Sean McVay: You don’t punish a guy for opting out, you go back to the tape

Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams
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On Monday, Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert noted that if two players were close on the draft board, Pittsburgh would take the one who did not opt out of the 2020 season.

Tuesday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones noted that those college players who opted out were missing around 700 snaps worth of improvement from 2020.

Every draft board is subjective to its respective team, and the league’s franchises will have different approaches to those individuals who, for whatever reason, chose to opt out of a season during a pandemic.

Rams head coach Sean McVay was asked about it during his pre-draft press conference on Tuesday, and said Los Angeles’ evaluations will come down to what players displayed on the field.

“The tape is always the best guiding light. So you go back to their ’19 film and you use that as the most important reference. Then the character is all a big part of it,” McVay said. “Les [Snead] and his group do an outstanding job of vetting these players and really our coaches as well, it’s all part of it. But the most important thing that guides our decision-making is, first and foremost, the tape.

“You don’t punish a guy. This past year has certainly been, I think, one that is different in so many ways, but you don’t punish guys for that. You go back to the tape. You look at what they’ve previously done — and then there are some projections with guys that maybe have less tangible evidence on the tape and it all is a part of the evaluation process. But certainly nothing weighs more than when you’re evaluating them playing the game that we’re going to ask them to do.”

The Rams do not have a first-round selection for the fifth consecutive draft, with their first pick currently slated for No. 57 overall.

17 responses to “Sean McVay: You don’t punish a guy for opting out, you go back to the tape

  1. We still don’t know what the long-term health impacts of COVID may be. Some people don’t feel like themselves for months. These are young guys making decisions based on their health and the health of their families.

    I don’t think it should be held against anyone, but sure, the NFL is gonna do what it’s gonna do.

  2. Yes, but players who opted out have spent a year or more away from competition.
    It could take a year or more to get the edge back.

  3. “Punish” is probably the wrong word to use here. I hate to say it, but Jerry is right when it comes to the fact that some of these kids haven’t been coached for 18 months now. A raw talent coming to the NFL might take a little longer than normal because of the lack of coaching. This happens every year on a different scale, with season ending injuries causing a player to slide in the draft. Its certainly a difficult year for evaluators to know what they are getting.

  4. If he was good in 2019, and he decided his health comes first, I put more stock into that.

  5. Less wear and tear on the body plus a common sense mindset. I’d be inclined to prefer the guy who opted out over the one who played, all else equal.

  6. cobrala2 says:
    April 28, 2021 at 8:44 am

    Who said anything about punishment???
    =====================================
    If GM’s are saying they will pick a player who didn’t opt out over one who did, how is that not punishment?

  7. He is right, you draft for talent and character, is you can see that in 2018-2019 tape you go for it.

  8. That’s why he is a coach and not the one making the final decision on who they draft.

  9. People don’t seem to understand that a year away from football brings a lot of unknowns to the table. It isn’t about “punishing” someone for opting out. If you have two guys ranked equally, it makes sense to take the guy who played last year over the guy you haven’t seen play in two years. You don’t know what that guy has been doing over that time so there’s less risk with the guy who did it recently. That’s the way to handle it with first-round picks because you want to minimize risk there. Now, in the later rounds, I would be inclined to maybe go with the guy who opted out because the unknown factor may be pushing a more talented guy down the draft board. You can take more risk with later picks so you might be getting a steal later because of that.

  10. “People don’t seem to understand that a year away from football brings a lot of unknowns to the table. It isn’t about “punishing” someone for opting out…You don’t know what that guy [who opted out] has been doing over that time so there’s less risk with the guy who did it recently.”

    I think everyone understands the issues associated with a year away. The pertinent question is whether those issues have any bearing on the player’s ability and performance. Plenty of players miss time for a multitude of reasons. Many of those players return to perform at a high level, sometimes higher than they did previously.

  11. As with many discussions in life these days, I think this discussion about opting out is lacking in nuance. It’s more complicated than ‘punishing’ players who opted out.

    If I was a GM I would want to ask a player about how he made the decision to opt out, and how I feel about the player would depend on the answer. Beyond the lack of recent playing time etc., any sense that a player opted out in order to ‘rest on his laurels’ after a strong 2019 would be a concern for me, as more generally would any sense that the player asked no questions at all or made no effort to investigate the possibility of playing.

    The fact is that a college season was successfully played, and it’s fair in my opinion to learn more about the thought process of those players who chose not to be a part of it.

  12. It’s a business decision and I get how it might effect the selection process of a college draft. Time will tell if the decision to pass or select a player was a good decision or not. Since it’s never happened before know one knows until maybe a year or two from now if it was the right decision. Having said that, the players down the depth chart that sat out I don’t see how it’s a positive with the competition and turnover in the NFL.

  13. Those guys knew the deal when they bailed on their teams but chose to anyways.

  14. If GM’s are saying they will pick a player who didn’t opt out over one who did, how is that not punishment?

    ==================================

    I forget, these days when you’re not chosen it’s unfair and someone else did something unethical, silly me. 🤦🏻‍♂️

    Do you really think it’s that simple??? 🙄

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