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Thread: Draft Preparation

  1. #1
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    Default Draft Preparation

    Buffalo Bills

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    Here is Part 5 in the series on NFL scouting, a former NFL GM writes about the process of teams evaluating their draft needs as well as how a team may put together their Big Board.

    Part 1: NFL Scouting Departments
    Part 2: The Dictionary meaning and the NFL Scouting meaning
    Part 3: NFL Combine scouting pictures are worth a 1000 words
    Part 4: Player Personnel jobs and the game of Chess


    The most important NFL player evaluations are your OWN players
    by Ted Sundquist

    ...

    Look in the mirror
    By now just about all of the 32 teams have moved forward with their own NFL player evaluations of personnel and are assessing which direction to take with free agency and the draft on the horizon. Typically, Player Personnel Departments will evaluate each position from a scouting perspective and the coaching staff will grade from their own angle. Needless to say that frequently the two don’t necessarily converge. What some scouts might see as substandard for the NFL norm, coaches might see as the perfect fit.

    These are the debates that rage on through the month of January and into the first few weeks of February before top decision makers chart the course for who to resign and who to release.

    Many roads, only one destination
    As The Football Educator has expressed frequently in the past, there are 32 paths to the Super Bowl. It just seems that some clubs “get it” a bit more than others. However one way to go about ranking your club is by doing just that. It’s helpful as a General Manager to understand where coaches and scouts see your players falling in relative importance to the success of the team.

    For instance, have your offensive staff rank their players from #1 to the final player. Ask your defensive staff to do the same. Mindful of “group think”, have each staff crosscheck the other. This gives you a firm foundation with which to move forward in compiling the needs of your club. It also fits nicely into the 20-70-10 approach to building an organization.

    Seeing the BIG PICTURE
    At this point it’s important to know why an individual fell on the list where he did. That is you don’t want to cut a rising player that struggled through a developmental year. You don’t want to extend a “flash” backup for a half season’s worth of production. You do want to grasp what direction your veteran players are headed and whether or not your young talent is catching on.

    It’s easy to get sucked into the throngs of emotion when evaluating your own club, but the wise leader is the one that takes into account all the various dynamics and factors that had an effect on a player’s production throughout the season. To me the biggest and most costly mistake an NFL front office can make is misreading their own club’s talent level. Too many times the “baby is thrown out with the bath water” and the onus for lack of production is placed on the player and not on those tasked with getting the maximum out of that player.

    So as fans, media, coaches and scouts begin licking their chops for the influx of new talent through the college draft and free agency, the most important NFL player evaluations they can make for 2012 is the assessment of their own.

    Take heed. Some of the best moves are they ones you DON’T make.
    One cook’s recipe for Draft Preparation
    by Ted Sundquist

    “Too many cooks spoil the broth”, said when there are too many people doing the same piece of work at the same time, so that the final result will be spoiled. From the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary.

    Draft preparations and evaluations can be quite an interesting progression, given the different angles that coaches and scouts approach the same process. From a broad perspective there must be extensive involvement from the coaching staff in putting together a draft board. A degree of “ownership” only makes sense and ultimately is vital to the smooth transition of a young player into a club’s overall system. Scouts, by their very nature, tend to look at players with a different eye. The crossover or “gray area” is sometimes difficult to define, but scouting tends to view a much broader picture in terms of personnel (mostly long-term) than does coaching.

    There are currently 32 different ways to structure draft meetings throughout the NFL, but over my tenure as a General Manager we tended to use this format;

    Scouts meet prior to formal presentations to the coaching staff.
    The grades or “checks” were melded together to create a “starting point” per se, with regard to the draft board. These meetings usually took place for about a week and were very helpful in getting myself, our “capologist” and other office personnel up to date with the latest information and evaluations on the college prospects. We would analyze the reports, filling in any blanks that might have been identified or missed over the fall evaluations.

    Formally presenting the prospects to the coaches.
    By now the coaching staff had done their own evaluations and we had a complete report (including any pro days, the NFL Combine and character/personality tests). The scouting staff met with each side of the ball (usually for one week) and reviewed the reports and highlight tapes made by the assistant coaches.

    Conversations, debate and overall evaluations lead to a “new” posting of the draftboard (set by the GM & Head Coach)
    It was interesting to get the assessment of the different assistant coaches on other positions than their own, but at times that presented a challenge in getting the players set in the right rounds, at the right value.

    There was a tendency for the “offense” or the “defense” to vote as a block on a particular player, thus overruling the grades set forth by the scouts. This is where the “final decision or say” with the head coach would come into play. The sway would be mostly to the coaching staff and we sometimes placed players evaluated as 4th or 5th round prospects as high as the 2nd round. That tends to explain some of the club’s draft “misses” over the years.

    The Offensive and Defensive staffs come together without the Scouts in attendance.
    Here the board tended to get rather “jumbled” with the other side of the ball’s input (i.e. offense to defense, defense to offense). Scouts went home prior to the draft and came back just a day or two before. It was up to myself and the directors to emphasize the points of the individual scout & overall Personnel Department opinions in final draft preparations.

    Ultimately, there’s a place for both the area/national scouts and assistant coaches’ evaluations in the overall draft preparation process. However the final decision should be made by the GM, Personnel Directors and Head Coach, keeping in perspective the broader picture of “current roster and financial obligations”.

    Ownership should be encouraged to become involved with the procedural aspects of the draft. It’s an interesting and informative way to observe Football Operations (scouting, cap, coaching) work together in a critical decision-making process. Certainly the General Manager and Head Coach have to be communicating and on the same page. Two different recipes can easily lead to one side or the other being forced to make “chicken salad out of chicken…”.

    I think you know the final ingredient. “Bon appetit!”
    justRN: "They carted off Freddies ACL after he ripped it out for being weak."

    Mark Asper: "He'd come smashing in there and make a big play and he has no emotion. He just goes back to the defensive huddle, and we had to trash talk for him. Our big line was 'Kiko Smash.' "#TheLegendOfKikoAlonzo



    www.billievers.com

  2. #2
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    Wow, awesome article.

  3. #3
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    ^^ agreed, awesome read

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaBillsfan View Post
    Wow, awesome article.
    Somewhat interesting, at least ...
    justRN: "They carted off Freddies ACL after he ripped it out for being weak."

    Mark Asper: "He'd come smashing in there and make a big play and he has no emotion. He just goes back to the defensive huddle, and we had to trash talk for him. Our big line was 'Kiko Smash.' "#TheLegendOfKikoAlonzo



    www.billievers.com

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the post! All of them actually! Thanks again!
    Thank you Buddy, Thank you for bringing us Mr. Whaley.

    Lets try something new. Instead of standing behind our beloved Bills, let's stand in front of them, just so they have to change direction!

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