The Door: Inside the NFL Draft

Oz had the famed Curtain.

Babylon had the mighty Walls.

The NFL has The Door.

Only “Authorized Personnel” are allowed through the NFL Draft Room door. And, everyone knows it.  Often referred to as the “War Room”, the Draft Room is where franchise impact decisions are made and openly discussed.  Hence, the reason why only the chosen few are allowed to enter. I’m lucky to be one of the chosen few. Tomorrow, the NFL will hold it’s annual NFL Draft.

What’s in the Draft Room?

Although it varies from team to team, the secret Draft Board is the Holy Grail of this treasured plot of real estate.  Players are evaluated on every aspect of their game. Many factors such as the overall scouting grade, 40 yard times, workout stats, body size and weight and various intangible grades as well as what I’m responsible for evaluating: medical grades. Everything is clearly listed for each player on the Draft Board.

The higher up the Draft Board a player is positioned, the better the player’s grade. And, hence the more valuable they are.  The grading scale is represented on the side of the board next to a players name.  Therefore, higher graded players are moved “up the board” assuming that they will be picked earlier in the Draft. This is compared to those lower graded players dwelling down next to the plugs on the bottom of the wall.

The variable in any Draft Room is the amount of work and effort that each club puts into this process.   From the tireless hours of traveling and film work put in by the scouts to the painstaking medical grading of up to 900 players by the NFL athletic trainers and physicians to the hundreds of evaluations coordinated by the coaches, that NFL Draft Board is the result of a Herculean effort by many loyal worker bees.

The long Fall season of watching college players perform and the findings from the NFL Combine in February are far behind us now. We now stand on the cusp of knowing who made the grade.

The Secret Sauce of Knowing Who to Draft #1

You didn’t think I could actually disclose the trade secret, did you? Seriously, that answer is too detailed and I’m never going to be the person to disclose that sensitive information.  I’m the “medical guy” and I know my role.

Now comes the exciting part.  This weekend marks the collision of hard work by players who have spent a lifetime cultivating their skills and NFL staffs who have completed their homework to evaluate those players. Our staff will be dreaming of highly skilled and healthy players.  And, personally, I look down the road to see how well my staff’s medical evaluations panned out for players across the league. We evaluated nearly a thousand players and I’m always assessing how players perform medically compared to how we medically graded them.  It’s a great measuring tool to help improve the skills of me and my medical department.  It’s the only way that I’ll continue to be allowed to pass through The Door.

Author: Mike Ryan

After 26 seasons as a full-time certified athletic trainer and registered physical therapist in the National Football League, Mike Ryan has outstanding first-hand experience. His unique professional and athletic background has sharpened his skills in the arts of sports injury management, elite rehabilitation, performance enhancement and injury prevention. Mike is now taking his experience to mainstream America. His mission is simple: Sports Medicine advice that is easy to use and brings fast results. Learn more about Mike Ryan

4 thoughts on “The Door: Inside the NFL Draft”

  1. Mike,
    The process sounds very analytical. Is there the occasional curve ball were a player is actually much better or worse than the player grade reflects? Can you measure motivation, drive and determination?

    1. Great points, Tim. We go to great lengths to make the medical process as objective as possible. With that being said, as with any medical injury existing within an aggressive setting, it’s not as simple as it sounds. I’m proud of my staff and our NFL Draft efforts have been very effective in presenting the medical issues to our club and giving our opinion on how these injuries will impact the athlete’s ability to perform.

  2. Tnx for the cool insight! Can’t wait to watch our new “family members” make us a better team this year!

    1. Me too! It will be a great year and it’s so much fun to see how excited the Jags’ fans are this year. Thanks for your comment and your support of the team, Pam.

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