Almost to the one-year mark in the role as Raiders General Manager, Dave Ziegler joined Upon Further Review with Eddie Paskal to reflect on what he's personally learned as he and his staff gear up for their second draft.
Though Ziegler felt he didn't see many surprises in his first year as a GM, the daily process he was used to through years of scouting in New England became flipped on West Coast time. But the biggest change for him was not being able to anticipate the questions and concerns that came up every day – something he had learned from former coworkers and friends as he prepared to step into the job, but not fully understandable until you're in those shoes.
"Almost everybody that comes into a GM role is a scout, and most of your days are spent watching film. Most of your days are centered around just scouting," Ziegler said. "And then you get into this role, and a lot of your day is eaten up by non-scouting activities. … It wasn't necessarily a big surprise, but just the amount of things that come up that don't pertain to scouting that you have to handle, I think was a surprise."
The GM also noted the importance, when building a team, of not only analyzing how a player's strengths and weaknesses fit into their position room, but also understanding their football IQ. While that is something that Ziegler evaluated in his time as a scout, he saw the importance of it in action.
"Talent's important. There's no doubt. Explosiveness, speed, the ability to tackle, the ability to rush the passer – all of that's really important," he said. "But having players that are smart and dependable that also have that skillset so in the critical moments of games, they can take what they were taught during the week, they can take from the practice field in those critical situations. End of half, two-minute drill, last four minutes of the game – whatever it may be, they can take those and execute those in the moment and have the football intelligence to take it from the meeting rooms and the field to the game."
So how do scouts evaluate that intelligence in potential draftees? It's a complicated process, per Ziegler, that starts with area scouts researching players, learning their traits from those in the schools who are around them every single day, plus getting to know them personally through various pre-draft events.
"You're piecing those puzzle pieces together at all these different events. … We're in the All-Star Game phase, where we get to sit down and interview players. Then the Combine, then 30 visits and pro days and all of those different things.
"We have a certain formula and a certain philosophy here when we meet individually with players, a process that we put them through to understand exactly what their football intelligence is to the best that we can."
To watch the full interview, click here.
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