SPRING FORWARD: The Packers' college scouting department this week culminates nearly 12 months of preparation. Green Bay is one of six teams participating this weekend in its 69th NFL Draft.
69TH ANNUAL NFL PLAYER SELECTION MEETING:
- Where: The Theater at Madison Square Garden, between 31st and 33rd streets, New York City.
- When: 11 a.m. CDT, Saturday (Rounds 1-3); 10 a.m. CDT, Sunday (Rounds 4-7)
- Selections: 255 overall choices, including 32 compensatory selections, awarded to 16 teams that suffered a net loss of certain quality unrestricted free agents last year.
- Picks by round: Round 1 - 32; Round 2 - 31; Round 3 - 33; Round 4 - 36; Round 5 - 33; Round 6 - 36; Round 7 - 54
- Time limits: Round 1 - 15 minutes each team; Round 2 - 10 minutes each team; Rounds 3-7 - 5 minutes each team
In 2003, the first round lasted 4:58, the second round 2:16, the third round 1:30, the fourth round 1:31, the fifth round 1:38, the sixth round 1:23 and the seventh round 1:45 Total time: 15:01.
- Television: ESPN/ESPN2 will air the draft in its entirety. On Saturday, ESPN will carry the draft from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., CDT. ESPN2 will pick up coverage from 6 p.m. to the end of the third round. On Sunday, ESPN will be on the air from 10 a.m. to noon, CDT, with ESPN2 picking up coverage from noon to the end of the draft.
- Tickets: Free tickets to the draft will be made available to fans on a first-come, first-serve basis, at the Madison Square Garden ticket office. Tickets are available beginning at 8 a.m., CDT, both Saturday and Sunday. Each person is allowed one ticket, and security will check every package. The Theater seats 4,000 for the draft.
COMPENSATORY SELECTIONS: The Packers own one compensatory choice in 2004. Since 1993, when the NFL Management Council began awarding compensatories (based on net losses in unrestricted free agency), only Dallas (23) has received more than Green Bay (22). Teams cannot trade these picks.
SPEAKING OF TRADES: Aside from compensatory choices, the league allows teams to trade any of its original seven picks. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue can proceed with the selection process if a club can't complete a trade during its time on the clock.
LOOKS LIKE A LONG WAIT, AGAIN: At Packers headquarters, since Bob Harlan hired Ron Wolf, Round 1 usually involves a long wait.
- Since 1993, the year after the Brett Favre trade, when Green Bay registered its first of 12 straight non-losing seasons, the Packers have owned a choice in the Top 15 only three times (Wayne Simmons at 15 in 1993, Bubba Franks at 14 in 2000 and Jamal Reynolds at 10 in 2001).
- Since Wolf retired and Harlan promoted Mike Sherman to general manager after the 2001 draft, Sherman has never conducted a draft with original access to the top 24 selections. Each of his three drafts (2002-04) since becoming general manager has started with a pick 25th or higher. In 2002, Sherman had to trade his top two picks to Seattle and crack the Top 24, landing Javon Walker at No. 20.
GREEN BAY'S HISTORY WITH THE 25TH: The Packers have selected a player 25th overall only five times. Boyd Dowler, one of Bart Starr's aerial weapons during the 1960s dynasty, was the first player from that draft to play in Green Bay.
The Packers' 25ths:
1936: Bernie Scherer, E, Nebraska (Rd 3)
1949: Louis Ferry, T, Villanova (Rd 3)
1959: Boyd Dowler, E, Colorado (Rd 3)
1967: Don Horn, QB, San Diego State (Rd 1b)
1999: Antuan Edwards, S, Clemson (Rd 1)
...AND THE 55TH: This draft, at least in its preliminary stages, resembles the 1959 draft. Personnel man Jack Vainisi conducted that draft while the team's executive committee took its time looking for a new leader, debating whether the Packers should hire one person to fill a dual role of general manager and head coach, a debate not uncommon today. Before the Packers named Vince Lombardi to fill both roles, 1959 was the last time the Packers owned both the 25th and 55th overall choices.
Green Bay's three 55th overall selections:
1953: Roger Zatkoff, T, Michigan (Rd 5)
1959: Andy Cvercko, G, Northwestern (Rd 5)
1964: Paul Costa, HB, Notre Dame (Rd 4b)
THE LAST 25 AT NO. 25: A look at the 25th overall selection each of the last 25 years (1979-2003):
2003: N.Y. Giants - William Joseph, DT, Miami
2002: New Orleans (from Mia) - Charles Grant, DE, Georgia
2001: Philadelphia - Freddie Mitchell, WR, UCLA
2000: Minnesota - Chris Hovan, DT, Boston College
1999: Green Bay - Antuan Edwards, DB, Clemson
1998: Jacksonville - Donovin Darius, DB, Syracuse
1997: Phila. (from Dal) - Jon Harris, DE, Virginia
1996: Philadelphia - Jermane Mayberry, T, Texas A&M-Kingsville
1995: Miami - Billy Milner, T, Houston
1994: Kansas - City Greg Hill, RB, Texas A&M
1993: Miami - O.J. McDuffie, WR, Penn State
1992: Denver - Tommy Maddox, QB, UCLA
1991: San Francisco - Ted Washington, DT, Louisville
1990: San Francisco - Dexter Carter, RB, Florida State
1989: Miami (from Chi) - Louis Oliver, DB, Florida
1988: L.A. Raiders (from SF) - Scott Davis, DE, Illinois
1987: San Fran. (from Was) - Terrence Flagler, RB, Clemson
1986: Tampa Bay (from Mia) - Roderick Jones, DB, SMU
1985: Cincinnati (from Sea) - Emanuel King, LB, Alabama
1984: Dallas - Billy Cannon Jr., LB, Texas A&M
1983: Cincinnati - Dave Rimington, C, Nebraska
1982: Dallas - Rod Hill, DB, Kentucky State
1981: Atlanta - Bobby Butler, DB, Flordia State
1980: New Eng. (from Hou) - Vagas Ferguson, RB, Notre Dame
1979: New England - Rick Sanford, DB, South Carolina
BEHIND THE SCENES, THE SCOUTING YEAR: Most people think a football scout works little more than half the calendar year. Well, try 12-and-a-half months. That's how much time the Packers invested preparing for this weekend.
A look back at the 2003-04 year:
- May - The Packers report to the annual National Football Scouting (NFS) Spring Meetings in Longboat Key, Fla. Here, Green Bay and 14 other NFS teams get their first look at the crop of 2004 eligible players, 783 total. Add to that a handful of other college prospects and the Packers' draft pool nears 800. NFS consists of 15 NFL teams and 11 scouts from 11 of those teams. Each scout reports for both his team and NFS.
- June - During a 10-day period, each Packers area scout makes his first of several annual trips to Lambeau Field. Their goal: watch three or four games on each prospect in their region, before seeing players in person in the fall.
- July - Scouts report to Packers training camp, where their mission is to evaluate Green Bay's current players in order to compare them to the college players they'll soon see. This gives scouts an idea of what each player needs to play in Green Bay. Also at this time, scouts receive their fall schedules, and complete filmwork on juniors and seniors. Vice president of football operations Mark Hatley, personnel analyst to the general manager John Schneider and director of college scouting John Dorsey also will schedule several college scouting trips.
- August - Beginning about the second week of the month, scouts visit college training camps in their regions. Not all players know the Packers are already evaluating them in person, not to mention the film scouts already have seen in May and June. College games begin by month's end.
- September-October - Scouts hit four-five schools each week, and see selected games on weekends (sometimes even two in one day). The typical school visit involves two film sessions (morning and afternoon), morning interviews with coaches, practice evaluation and a long drive to the next day's destination. Upon checking into his hotel, the scout files a report on the player(s) he evaluated that day. The Packers consider the interviews with college personnel very important, because the team cares about the type of people it brings to Lambeau Field.
- November - The regular season wraps up, and the postseason begins. Packers scouts attend conference championship games and small-school playoffs. Late in the month, scouts begin their review period and player rechecks.
- December - Known as "All-Star Season" in scouting circles, the holidays mean covering the East Coast Bowl (Petersburg, Va.) and the Blue-Gray Classic (Montgomery, Ala.), where practice is more important than the game. Also in December, the Packers rejoin their NFS colleagues at the National Football Scouting Fall Meetings in Tulsa, Okla., to get final reports on the draft class of 2004. The month concludes with assorted scouts at most bowl games.
- January - All-Star Season continues with the Cactus Bowl (Kingsville, Texas), the East-West Shrine Game (San Francisco), Las Vegas All-American Classic, Hula Bowl (Maui, Hawaii), Senior Bowl (Mobile, Ala.) and the Gridiron Classic (The Villages, Fla.). The NFL-supported Senior Bowl is important because scouts can see players adapting to their first taste of NFL coaches and their professional practices, formations and philosophies.
- February - The Packers' draft room is operational, as scouts and front-office personnel conduct pre-Indy draft meetings. During the sessions (seven days per week, about 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m., for 21 consecutive days), Green Bay sets its initial draft board. After a pre-Indy break, the Packers re-unite in Indianapolis.
- National Combine, Indianapolis - From Feb. 18-24, most of the Packers' football operations, including coaches, medical staff, pro personnel, video staff, player finance and obviously scouts, relocates to Indiana. One of the most important evaluations happens in a hotel sleeping room, converted into a living room. There, the Packers conduct 60 interviews in one of 32 rooms on a floor nicknamed "the mall" because players shift rooms when a horn blows every 15 minutes. On top of the 60 in-room interviews, Green Bay also sets up more informal meetings with several other players. The typical day begins with weigh-in about 7 or 7:15 a.m. and ends about 11 p.m. The Packers collect reams of paperwork on each prospect, as well as medical evaluations and video tapes of all workouts.
- March - The scouts also have a nickname for this period: "March Madness." Green Bay combs the country to evaluate eligibles at their respective schools' pro day. Prospects are evaluated in many of the same tests they took in Indianapolis. Pro days last more than four weeks.
- April - Final draft meetings begin in Green Bay. Assistant coaches, many of whom have attended college workouts, enter the war room mid-month. The marathon sessions usually last from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Packers set their final draft board, after at least three days spent with team doctors reviewing medical records. Even before the 2004 draft, the scouting department is preparing for the '05 draft, filing master lists by school of eligible players.
RECRUITING HAPPENS IN THE PROS, TOO: The NFL allows each team to bring in 20 prospects for physicals. The Packers use that opportunity to show those players the team's first-class facilities and first-class people, and present philosphies and reasons why the Packers believe in their quality of football. Many players have reported back that the people in Green Bay are the nicest they've ever met. Obviously, the Packers don't have a lot of control over how the draft falls, but the team capitalizes on this opportunity to make a lasting first impression. The hope is that when these players become free agents, or when their close friends become free agents, they will remember their pre-draft experience in Green Bay.
BEHIND THE SCENES, DRAFT DAY: The Packers are on the clock. For more than a year, more than 30 individuals have contributed to the decision. After countless meetings, film hours, interviews, reports and miles, what's happening before Commissioner Paul Tagliabue steps to the podium?
- After consulting with his advisors, Mike Sherman makes the decision.
- One individual, usually director of pro personnel Reggie McKenzie, gets the draftee on the phone. Before the pick becomes official, the Packers verify the player is healthy, that he hasn't, for instance, been in a recent car accident and/or been admitted to the hospital.
- Scouting coordinator Danny Mock communicates with the Packers' New York representatives (assistant equipment manager Bryan Nehring and assistant video director Chris Kirby) via a dedicated phone line that never hangs up (anywhere from 15-18 hours of long distance). Nehring and Kirby prepare the card and deliver it to the NFL representative at their table.
- After McKenzie, the draft pick speaks to at least five more people before he's presented to media via conference call in the Packers' auditorium. He talks to Sherman, his new position coach, director of football administration Bruce Warwick, in-house travel agent Linda Nuthals and director of public relations Jeff Blumb.
- Hatley, Schneider and Dorsey work the Packers' trade phones. When a trade occurs, Jeanne Bruette, Hatley's assistant, emails terms to the appropriate team. Mock communicates with Nehring and Kirby in New York. Before making the announcement, the league compares the cards of both teams, verifying terms are accurate.
PEOPLE IN AND AROUND THE DRAFT ROOM:
- Mike Sherman, GM/Head Coach: Oversees and approves all draft picks and trades.
- Mark Hatley, vice president of football operations: Oversees draft operations, assists Sherman, works trade phones.
- John Dorsey, director of college scouting: Oversees draft operations, assists Sherman, oversees draft board (trades/picks), works trade phones, organizes recruitment of non-drafted free agents.
- John Schneider, personnel analyst to general manager: Works trade phones, tracks trade history, maintains important files.
- Reggie McKenzie, director of pro personnel: Assists Sherman with strategy and team needs, provides pro personnel updates, contacts players.
- Andrew Brandt, vice president of player finance: Provides salary cap impact data for potential trades, organizes post-draft contract negotiations, contacts players' agents.
- Marc Lillibridge, pro personnel assistant: Recommends target teams for possible trades.
- College scouts Shaun Herock, Lee Gissendaner, Brian Gutekunst, Alonzo Highsmith, Lenny McGill, Sam Seale and Red Cochran: Available for Sherman and staff on every pick; work closely with coaches in recruiting non-drafted free agents.
- Assistant coaches: Available to Sherman when needed, talk to drafted players, contact free-agent prospects.
- Eliot Wolf, personnel assistant: Maintains draft board, by team and round.
- Bruce Warwick, director of football administration: Assists Sherman, charts draft, contacts drafted players and non-drafted free agents.
- Shaun Herock, assistant director of college scouting: Assists with college player history, organizes college scouts on draft day.
- Mike Eayrs, director of research and development: Maintains current and past trade history information.
- Sue Broberg, Mike Sherman's assistant: Manages all draft information, available to assist Sherman, enters all picks into pro personnel system.
- Jeanne Bruette, Mark Hatley's assistant: Receives all incoming calls, emails all trade confirmations and trade papers, maintains team/round selection list.
- Autumn Thomas-Beenenga, pro personnel administrative assistant: Assists McKenzie, Schneider and Bruette.
- Matt Klein, football administrative assistant: Works with players regarding mini-camp arrangements, assists PR department with player information.
- Pepper Burruss, head trainer (assisted by Kurt Fielding and Bryan Engel): Maintains all medical records.
- Dr. Pat McKenzie and Dr. John Gray, team physicians: Draft day medical advisors.
- Wayne Wichlacz, director of information technology: Oversees computers and phone systems.
- Melanie Marohl, salary cap analyst: Assists Brandt with salary cap and free agent data, provides Danny Mock with college reports and data.
- Linda Nuthals, in-house travel agent: Handles all travel arrangements with draft picks and non-drafted free agents.
- Danny Mock: Overall coordinator for draft room setup and function. Draft room contact with New York representatives (Bryan Nehring and Chris Kirby). Gathers all data from Nehring and Kirby, including other trades.
- Bob Eckberg, video director: Oversees all draft room video systems, maintains ESPN camera.
THE DRAFT ROOM AT A GLANCE: The new Lambeau Field draft room, less than two years old, is a normal rectangular room on the third floor of the team's administrative building. It is 882 square feet (21 feet wide, 42 feet long).
- East wall: Contains the actual draft board, available only to select individuals within the organization. It contains more than 250 magnets of players the Packers deemed worthy of being drafted. This board is literally kept under lock and key. A sliding, metal curtain, complete with a padlock, secures the board when the room is unoccupied.
- South wall: Tracks the actual draft as it unfolds, round-by-round. Eliot Wolf, working the board for the 12th straight year, should make 255 round trips from the east wall to the south wall.
- West wall: The NFL board, containing detailed team-by-team rosters of every club, updated throughout the year.
- North wall: Lists the Packers' current depth chart.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- 1,225: Players drafted by Green Bay, 1936-2003
- 1,094: Players graded through the fall regular season.
- 751: Players evaluated at college all-star games.
- 8: Postseason college all-star games covered.
- 788: Players not graded by Green Bay during
the fall who produced spring workout data.
- 250: Schools visited by Packers scouts in 2003.
- 337: Players timed/tested at Indianapolis combine.
- 1,031: College game films logged at Lambeau Field.
- 3,125: Games on film from 2001-03 available to Green Bay personnel before/during draft meetings.
- 118: NCAA Division I-A schools with football programs.
- 122: NCAA Division I-AA schools with football programs.
- 150: NCAA Division II schools with football programs.
- 229: NCAA Division III schools with football programs.
- 619: Total NCAA schools with football programs.
- 87: NAIA schools with football programs.
- 706: Total college football programs capable of
producing draft-eligible players.
- 142: Junior colleges with football programs.
- 1,500: Player magnets produced by Danny Mock, his scouting interns Angie Binder and Kevin Van Rooy, and coaching assistant Todd Nielson. Each magnet contains detailed information, including height, weight and speed.
- 15-21: Two-sided pages in each file maintained by the Packers in three-ring binders by position, on the 1,094 players graded last fall. Each file contains questionnaires, interview forms, scouting reports, cross-check forms, pictures of the player's physique, stat sheets, biography from his college media guide, and statistics, among other items.
- 706: Files containing college media guides in Danny Mock's office.
- 3,530: College media guides collected and filed; the team keeps each school's publication for the last five years.
- 281,000: Senior high-school football players, Fall 2002.
- 12,600: Senior college football players, Fall 2002.
- 262: Players drafted in 2003 (255 in 2004).
- 9 in 10,000: Rough odds, based on 2002-03 figures, of a high-school senior eventually being drafted.
- 1 in 50: Rough odds, based on 2002-03 figures, of a college senior being drafted.
COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS: From the Packers' scouting department:
- Myth 1, scouts don't work the whole year: During the "off-season" members of Green Bay's scouting department usually take vacations, but that's about all the time they have off. During the season, each scout annually puts tens of thousands of miles on his car. The scouts are busy 12 months out of the year.
- Myth 2, low Wonderlic scores are a red flag: Today's game is much more complicated than previous eras. However, unless a player can't read, a low Wonderlic score can be overshadowed by quality characteristics the Packers have discovered during interviews. Plus, the team won't hesitate to call anyone close to a player, including his high-school coach, to overlook a low Wonderlic. Classroom intelligence doesn't necessarily translate into football intelligence.
- Myth 3, intangibles are easy to gauge: The Packers have so many methods to determine why a player should ascend their draft board. Just because a player has put up head-turning statistics, and outstanding speed and strength scores, doesn't necessarily mean he'll have the heart and work ethic needed to make the transition to the NFL. That's why the Packers invest so much time talking to the people around each prospect.
- Myth 4, never evaluate speed at night on AstroTurf: Myth or not, some scouts don't grade players at night on turf, thinking those conditions exaggerate speed.
- Myth 5, stock can rise/drop dramatically at combine: The Packers devote more than four weeks visiting pro days at colleges after the combine. If a player unexpectedly tests poorly in Indianapolis, Green Bay will seek him out at his pro day for another evaluation.
- Myth 6, the consensus: Despite media reports every year of a consensus among NFL teams, all 32 clubs rarely if ever agree on one player. Like pollsters during elections, many draft experts in the press consult only a handful of teams to determine a player's worth, then portray that opinion as common thinking league-wide. The Packers do their own homework over a 12-month period, and usually aren't fazed by concerns raised by media. The Packers draft players based on their views of the team's interest, not that of the media.
- Myth 7, players are only evaluated at games: Even players themselves fail to realize the Packers are scouting them before gameday, talking to their coaches, watching their practices and intensively grading film. In the days before the 2004 draft, the Green Bay scouting department already has paperwork on players expected to become eligible for the '05 draft.
- Myth 8, reports on non-drafted players are trash: The Packers have files on 1,094 players but they have only eight selections. What happens to the files of the 1,086 players they don't draft? Two things. First, the team uses them to recruit the 12-plus non-drafted free agents, which as recent years testify, is paramount. Second, most files get transferred to pro personnel. By 2007, most of those players will become free agents, and the team at the appropriate time will revisit insights into their personalities to learn how they might fit into a Packers uniform.
DRAFT PARTY IN ATRIUM: The Packers and Mills Fleet Farm will host an NFL draft party in the Lambeau Field Atrium Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Two large television projection screens will feature live coverage of the NFL Draft from ESPN and the Packers' flagship radio station, Newsradio 620 WTMJ, will be on hand to provide coverage and analysis throughout the day. Packers GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman will address the fans in attendance after the team makes its first-round selection. In addition to ESPN's draft coverage and WTMJ's radio program, including Wayne Larrivee and Bill Michaels, the day will feature appearances by Packers running backs Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport, as well as cornerback Al Harris. The players will participate in a question-and-answer session on stage with WTMJ as well as sign autographs for attendees.