The Eagles went to practice on Wednesday and the whole front office staff went down to take a look at Al. On the first one on one drill, Emmitt instructed the WR to run a Go route (a sprint straight down the field). Al pressed the speedy receiver hard off his release and then ran shoulder for shoulder with him down the field like he was his shadow. Then Emmitt Thomas turned to the Bobby and the other personnel men and said with a big smile, “he’s starting on Sunday”! Al eventually started and played a lot for the Eagles before being traded to the Packers where he continued to elevate his game. DePaul hit a home run on championing Al and parlayed his work into becoming a director for the Bears shortly thereafter.
Today, as teams become mathematically ineligible for the playoffs they will start targeting other players to fill out the middle and the bottom of their rosters while still trying to field a competitive team. Front office men will try to cherry pick talent on other practice squads and purge their rosters of players they know won’t be a part of their team next year. Even some of the college directors will get into the act by reminding their GM and Pro Director that there are players they had highly rated during the draft sitting on a divisional rivals practice squad just ripe for the taking.
Free agent pick-ups like Rodney Harrison, Justin Smith, Wes Welker, and Drew Brees are vitally important pieces of a winning team’s personnel puzzle. For these moves to happen positively there must be a good communication, respect and a system of checks an balances in place within an organization to make moves with conviction and with a collective goal in mind.
Today’s NFL Pro Personnel director can be a challenging job. Some unfortunately don’t even have a defined job description with accountability measurements. Others wear several hats including forward scouting of upcoming opponents for the coaches, cross checking the college players, evaluating current players on his own roster and/or just being a "yes" man for the Head Coach or GM. The Pro director often finds himself as the liaison between the coaches and front offices. Coaches are often not on the same page with scouting and more infighting exists between these two groups than people realize. A good personnel man acts more like the office Kissinger than the office Rasputin. Unfortunately, both types exist.
The complete pro director must possess great communication skills (especially with coaches), an eye to evaluate talent, have conviction on his decision making process, have a tireless work ethic, thick skin and have the ability to keep everyone in the building calm and on the same page. A good Director of Pro Personnel can be a valuable asset to any team.
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