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Draft Myths

Sensational headlines, sleepers, and more. Jack Bechta

Print This April 09, 2014, 05:30 AM EST

We in the trenches of the industry get plenty of laughs this time of year. The amount of speculation, sensationalism and misinformation floating around is entertaining. The NFL Network, ESPN, team beat writers, bloggers and websites have to keep football season alive. To do so, they have to get your attention. So when it comes to the draft, don’t believe anything you hear or read from now until draft day.

Here are a few draft related headlines I read recently that are trying to get your attention:

“Chiefs can steal perfect QB in 3rd round”: First of all, any QB drafted in the 3rd round is not a steal. QBs, regardless of where they are drafted take some time to develop. Furthermore, the concept of a “steal” is over going into the players 4th season when the team has to pay up on a new deal. Who knows what QB will be available in the 3rd round?

Manziel made good impression during Raiders visits: Of course he made a good impression. He’s a charismatic, confident and can talk football with anyone. 95% of all players make great impressions on their team visits. We agents make sure of that. Furthermore, a team isn’t going to tell a national reporter the guy made a horrible impression. Trying to match the Raiders to Manziel on a visit comment is well, entertainment.

When a team brings a player in for a visit that most likely means they already love him. Or maybe his pro day was during the owners meetings and the GM and HC couldn’t make it and want to visit with him just to ensure a comfort level.

Player X’s stock is slipping due to poor pro day: (not going to use his name) Representing three to five new draft picks every year I hate seeing these types of headlines. Some poor kid and his family are trying to live out their dream and some reporter/writer/blogger, who most likely wasn’t even in attendance, is announcing to the world that his dream is being slowly crushed. Firstly, pro days count very little towards a players overall value. If a high-profile draftnik like Mayock or Kiper make one negative comment about one component of the player’s pro day, the lemmings follow suit.

Some First round sleepers to keep your eye on: It’s extremely difficult for players to hide these days. Players do fall through the cracks of the system, but true sleepers don’t get drafted in the first 4 rounds. Any players drafted in these rounds are most likely on all 32 draft boards. A sleeper is an unknown player who flies deep under the radar. Actually many NFL people will tell you there is no such thing as a sleeper. Lets take Tom Brady for example. Tom was on many draft boards as a late rounder or undrafted free agent. However, there was a consensus around the league that he needed time to get bigger and stronger. Therefore, if you drafted him, he couldn’t help your team right away you so don’t draft him high. Had the Pats not drafted him another team would have before the draft was over.

A sleeper is a player who when one team takes him in the late rounds, about twenty teams are asking, “who the hell is that”. The sleeper pick or undrafted player is usually the work of a seasoned area scout. Area scouts know they can’t fight for every single player they like, so they usually pick one they have a special feeling about. They then recruit the director and coaches to watch film until he can get everyone to agree they want him.

I once had Jerry Angelo, then the scouting director for the Bucs, tell me to go to East Texas State and sign a safety named Curtis Buckley. Jerry told me this guy could turn out to be a great special teams player. I found him and signed him. There were no other agents pursuing him and only two teams I spoke to knew him. He made the Bucs in year one and went on to several Pro Bowls as a special teamer.

Other notable sleepers: Broncos RB Terrell Davis – A transfer from Long Beach State to Georgia, where he played in the shadow of RB Garrison Hearst and was often injured his senior year. Many NFL teams wrote him off as a major medical risk.

Vikings and HOF DT John Randle is my favorite sleeper of all time. The Bucs actually had him as an undrafted free agent but he didn’t fit their scheme so they let him go a few weeks after the draft. The Vikings regional scout named Fitzpatrick loved him and brought him in. The Vikes were one of the first teams to run the 3-4 which John’s skill set was a perfect fit. Now that’s a true sleeper.

So enjoy the entertainment for the next month.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jackbechta

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