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Old 04-03-2007, 10:44 PM    (permalink
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Default Dynamics of the NFL, the draft and coaches

Recently I've been taking a bit of a look at the way teams try to gain success. What I've been able to deduce is that in order to be successful the NFL Draft really is the key.

After McKay became the GM of the tampa bay buccaneers he pretty much overhauled the team's process of drafting players. No longer, was there going to be such an emphasis on the coaches input, instead the scouts, who spent all their time studying prospects would sway the ultimate decision.

During this time McKay used his strategy of taking guys with good character and solid production (rather than upside). He took Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks with his first two picks and went on to uncover such gems as Ronde Barber, a guy who most scouts thought wouldn't go on to the fame he has. While he had his failings with guys like Kenyatta walker and a myriad of receivers his draft classes were largely solid.

When the team acquired gruden though, through the orders of Jay Glazers sons. The team managed to get over the hump and win a superbowl. Afterwards however, everything changed. Chucky was given pretty much executive control of the draft and free agency. He brought in guys like Pittman, he wanted Turley and Seau and basically didn't care about the cap problems that the team was in for.

Once he did this, he basically ran McKay out of town when he jumped ship for Atlanta.

Since this time, Tampa has had problems with the Salary Cap, has struggled to get back to the superbowl, or even the playoffs and win for that matter and has seen the team always take guys that Gruden is in love with in the draft.

Now, I'm not here to bash tampa bay, just to raise a point. With guys like Jerry Jones, Al Davis and Dan Snyder firing and hiring anyone and everyone at the drop of a hat, why don't they just look back to history and say to themselves hang on... The most successful franchises in recent years:

Philly, New England, Seattle, Carolina, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Baltimore have all built their franchises through the draft. The majority of their bread and butter players who the franchise is known for were selected by people in the scouting department who're generally allowed to pick, though often with solicited input from the coaches, who they want and who would fit.

I understand the commitment to winning, but when will these type of people realise that chasing down championships with money isn't the answer.

The key obviously has been to draft well, taking guys who can help the team later and adding through free agency players who can accentuate the talents of the draftees is the best strategy?

Who agrees?
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Old 04-03-2007, 10:57 PM    (permalink
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No doubt the draft is extremely important, as is keeping your young core players in tact.

Alot was made about the salary cap purge that we went through a couple years back, and that is what most credit as the reason we went through a skid for a few years, but what everyone fails to point out is that, prior to the veteran cuts we made, we went through a 3-4 year stretch where we really bombed on alot of 1st day picks, coming out of drafts with the likes of Shad Meier, Andre Woolfolk, Tyrone Calico, Rocky Calmus, Travis LaBoy, Antwan Odom, and Rich Gardner. Had we drafted well in that time period, the losses of Kevin Carter, Derrick Mason, Samari Rolle, Andre Dyson, and Fred Miller would have been greatly lessened. The guys we drafted on the first day in that time period should be the core of our team, yet they are all minimal contributors and some aren't even on the team.
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Old 04-03-2007, 10:59 PM    (permalink
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Somebody is reading The Draft.
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Old 04-04-2007, 01:21 AM    (permalink
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Somebody is reading The Draft.
I've read it in the past, thats where I got my base example. I've had this theory for a while. It just reinforced by thoughts.
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Old 04-04-2007, 03:12 AM    (permalink
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I look at it like most would look at a political spectrum. You have teams that are extra conservative regarding free agency and the draft, and teams that are very liberal. I'll give you an example.

The most conservative player personnel man in the NFL is AJ Smith, in my opinion. He's extra cautious about free agency, only dipping into it for low salary players at positions that he knows he wont be able to fill in the draft. His strategy is to draft, then lock up players long term. He never signs or even pursues a player for big guarunteed money, learning from John Butler's disastrous David Boston signing.

Then further along the spectrum is a team like New England, which is a team that values it's draft picks very much, but isn't afraid to go after veteran players. They prefer to stockpile draft picks, and their cornerstone players (Brady on offense, Seymour on defense) are players they drafted. In the past though, they've shown they're not afraid of bringing in guys like Corey Dillon or Rodney Harrison, veteran, big name players. And this year, they obviously went out for dolo with the expanded cap.

Then moving along is a team like Denver, that only drafts players they really like and isn't afraid to move up or defy the logic of the conventional draft board. If they don't like the value where they are at in the draft, they'll either move up or trade the picks for a veteran. Shanahan also loves free agency and uses it often. He scouts other teams as much as anyone and you always see them making a big splash in FA.

The most extreme team is Washington. I don't think it really needs to be explained how Snyder uses free agency to re-tool his roster. The draft is really an afterthought.
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Old 04-04-2007, 08:07 AM    (permalink
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Couldn't agree more. Championship teams are built through the draft. Plain and simple. FA is to fill holes. The draft is to aquire talent. Its all about the draft.

Why don't owners like JJ and Synder understand this?

Theyre billionaires who have had success in life doing things their way. Its hard for people with their egos to admit their way is wrong and do things someone elses way. Thats why they do what they do.
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Old 04-04-2007, 08:23 AM    (permalink
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The draft is extremely important and in your example Gruden's Bucs have struggled recently. But it wasn't for Gruden and his coaching, plus the FA additions of Johnson, Pittman, and Keyshawn, McKay would have never gotten a Super Bowl in Tampa.
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Old 04-04-2007, 08:29 AM    (permalink
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Since Parcells came to dallas...Jeff Ireland and company have really taken it up a notch. I will go as far to say JJ is developing into an above average NFL GM. I mean sure he has made some questionable decisions...but bringing in the NFL's most accurate kicker and having him fail can't be to blame. They have been drafting on character...and actually just released an article from Jeff Ireland saying that won't change anytime soon. I feel JJ is getting a little scrutiny for his past rather than present
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Old 04-04-2007, 08:51 AM    (permalink
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Since Parcells came to dallas...Jeff Ireland and company have really taken it up a notch. I will go as far to say JJ is developing into an above average NFL GM. I mean sure he has made some questionable decisions...but bringing in the NFL's most accurate kicker and having him fail can't be to blame. They have been drafting on character...and actually just released an article from Jeff Ireland saying that won't change anytime soon. I feel JJ is getting a little scrutiny for his past rather than present
Yeah, so far, you can't kill JJ in his recent moves. They werent bad moves. I think he learned alot from BP.

I'll be curious to see his draft approach. Im expecting a good draft out of JJ honestly. I think he really learned alot about football from BP. BP has that effect on everyone. Thats why so many coaches and what not keep getting pumped out of his tree.

Yes, I <3 Bill Parcells. Thats the underlying message of this post, lol.
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Old 04-04-2007, 08:53 AM    (permalink
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Well the Cowboys sure haven't been signing FAs on character. TO anyone?
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Old 04-04-2007, 08:56 AM    (permalink
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Well the Cowboys sure haven't been signing FAs on character. TO anyone?
I think he was referring to drafted players.

But yeah, come to think of it, TO, Hamlin, and Davis arent exactly models of behavior, or in Leonard's case, work ethic/lockerroom leadership.
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Old 04-04-2007, 08:57 AM    (permalink
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IMO you build throw the draft and when you fell like your team is ready to make a run, thats where the FA come in.
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Old 04-04-2007, 10:56 AM    (permalink
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You even forget to include the Indianapolis Colts as a team that was built from the draft. Only one of their starters, in Super Bowl XLI, wasn't drafted by the team. That being Anthony McFarland.
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Old 04-04-2007, 11:46 AM    (permalink
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The Ravens are the only upper tier team I can think of that has a decent amount of their starters that came from FA (Pryce, McNair, Rolle, Mason).
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Old 04-04-2007, 11:51 AM    (permalink
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The Ravens are the only upper tier team I can think of that has a decent amount of their starters that came from FA (Pryce, McNair, Rolle, Mason).
The Patriots. When they won all their Super Bowls, Vrabel, Harrison, Colvin, Dillon all came from FA. You can just can't draft a Super Bowl team. I'll agree that the foundation has to come from the draft, but you have the supplement that with smart free agent signings.
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Old 04-04-2007, 12:49 PM    (permalink
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The Patriots. When they won all their Super Bowls, Vrabel, Harrison, Colvin, Dillon all came from FA. You can just can't draft a Super Bowl team. I'll agree that the foundation has to come from the draft, but you have the supplement that with smart free agent signings.

The Colts drafted a super bowl team.
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Old 04-04-2007, 12:50 PM    (permalink
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The Colts drafted a super bowl team.
I would say they are the exception. The exactly weren't the epitomy of a Super Bowl team either. They basically won the Super Bowl with the best player in the NFL who they drafted 8 or 9 years ago now and the worst defense of any Super Bowl team ever.
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Old 04-04-2007, 12:54 PM    (permalink
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I would say they are the exception. The exactly weren't the epitomy of a Super Bowl team either. They basically won the Super Bowl with the best player in the NFL who they drafted 8 or 9 years ago now and the worst defense of any Super Bowl team ever.

The worst super bowl winner is still a super bowl winner.
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Old 04-04-2007, 02:55 PM    (permalink
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when i think about the importance of the draft i always think of how bad butch davis did with cleveland. his drafts were absolutley terrible, in fact only 2 players that were drafted by him are still on the browns roster. and look at how set back that made the franchise. i just like the idea of building a team through the draft
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Old 04-04-2007, 03:40 PM    (permalink
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I'm a Ravens fan and we all know that you build through the draft and that is why in the team thread we have been at odds because of the recent trend of trading picks for veterans. But at times I guess sometimes you need to pull the trigger for a guy you think is the missing piece. I still don't understand why more teams don't follow the trend of the Ravens and hire their own staff of full time scouts.
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So new rule, NBA: Unless you have a root canal at halftime, SHUT UP AND PLAY!
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Old 04-04-2007, 03:48 PM    (permalink
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Originally Posted by bigbluedefense View Post
Couldn't agree more. Championship teams are built through the draft. Plain and simple. FA is to fill holes. The draft is to aquire talent. Its all about the draft.

Why don't owners like JJ and Synder understand this?

Theyre billionaires who have had success in life doing things their way. Its hard for people with their egos to admit their way is wrong and do things someone elses way. Thats why they do what they do.
The redskins arent very good at the draft so we would rather get proven players cause our scouts suck.
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Old 04-04-2007, 04:02 PM    (permalink
San Diego Chicken
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absolutely. i think denver is the exception (or one of) to your rule, blindsite. we don't tend to build through the draft all that well (i'm sure someone remembers the "if there was no FA or trading" thread) and when we do, we don't tend to keep those players over the long term nearly as often as many of the other teams on your list. further, for all his failures in the area, shanny hasn't ever been afraid to dive into the FA market.

i would say the second (and equally important) issue with the teams you listed is not building through the draft, but continuity at head coach. shanahan, for instance, does not have to worry about two seasons from now. if he gambles poorly and we go 3-13 next year, he'll still have a job, thus making him more able to take guys he wants or make trades that may be risky in the short term.
Thinking back, I remembered if the same was true of the Broncos back in their Super Bowl winning days... absolutely it was. Obviously the key players everyone remembers, Elway, Davis, Sharpe, were home grown talents, but look at the complementary guys that Shanahan signed in free agency - Neil Smith, Tyrone Braxton, Tony Jones, Bill Romanowski, Ed McCaffrey, Keith Traylor, Mark Schlereth, Alfred Williams, just to name a few. Shanahan does such a good job at intergrating all these pieces into what he wants to do.
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Old 04-04-2007, 07:08 PM    (permalink
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Another thing I forgot to point out it that you then get starters who're as good as the big name free agents playing on their cheaper rookie contracts. You then have the luxury of signing the few pieces of the puzzle you need.

The Ravens, Pats and any other team who's used FA to get over the hump has only been able to do so because of their drafting ability.
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