Unwrapping the Draft
1) The Clowney Hype: In my 28 years as an NFL agent (my adult life) I’ve never seen a player hyped, talked about, promoted and worshiped as much as I’ve seen Jadeveon Clowney prior to the 2013 season. This kid has been described as “a once in a decade player”, “once in a lifetime talent”, “can’t miss franchise player”, “the next Lawrence Taylor”, “unblockable”, and “a physical freak”.
After this college season, Jadeveon has also been described as “lazy, spoiled, underachieving and selfish”.
What I’m trying to say is there isn’t a player in college football that could have lived up to this hype.
Let's put things in perspective. Did Clowney start believing some of the headlines written about him last year and take his foot off the gas? Probably. It’s only human nature, as he just tuned 21 years old in February of this year. He’s still just a kid, he’s susceptible to doing so as any young vulnerable kid would be.
Secondly, defensive coordinators were also reading the hype as well and spent the summer game planning Clowney. I know for a fact that QBs have been told to shorten their drops when playing against him. Tight ends were told to stay in or chip him and help the tackle. Some teams assigned running backs to him as well.
Jadeveon did not write the headlines himself. He didn’t ask for it, the media put him on a tall pedestal and every coach and player he faced last season spent more time than they normally would on bringing him down. This player is human and most likely learned he has to work harder and never take his foot off the gas.
2) Where are the QBs going? There has been a lot written about this year’s QB class. Many of the people I speak to around the NFL don’t see the QBs going as high as the media and draftniks are projecting. Why is this? For one, when a QB is drafted within the top 10 picks there is an expectation that he is to be a franchise savior. GMs and head coaches don’t like to paint themselves in a corner by making such a pick. It can disrupt the team’s chemistry, negatively affect the current starter’s confidence and divide the locker-room. Don’t expect five or six QBs to be drafted in the first round as many of the mock drafts are projecting.
3) Draft Day, the movie: Not very good, predictable, bad casting and average acting at best. To its credit there were a few reality moments.
For one, when a draft pick is capable of making a “splash” (ex; Johnny Manziel) as an early first round pick, owners usually have a hand in promoting it internally. Owners see their team as a product they must sell to a fan base, so they want the face that helps make the team an easy sell.
Secondly, tension between head coaches and GMs usually have their makings on draft day. Coaches simply work on a different plane than the GMs. Coaches think more about winning right away and GMs think more about the long term and development of a player. It’s not uncommon for coaches to undermine and discredit their GM boss this time of year. The beginning of divorces usually have their beginning around draft time.
Thirdly, the emotions of players on draft day are truly running at an all-time high. The film did a good job of capturing some of them. Draftees have a lot of downtime this time of year to listen to the media, family and friends shout in their ears about how great they are going to be. They've worked their whole life for this moment and where they end up (unlike college) is completely out of their control.
4) Reading into team visits/private workouts: Advice, don’t read anything into team visits/workouts. One year, I had a client visit 15 teams and the one who drafted him (33rd overall) didn’t give him a private workout or a visit.
There are some teams who don’t want to bring any attention to who they like so they just bring in guys who they have questions on (medical, character, football IQ).
5) Two extra weeks of diligence: I personally believe the May draft is here to stay. It was moved because of an alleged scheduling conflict but I believe it’s all about the contiguous stretching of the NFL product into a year round product. The NFL Network needs content and the draft engages all 32 fan bases.
Having two extra weeks to prepare for the draft probably means, absolutely nothing.
In 2002, the Houston Texans had almost two full years to prepare for their 13 pick draft. They had the luxury of watching a draft class for two years, not having a season and had nothing to do but focus on the draft. This is what they did:
Round 1/ Pick 1: David Carr, QB (Fresno State)
Round 2/ Pick 33: Jabar Gaffney, WR (Florida)
Round 2/ Pick 50: Chester Pitts, OG (San Diego State)
Round 3/ Pick 66: Fred Weary, OG (Tennessee)
Round 3/ Pick 83: Charles Hill, DT (Maryland)
Round 4/ Pick 99: Jonathan Wells, RB (Ohio State)
Round 5/ Pick 136: Jarrod Baxter, FB (New Mexico)
Round 5/ Pick 153: Ramon Walker, S (Pittsburgh)
Round 6/ Pick 173: Demarcus Faggins, CB (Kansas State)
Round 6/ Pick 190: Howard Green, DT (LSU)
Round 6/ Supplemental Pick: Milford Brown, OG (Florida State)
Round 7/ Pick 229: Greg White, DE (Minnesota)
Round 7/ Pick 261: Ahmad Miller, DT (UNLV)
Needless to say, they didn’t hit on many. So whether a team has an extra two weeks or two years to prepare, time is irrelevant or can maybe even cause teams to start second guessing themselves.
With all the hype going on around the draft you would be surprised how boring some draft war rooms will be. The draft is now a sensationalized spring show that has a life all its own. Oh and don’t forget that after the draft each team will be graded by the media on their draft picks, all who have yet played a down.
Follow me on Twitter: @Jackbechta