When I spoke with former NFL college scout Greg Gabriel recently, much of our conversation centered around character concerns, particularly as to how they might or might not impact the draft stock of Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan.
Gabriel's opinion basically was that those concerns would not impact Lewan, and that he would be taken among the top 10 picks this May.
Well, writing for Bleacher Report Friday morning Gabriel has gone in depth on how NFL teams view and study players with character concerns. Beyond that, it really is an interesting look at how the process of scouting and preparing a draft board really works.
I particularly like these three paragraphs from Gabriel:
When you do enough interviews with college prospects, it's easy to figure out who is lying and who is telling the truth. Some kids are just so full of it that it can be easy to eliminate them-they basically cut themselves. The only thing that changes from year to year is the faces. The stories and excuses are always the same. ...
The final decisions on these players have a huge effect on who a team drafts. What it comes down to is trust. If, after doing all the research and interviewing the player and people around him, you have a strong feeling that he can succeed without problems, you may go forward and select him in the draft. If you have doubts, you have to pass. You can never draft a player that you feel you can't trust, regardless of his talent.
The makeup of a team's locker room can have a lot to do with those final decisions. If a locker room has strong veteran leadership, especially at the player in question's position, team's may decide to take a chance. The idea is that the veteran core will help guide the player with peer-group pressure and a good example. Without that strong veteran group, things can go the wrong way. Either way, there is risk involved and it could turn out well or come back and haunt a team.
Valentine's View: Great stuff from Gabriel here. In general, what you see is teams willing to take more risks with players late in the draft or as undrafted free agents because it doesn't hurt your franchise nearly as much to simply cut ties with those players.