Draft Grades – Get Back to Me in 3 Years

After a great weekend for the National Football League’s new “traveling road show” known as the College draft, the media’s immediate judgment on NFL franchises infusion of talent is now in full swing. Here is what I think…what a total waste of time.

Teams Already Being Called Winners and Losers 

In many cities and from “jump street” on social media, teams are being called winners or losers already when truly only time will tell. I realize that does not suffice for editors and producers looking for content to stretch this window of media frenzy out a few more days.  In our immediate gratification society, nobody wants to wait for results, but this process all just takes time as hard as that is for people to want to accept.

Media Criticism 

It is easy to jump on Giants’ GM Dave Gettleman for drafting Duke QB, Daniel Jones, with the 6th pick in the first round or the Oakland Raiders for drafting Clemson DE, Clelin Ferrell, but any media criticism at this point just means the media person’s priority list didn’t match the team’s board. I think a team’s strategy or trades within the draft are “fair game” to be evaluated on the spot. These can all be looked at with a fine-tooth comb immediately, and I’m surprised more isn’t made of the blunders.

Only Time Will Tell

On the other end, the acumen of the John Schneider’s (Seattle GM) and Bill Belichick’s of the world is astounding in the way they continue to acquire picks and use them to build a draft from next to nothing. Those moves are objective. In the subjective world of talent evaluations, Dave Gettleman said it best- “In 3 years, we’ll find out how crazy I am.”

A prime example of this was in 2007 – my last year as GM of the Miami Dolphins. I got hammered by most media for not selecting Brady Quinn with the 9th pick in the first round. In totality, it seemed like a lack-luster draft on paper because it didn’t match media views (evaluations). As time played out over several years, it became one of the better drafts in team history. Brady Quinn washed out early. Ted Ginn, WR from Ohio State, is still a productive player in the NFL in 2018. 2nd round pick Samson Satele played 8 years (many as a starter),  4th rounder DT Paul Soliai from Utah later became a franchise player for both Miami and Atlanta and one of our 7th round picks, punter, Brandon Fields was a Pro Bowl punter.

Maintaining Media Relationships

I do know this – if something surprises the media or comes from left field and they get embarrassed or made to look bad- you’re going to get criticized. The media can very much be a “tool” in this process on both a local and national front and decision makers ought to manage that end of the process better. I’m not saying this in a disrespectful way. Some of my best friends are in the media. You can direct a message and sometimes control the dialogue locally by what you say especially off the record to the media. I always had an excellent relationship with all the local guys and had a sense of trust that I’m not sure exists in this social media world in 2019.

I definitely think the GMs that have relationships with the media get the benefit of the doubt (most of the time) when it comes to evaluating the moves your franchise makes throughout the year. Especially from the national guys, and during the drafting process. It’s almost a sense of inclusion that needs to be prevalent. Communicating is hard. It takes time to cultivate relationships and trust (both inside and outside your building), but the leaders of these teams have to spend time doing this. It’s part of their jobs, in my opinion. The ones that don’t are going to get criticized and unfairly (both inside and outside the building) in some cases.

Grading the Draft 

Evaluating talent is far from an exact science. Research, consensus, and dialogue all have to be used when coming up with your draft board and sticking with it. Outside influence has to be shunned, both before and after the draft. It takes time to see if you were right more times than you were wrong. If we want to grade the draft right now as we sit today, let’s grade the 2015 draft. Now that seems a bit fairer.  

Photo Credit: Shutterstock | Melinda Nagy 

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