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Thoughts on the NFL Draft Experience

 
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dcfields


Joined: 28 Dec 2007
Posts: 716
Location: Coral Springs, FL
PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 11:48 am    Post subject: Thoughts on the NFL Draft Experience Reply with quote

I created this thread due to something that Diamond Bull said in another thread that really got me thinking. As I stated in a previous post, this will be my 27th NFL draft. Please understand that I'm not creating this because I think I know something that nobody else does. Believe me, no one knows better than yours truly that I don't. This is more about humility and I want everyone to share their stories here too. I'm posting this because, to me, the NFL draft remains a completely mystifying process. I LOVE the NFL draft. For me, it's like Christmas for football fans. All year long, you "tell Santa" what "presents" you want. Every year, I sit in front of the tv with all of my paperwork laid out before me. I'll have a tasty beverage and quality food items that were carefully planned out prior to the event right there with me so I don't have to miss a single pick. And I'll wait, ANXIOUSLY, for the Ravens to be on the clock. I'll sit there and watch the clock tick down until the moment I see "THE PICK IS IN" comment flash up on the screen. I watch the commissioner slowly cross the stage and announce the Ravens shiny, new present.

To get back on topic, here's what DB said that got me going:

diamondbull424 wrote:
Being bright in the classroom doesn't equate to on-field instincts.


Wow! You said a mouthful there, brother. One player immediately came to mind: Brady Quinn. Dual majors in political science and finance from Notre Dame. Proof that football is a "Don't think, REACT" sport for the most part. As a player, you can study tape and get "coached up" until the cows come home. But once the ball is snapped, you don't have time to think. All you've learned must now become second nature. Something that apparently never quite resonated with Quinn. All the better for us since he was a Brown.

Second player: Mike Mamula. The mere mention of his name is enough to make an Eagles fan cringe. Mamula is one of the most famous workout warriors in Combine history. 6'41/2", 248 lbs. Ran a 4.58 at the Combine and essentially blew everyone away with his workouts (38" vertical, 26 reps). He also reported scored a 49 out of 50 on the Wonderlic exam. In the '95 draft, Philadelphia traded up from #12 to #7 to select Mamula and traded away 2 second round picks in the process. Here's where it goes a little deeper. In '92, one of Philly's favorite sons, Jerome Brown, tragically died in a car accident. Brown was awesome. He's seemed to get more and more dominant every year he played. So when Brown passed away, it left a gaping hole in Philly's defense.

FOR MONTHS prior to the draft, Warren Sapp was widely considered to be the #1 overall prospect until he produced a failed marijuana test at the Combine. Thereafter, his stock began to drop. Nonetheless, on draft day when Philly traded up, everyone and their brother was convinced that the Eagles were going to select Sapp. Their fans were ecstatic. Trust me... I was at an "Eagles bar" that day. Enter Commissioner Tagliaboob. "With the 7th selection of the 1995 draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select...". Time stopped. And then every jaw is the room dropped to the floor with a resounding thud. Silence. After several patrons eagerly shuffled through some paperwork, the "justification" for the pick began. You know, the excuses as to why Eagles fans should be delighted with this selection. Draft Rule #5,437.81 - If you have justify why your team just picked somebody you weren't expecting them to pick, you either don't know much about the prospect or your team just made an ill-advised selection. In the end, Tampa Bay dropped down 5 spots, picked up 2 second round picks in the process and STILL got Warren Sapp! Ouch, Philly.

Smart doesn't mean squat. Neither does fast. Yet year after year, someone is bound to trade up and reach for guy that ran a blazing 40 time when what they SHOULD HAVE DONE was watched a little more game tape on the guy. It's crazy! And it can't be explained! As DB eluded to in his post, a guy that is intelligent and can perform his duties expeditiously is typically considered to be superior in his craft. Mike Mamula and Brady Quinn COMPLETELY blew that theory out of the water.

Yet a guy like Frank Gore, who reported scored a 6 on his Wonderlic exam, which prompts the question what did he spell wrong? Frank or Gore? (Sorry... I couldn't help myself. I'm a Florida State alum.), ran a 4.65 at the Combine, a 4.58 at his Pro Day AND had two major knee injuries before his career even got rolling is only 33 rushing yards away from eclipsing the 10,000 yard mark. HUH?!?!? I know a guy that has been affiliated with the UM football program for decades. He told me that Gore was the reason that Portis and ESPECIALLY McGahee left UM early. They were "afraid" that Gore was going to take away their touches. As simplistic as it sounds, that's good intel! Word of mouth. Yet, every year NFL GMs "outsmart" themselves and make bone-headed decisions because "they knew something nobody else did".

In a nutshell, it doesn't seem to matter how many NFL drafts you've monitored, how much research you've done on a prospect or how much real world experience you have when it comes to the NFL draft. Mel Kiper has been doing this professionally since 1984. 2014 represents Ozzie Newsome's 37th consecutive year in the NFL as a player or executive. Calvert Hall alum and former City College head coach, George Young, spent 34 years in the NFL as a scout, coach and executive. Yet ALL OF THEM have made dozens projections and/or selections that they wish they could have back.

We all dream of those legendary "Christmases" like the '74 Steelers draft. And we can't help but think to ourselves, "Why can't we have one of those drafts?" The kind of draft that sets your team up at certain positions for the next decade. The foundation of a championship team. And you also wonder in hindsight why so-and-so didn't pan out. Everything you researched on that prospect pointed toward a stellar career. On the surface, it seems like it would be much easier to draft quality NFL players given the technology that has become available to us in the past 10 - 15 years. But nonetheless, in the realm of talent evaluation nothing has changed.

There's an age old question in the appraisal world as it relates to automobiles and property. "Would you give me $20 for what I have in my right hand?" The only appropriate answer is, "I don't know what something is worth unless I can see it." It could be a diamond or it could be a lump of coal. Yet when it comes to the evaluation of athletes, it simply doesn't apply. You could watch tapes until you're blue in the face. On video, everything could point to an athlete being a Hall of Famer. The kind of player that you'd say I would give up three 1st round picks for the right to draft "the next Peyton Manning". But there is nothing to guarantee that you're not selecting the next Ryan Leaf? Regarding Leaf, Brian Billick said it best, "If San Diego didn't take Ryan Leaf, the next team would have."

As I stated before, the NFL draft remains a completely mystifying process to me. I consider myself lucky to be a Ravens fan because I truly believe we have best General Manager in the history of the sport. But even the Wizard has missed on occasion as well.
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diamondbull424


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is an interesting thread.

While I know the basis for the thread is discussing the difference between intelligence and instincts, I think that other point... the draft experience.

I personally prefer the Super Bowl to the draft. I love the spectacle of it. But there is certainly something about the draft. The mystery behind it, the need to have your opinion valued and accepted by those in charge. The predictions you assign to talent for bragging rights. And the notion that you are apart of a groundbreaking change for your franchise.

I joined the Ravens garrison as a bandwagon 11 year old fan upon winning that first SB. And because of that only had mild interest. Didn't actually catch my first draft (first round only) until 2003, the year we selected Terrell Suggs. Perhaps the whole Byron Leftwich ordeal and the Ravens running over their time clock got me somewhat intrigued. And since then I had watched the first round (minus 04.. no 1st).

2007 was the first year I watched every pick of the draft from beginning to end. The first year I made an effort to try and research some players and watch a few games and highlight tapes. So I wouldn't count my draft history until then, when I joined this website.

And I agree. I'm glad we have Ozzie. Just looking back on the FFMDs that I've run... not the best track record. While my favorite prospects have tended to go on to have some nice success, I definitely haven't been as good as I thought at the time... at noticing who would translate well to the next level.

You've really got to be impressed with the track record our Ravens staff has. And I'm glad it's no longer being pillaged every year like it was.

But back to the experience, I just like the steps. The senior bowl, then the combine, then the prodays, and then the draft... and then the next years mocks to prepare for the future. It definitely has a level of captivation.
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Flaccomania


Joined: 12 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well said, all of it. It's a total crapshoot but that's what makes it so exciting to watch. Every fan, at the end of the day, is generally very happy with their draft and believe the team will improve by it. It's the typical off-season arguments -- "We won't be X-X again, we'll be better because we drafted X, Y, and Z!" It brings hope and excitement to the upcoming season.

I didn't start following the draft closely until about 2008 when I joined this site. I would watch it a bit but I didn't know the prospects like I do these days. But, it's such an addictive thing. My fiancee absolutely hates it that I tell her for that 4 day stretch, I'm not doing anything during draft time and the TV will be on that channel. No interruptions, no going with her grocery shopping, nothing -- those are my days. If she wants to watch (she doesn't), I tell her she's more than welcome but any and all discussion will be related to the draft, nothing else. Very Happy
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Mancunian Raven


Joined: 09 Oct 2012
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've only been watching football since 2008, but the draft has quickly become one of my favourite times of the year.

The possibilities, the opportunities, the excitement of wondering who your team will pick, the fun of deriding picks other teams make, the intrigue when teams reach big or make surprise selections. Wondering what it all might mean for coaches and current NFL players.

Watching experts make predictions that end up being ludicrously inaccurate, or that end up being right on the money. Listening to their analysis of players and selections, and the baffling draft mathetmatics. Big draft day trades, the drama of the green room (which I don't enjoy, because I feel bad for these kids if they're just left sitting there, with cameras pointed at them, but the drama of it is undeniable).

No wonder Kevin Costner is making a movie about it.

Over the past couple of years, I've started taking more of an interest in college football, just so I can get to grips with the whole exercise, and form my own opinions about players and who might go where and why.

It's a process completely and utterly foreign to sports over here in the UK, where soccer teams take boys in at the age of 11 (or even younger) and coach them through various academy levels for most of their lives, moulding them and hoping that they will realise potential and become valuable commodities. You might hear about a special kid when he's 16, and then never hear about him again. Or you might see him burst onto the scene a couple of years later and take the world by storm. That's fun in its own way, but I don't think it quite matches the feel of seeing a kid who has diligently worked his way through high school and college, and then gets to live his dream when one of 32 NFL teams considers him a player they want.
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dcfields


Joined: 28 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mancunian Raven wrote:
No wonder Kevin Costner is making a movie about it.


I had no idea. I'm going to have to look into that. Maybe he'd be interested in this thread as part of his research. :)
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dcfields


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember searching high and low for draft information "back in the day". Keep in mind, the first PC I ever bought was in 1996. So prior to that you had to rely on your buddies for information and leads as to where you could find quality NFL draft publications.

In '88 (at a ripe old age of 19), me and a friend of mine went in on an "Ourlads NFL Draft Guide" (we split the cost). It was in black-and-white with a really crappy looking font. The cover was a laminated, thick paper with a cheesy looking trophy on the cover. It couldn't have been more than 50 pages with brief pro/con type descriptions about the prospects. It may have had 300 prospects in the entire guide.

Shortly thereafter, the pace really started to pick up in regards to available publications. For years, I bought the Pro Football Weekly draft guide. Just like the "magazine" it was on newspaper print. Slightly larger than a standard magazine. PFW's primary college evaluator was a guy named Joel Buchsbaum. You can still find pictures of him on the internet. Buchsbaum was probably about 110 lbs. soaking wet. He wore Coke bottle glasses. Buchsbaum, literally lived for the draft. It was his life. From the looks of him, he rarely did anything (eat, sleep... anything) other than watch tape and evaluate prospects. He had a very different view on prospecting, pointing out odd characteristics about players (like a "unique gait" or a "big bubble" meaning their posterior) which actually made his publication a valuable asset to NFL executives. Unfortunately, Joel Buchsbaum passed away at 48 years old of what said was "natural causes". Everyone liked the odd, little man and many NFL personnel members were greatly saddened by his passing in 2002.

Keep in mind, this is in the days prior to the Newsome/Belichick draft principles that EVERY TEAM has since adopted. If you know your draft history (without getting into too much detail), then you know that Ozzie and the Hoodie changed talent evaluation forever. For decades, there were 2 scouting services made available to NFL teams. National and Blesto (Bears, Lions, Eagles, Steelers Talent Organiztion). In short, Ozzie and Belichick, while working together for the Browns (along with Scott Pioli, Michael Lombardi, Phil Savage, George Kokinis, Thomas Dimitroff, Mike Tannenbaum, Eric Mangini, Nick Saban, etc., etc), grew weary of the available services and decided that these publications weren't sufficient for what they wanted to accomplish within "The Emporer's" system. As you all well know, not all players are intended to produce equally across various systems of offense or defense. They wanted their own scouting staff that would determine which players would fit within their scheme best as opposed to something San Francisco or Miami was running. Again, this is a very simplified version of the story but the fact of the matter is that OZZIE AND BELICHICK CHANGED HOW EVERY NFL TEAM SCOUTS, EVALUATES AND DRAFTS FOOTBALL PLAYERS FOREVER.

In regards to publications, I had 'em all. Half of which aren't even available anymore. Nowadays, all you have to do for a draft publication is go on the internet and click print. For the past 5 to 10 years, I have had about a dozen "trusted" sites that I will collect names from, stratify the information and watch videos on YouTube. On a good year, I can squeeze in video of about 100 - 150 players. After that, I just trust the consensus.

My how times have changed. For the better in my opinion. But as I said before, tech or not, the results are still the same.
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Mancunian Raven


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dcfields wrote:
Mancunian Raven wrote:
No wonder Kevin Costner is making a movie about it.


I had no idea. I'm going to have to look into that. Maybe he'd be interested in this thread as part of his research. Smile


He's playing the Browns GM, trying to secure the #1 pick. This sounds like a joke, but it's not.

Then they'll make Draft Day 2: The Firing, where his #1 pick ends up being a huge bust, and he gets canned after the team goes 4-12. That might be a joke.
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dcfields


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kevin Costner movie - Draft Day. He's the GM of the Cleveland Browns and he's trying to acquire the first pick in the draft for his team. No big stretch there. Sounds more like a documentary than a fiction.

DB - I love the spectacle of the Super Bowl too. Especially when the Ravens are involved in the game. Then I find I'm MORE involved. As for the draft, I find that I'm equally interested in the annual selection meeting year after year. Like FM said, I get tied into every single pick in every round and basically have an opinion about every selection.

FM - I've been through THREE fiancÚs since I started following the NFL draft. I pretty much tell my girl the same thing you tell yours, "You're more than welcome to watch but you're gonna be bored off your ***, babe." She typically goes shopping or something. I'll marry this one. She's sweet, she cooks, she cleans, she works and she's a Ravens fan. I'll tell ya, it's a pretty good life, fellas. :)
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dcfields


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mancunian Raven wrote:
He's playing the Browns GM, trying to secure the #1 pick. This sounds like a joke, but it's not.

Then they'll make Draft Day 2: The Firing, where his #1 pick ends up being a huge bust, and he gets canned after the team goes 4-12. That might be a joke.


LMAO. Great minds think alike. :)
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