ESPN NFL Insider Bill Polian talked with reporters during a conference call on Monday. The former Indianapolis Colts head personnel man provided some interesting perspective on the expectations of players selected in the early rounds of the NFL draft.
Polian said that first and second-round selections should be expected to contribute -- not make an impact -- in their first year as rookies. Polian's opinion provides an interesting juxtaposition to his protégé while with the Colts, current San Diego Chargers general manager Tom Telesco, who found three impact players in the first three rounds of the 2013 draft in offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, receiver Keenan Allen and middle linebacker Manti Te'o.
"First and second rounders, you want them to come in and contribute," Polian said. "And let me underline the word contribute. They will not make an impact. They will not. Rookies cannot make an impact by the definition of the fact that they are rookies. They have to learn how to play professional football."
Polian went on to say in other pro sports like the NBA or Major League Baseball, rookies are not expected to make an immediate impact. But the NFL is different, and it should not be.
"For some reason in the National Football League, we assume these guys are going to come in and make the difference between winning and losing, and they rarely do," Polian said. "So you ask that your first and second-round players become contributors.
"Third-round players, that's hit or miss because the reason they are in the third round is because they have enough red flags in various different areas that may cause them to miss. So you hope that you're drafting them for the right reasons, and you're right for the right reasons in the third round, and that guy becomes a contributor.
"Anybody after that that becomes a contributor, give the scouting department a bonus because they've done a heck of a job, literally. And we did that in Indianapolis."
Polian also said doing research on character concerns has taken on more of a priority for personnel departments.
"Character was always at least 40 to 45 percent of our judgment," Polian said. "We called it football temperament, which encompasses more than what the word character means. But there's no question it has become more of an issue."
Asked specifically about the Chargers and the possibility of landing a cornerback in the first round, Polian said San Diego should have some options available to them when Telesco selects at No. 25.
"Yeah, it is a pretty decent class," Polian said. "I would think that's an area that Tom might look at pretty hard. I think you're still going to get a decent corner down there. And that's an area that they probably feel like they need to upgrade."