Gil Brandt has worked 57 drafts in some capacity, spending 30 years in the Cowboys’ personnel department and now almost as many as a commentator. He’s seen a lot of changes to the way things are done.
Brandt said today on PFT Live that the biggest difference is that now teams have specific characteristics they’re looking for in a player, whereas in the 1960s a team would just think a guy seemed like he’d become a good player and would draft him based on that feeling.
“We used to have a coach say, ‘I’ve got a gut feeling about this guy.’ Gut feelings have gone a long time ago. Now we try to grade people on what we see in the five characteristics that lead to success,” Brandt said. “The five characteristics are character; quickness, agility and balance; strength and explosion; competitiveness; and, more than all, mental alertness.”
Brandt said that teams are better now at learning from past picks, both successes and failures.
“The best way to really do it is to have a system where you can tell by previous results what led to success and failure,” Brandt said.
Of course, there are still a lot of bad picks made in every draft. The draft has come a long way, but it’s far from an exact science — and will be even 57 years from now.