Monday, April 21, 2003
Updated: April 22, 11:29 AM ET
Inside the draft room
By Randy Mueller
Editor's note: Randy Mueller is the former general manager of the New Orleans Saints. He will be chatting with ESPN.com users during the upcoming NFL draft (April 26-27).
Each team sets up their draft room differently, but in most cases, it's a bunch of NFL personnel staring at the walls -- each of which is configured with boards and magnetic cards displaying all pertinent information about the prospects.Each card contains a player's name, position, height, weight, 40-time and in some cases, his scouting grades. There also may be a colored dot or insignia reflecting a medical condition or character issue. Or, in some cases, a player may have an entirely different colored card to indicate an "issue" of some sort or that he's an underclassman. There are usually two separate boards utilized in player selection. One ranks about 150 players within their position. The other, ranks 150 of the best players, regardless of position. On another wall, most teams display helmets or logos of each NFL team. When a player is drafted, his card is pulled off the stacking board and transferred accordingly under the team that selected him. Although they may be arranged or seated differently depending on personal preference, key personnel involved in the draft process are similar from team to team. I always liked everyone to be in the same room and I never minded quiet conversation. To me, everyone should be close and part of the action. It's what everyone worked and prepared for -- no one should be closed out now. I've heard that some teams don't allow noise or television and some that are private, and only include the owner, GM and head coach when they're on the clock. That's a bit extreme but it's usually the decision-maker's preference. There's usually one table where key organizational people sit. I hesitate to say, "where the decisions are made" because most, if not all, the decisions are made prior to draft day. Everyone thinks you decide whom to pick once the team is on the clock but planning and preparation and endless hours of pre-draft discussion have already decided that by the time you're on the clock. Nonetheless, at this table sits the owner(s), GM, head coach, personnel director, college scouting director, pro scouting director and the capologist. Everybody has information or input that will be used at some point during the day and most are armed with a computer and telephone enabling them to stay attached with the outside world. Additional scouts and assistant coaches are nearby with team trainers and doctors. There is also another key member of the staff who sits close by -- someone who is in constant contact with the New York representative. This person relays each pick to the rest of the room as well the rep in New York. All picks are displayed in-house so the room has an official live update running continually. It's not that they don't trust ESPN but the draft rooms don't get to take two-minute commercials. The draft clock doesn't stop. Randy Mueller is the former general manager of the New Orleans Saints and a contributor to ESPN.com's NFL Draft coverage.