Draftniks flocking to seek opinions of those who played the game and those who never did
To see this grow to this point? It’s tremendously satisfying for me. Because it’s shown that back at age 18, I actually had the vision and the foresight to get into something that down the road became as huge as this is.” MEl Kiper Jr., ESPN draft analyst
NFL draft analyst Mike Detillier talks about getting into the business, why he’d be a good general manager and whom the Saints should take:
How did you get started at being a draft analyst?
I always had a great interest in the draft even growing up, but it was all listening on the radio for reports. There was no ESPN network to televise the event. It was Hap Glaudi, who was on WWL Radio at that time doing sports talk in the early 1980’s and Don Landry, who was the athletic director at Nicholls State, who really encouraged me to go to print with my thoughts.
What’s the most important quality someone in your profession needs?
Understanding that the game is all about the players is first and foremost. Former Saints GM Jim Finks told me that back in the late 1980s, and I always remember that when doing things about the draft. The other part is knowing “fit.” There are only about five or six players in each draft class, that no matter where they end up, they play at the same level. The other players are “fit” people. They fit or don’t fit well on a team offensively and defensively.
What is the toughest thing to evaluate?
The hardest thing is to gauge a person’s work ethic once he becomes instantly rich and a celebrity. That can easily change someone’s attitude toward working hard and really putting in all that time to be the very best. Is football your passion? That is the key.
If there was one thing you could change about the draft, scouting, testing, etc., what would it be?
The process is way too long. All these workouts tell you nothing if a player can play or not. Sometimes, it looks as though they are looking for the next Bruce Jenner and not the next Bruce Smith. The eye in the sky doesn’t lie.
What do you think would spice up the NFL draft even more for people you follow this year round or big fans of their respective teams?
The USFL had a territorial draft. Teams selected players from their region to drum up local interest. If I am the Saints, I am all for that new twist in the draft. Give me the players from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. It would sure cure the defensive ills on this team quick.
Do you think you could have been a successful GM?
In this league, GMs come from all forms of life, and many get their start on the financial part of the world. Yes, I really believe that I could. The key is knowing what is best for your team, personnel-wise. Talent on the field wins for you along with having great chemistry in the locker room.
What evaluation of a player are you proudest of?
The ones I get asked about all the time is my rating Aaron Rodgers over Alex Smith back in 2005. Smith was the first pick in the draft and Rodgers fell deep into Round 1. I never backed off that Rodgers was the best quarterback in that draft class. The other is having TE Jason Witten as a first-round pick in 2003. One Saints scout told me that Witten would be a major bust player in the NFL. He was a superb college player at Tennessee, and he has been a fantastic NFL player for the Dallas Cowboys, and they got him in Round 3. Also, I told everyone that Jake Delhomme could play in the NFL. I could not have guessed how good he really turned out to be, but he had the skill set and intangibles to be a good starting quarterback. He was that type player with the Carolina Panthers.
What evaluation of a player do you wish you could have back?
I had Tony Mandarich rated as the best player in the 1989 draft over Troy Aikman, Deion Sanders and Derrick Thomas. He is still one of the most dominant players I have ever seen at the college level, and he was a difference-maker at offensive tackle. Once he got off the “juice,” he was not the same player. The other is WR Mike Williams from USC. Same thing. Great college player, who lost his work ethic and got heavy and just bounced around the NFL.
Has any player in the draft told you that you had no idea what you were talking about or words to those effect?
Yes, we all have. It’s funny that agents tell them they will get picked much higher than most of us do, and they get upset when they hear something different. But agents and players keep coming back for evaluations, so I must be doing something right.
What should the Saints do with their first-round pick?
They are still in need of a great pass rusher at outside linebacker or defensive end. They have to get a better pass rusher and I would love to see Georgia (outside linebacker Jarvis Jones fall to them. I think Barkevious Mingo will be off the board at that stage. If he is there, I would pick him. A trade down is an option, especially if a really talented skilled player, a wide receiver, would be on the board and maybe you could recoup a second round pick.
Did you ever wish you had hair like Mel Kiper Jr.?
No, I wish my hair would be as dark as his is. My hair is snow white today.