Let’s Talk War-Rooms


ASFN Consultant and Senior Writer
Jan 7, 2003
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Orlando, FL
Obviously you all want to know have I ever been in an war-room. The answer is a qualified yes, but not during a draft. A scout with whom I worked had me meet him at a headquarters and he escorted me into the room. The big board was not still up but the room was still set up for the recent draft. So I talked to a few guys who had been in war-rooms and here’s a summary of what they said.

At this point this season many of the teams have a not finalized board up and the room is secure. After Pro Days conclude, teams will have brought the top scouts in to help build the board with a few online, others now seem to like using zoom. Think of the cheap teams. Nowadays only a few teams will have a scout or two actually in the room on the first draft day. Some may be online. Rarely do GMs simply make all the decisions. It’s not sensible to have scouts and ignore their opinion. The higher the player is ranked, the more scouts that have likely evaluated that player. The GM is the final decision maker, but the smart ones let the scouts know they’re valued.

The big board dominates the room. For some teams it’s a strong suggestion with others it’s a religious dogma. For the most part, because of the Cap, the concept of BPA has given way to BPA in a position of need. Some teams mark gaps where they feel there is an unusually large drop from a slot to the next slot. As the draft proceeds names are struck through. Teams have a focus on whom they hope is still on the board when their pick comes. This year most expect the phones to be ringing constantly with surprise selections all over the place. They think the TV guys are in for a tough predicting day. Depending on the team and the level of interest, the GM will field most of the serious calls, though his office often has Assistant GMs or other designated personnel people who may field preliminary inquiries.

Do they use JJ’s point chart? All teams have a version and a few still use the original one. Keep in mind again team policy may make it a suggestion or dogma. It appears many teams think there is some flexibility. The GM and perhaps with few owners who choose to be involved, actually make the final decision. Outgoing calls typically begin about 4-7 slots before a team’s pick if a trade may be needed. Of course some teams make early trades to move up, usually for a specific, highly desired player, like a QB.

One of the places where things can get exciting is if there’s a player who’s unexpectedly dropping. This is one area scouts can come into play. Do other teams know something your staff doesn’t? Quick calls to key sources like coaches, assistants and even local newspaper reporters are made by scouts. Rarely but occasionally a scout for another team may have a relationship with your scout and tell your guy why they passed. This situation is especially tricky if this player is not at a needed position, think overwhelming BPA (like Randy Moss). This type of decision is why GMs make the big money. Speaking of those decisions, some GMs are very authoritarian, while some teams may have brief discussions before a pick is made. Usually the end selection doesn’t stray far from the board position the player held unless he’s dropped down.

On day 2 and especially on day 3 more unexpected drops occur and scouts are often more involved. Issues like, “Did someone survive the first round that makes it worth chasing the first pick in round 2”. So the draft room typically doesn’t empty the minute the days selections end. There may be other players dropping that a team has to decide at what point would they go up to get them. You don’t wait until your pick comes up to analyze options. Another consideration is if you have a major need and there’s a run on that position do you move or wait and hope? In this regard the Cards don’t have much flexibility unless they trade future year picks.

Rooms are typically calm during the draft with the shouting happening after a key player is secured. A few owners make things a little more volatile.


Jan 10, 2020
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If there is one lesson I hope Keim has learned it's don;t draft players who have dropped way beyond their expected position. He's drafted several and I don't think one has worked out.


I'm better than Mulli!
Sep 16, 2002
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If there is one lesson I hope Keim has learned it's don;t draft players who have dropped way beyond their expected position. He's drafted several and I don't think one has worked out.
While I think it’s wise to be skeptical about those players, aren’t you the one who was crowing about the chiefs drafting the olineman that fell to the 6th round?

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