Holmgren: Does Character Matter?

In Part One of a multi-part series on Mike Holmgren's interview at the recent Owner's Meetings, Seattle's head coach talks about the different draft approaches during his tenure, and how new personal conduct policies could affect future drafts for all teams.

How are your draft boards constructed?

”With Bill Walsh in San Francisco, it was very much a coaches' board. With Ron Wolf, it was very much a personnel board. In Seattle, what I tried to do in the beginning was try to blend it. That is probably not too good. Now I'm back to being a personnel board. When you put the board up there, the measurables take over and then so you get speed, you get size, you get strength and all that. then you add that to playing well on film. That kind of separates some of those first- and second-round guys.

In 2005, you took Lofa Tatupu in the second round – he has been a great player, but the measurables didn’t jump out at you.

Guys in the second round, you really like. For some reason your staff or somebody says, I know there's something about the process they went through in evaluating the kid, he knows, he has a little edge over somebody else and if you have a need like we did, yeah. In our case, Tim Ruskell really liked Lofa Tatupu. We worked him for a long time. Then when you watch him on film, when it finally gets to us after our season is over and you look at him on film - Tony Razzano used to say this in San Francisco all the time. He was the only guy in our room, remember Aundray Bruce? First pick in the draft. He came in and said, he cannot play. Bill said ‘they were banging
around all the time, what do you mean he can't play?’ He was everyone's pick. He was the first pick in the draft. And Tony Razzano was right. because he didn't make plays in games. He (had) this perfect measurables, everything you wanted. He played in the NFL but a first-round pick, you think is going to go to the Pro Bowl all the time.

(More on the second round…)

”Another thing factors in that people don't talk about too much. The pressure from your fans and maybe even from your owner to take the guy in the first round that you really need, there is a need there, and there's more pressure and you overanalyze and you do this and sometimes you take a guy maybe for the wrong reasons. Maybe for the wrong reasons, sometimes. You get into second round, third round, heck, people have left the draft room. They are having lunch. The only people sitting in there are the head coach (and personnel guys). Ah, it's over. This year is going to be (different) for us. We don't have a first round. So for the first six hours, guys will be working out. I might even come in late.

What will be the effect on the draft with all this personal-conduct talk?

”There was a wonderful meeting yesterday with a lot of owners talking and coaches and a lot of the GMs talking about this issue. And what we can do, maybe, to help head things off at the pass. I think a lot of good stuff came out of it. And a lot of people said, well, we're going to do it this way, we're going to do it that way.”

Starting with the draft?

"Starting with the draft, yeah. Because if you have real stringent requirements, I think, in the draft, you head off. then you're not going to take a chance on somebody. Some teams already do that. Some teams already do that. And when you look at the kids, all his records and everything, he has a problem and boom, he's off the board or he drops or whatever. My own feeling is that unless it's something pretty serious, I just don't see the draft being affected that much. I think there are a couple owners that got up and said, lookit, we might not take him in the first round, but if he drops maybe to a third-round pick, hey. And then you always have the thing that when I get him, we'll fix it. And I think it's a very honest feeling most of the time."

Are the Seahawks done with that approach?

”Believe it or not, we've always drafted that way, except for one guy (Jerramy Stevens, 2002 first-round choice, 27th overall, had off-field issues at University of Washington), while I was in Seattle. Then when Tim came, he really has, he is pretty strict about that. He doesn't want to mess around with anything. I will say I did that one time.”


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