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Old 03-29-2014   #1
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Default How NFL Teams View Character Concerns for Draft-Eligible Players

How NFL Teams View and Treat Character Concerns for Draft-Eligible Players
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I spent 30 years of my adult life as a talent evaluator for NFL teams. For nine of those years I was the Director of College Scouting for the Chicago Bears. In that time, I was put in a number of situations in which I had to make a decision on players who had character questions. Do we draft them or do we remove their name from the draft board altogether?

Those were never easy decisions to make, and they were never spur-of-the-moment decisions. We, as a team, had a specific process we went through. When all the information was in, we discussed it and came to a consensus.

The Scouting Cycle

A typical yearly scouting cycle usually starts around the beginning of June. At that time, there are well over 1,000 names on each club's...

December Meetings

As Director of College Scouting, I would meet with the scouts for approximately a week every December. The purpose of those meetings was to have a first cut-down of that year's scouting list. No matter how many names we had to begin the cycle, I wanted to come out of these meetings with the list narrowed down to roughly 600 players. Character was often an issue that highlighted players on the preliminary lists.

If there was a player who did not have a talent grade that made him "draft worthy" in our minds, and had character questions, he was...

February Meetings and Scouting Combine

Our second set of meetings occurred in February to once again cut down our scouting list. I always wanted to come out of these meeting with the list down to about 300 or 350 players. In these meetings, both talent and character played a role in cutting down the list..

Possible Gang Involvement

In 2007, I went to an NFL front office symposium. One of the topics covered was potential gang involvement among players in the NFL...

Making Final Decisions on Prospects

After the combine is over, it's time to cut the list again, and like the other cut-downs, character comes into play.

In the weeks leading up to the draft, the NFL and NFL Security does a great job providing clubs with information about the players in the draft. Each club receives a detailed report on anything a player may have done wrong in his past. This includes traffic violations and public intoxication citations, as well as any arrests going back to high school.

After receiving this report, clubs still have plenty of time to do research on the information they received...

I was involved with drafting a player who was very talented but also had questionable character. He came from a tough upbringing and many of his friends were questionable, to say the least. This player loved football and was a great worker, so we took a chance. It worked for a while, but then it backfired. As much as he loved the game, he couldn't separate himself from his past. That brought the player down and we eventually had to cut him.

When a player is drafted in earlier rounds and it turns out to be a mistake, it can hurt the whole program. I learned from that mistake. The result of the lesson was this: If there was risk involved with drafting a player, we had to pass. I would much rather have a less-talented quality person than someone who has talent but can damage the team. After all, it is a team sport, and one player's talent is not going to make that much of a difference.
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