NFL Draft Guru
Q: You covered the Dallas Cowboys from 1990 to 1991. Then you served the Dallas News as the NFL columnist. You became well known as the NFL Draft guru and highly respected for your mock drafts. Was the move to the NFL columnist something you decided or was it just an exciting opportunity you didn’t want to pass up?
A: The Morning News promoted me to columnist in 2011 and I offered to continue working the draft like I had always done if they would cut me back to two columns a week instead of three during March and April. But management told me to focus on columns, not the draft. In the newspaper world, you don’t turn down the opportunity to write a column.
Q: How were you able to be so spot on with your NFL mock drafts? What was the process? I read how you talked about gathering data and talking to scouts from various teams. What did you learn in that process, yourself? I recall you mentioning Ozzie Newsome to me once. Can you elaborate?
A: When the Morning News sports editor Dave Smith told me in my first year on the NFL beat to grade drafts, I figured I’d better know what I’m talking about if I’m going to undertake that responsibility. So I invested in the draft. I went to the combine in Indianapolis for the first time in 1992 and started meeting the scouts and personnel directors who were evaluating the players. I started building a network of sources who would tell me how they graded and evaluated players.
“That’s why my draft stuff was so accurate. It was never my opinion. It was the opinion of the men who would be drafting players…”
Over the course of the next decade I incorporated assistant coaches, head coaches, general managers and even an owner or two into my network. By the end of the decade, I had amassed more than 100 contacts with all 32 of the teams. I might have been the only guy during the entire draft season that talked to every team. I didn’t watch any film.
I wasn’t a scout or a talent evaluator. I was a writer. So I talked to the men who did evaluate talent for a living and built my position boards, Top 100 boards and mock drafts based on the information I gathered from them. That’s why my draft stuff was so accurate. It was never my opinion. It was the opinion of the men who would be drafting players. I was building a consensus draft board each spring. One GM told me he considered me the NFL’s 33rd team – because my draft board was the consensus.