Our most recent War Story Wednesday involved a classic draft-day tete-a-tete between former NFL scout Ken Moll and a fellow scout in his days in pro football war rooms. Today, more thoughts on the fallout from that near-brawl.
Last Wednesday, I spoke of a near chest-to-chest dust-up (which didn’t end up happening) over a player’s grade. Again it’s not unusual for tension and feathers being ruffled in pre-draft meetings, but most of the time the organization will come to a consensus on where a player fits on their board.
Now, I really don’t like using the term “being right” on players because most of the time there are so many circumstances (player work ethic, injuries, opportunity, system, scheme, coaching, mental makeup of the player, character, talent of the roster and yes, even a little luck) around each athlete that factor into a player’s chances of NFL success. Without mentioning that particular player’s name, I can say that we (as an organization) slotted him as a mid-second round draft choice and he was selected late in that round.
Does that always happen? Absolutely not, but you better be “right” more often than not. Now, you don’t go back to that particular co-worker and say, ‘you see? I was right!’ That didn’t and shouldn’t happen. To really know if a player has lived up to his draft status, he will need to perform at a particular expectation level for an extended period of time. In this case, most second-round draft choices are expected to start or at least be a big contributor in their rookie seasons. This player did start and was a solid contributor for three seasons before an injury shortened his career. I guess you can say we were “right” in that situation. I will say that when there is such a contentious discussion that was so visible within the organization, your opinion is held in a higher regard (if you happen to be right) in the future.
Oh yeah, I didn’t just let it go. I was able to, in my own subtle way, let him know that you might want to listen to this cagey veteran; my 15 years of college coaching as well as, at the time, four years of NFL personnel draft meetings trumped his somewhat thin resume. Make no mistake about it: you will be “wrong” on players (even personnel types that have tons of experience) but your “hit ratio” is much better if you can draw on your football experiences.