airline tickets, interviews, and miles driven to practices and games are all thrown into a blender to discover the line — the line between performing all the due diligence possible and information overload.
“You don’t want to get to a point where you can’t remember why you loved the person in the first place,” former Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills general manager Tom Donahoe once stated.
But, hey, we’re living in the Information Age. From the top to the bottom of the draft board, there is a deluge of information about draft prospects.
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Each club distills their games, medical information, background checks, psychological assessments, face-to-face interviews, pro days, and the scouting combine. Then they evaluate and stack the players so that when their draft selections come around, they can choose the ones they want.
“But if you let it, it can be paralysis,” remarked George Paton, general manager of the Denver Broncos. “The basic reality is that if everything in the games checks out and there are no major red flags — a 4.8 40 for a receiver, an off-the-field problem, a character flag, a medical flag, whatever — you go back to the film and see how he fits on the field. But you have to go through all the facts and leave it at some point, because if you don’t, you may be unable to make the decision when you need to make one.”
The difficult aspect is that few, if any, NFL personnel executives have risen to the position without first looking for and analyzing as much information on players as possible. They like – no, they adore – learning new things. They treasure and seek excellent information, and their ability to get it frequently determines how a draft class appears three or four seasons after it was chosen.
“At the combine, Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry remarked, “You’re going to vet the whole draft class.” “As much as we’d want to believe we can foresee what will happen at the top of the draft, the truth is that we’re all speculating — making informed guesses.
“Whether you have one first-round selection or three first-round choices, the value of being prepared, adaptable, and ready to pivot remains the same….” I believe that is where more work is invested, depending on the players that would most likely be available in the areas that you would choose high, rather than specific preparation for present possibilities.”
While the influence of statistics on player assessments differs per organization, most people in charge of making draft decisions agree that the best method to find comfort is to always go back to how the player really performed on the field.
Workouts, 40-yard dashes, character assessments, medical examinations, and pro days are just a few of the factors that must be evaluated and may influence a player’s selection position. However, the majority of the grade — often 75-80%, depending on which personnel executive is questioned — is dependent on how the athlete performed while wearing his helmet.
While an NFL general manager may be ecstatic with how they and their staff projected the draft would go, they have no influence over how the other 31 clubs conduct themselves. If there are five steps to draft preparation, “acceptance” of that reality must be one of them.
“When asked about his strategy to choosing at No. 31 in the first round this year following a Super Bowl participation, Cincinnati Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin stated, “We feel comfortable about our ability to assess who’s available and how they might influence our club early.” “When you choose a man in the first round, you want him to have an immediate impact. So we’ll see what’s available, since there will clearly be 30 men gone, and we won’t be able to choose who they are.”
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Also, sorting out all of the differences of opinion on players well before the draft may be the key to preventing information overload. If the scouts and coaches, or the scouts and the general manager, or the coaches and the general manager, don’t agree, they must work out their issues ahead of time.
Get everything out on the table, think through everything, and then decide where the player should go after the board is stacked.
“Look, you want data, and I love data and knowledge, so the more the merrier,” Paton said. “But by the time we’ve finished our group studies and sorted through any areas where we’re not on the same page for whatever reason and need to delve in — character, medical, fitness, you name it — I’ll be OK. And that’s your ultimate aim, so you’re ready for the draft by the time it comes around.”
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