Player personnel directors in the NFL watch a lot of film and become familiar with a lot of players.
They have to. Starting May 8, 256 players will be selected by the 32 franchises who have been analyzing every detail about those who will hear their names called.
In the process, individual decision makers will have their favorites, but as Arizona Cardinals vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough told Doug & Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday, it’s difficult not to become enamored with individual players.
“It’s hard,” McDonough said. “I think that’s when you make mistakes.”
McDonough recalled his time in the Baltimore Ravens front office, working alongside general manager Ozzie Newsome, who didn’t let his personal feelings get in the way of draft picks.
“He’s one of the best I’ve ever been around, and he takes the emotion out of it,” he said. “I think that’ s what you have to do. It’s very hard to do because we’re human beings and you get emotional, especially when you love the film and you meet the kid and he’s a great kid.
“Sometimes you can make emotional decisions that can lead to mistakes because you really like the person and all of a sudden, you start overvaluing the player. It’s happened so much, and then when they get here, they’re not what you thought they were because you were emotional.”
McDonough isn’t the type of executive who will “stand on the table” to go to bat for a player in the draft process, but that wasn’t always the case.
“I did that when I worked for Baltimore when I worked with Ozzie Newsome about 15 years ago,” he recalled. “And it was a cornerback from Central Florida, and the guy ended up being awful, so that’s the last time I’m ever going to stand on a table.
“It backfired. The guy stunk and (Ozzie) reminded me of that until the day I left.”
Much of the focus for McDonough and the Cardinals brass is on their first-round pick, the 20th overall selection. About two dozen players have been connected to the Cardinals in that slot by draft analysts, but McDonough is confident in what the team will get because of the legwork put in by the organization and the uncertain nature of the draft.
“You know, everyone can probably tell you pretty much the top 10 or 11 or 12, and then there’s always a couple surprises in the teens — guys that you think are going to go in the late 20s and some team will come up and take them,” McDonough said. “So there will be somebody there that you thought as an organization was going to go 13, 14 or 15, in that range.
“This year especially. See, last year was different. It was pretty thin. But this year at 20, there will be a good player there for us.”