by Greg Gabriel
April 26, 02012
With the first round of the NFL Draft being tonight I thought that it may be an interesting topic to talk about the Draft Room and what goes on.
First off, though many like to call the Draft Room the “War Room,” I refuse to use that term because none of us are fighting a war. We are preparing to draft some players that can help the team win. I feel it is disrespectful of those in the military service to use the term “War Room.”
Many are under the misconception that draft decisions are made on draft day. If that is the case, you could be in trouble. Just like in a football game where the coaches put together a game plan in practice during the week and then execute the plan on game day the same should be said about draft day.
In the weeks leading up to the draft a plan is put into place and on draft day the plan is executed. You can’t put yourself in a situation where you want just one particular player. You have to have a list of 3 to 5 players that you hope will be there when it’s your turn to draft. Those players are ranked by priority so if the top player is gone you automatically go to the next player. You can’t panic if “your player” is gone…that leads to mistakes. Always expect the worst and hope for the best.
In the meetings leading up to the draft the board is set and each player is discussed. A plan is set as to how that player will be used if he is in fact drafted. During your pre-draft meetings any disagreement about a player should be talked out then…not on draft day. A club should go into the draft with a plan to get certain players in certain rounds, but they also have to expect worst-case scenarios and have a backup plan if faced with that situation. A team shouldn’t decide to trade up or down at the last minute; that decision should be made days in advance so that if the opportunity to trade comes about you’re not scrambling. You make calls to teams ahead and behind you to see if they may be interested in trading if certain scenarios exist. When in fact that scenario comes to light then you are prepared to make the move.
In a draft room, there can only be one “boss”…the final decision maker has to run the draft. Many clubs have only a few people in their draft room such as the GM, Head Coach and Scouting Director. Others have those same people and the scouts but not the position coaches. You can’t have chaos; it has to be a well-managed room where decisions can be made thoroughly and if questions need to be asked the right people to answer the questions are readily available. If there is a choice between 2 or 3 players the decision as to which one should have been made days before when the board is put together. The only discussion on draft day should be to verify that previous decision.
The draft is a scout's and GM’s Christmas. This is the day they have prepared for the previous 12 months. Here’s hoping that it works out well for all 32 NFL teams.