The randomness of late round draft picks


Late round picks can make a solid draft turn into a sensational one.  In the case of Tom Brady, a late round pick can change the careers of everyone associated with the selection.

While a huge amount of work goes into each pick, the reality is that some of the late-round choices can be pretty random.   Consider this story from Jets G.M. Mike Tannenbaum, via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.

The Jets were on the clock in the sixth round in 2009, and didn’t know who to take.  They had the list down to three players, so they decided to pop in some last minute DVDs of each player.

“The first guy we looked at was awful. The second guy we looked at was worse,” Tannenbaum said.  “The reason we took the third guy is that we didn’t have enough time to watch the tape.”

That pick was guard Matt Slauson, who replaced a future Hall of Famer (Alan Faneca) and started 16 games for a team that won two playoff games last year.

Mehta’s in-depth look inside the team’s draft room shows how much work goes into the process.  But it’s easy to forget how randomness and luck also play a huge factor in the ultimate winners and losers this week.

For much more from Tannenbaum on the Jets’ draft strategy, check out Florio’s interview with him from Friday:

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17 responses to “The randomness of late round draft picks

  1. Was there ever any question that the J-E-T-S draft strategy was “close your eyes and hope for the best”?

  2. And these are the same guys (professional football player evaluators) who criticize Kiper and McShay and their ilk for their knowledge-or lack thereof- of players?

    I’d say that BOTH groups have plenty of “educated guessers” among them.

  3. Typical of the bumbling Jets to not be prepared and hope to get lucky. Can you imagine Belichick or ted Thompson or Andy Reid or many others not be ready to make their selection and having to “pop in” dvd’s at the last freaking second?????? not to mention that afterwards they’d go public and tell you about it?????? besides the Mouth apparently Tannenbaum has a track record of letting things slip out of his mouth too. in the words of Charlie Sheen: “WINNING”
    or not…

  4. I was surprised when I read this article. I thought that the scouts have watched every play for most of these prospects.

    The Jets have done a good job with their drafts except I think the jury is out on LY’s draft. Wilson, DuCasse, Mcknight didn’t do anything LY to indicate it was a good draft.

    Happy 42nd to the bridge & tunnel crowd that root for the Jets.

  5. So the fact that assistant HC and OL coach Bill Callahan was Slauson’s former head coach at Nebraska had nothing to do with it? I’m pretty sure there was a fair bit of lobbying for Slauson in the lead-up to that draft, if not in the draft room on the day of.

  6. Had they not watched the tapes prior to the draft? If both guys were terrible why were they even on the Jets draft board?

  7. Go to agree with fatediesel.
    That entire thing looks like it was made up by Tannenbaum so he had a nice little story to tell.
    No team is going to have players they think are awful or worse on their draft boards.
    It’s simply not done, there is no way that players who can be written off that quickly as being that bad would make their top 193 players.
    If that is really the case their entire scouting dept needs firing.

  8. How are GM’s and teams realistically going to scout 2-3 divisions of college football for one draft. Sure, they have their list, but sometimes their guys get drafted higher than antcipiated, and suddenly your best player available list is shot and you are left clueless.

    It’s when you get in the 6th and 7th round when you basically are taking a shot in the dark and hoping for the best.

    We’d like to annoint some GM’s for making fantastic picks like a Tom Brady. But if the Pats really knew how good he’d be he would’be been drafted much sooner.

    Luck is a major factor late in the draft. While this story is amusing, it really isn’t that surprising, other than that they’d actually admit it.

  9. You guys actually believe this story? It may somewhat true but not fully. They had to have known about Slauson before they drafted him. Callahan was the head coach of Nebraska from 2004-2007 so he had insight on Slauson, they may have not watched the tape of him right before they made the pick but they obviously had some insight on them. Plus its the sixth round luck has everything to do with the the sixth round.

  10. Ron Wolf told a similar story following the 1997 draft about how he traded down with the Raiders in Round 6 (receiving no apparent compensation) simply out of boredom.

    The Raiders used the immediate pick to grab Grady Jackson. The deal came back to haunt the Packers when Gabe Wilkins refused to play hurt in the Super Bowl and Green Bay had nobody that could stop Terrell Davis.

  11. In other words, in a draft where the Jets signed close to $100 million in rookie contracts and signing bonuses the GM wasn’t prepared to make an educated assessment of a player with a draft choice. He should have left that verbal round in the magazine…that quote will come back to haunt him very soon… There’s a N.Y. sports writer… somewhere.. ready to eat his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti if the J-E-T-S don’t go to the bowl next year

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