How does a general manager know if he’s ready for the NFL Draft?

NFL personnel departments are spending the year setting up a dashboard that they will largely only use for three days in April.

They take hundreds of names, thousands of hours of evaluation, more than a little hearty debate, stacks of plane tickets, interviews, miles traveled for practices and matches, and it’s all thrown into kind of a blender to find the line — the line between doing all the due diligence that can be done and information overload.

Or as former Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills general manager Tom Donahoe once said, “You don’t want to get to a point where you can’t remember why you liked the guy in first place.”

But hey, it’s the information age. An avalanche of data is available on potential projects from the top to the bottom of the table.

Their matches, medical information, background checks, psychological evaluations, face-to-face interviews, professional days, scouting combine are all summarized by each team. Then they rank and stack the players, so they’re ready to pick the ones they hope to be in the draft when their draft picks happen.

“But it can definitely be crippled if you let it,” Denver Broncos general manager George Paton said. a 4.8 40 for a receiver, an off-field issue, a character flag, a medical flag, whatever — you get back to the board and how it fits on the field. But at some point, you have to go through all the data and leave it because if you don’t, you might hamper your ability to make the call when you need to make a call.”

The hardest part is that few, if any, NFL personnel executives have risen to the job without digging and working on as much player information as they could find. They like — no they love — information. They covet and cherish good information, and the success of obtaining it can often determine how a draft class looks three or four seasons after it is selected.

“You’re going to control the whole draft class,” Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry said during the combine. the reality is that we are all guessing – we make educated guesses.

“The importance of being prepared, being flexible and being able to pivot doesn’t change whether you have one first-round pick or three first-round picks. … I think that’s probably where we pass the more time, depending on the players that would likely be available in the ranges you would pick high, as opposed to actual individual preparation regarding current prospects.”

While the impact of analytics on player ratings varies from team to team, most draft picks often say the best way to find comfort is to always go back to the how the player actually played on the pitch.

Training sessions, 40 times, character evaluations, medicals and professional days are some of the things that need to be taken into account and can, at times, affect where a player ends up on the draft board. of a team. But the bulk of the mark – often 75-80%, depending on the personnel manager interviewed – is based on the player’s performance when their helmet was on.

And while an NFL general manager may feel good about how he and his staff have predicted things will go in the draft, they have no control over how the other 31 teams will run their affairs. If, like grief, there are five stages in the preparation of a project, the “acceptance” of this fact must be one of them.

“We’re happy with our ability to analyze who’s available and how they would impact our team early on,” Cincinnati Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin said when asked about his approach to drafting at the n. #31 in the first round this year after a Super Bowl appearance, compared to the start of the round. “When you take a guy in the first round you want an impact. So we’re going to see what’s available to us because obviously there’s going to be 30 guys gone without us being able to decide who it is. ”

Additionally, the key to avoiding information overload may be to settle any differences of opinion about players well in advance of the draft. If the scouts and coaches disagree, or the scouts and the general manager, or the coaches and the general manager, they must settle these differences in advance.

Put everything on the table, work on it, and in the end decide where the player sits when the board is stacked.

“Look, you want data, I like data, I like information, the more the better,” Paton said. “But by the time we finish our group studies, when we’ve sorted out all the places where we’re not on the same page for whatever reason and I need to dig in – character, medicine, training, etc. – so I’m fine. And that’s ultimately your goal, so by the time you get to the draft, you’re good.”

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