The Annual NFL Draft will begin this Thursday Night. Millions of fans will watch with hopes of their team making an impactful draft choice, either addressing the needs of the team or getting the best player available. Many fans watch the draft, and see the college players that draft experts like Mike Mayock, Mel Kiper, and Todd McShay have prognosticated with high potential using everything from film to forty times and sports science. You will hear words like intangibles and character, hand size and playmaking ability. Some fans will feel like their team got some promising picks this year. Others will feel like their GM needs to be fired. Like many fans have I’ve partaken in this ritual for a number of years and have had the same basic and rudimentary aspect of the NFL draft. However, an analytical and introspective look into this event has lead me to the conclusion that this is only a single step in a 2 to 3 year process where success can be measured. A process that has many different nuances and aspects, and will involve trades, free agency signings, and salary cap considerations, and where almost 60% of draft choices will not make it in the NFL.
With every analyzation we must remember a biblical principle that holds true from 1 SAMUEL 16:7 LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. You can never measure God’s favor, or the heart of a man. And in my research I realized good organizations are able to see something in their selections that prognosticators and “experts” cannot. Here is the litmus test for an organization that’s on one accord vs one that isn’t: Have you ever noticed that there are traditional teams like the Cleveland Browns for instance, that look for good players? But organizations like Pittsburgh are looking for “Steelers”. You could be a good player and not necessarily fit the system, philosophy, culture and character of an organization? Next, we have to ask ourselves does my organization even have an identity? This usually occurs when front office executives, owners, and GMs are in lock step with head coach.
The New England organization looks for “Patriots”. Patriots whom tend to be smart grinders, well coached before and in college, with an emphasis on fundamentals. The identity and culture of the team gives them a target, and a template, that will complement the talent of an individual selection. The Seattle organization looks for “Seahawks” often over-looked, over-achievers, energetic, and quick with chips on their shoulders, and not afraid to tell you of the mistake you made by not selecting them. They will draft, sign, and trade for such individuals.
I mentioned that the draft is only a part of a 2 or 3 year process. To bring validity to this I interviewed a former undrafted free agent from Seattle Seahawks, cornerback Marcus Burley. As a pretty gifted athlete, Marcus waited to hear his name called 3 years ago during the 3 day draft ritual. He remembered hearing the names of others, whom he had played well against, as he and his parents Marcel and Charles waited anxiously through all 7 rounds. “All I needed was a shot” Marcus recounts. As a college defensive back he had displayed his 4.3 speed on a sparsely attended pro-day at the University of Delaware months before. His film reflected he could cover like a “fitted-sheet”, and his fundamentals were as tenacious as his work ethic. After the last pick “Mr. Irrelevant” The draft was finally over. Usually teams will contact free agents an hour after the draft ends. But 2 hours elapsed before a call from the Jacksonville Jaguars to try out as a free- agent gave Marcus all the fuel he needed to show and prove what he could do. He made the practice squads of the Jacksonville, Philadelphia, and St Louis in his 1st season. And was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts for his second season.
As fate would have it a week before the season was to start Marcus was called in to the office on the last day and told by Indianapolis “We weren’t going to cut you, but we received an offer we couldn’t refuse” he was traded to the World Champion Seattle Seahawks, and the vaunted Legion of Boom considered the best secondary in the game, where he has played for the past 2 seasons. Matthew 20:16 says; the last shall be first and the first shall be last for many are called but few are chosen. So this week and every subsequent year as you watch the draft, see whom your team chooses. Try not to fall in love with measurable, and combine numbers. Ask yourself does your team have an identity? If so, does this player fit the system and its philosophy? II Corinthians 4:18 says for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. Be patient, know it’s a process, and focus on those things that cannot be seen, like the measure of a man’s will.Contact the Feature Writers