Deja vu Again for Brett?

The annual rite of spring is here. I can’t shake a stick without being asked my thoughts on the plans of one Brett Favre. Of course, this happened even when Brett had not retired and went through his decision-making months after the end of the season from 2005-2007. And, of course, it happened last year prior to – and following – his retirement. I expected Brett to want to continue playing a year ago, as I did every year for the past several years. Now, not so sure.

I have not talked to Brett, but I’ve talked with Bus Cook, his agent with whom I negotiated Brett’s 10-year, $101M contract in 2001, both of us hoping at that time that Brett would play three more years.

Wednesday Whys

Why are many veterans being released so soon after the Draft?

They’ve been replaced by the events of last weekend. The Not For Long league is in full swing — in with the new and out with the old. Many veterans have been, or will be, told their services are no longer needed, including Chris Perry, John Beck, Levi Jones, Brian Young, Rod Hood and now, as predicted here Tuesday, Edgerrin James. In addition to these better known names, there are many other younger players being released, as they will be replaced by draft picks who are now the favored pets of teams. It’s a tough thing for younger players who have been working out at their teams’ facilities for two months to hear they’re not even allowed to participate in training camp, but this is a cold business. They will be thanked for their time and effort and wished the best.

Wedding Crashers!

For everyone who suffered through my posts last week, here’s an update on my 2009 draftable clients and my weekend activities.

Seth Olsen, G, Iowa: fourth round to Denver

Rob Bruggeman, C, Iowa: UFA to Tampa (14 teams)

Andy Brodell, WR/PR, Iowa: UFA to Green Bay (four teams)

John Matthews, WR, U. of San Diego: UFA to Indianapolis (four teams)

Ben Muth, T, Stanford: UFA to San Diego (three Teams)

This year’s draft was a bit of a challenge for me because it was the first time in 20 years I didn’t spend the weekend at my office or home office. I had to be in Chicago for the wedding of Eric Steinbach, my client.

The challenging part of being away from my office was that I knew I would have two to four undrafted free agents (UFAs). I like the comfort of working in my office, with a two-line phone, my white board, fax, printers, TV and computers all at my disposal. After all, the most important component of helping UFAs is being able to quickly process the flow of information in a very short time in order to make the proper decision. At the same time, I’m not going to miss seeing a client and friend get married. Nor am I going to risk getting on an early flight and trying to make it home to San Diego by the fifth or sixth round.

Another challenge I had was keeping my wedding tradition alive. Steiny’s wedding was at night, and I always bring a bottle of tequila to the reception – just ask Matt Bowen. Have you ever tried to pour shots without doing one yourself? I knew that Steiny, his family and guests, who included DE Justin Smith and C Hank Fraley, would not let me get away with just pouring a solo.

Tuesday Thoughts

It’s always interesting to me that in many cases, the skill sets that lead to eye-popping productivity in college football don’t translate to the NFL. In evaluating some of the top performers in college football, every NFL team decided that some were not worthy of even a low-round draft pick.

The players who stand out are quarterbacks Graham Harrell of Texas Tech and Chase Daniel of Missouri and running back Ian Johnson of Boise State. In the cases of Harrell and Daniel, the receivers they threw to, Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin, will make millions, having been drafted among the top 19 selections. Harrell and Daniel did not get drafted, however, landing in Cleveland and Washington, respectively, for a few thousand dollars as products of the undrafted free-agent frenzy Sunday night. Johnson, as famous for his nationally televised marriage proposal as for his great production as a running back, will report to the Vikings as an undrafted free agent.

The War Room: Part III

Most of the trading during the draft — and there’s plenty of it — involves picks rather than players. Occasionally, players are traded, but the vast majority of exchanges are made so that teams that covet certain players can move up. This is where draft value charts come into play. There is a basic version, first developed by Jimmy Johnson in the early 1990s and tweaked and re-cast by several different teams. When trades are proposed, they are couched in terms of the overall number of the pick, such as No. 52 and No. 127, rather than offering a second and a fourth.

Trades are proposed throughout the days, with the calculator drumming out which team comes out ahead in the proposed trades. Teams will move up, move back and, as the draft moves into its later stages, trade out of this year’s draft entirely, giving up low-round picks for picks in next year’s draft. The basic value of future picks a year away appears to be a round earlier – thus trading away a 2010 sixth rounder now is like trading away a 2009 seventh rounder. There are scenarios in which that valuation is flawed, in my opinion, especially in higher rounds, but it seems to be the one that’s used. Trades often happen fast and furious, as team personnel is ready at the call with sheets detailing the terms set to run them by Joel Bussert and his staff at the league office. Once approved, the trading team takes over the slotted selection.

After the two-day marathon, the action really starts to heat up. It’s now time for teams to sign the hundreds of players – some teams will sign close to 20 — they have scouted who were not drafted over the seven rounds. Team personnel begin calling players and agents as early as the week before the draft, putting their names in to let them know they have a strong interest if the player isn’t drafted. At that point, every agent says the same thing: “If you’re interested, draft him!” The standard response from team personnel is that their picks are targeting other positions, but they have the player as a priority undrafted free agent. Some of these players do get selected, primarily in the seventh round – which has more picks than any other round due to compensatory picks – but most do not, setting off the feeding frenzy immediately following the draft.</p>

I’ve always said there must be a better way for undrafted free agents to sign with their new employers. The way it is now, players and agents are called by teams needing to know if they’re signing up while they have other players on hold. Players – at least the ones in demand – may have up to five or six teams on hold waiting for an answer while they have to decide in minutes on their future employer. Teams may drop off as other players need to make decisions while on hold. Teams need answers; players need answers; somehow, this jumble of decisions produces from 6-12 players per team with signing bonuses from zero up to $35,000 for the players most in demand.

As for a better way, perhaps there could be the introduction of a system similar to the way I understand medical residents are matched with their future employer hospitals. In this system, players would submit their top five desired teams (just as medical students submit their top resident hospital venues), while teams would submit their top five undrafted free agents (as hospitals submit their medical resident choices), and a computer could match up teams and players in a high-tech version of the dating game. It sounds novel but could probably work better than the current Wild West system we now have.

Making the signing of these players even more chaotic is the fact that people who don’t negotiate contracts for teams throughout the year are now set loose to bring in these players, using the recruiting tools of past undrafted players who made the roster and some signing bonus money. Like any negotiation or decision, agents and players who have prepared are best served, although their preparation may not have included the depth chart created by players the team has just drafted.

When the undrafted free agent frenzy ends, the draft is over. The phones keep ringing with agents begging and asking to bring in players not signed, but at this point, a team’s staff can finally breathe. The war of attrition has ended, and team officials are still standing. The draft class will be analyzed from every angle over the next 24 hours, with the opinion of their peers mattering the most. Draft weekend is over — time to get some food and a drink and start preparing for the incoming class’ arrival for mini-camp in a few days. It never ends.

Boiler Room: NFL Style

April 24, 1996. It was a typically beautiful San Diego day as I finished a beach run to relieve some usual draft-weekend stress. The first round had just started when I got back and saw that Keyshawn Johnson was the first player off the board. I made some breakfast, took a shower and checked the TV again. Only three picks were off the board. “Damn,” I thought, “it’s going to be a long weekend.”

That year, I represented my Texas A&M-Kingsville foursome of OT Jermane Mayberry, G Jorge Diaz, C Kevin Dogins, and WR/PR/KR Karl “The Truth” Williams. I was working both ends of the spectrum in this draft. Jermane was a potential first-round pick, while the rest of the guys were snubbed by the Combine and all-star games, which meant they’d probably be undrafted free agents.

After a few painstaking hours, the Eagles finally picked Jermane in the first round with the 25th pick. I was ecstatic, jumping around, screaming, couldn’t believe it. This was perfect for him. They were in big need of a left tackle, and Juan Castillo, his college coach and mentor for three years, had just been hired as an assistant O-line coach. Plus, Philly is my hometown and the Eagles were a part of my DNA. I was looking for someone to high five or hug or celebrate with, but the house was empty — a downside to the job. Not too many friends, girlfriends or family want to be around an agent on draft weekend.

That night, I took my staff of one and my buddy out for a nice steak dinner to celebrate my first first-rounder. But the celebration was short as I had to be focused to handle the calls for Sunday’s undrafted free agents.

Sunday, it was only the fourth round, and Ravens O-line coach Kirk Ferentz (currently Iowa’s head coach) called me for the third time in three days. He’d been recruiting Jorge Diaz for three weeks and told me that he had to have him as a UFA. He convinced me the Ravens were the right place for Jorge. I really liked Kirk, still do, and built a relationship with him over the previous three years, which started when he came to La Jolla in 1993 to work out Todd Rucci and another client. The four of us went out afterward for a Chart House dinner and a few rounds of beers. Kirk is extremely personable, honest and instantly likable — just a few reasons he’s successful at Iowa.

I all but handed him Jorge before the draft was complete. He put in more time recruiting him than anybody else. He was invested and motivated to see Jorge make the team and succeed.

As the seventh round rolled around, I already had 12 calls on Jorge, four on Dogins and only two on The Truth. When the last pick went off the board, I had 14 teams aggressively going after Jorge. A matter of fact, someone from the Vikings was talking directly to Jorge and never called my office to speak with me. He would not let Jorge off the line. He simply refused to hang up until Jorge was on board and even offered him a signing bonus. Jorge finally got off the phone and called me discuss the calls. He told me that he felt strongly about the Vikings, who had also called him on Friday and Saturday. At one point in our conversation, Jorge said, “I’m going to have a tough time saying no to the Vikings.”

I quickly put Jorge on hold as my three-line phone was lighting up. My assistant had Rustin Webster on the line. Webster was the Bucs scout who took the time to work out The Truth in Kingsville when nobody else would. I agreed to send Karl there for a modest signing bonus. I had my assistant call the only other team, Dallas, and tell them Karl was done.

Back to Jorge. It was about 20 minutes after the draft, and my phone was still lighting up like a Christmas tree. Jorge told me his phone wouldn’t stop ringing and he just wanted to “get this over with.” I told Jorge to relax, that we were going to take a deep breath and sort through the all the proposals. I told him, “If the teams are really interested in you as they say, they won’t go away. If they’re just looking for a camp guy, they’ll move on to the next guy on their list.” In the meantime, my assistant was taking messages every minute, mostly for Jorge. Many were repeat call, including Kirk Ferentz.

I called Kirk back and asked him if he was willing to wait on Jorge while I sorted through his opportunities, narrowed it down to three and helped another client. He said he would wait as long as he had to. I told him he was one of the three.

The Cowboys were calling on the other line. They wanted the other two Kingsville players, Dogins and Diaz. I told them no way on Diaz as they had All-Pro guards and some depth. Maybe Dogins, although I thought they drafted a center in the third. Call you back, Dallas. Next, Jerry Angelo from Tampa Bay gave me a sales pitch on why all the guys should go there.

“We’re very shaky at our guard positions, and one of our starters will be a free agent next year,” he said. “We also have no back-up centers.” I pulled the trigger on Dogins. Done deal in Tampa. My assistant called back the other three teams to tell them Dogins was done.

Back to Diaz and his 14 options. It was now about two hours after the draft, and I called Juan Castillo to get his input because he had recruited and coached Jorge. He didn’t have room for him in Philly and didn’t want to push his luck as a first-year coach. He told me that Jorge could play in year one and would compete and fight in camp, so I shouldn’t be afraid to send him somewhere he could play right away. Jorge and I quickly eliminated about six teams because of their draft picks, depth and style of line play.

Two hours had passed and about eight teams moved on. The others were still putting on the full-court press. I finally got a call from the Vikings. The scout gave me his pitch and made it sound like Jorge had already made up his mind and would become a Viking. Not yet, I told him. We were still sorting though his options. He got mad and told me I was doing Jorge a disservice. I told him to be patient, that we had a process to select the best team. He hung up and immediately started working on Jorge again.

It was now four hours after the draft and we were in dangerous territory, as the free-agent market was all but complete for most teams. However, the calls were still coming in from teams about Jorge, and the callers were now the top of the food chain (GM Rich McKay, owner Jerry Jones, more GMs).

By this time, Jorge and I had narrowed it down to four – the Bucs, Vikings, Ravens and Bears. We debated each team’s situation, depth chart and draft. The Ravens drafted Jonathan Ogden that year, and he was the missing piece of their puzzle. They also signed two more linemen in free agency. But Kirk was still high on Jorge for the same reasons Juan was. It was now hour five, and I called Kirk and said, “Kirk, you’ve put more time into recruiting Jorge than anybody. I know you want him, but if he were you son or client and you knew the Ravens had a solid O-line and the Bucs had a great opportunity and drafted no one, where would you send him?”

The phone went silent for a good 30 seconds. Then he said, “Jack, I would have to lean to Tampa based on their situation, but I still would like him here.” And I said, “I appreciate your honesty, and that’s where I’m going to send him. Thanks, Coach.”

I called Rich McKay and worked him over for a premium signing bonus and promised Jorge to him. The contract would arrive on Tuesday. It was six hours after the draft and all three of my clients landed in Tampa with new unis and a new head coach in Tony Dungy. I was emotionally and physically exhausted. Jorge was happy to be joining his teammates.

Monday morning after the draft, 5 a.m. It was Jorge calling.

“I think we made a mistake,” he
said. “The Vikings keep calling me and are willing to triple the signing bonus to $15,000. They really want me bad. I told them I didn’t sign the contract yet.” I told Jorge that I had already given my word to Tampa. I couldn’t go back on it now because this is how the UFA process works. Jorge agreed.

When an agent gives his word and has a done deal, the contract paperwork is done later. I settled Jorge down, called the Vikings and told them to “stand down on my client, it’s over.”

Jorge made the team, started by the sixth game and didn’t give up his guard position for five years. It turned out we made the right move. Karl also started and Dogins was a solid back-up for many years as well.

I really don’t think I can truly describe the feeling of pressure, chaos and second-guessing that goes on during the worst hour in football. I believe my ability to stay calm and focused through this time helps me make good decision with and for my clients.

Here are some other things that will happen after the draft that fans won’t get to see:

About 450 UFA negotiations in less than one hour. One time, I had a player named Aaron Boone, a WR out of Kentucky. About 20 minutes went by after the draft and I had no calls on him. Finally, Walter from the Cowboys called and expressed an interest. I could hear Bill Parcells in the background. I told Walter to put Parcells on the line because I wanted to see if he knew the player or was just targeting Boone as a camp guy. Bill got on and gave me the quick pitch. Then I say, “Bill, did you honestly do any film work on Boone? If so, tell me about him.” Bill, who has a memory like an elephant, said, “I saw him against Louisville,” and started describing specific plays. I said, “OK, you give me a $10,000 signing bonus on a two-year deal and we’ll do it right now. But if you hang up, I can’t make any promises.” Parcells, without hesitating, said, “We got him guaranteed?” I say, “Yes.” He said, “Done, Bechta.” I only got one other call on Aaron with no signing bonus offered. The call with the Cowboys lasted a whole three minutes.

Teams “slow playing” agents/players. When a team has to have a certain position filled, it will have several different people (coaches, scouts, GMs, cap guy) call three different agents for three different players. Their goal is to get the No. 1-rated UFA on their board but keep the other two on the line as insurance. A lot of times, you can tell if your guy is the “priority” if it’s the GM calling. If you get the area scout or some assistant personnel person you never heard of, you might be the insurance policy. The sad part about this process is that an agent might turn down other offers because a team leads him to believe it’s going to sign his guy. If the team gets its first option, the offer disappears, sometimes without a courtesy call.

I’ve been doing this long enough that when I get a call, I simply ask, “Is my guy your No. 1, 2 or 3? Can you do the deal now?” If they have to call you back and check with someone about a signing bonus and/or doing the deal, he’s not their first choice. A lot of inexperienced agents get worked over in this process, and their clients can end up without a deal or going to an inferior situation.

It has also gone the other way where the agent agrees with a team on signing the player, then a superior deal comes in and the agent takes the new deal instead. He will then call the first team back and say, “I know we had a deal, but the kid wants to play elsewhere and took the deal without my knowledge.” The teams know the agent is lying, and it may hurt him in the future, especially if the player turns out to be a star.

Agents holding out for bigger signing bonuses and losing deals. It happens, and the player can sometimes end up without a contract or signing bonus because the agent pushed too far. Some players and agents take the first deal that comes along.

Coaches as the Closers. Many teams incorporate their coaches into a big part of this process. It’s really hard for a player to say no to a coach. I realized this when I was a young agent and the Browns’ Marty Schottenheimer got me on the line. I couldn’t help but send him my player. I was only two years removed from playing college ball, and I felt myself reacting like I was one of his players.

Several years ago, I instituted a rule with my undrafted players: Don’t talk to the head coach. Have everyone call me right away. Four years ago, I broke that rule with QB Todd Mortensen out of the University of San Diego. We only had two options, the Ravens and the Lions. Ravens QB coach Rick Neuheisel was on one line and Lions coach Steve Mariucci was on the other. We were leaning toward Baltimore because the Lions had drafted Dan Orlovsky in the late rounds, and I thought Todd would get very little in the way of reps with him there. But I broke my rule when Mariucci asked if he could speak with Todd.

I put Todd on the phone and the next thing I know, these guys are talking west coast terminology, routes and formations. When he hung up, I said it was time to make a decision. “My gut and experience says the Ravens,” I told him.

Todd said, “I feel more comfortable with the west coast offense and Mariucci.” I told him that I was skeptical of the opportunity and my vote was firmly with the Ravens, but he chose the Lions. He barely got a rep in practice and virtually no snaps the entire preseason. Needless to say, he was cut and never got another good opportunity.

There will be 32 boiler rooms in action on Sunday, 450 players in less than one hour. I’ve heard that some teams have gotten 15 players signed within 15 minutes after the draft. The speed at which this process works leads to many mismatches for teams and players.

My opinion is that this system needs a thoughtful upgrade. The NFL’s hierarchy – Commissioner Roger Goodell and Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith – should consider a format in which no UFAs can be signed until 1 p.m. eastern on the Monday or Tuesday following the draft. This will give players, teams and agents a realistic amount of time to evaluate offers and opportunities without the pressure to make a quick decision.

The War Room: Part II

One of the biggest mistakes made in War Rooms, in my opinion, is that decision-makers get emotional and impulsive. Scouts and general managers have scoured the country since July, spending hundreds of hours and millions of dollars putting together all the information that now sits in front of them on the board. Even knowing this, I have seen and continuously heard about decision-makers who — at the moment of truth – will stray from the board. Why? They get emotional about a player who may be rated below the player that the board dictates they should select. There’s a saying in War Rooms: “Trust the Board,” yet there are still teams that, in the heat of the moment, do not. All of the work of scouts and personnel staff that went into putting it together can be ignored in a moment of impulse. Nothing will deflate the morale of a scouting staff faster than that.

Although some boards are structured differently than others, most teams place the players they feel are first-round worthy on a line above the first round, second-round projected players above the second-round line and so on. It’s rare when a team would have 32 players rated as first round, although there may be that number or more in the later rounds. A team feels very good about its draft, no matter what the pundits or its competitors say, when it has trusted its board and selected, say, a player rated by them as a second-rounder in the third, a player rated as a fourth-rounder in the sixth, etc. Every team has a bragging-rights story about how it could not believe the player it found in a particular round was still there, and in many cases, it’s telling the truth.

I would man the phones with agents, trying to glean information but, more often than not, listen patiently as they told me they could not believe that no one had picked their player yet. Outside of those selected in the top of the first round, I have rarely talked to a player or agent who didn’t feel the player should have been drafted higher. Usually, when we selected a player in the later rounds, the agent had been doing everything in his power to keep the player from lashing out, as most are apoplectic by that point that they had not been selected yet. Ego and insecurity are inevitable staples of draft weekend.

At the Packers, whenever we made a pick, we would always call the player first to, as Ron Wolf would always say, “make sure he’s still alive.” (I’m not sure if this came from an experience in which he knew of someone drafting a dead guy). Everyone we picked was still alive, although there were times we had trouble finding the player. I remember in 2005 when none of us, including his agent, could locate a player we were about to take in the sixth round. We were about to change our selection when, at that very moment, a defensive end from Texas A&M named Mike Montgomery finally answered his phone and confirmed that he was alive and well. The player we didn’t select? No worries, Packers fans, he never made it in the league.

I would call the agent for every player to acknowledge the selection and say I looked forward to negotiating the contract with him. After hearing how lucky we were to get his player, the agent would usually ask me about other players that were waiting for the call. I would tell him it was not the time for that.

The first-round pick usually flies into his new team’s facility after being selected to meet the media right away. Since many teams have draft parties throughout the day and into the evening, some are lucky enough to get the player in front of their gathered audience before the party ends. Sometimes that isn’t the greatest idea because players are occasionally booed when their name is called out as the team’s top draft pick. We experienced that in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers, a selection cheered by some but booed lustily by others since he would not contribute right away, and in 2007 with Justin Harrell. In 2006, however, when we selected A.J. Hawk at the top of the draft, he flew in immediately, met the public and the press, and entered into an agreement to buy a house (he was my neighbor) all in one day.

Working the draft, as I said above, is about pacing oneself, especially for the decision-maker. There are hands to shake, media to speak with, interminable bouts of waiting for other teams to pick and trying to manage a room that varies in size and interest throughout the ebb and flow of the weekend. And none of this involves the task that the person is hired – and evaluated – to do: actually select the players. That’s another reason why “trusting the board” is so important.

Saving Andre Smith

The common wisdom about players and agents is that if an agent tells a player he can get him drafted higher simply by virtue of having him as his agent, then the player should run the other way. This is what I have believed in the overwhelming majority of players, as has my colleague and partner at the Post, agent Jack Bechta.

However, something happened this week that slightly deflates that conventional wisdom.

The War Room: Part I

The War Room. The mere mention of these words connotes power and significance. I remember the days, weeks and months following the tragedy of September 11 when it was considered inappropriate to use such metaphors, and these rooms were simply called draft rooms. As with most things, however, the sensitivity has since faded (despite our country still being at war), and the moniker of War Room for NFL draft headquarters has returned in full — pardon the pun — force.

At the Packers, we actually had two War Rooms. There was one room for the personnel side, featuring all the necessary statistics on the players — height, weight, speed, shuttle times, broad jump, vertical jump, hand size, arm length, Wunderlic score, agent, etc. We also had a Financial War Room that I designed featuring the necessary statistics on all NFL players in the league from a Cap and cash standpoint — salary, Cap number, likely and unlikely incentives, acceleration number, last contract year, prorated bonus, age, agent — as well as charts on every team consisting of cash and Cap spending by position group, by offense/defense, by year, by draft or free agency and pending free agents. Whenever we gave VIPs a tour of the facility, our Cap Room (as opposed to Cap room) drew particular interest, especially from Commissioners Paul Tagliabue and Roger Goodell and Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw, who followed up with a request that we advise the union on the design of a similar room at its headquarters.

As for the traditional draft War Room, it was used throughout the year for ranking top players on the “ready” list in case a need came up at a certain position. It also had depth charts of every team, including practice squad players. However, the War Room’s most celebrated two days of the year are always NFL Draft weekend in late April. That’s when the room becomes the venue for decisions that affect franchises’ fortunes for years to come. (That's me at the bottom left in blue).

I’m told that the setup in the room we had in Green Bay is quite similar throughout the league. Typically, the lead decision-maker – the general manager or head coach/general manager (I have experienced both) — sits at either the head of the table or in front of the draft board listing all the players (the board), flanked by his most trusted personnel assistant on one side and usually the head coach, if he’s not the primary decision-maker, on the other. Surrounding that brain trust is other personnel staff assigned to work the phones with other teams for trades, with designated people assigned to work with certain teams based on established relationships. Nearby are the doctors and trainers with copious records of each player and their physicals, coded with a number system that usually goes from 1 to 4, one being completely clean to four being a complete fail.

As to additional personnel populating the room, flanked somewhere near the personnel people are the Cap/contract person, which I was – ready at the call to advise on Cap implications of moving up or down and working the agents to glean information — and a research/statistics person who has evaluated trade possibilities and other analytic models for potential scenarios. Televisions are on and tuned to ESPN, the NFL Network (the league preference) or both. And, of course, there’s a person on the line with a team official sitting in New York at the event, always at the ready to fill out and hand in the “card” with the player’s name. Thus, the scene is set.

Different teams have different feelings about who’s allowed to enter and remain in the War Room. I’ve heard that there are teams that don’t allow anyone other than the top decision-makers to enter the room, restricting access even to people who have spent months preparing the team for this day. Most rooms are much more open and allow staff to share in the important events of the day. Of course, ownership – or, in the case of the Packers, members of the Board of Directors – is usually present on these weekends, although most exit stage right soon after the top pick is made. And now media access has become much more in vogue, with War Room cams throughout the league and assorted media allowed to document the events.

While there are dramatic consequences with the decisions being made on these two days, the decision-makers whom I’ve watched, including Ron Wolf, Mike Sherman and Ted Thompson, tend to be very relaxed as the draft begins, understanding the two days require great stamina and the pace of a marathon rather than a sprint. All the work has been done — players have been poked, prodded, quizzed, paraded in front of scouts in their gym shorts, analyzed, discussed, and analyzed and discussed some more for the past seven months. Now it’s time to let the board do the bulk of the work, or, at least, that’s what should happen.