If you’re as fascinated by the NFL Draft as I am, you’re always looking for war stories about the process and what goes on inside the war room. That was the thinking behind my last podcast (first five episodes here) and it’s the thinking about my next podcast, which I’m calling the My Favorite Draft Podcast.
In the last series, we interviewed nine former scouts and executives about the 2017 draft. It was a lot of fun, and very informative and a learning experience for me and, hopefully, all our listeners. This time, I’ve asked 10 former executives to join me to discuss one particular draft that really stands out to them. These drafts don’t necessarily have to been particularly successful for their respective teams (though I expect they were), but hopefully, they’ll include recognizable names, both that they drafted and that they passed up.
Here are three executives who’ve committed so far and the drafts I’d recommend to them to discuss.
- Seahawks, 1997: Randy Mueller was Seattle’s Vice President of Football Operations that year, and I hope he’ll go into detail about the team’s selection of two future Pro Bowlers in the top 10, Ohio State DC Shawn Springs (at No. 3) and Florida State OT Walter Jones (at No. 6). Randy has already discussed this draft in his excellent blog and as a guest on my first podcast series. Now, you may say, “big deal! You’re always going to get future stars in the top 10.” Well, first of all, Randy had to make a trade to get that second pick (with limited draft capital), and second, here are some of the other players drafted in the top 10 that year: USC DT Darrell Russell (No. 2), Texas SS Bryant Westbrook (No. 5) and Iowa DC Tom Knight (No. 9) also went in that draft, none of them hanging around past 2003 or playing more than 83 NFL games.
- Titans, 2016: Having already discussed the Titans’ 2017 draft with former Titans exec Blake Beddingfield extensively in my last podcast series, I think 2016 would make a lot of sense. Not only did the team come up with Alabama’s Derrick Henry, but the team also landed Middle Tennessee State’s Kevin Byard in the third round. There’s also the issue of the team drafting Michigan State OT Jack Conklin the year Ole Miss’ Laremy Tunsil was sliding due to his infamous video, and that might make for an interesting story. If Blake wants to go in a different direction, other drafts with interesting stories I’d love to explore would be 2015 (Marcus Mariota, Dorial Green-Beckham), 2008 (Chris Johnson, William Hayes), 2009 (Kenny Britt, Jared Cook, Jason McCourty) or 2006 (Vince Young, LenDale White, Cortland Finnegan).
- Raiders, 2007: I doubt my friend Jon Kingdon, formerly the Raiders Director of College Scouting, would consider 2007 his “favorite” draft, per se, but it was sure an interesting one due to the team’s selection of LSU QB JaMarcus Russell with the first overall pick (over Georgia Tech’s Calvin Johnson at No. 2, Wisconsin’s Joe Thomas at No. 3 and Adrian Peterson at No. 7). Did the team try to trade down? How close did the team come to taking another player? Was the Russell pick mandated by colorful and controversial owner Al Davis? Jon already discussed Russell in the excellent book he co-wrote with another former Raiders exec, Bruce Kebric — even devoting a full chapter to the Russell pick (entitled “JaMarcus Russell: The Bust”) — so hopefully we can dig into that a bit. But if not, 2009 (Maryland’s Darrius Heyward-Bay and Ohio’s Mike Mitchell were interesting picks inside the first 47), 1998 (Michigan’s Charles Woodson went to the HOF, No. 23 pick Mo Collins, a guard from Florida, flamed out quickly, and second-round DT Leon Bender died tragically before he could play a game).
Remember, all of these are just my idea of an interesting draft class for them to discuss. They’ve got insights and stories I don’t even know about, so I can’t wait to hear which classes they want to discuss. And keep in mind that this is just three of the former executives we’ll be talking to, so we’re barely scratching the surface.