In the course of interviewing former Dolphins scout Mike Murphy about his experiences in 18 years as an NFL scout with four teams, I asked a question I always pose to ex-scouts: what effect, if any, does the media (beat writers, draft ‘gurus,’ ‘Twitter’ scouts, etc.) have on the draft process? Does it ever influence what teams do?
I found his answer interesting.
“I know if you are a good scout, then all other outside influences will not impact one’s opinion. Scouts (for the most part) are paid well and paid for ‘their opinion.’ Stick to it, right or wrong. You are trying to make your team the best it can be, and most GM or head coaches do not want ‘yes’ people.
“I have been around a few that would (pay attention to Internet scouts and media) and (who) have been influenced tremendously by what mock drafts say, and have gotten themselves and the organization in trouble. Those individuals in the media, etc., get their information from somewhere. Most of the time it comes from someone in an organization. Those individuals don’t know what your team needs are (and) what your emphasis is on a position. They could be wrong, not know the rest of the country and how a player stacks up against others, medical history or mental issues. So why would you listen to it or let it sway your opinion? Trust in your scouts, and scouts, trust in your ability to evaluate players. The other is best left for the armchair QB.”
Mike makes the presumption that draft scouts “get their information from somewhere.” I’m not sure I agree. Obviously, the Mayocks, the Kipers and the McShays of the world get insider info to compile their reports and form their opinions, but I’m not sure how pervasive this is. My experience has been that the overwhelming majority of mock drafts are modifications of other mock drafts. It’s a ‘monkey see, monkey do’ proposition. Still, if NFL scouts are aware enough of what’s out there that they actually have formed an opinion, there’s no question it’s having an effect on things.
I had a conversation with former Redskins and Texans GM Charley Casserly many years ago, and he basically dismissed mock drafts and the like as bathroom reading material.
However, I interviewed Patrice Brown, an agent who had a third-round draft pick in her first year certified by the NFLPA, what she’d learned in her first year as a player rep, and she had this response: “I would say how important relationships with the media are. The media, people may want to discount it, but these teams, everybody’s human. The way the media responded, it appeared to have some impact. We’re not in those war rooms, and the teams have these highly paid staffs that handle that, but hey, everybody’s human. Even after the season was over, I would have worked harder to connect and get himself some (recognition). Hey, even locally, I’m reaching out to sportswriters and where’s the hometown love? I would have done all those things better.”
The media’s real impact on the draft is still something I’m trying to figure out. I’m open to others’ thoughts on this. The human element really holds true in draft rooms, no matter how much it’s dismissed by NFL officials. I guess that will always be true.