Do you trust your scouting intel on a player that you value higher than most or do you stick to your board?
What is 2014’s Writer’s Project?
This year’s RSPWP is a different take on team building. I will have 15-20 written scenarios based on true NFL stories provided to me from current and former NFL employees (scouts, players, and consultants). In each scenario, the participating writer is the general manager of an NFL team has a decision to make. Each scenario will have at least two different writers. I will post the writers’ responses and the actual outcome of the case study (if applicable).
GM Scenario No.4: Double Down or Stand Pat?
You’re the general manager of a squad that went 10-6 last year and lost a nail biter on the road in the divisional playoffs. It’s your fifth year running this team and they have progressed from a 4-12 after thought to Super Bowl dark horse. The squad’s calling card is a stifling defense and power running game.
This brand of football is the team’s present—and it’s a championship window that’s open—but the makeup and style of play will look a lot different in 3-4 seasons.
The changes need to begin over the course of the next 2-3 seasons, because odds are likely that your star running back only has 2-3 years left in his legs. Just as important is the defense; 8 of 11 starters will need new deals over the next two years and 6 of these players have performed well enough that you won’t be able to afford them all.
Speaking of overachievers, the starting quarterback—a fourth round draft pick—is a rising star. He’ll be seeking a new deal before his contract expires in two years and he is clearly the face of the franchise.
Right now, your quarterback is producing like a high-functioning game manager. He’s good in the red zone and he doesn’t turn the ball over. He also flashes big-play ability, but your attempts to pair him with a big-play threat have been largely unsuccessful.
The 1500-yard, 12-touchdown free agent receiver you acquired three years ago has missed 24 games since his arrival and last year’s big offseason signing missed 12 games. Your organization has reached a consensus that it must upgrade the receiving corps for the future, because the quarterback has the ability to become the focal point of the offense and it’s unlikely the team will ever have a running back the caliber of its current starter.
One of the players that earned the attention of your scouts is a receiver on a cellar-dwelling ACC team. Fast, tough, sure-handed, and capable of running every route, this player was his team’s offense. Moreover, he’s a team-oriented player that you’re staff gave multiple chances to throw his teammates under the bus for its failures and he never took the bait.
The NFL Draft is finally here and the team is picking 27th overall. You’re sold this player instantly makes your team better, but your research indicates that your organization is the only one sold on him as a first-round value in a class flush with talented receivers. However, your staff believes he’s better (and a better fit) than all but two of the receivers on your board and those two will be gone within the first 12 picks.
Aside from an under the radar football blogger you monitor, there has been zero mention of this player in the national media from January through April. However, you did see this morning a television segment where a former NFL receiver gave a glowing review of this prospect.
You have 3-4 teams who have inquired about trading into your slot and you believe they value your targeted player low enough that you could trade back 15-20 spots and still get him. But if you’re wrong, you lost a shot at your No.3 receiver on your board—and there’s a small cliff between him and your next option at the position.
Do you trade down and trust your intel that other teams don’t value him as high as your organization or do you take the guy at a premium to avoid missing a weapon that you, your coaching staff, and scouts believe will help usher your offense into a new era?
What decision do you make and what factors lead you to believe that your intel is either reliable or too shaky to trust? What’s your philosophy on playing the “value game” vs. picking the best player available and staying true to your board despite knowing that it might differ from a lot of teams?
The two writers assigned to this scenario last night will send me their response by next week. Interested in sharing your thoughts? Comment below.