As part of my previous blog about the behind-the-scenes preparation that takes place ahead of the NFL Draft, I mentioned what happens in the “ultimate scouts’ meeting” when each road scout identifies and then places a single “red star” on his most trusted prospect.
Maybe 48 hours before the draft, so Tuesday before Thursday’s first round, most GM’s like to have this “player personnel only” meeting to give his staff one last opportunity to just absorb the board, give it one final once over and then “speak now or forever hold their peace” about the final prospect rankings. Most clubs have 100-150 names on a large magnetized wall or on a screen that is projected from the scouting director’s computer.
As part of this meeting, in both Baltimore and Cleveland, in almost a ceremonial manner, we would introduce each scout and have them walk to the front of the room and then place that “red star” on their favorite prospect, not necessarily the best player, but an individual that has a team-first mentality, will work hard and never be a problem off the field.
In the draft room, no one touches those magnetic prospect cards other than the GM, the scouting director or an assistant in the department that is directed to move a player up or down or off the board during all the previous meetings. It is an absolute no-no to touch those prospect cards!
So, it’s pretty special when one of the scouts gets to go up to the board, pull off the card with his own hands and then place his stamp of approval on a player. I have vivid memories of Ron Marciniak, one of the all-time great NFL scouts, and so many others that I’ve worked with over the years, beaming with pride as they walked up to the board and identified their “red star” for that particular draft class.
It’s with that same pride, and with a tip of the cap to all of the incredibly dedicated scouts that I’ve had the pleasure to learn from over these many seasons, that I reveal my four “red star” prospects for 2018:
-Shaquem Griffin/UCF LB
Outside of the quarterbacks, Shaquem is THE story of the NFL Draft.
Arguably, the most inspiring prospect that has ever entered the league, through the amputation of his left hand at age 4, he has persevered and proved people wrong at every stop along this incredible journey to pro football.
-Harrison Phillips/Stanford DT
Powerful on the field due to his work ethic, he is a force off the field because of his character. Totally committed to helping others, just a great young man who happens to be a really good defensive lineman.
-Kyle Lauletta/Richmond QB
Overcame a torn ACL at the end of 2016 to emerge as one of this year’s biggest risers during draft season, he has a presence with his football intellect, attention to detail and willingness to prepare. An all-around good guy, he will be an asset to any quarterback room in the NFL.
-Braxton Berrios/Miami-FL WR-Returner
Maybe the toughest player pound-for-pound in the entire draft, he plays bigger than his size and simply never gives up. I would love to have him on my team.