This week, we reached the halfway point of our series on the 2017 NFL Draft, the Best Player Available Podcast. In Episode 5, my guest was Randy Mueller, who was a senior personnel executive with the Chargers in 2017 and who also served at the executive level with four teams, including stints as GM of the Saints and Dolphins. Randy had some incredible insights not just on his experiences in 2017, but his philosophy on player evaluation and how the draft operates. Here are a few highlights.
On why he was, and still is, a believer in Bengals WO John Ross: “I was throwing out (any misgivings because of his speed). I have a, maybe it’s a soft spot, but I want guys that can run. That is very important to me, the guys that can take the top off of defenses. Hey, you’re talking to the guy who drafted Ted Ginn (No. 9 overall out of Ohio State in 2007) in Miami, right ? So I felt like a guy like John Ross, a guy like Ted Ginn, can change the way people defend you, even if you never throw them the ball.”
On the risks of drafting a one-year starter early: “A one-year body of work really isn’t enough . . . so I do think you have to go back and . . . if I had an analytics department in the Mueller household, I’d put (it) on doing just that. Studying all these one-year guys and bringing some numbers to me to see how that’s all worked out from an analytics standpoint, because I do think there’s something there.”
On the Chargers’ interest in taking a QB in 2017: “That topic of quarterbacks at that point got a lot of discussion from us on the personnel end. Especially those that had been there a while and kinda had seen where Philip (Rivers) had come from. Philip was starting to kinda near that plateau area at that point, so some of us on the personnel side would like to have seen us address that. It’s the one area where (then-head coach) Anthony Lynn, a new coach coming in, really kinda pushed back from. And to his credit, he didn’t want to see us spend a top pick on a quarterback when we had so many other needs to fill. I understood that.”
On the knocks on Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes: “I think the big things you had to overcome was the system, and the fact that they weren’t successful at Texas Tech. Those weren’t his fault, but the system . . . it was (head coach Kliff) Kingsbury at that time, and he didn’t win many games, and it was kinda known by NFL standards as a ‘recess offense,’ you know, you go out to recess and everybody’s going out for passes? That’s kinda what it was, so you kinda had to sort through that a little bit.”
This is just the start, and there are plenty more nuggets in the full podcast. Make sure to check it out, and while you’re at it, also listen to Episode 1 (former Titans exec Blake Beddingfield), Episode 2 (former 49ers scout Bob Morris), Episode 3 (former Bills GM Doug Whaley) and Episode 4 (former Raiders pro director Dane Vandernat), which are also gold.