You’d be hard-pressed to fine anyone who deserves the title of NFL Draft Expert more than former Chicago Bears Director of College Scouting Greg Gabriel, who agreed to do a quick Question and Answer about the upcoming NFL Draft with DBB.
While Gabriel was in charge of the Bears college scouting, they drafted players such as Lance Briggs, Tommie Harris, Devin Hester, Johnny Knox and Nathan Vasher. Gabriel worked in the NFL for 30 years and currently lends his expertise to National Football Post and 670 The Score. In other words, he knows his shit.
Q: I know every organization is different, but with free agency, the combine and most of the pro days already in the books, can you explain what the final month before the draft was like for the front offices you worked for?
A: The final month is mostly draft prep. Many of the allowable 30 visits come in then. (They can come in until a week before the draft). Depending on the club, the scouts come in for final meetings and setting the board. That could be anywhere from two to three weeks before the draft. The scouts are also making calls to perspective UDFA’s just trying to recruit. If the GM feels they might need a little more info on a kid, then he may send out a coach or scout for a private workout. We also make a lot of calls to gather as much info as possible as to where certain guys may get drafted.
Q: One of the things I’ve noticed about the Bears is how much they value length. In Vic Fangio’s time with the 49ers and John Fox’s time with the Broncos, they drafted 13 defensive linemen and edge players, all with arms longer than 33 inches. Can you explain why length is so important for pass-rushers, specifically?
A: Having an arm length advantage is having a leverage advantage. Real simple. About 10 years ago we did a study on all the top pass rushers in the league including some who had retired. The common denominator was not speed or size, it was arm length.
Q: Did the teams you work for ever have specific minimums when it came to drafting players at certain positions, whether it be the 40 time, arm length, etc.?
A: Most teams have a “profile” written for each position. In other words who the ideal player would be for the position as far as size, speed, qickness, arm length etc. When the scouts go on the road they use these profiles when writing their reports. Basically are they a “fit” or not. Almost every team has a cutoff area for timed speed at each of the skill positions.
Q. How much do teams consider the depth of a certain position in the draft? For example, this year is considered to be deep at defensive line, do you think we’ll see teams passing on defensive linemen early with the thinking they can get good players late?
A: There are two area’s for teams to acquire players. The draft and FA. You have to look at the strength of each to determine which area’s of both they will “attack”. For example. The inside linebacker class this year in the draft is very average, I’m sure that]s why they went to FA to get two players. Plus the players fit the type of player they were looking for. Once you get in the draft, you have to again look at the strength and depth of the draft when figuring out the strategy of who/what positions to draft in each round.
Q. It seems a lot of “Draft Twitter” is scouting players as if they’re finished products, like A’Shawn Robinson, for example, but when it comes to the draft, how much is a player’s upside considered?
A: Sorry, but most guys on draft twitter are clueless morons. They aren’t trained professionals. When scouting, a scout looks for a players floor and ceiling. That can be determined by his age, athleticism and football character. You can have a great talent but if he lacks in football character, he won’t succeed.