A look behind the scenes at the NFL Draft
Posted April 23, 2013
Updated April 24, 2013
Almost every year I ever coached, which was somewhere around 40 years, someone would invariably walk up to me and ask, "Coach, what do you do in the offseason?"
I coached three years of junior high football, two years of high school football, two years of junior college football, way too many years of Division 1 football, three years of NFL Europe football and three years in the National Football League. Since it is NFL Draft time lets take a look at what the coaches do in the 'offseason.'
NFL coaches go to work around July 25th and work 7 days a week, 80 to 90 hours a week until roughly January 7th of the following year. It is an incredible grind. You will be given a week off to catch your breath and then the 'offseason' begins.
Immediately upon your return to the office you will be presented with a list of prospects at your respective position that need to be graded, reports written, and then all of these prospects ranked, from first to last. My last year with the Tampa Bay Bucs I was the running backs coach and it was my job to evaluate close to 100 running backs from all around the country. So your day begins around 7 a.m. alone in your office and you begin watching tape. Keep in mind you will need to look at a minimum of 7 to 8 tapes of each player before you can truly get a read on the skill set of the young man you are looking at. Do the math, 8 tapes times 100 running backs. Welcome to the twilight zone.
The entire month of February will be spent alone in your office grinding out these reports and grades and rankings. Soon the draft meetings will begin with the G.M., player personnel directors, scouts, coaches, trainers, and anyone else that has a vested interest in this endeavor. You will be put in the position of defending your grades, rankings, opinions and comments on each player daily. Point is, you better be prepared.
This type of activity goes on daily right up until draft day. The draft board is constantly adjusted, tweaked, rearranged and debated. Once you feel you have some sort of a grip on this thing, you then begin to build contingency plans for everything. Draft day is an incredibly fluid event that has no pat answers. It is just like game planning for a football game. You can have a fine plan that you put a lot of work into and right after kickoff the whole thing goes out the window because of an injury, the weather, the opponents surprise tactic, an officials call, you name it , the list is endless.
Once draft day finally arrives you sit in your office and from time to time the G.M. or Pro Personnel guy may call you in to ask an opinion or question. Basically you sit in you office for three straight days until the madness is over.
On Friday night when the last draft is made, you will still be in your office and you will then immediately be given a list of young men that did not get drafted. You will begin calling them trying to get them to sign with you as a free agent. Exactly like college recruiting.
Forrest Gump told everyone that would listen that his mother told him that 'life is like a box of chocolates, you just never know what you are going to get.' Brother, I can testify to that, because when those guys that you decided to draft show up, it is one surprise after another.
Well folks, there is a little glimpse into the 'offseason' of an NFL coach. I guess you have figured out by now, there ain't no offseason.