The 2012 NFL Draft started last night. Talent scouts and evaluators for every NFL team are looking for that hidden gem. We already know about the high profile guys, and we probably know more about them than necessary, but it’s the late round guys, the grinders, who really fill out a team. This is where you build your bench strength. They may not be ready now to play, but if you give them a year or two of seasoning, they may shine for your team for years to come.
Look at Aaron Rodgers, not a late round guy, but he was someone whose stock dropped quickly in round one of his draft. He was in contention for the number one pick leading up to the draft and he slid late into round one, where Green Bay grabbed him. They let him sit for a few years, asked him to learn and soak in everything he could, and now look at him, he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
My point is, someone believed in him. They knew they could grow him into an elite quarterback and they were willing to let a franchise QB go when the time was right to flow him into the starting role. It goes back to my principles of know, show, grow and flow. If you can get this sequence down with your talent, you’ll be able to keep a well-stocked bench ready for to perform.
But I digress. What really impresses me about the draft are is the process that teams have in place to scout and evaluate their player’s. It goes beyond the physical dimensions of football and looks at the emotional, intellectual and character traits of players. If you have dirty laundry and are about to enter the NFL, it’s getting aired out. The thoroughness of the silent process is astounding. Granted your organization may not have the resources that some of these teams do, but you would do well to think about how their process may align with your culture and what may work for you.
To me, the most revealing aspect of the draft is how the good teams rely on it to build their strength from within. What I mean is, look at a team like the Redskins, or the Eagles last year. They went external to the free agent market to bring in high priced players who were supposed to bring a Super Bowl victory to the team. Only it didn’t work. The team that did ultimately win the title actually lost two of its key free agents brought in one veteran center and resigned a reserve guard. Their fan base and the New York media went ballistic while their rivals supposedly stocked up and created the Dream Team. The Giants found their grinders, guys like Jake Ballard, Henry Hynoski, Greg Jones, Tyler Sash and Jaquian Williams. These were the guys that the organization knew they could grow and flow into playing time, and it worked. When guys got injured they stepped up.
Take some time to think about your talent process, what’s does you “draft” look like? Are you stuck in the middle? Are you always chasing the high-priced external talent? Or are you growing your people and getting them ready to play in the big game when your team needs them the most?