Arthur Blank sees a benefit in drafting college graduates

The most talented football players often don’t graduate from college because they enter the NFL draft as soon as they’re eligible, three years out of high school. But one NFL owner says he thinks there’s value in acquiring college graduates for his team.

In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Falcons owner Arthur Blank was asked about the team’s emphasis on drafting players who graduated from college and who did well academically, and he said he and the team’s front office believe that intelligence and maturity are important traits in players.

“Today’s game, as time goes on, is getting more and more sophisticated,” Blank said. “Not just the size of the playbook, but the complexity of the playbook with the schemes, the number of coaches and the complexity of the way they are coaching today. The players’ ability to understand what’s in front of them and react within a quarter of a second. Frankly, to play in the NFL today you have to be smart. It’s not just being football smart. You have to be smart.”

The Falcons’ first-round pick, Sean Weatherspoon, has already graduated from Missouri and was described as an intelligent player coming out of college. Blank likes that.

“We look for players that represent the organization well both on the field and off the field,” Blank said. “That’s always been an important part of my philosophy and an important part about what this franchise is about.”

34 responses to “Arthur Blank sees a benefit in drafting college graduates

  1. There’s more than winning and losing. There’s placing emphasis on hiring players with a sense of achievement.
    If the NFL wants to get serious about upholding a high standard, then they could mandate a college graduate only policy. If the union is serious about upholding a high standard, they will support it 100%.

  2. “…and furthermore, we ask that they don’t run illegal dogfighting operations and flick the bird at the fans…”

  3. I wonder if college graduates know how to speak properly? I think the world is always better off when people learn how to speak properly and not speak like a mentally challenged fool like Clinton Portis.

  4. I agree to an extent with Blank, but not as much for intelligence as for the maturity issue. College grads are usually more grounded, realistic, definitely smarter (on the whole), and more mature than their non-graduated NFL brethren.
    Even outside the NFL, on the average those with advanced degrees are smarter and more successul than those with 4-year degrees, who are smarter, more successful than those with 2-year degrees, who are smarter and successful than those with HS diplomas, who are smarter and more successful than those with GEDs, who are smarter and more successful than those with nothing.
    That being said, I hardly think there’s going to be a sudden draft surge of MIT grads.

  5. I still feel for Mr Blank, the way Vick crapped all over him, the team and the city of Atlanta.

  6. @stonethrower: Will never happen. Some of the best talent would go to a rival league that WILL sprout up if that policy ever came to fruition.
    And furthermore, I don’t agree with what you propose. College isn’t right for everyone. Just because it isn’t right for a certain player shouldn’t mean they should be deprived of using their God-given talents.

  7. I wonder if there is a big difference between guys who played four years and didn’t graduate and guys who played four years and didn’t. Ron Dayne did four years without earning a degree and the guy is an idiot.

  8. In order to graduate college you must INTEND to graduate college. It’s a commitment. Any dope can run around campus making C’s intending to leap as soon as they become eligible. But those who stick it out usually have a drive to succeed that others don’t, no matter their talent level is. I think that’s what Blank is referring to.

  9. slow joe.
    Plenty of other businesses use it, and they usually prosper as a result.
    And so what if the juniors and sophmores want to go to an upstart league. They’ll come directly to the NFL once those players get a degree, and they’ll soon find out, that is the far better choice.

  10. icewalker,
    Juniors are ok. Some players are able to graduate in three years.
    I think there was some in this year’s draft.

  11. Maturity is the big issue. I’d say Vince Young is a good example of this, could have been JMac but he matured and is looking to a promising career.

  12. This is the NFL not the Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.
    Graduating from college won’t help you throw a 60 yard pass and run a 4.2 forty and make fools break their ankles trying to tackle you.
    HA HA HA

  13. College definitely isn’t for everyone. I would have drank and bong ripped my ass right out of school if I didn’t serve 5.5yrs in the ARMY first. That being said, they should have some sort of a developmental league, or guys could go to JuCo’s and learn a trade.

  14. Umm this is right out of the playbook for the New Falcons.. aka New England south. Dimitrov is a pioli/bellichick thinker.. It seems to be working for the Franchise.. compared to the Braves and the Hawks the Falcons are rolling right now..

  15. Patriots draft this way. Which is where their GM came from.
    Coolts do too.
    Surprising that more teams don’t put a premium on hiring college graduates.

  16. This is complete and utter bull…just a way to get the AWM’s all riled up…LOL

  17. last starfighter says:
    May 9, 2010 7:07 PM
    I wonder if there is a big difference between guys who played four years and didn’t graduate and guys who played four years and didn’t. Ron Dayne did four years without earning a degree and the guy is an idiot.
    An idiot? What makes you say that. He spent 4 years at Wisconsin and then went on to have a NFL career which wasn’t great but I don’t think he needs to be labeled an idiot. I don’t remember any crimes or any women that got roughed up via Ron Dayne.
    He just didn’t translate into a good NFL player. A lot of those players still in the NFL today.

  18. Dr. K-they HAD one and dumped it (NFLE)saying it was losing money in favor of making actual NFL teams travel abroad to play actual games…which I HATE. I will forever be pissed about that.
    joetoronto says:
    May 9, 2010 7:01 PM
    I still feel for Mr Blank, the way Vick crapped all over him, the team and the city of Atlanta.
    I don’t feel bad about that in the slightest because Blank was 100% a total Vick enabler from the jump. He always treated Vick as special and above other Falcons players… kissing him & hugging him on the sidelines, wheeling him around in the chair when he broke his leg, allowing him to help pick out decor for their condos at the facility, etc. He gave Vick that HUGE contract pretty much knowing how turdy Vick was already (poor work ethic, etc). He reaped what he sowed with Vick…100%.

  19. I doubt that graduating college really gives that much of an edge to a player. I’d say 85% of NFL players who graduate college only stayed 4 years because they were not pro-ready or did not have high draft projections following their junior year. Graduating doesn’t say much about how good a player will be

  20. The point is the 4 year degree wont help you throw a 60 yrd pass, but it might make you a split second quicker at deciding when to throw it.
    A 60 yard pass to a covered receiver, is not worth much more then a screen pass to a covered WR.
    Same deal with making a move that busts a guys angle, maybe the guy with the 4 year degree reads the play quicker and gets tot the spot to make the play before the RB can make the move that breaks his ankle s he tries to tackle you.
    There are countless guys who excel at the game using their heads to enhance their physical skills. So yes if you think a 4 year degree shows something about a guys smarts, you’d be foolish not to factor it in when considering otherwise similar talent.
    There are also plenty of men able to throw the ball 60 yards, but are football dumba__es and/or life dumbasses and can’t comprehend the game.

  21. @ICEWALKER says: May 9, 2010 8:35 PM
    I attended wisconsin when Dayne did and had a class with him. Aside from the fact that he severely injured a teammate in practice with a punch, I can assure you he was an academic idiot from a first hand account. Great football player, lousy guy.

  22. As some have said, college isn’t for everyone. You can’t expect a stellar athlete who’s struggling to keep up with his coursework to stay in school another year and risk a career-ending injury.
    Mandating degrees wouldn’t work, but that doesn’t mean colleges couldn’t do more to help players get better educations. NCAA schools make millions from the play of unpaid athletes. At least they could provide strong mentoring programs to help players perform better academically and to shepherd them through useful degree programs if they have that potential.

  23. A lot of people would say that Arthur Blank’s football IQ is in the idiot range. That’s why no one wanted the coaching job. Treating college dropout football stars with love and respect leads to ruin. Bill Parcells laughed at his naivete.
    Arthur Blank needs to spend as much time as possible in a fantasy football league, and less time decorating dorms.
    Arthur Blank doesn’t even have the balls to fire Rich McKay.
    And his mustache is creepy.

  24. What a joke! Why doesn’t Blank come out and say it? “At least NFL players can read and speak in English.”
    Next thing you know he’s gonna say something stupid about baseball.
    Does he want that Major League Baseball should have a rule where the players should at least be able to speak English?
    Why don’t we have an ownership rule for the NFL where the owner’s have to be tested on their football IQ before they can own a team?

  25. Statistically speaking, quarterbacks who come out after there senior year perform better then juniors who come out early. It’s a great idea in theory, and has had some success with the Patriots and the Colts. I would like to see what these graduates majored in as well. A degree in underwater basket weaving doesn’t quite equal a degree in anthropology or buisness management. Here’s a question, how come Myron Rolle isn’t in a Falcons uniform if Mr. Blank values education so highly?

  26. because bob loblaw we dont need rolle, and besides we cant draft every college grad now can we!…we already have erik coleman FS, thomas decoud FS/SS, william moore SS and matt giordano FS/SS on our roster with drafted rookie shann schillinger SS for depth who also finished all 4yrs n got his history degree with also brian williams on the roster at corner but played safety under coach smith in jacksonville, we falcons dont draft best available like some teams do, we draft of need, just look at our last 3 drafts under smith n dimitroff and its clearly evident thats the case.

  27. I agree with him. Linebacker, especially, is a position where players need to be able to read into what the offense is doing and react in a split second. Play action gets those linebackers and safeties out of position and if the linebacker can’t adjust, you’re seeing a tight end pick up 15 yards. You can also employ more elaborate blitzing schemes when you’ve got intelligent linebackers. @ bob loblaw, he said he values intelligence. it isn’t the only asset you evaluate when scouting though. if the player isn’t a great fit on your team, regardless of whether he’s a genius like myron rolle, you don’t draft him. I think Weatherspoon was a solid pick and should be a good piece in the foundation of their defense for years to come.

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