I see a lot of "we should draft so-and-so" in the first round, but not much talk about what goes into making a draft successful.
Here's what I'm looking for:
As a manger of people who hired and trained for 26 years, I know that in the interview process you sometimes get "the feeling". It happens maybe 1 or 2% of the time, but when you get "the feeling" you have to go with it. I was never wrong when I got "the feeling". You knew from talking to the person that they "got it"! And you knew they would fit in; that they would be team players, not prima donnas; but that they were intelligent and would have something to contribute.
Scot showed he had the ability to respond to "the feeling". He admitted after two drafts that he had "the feeling": the first was about Frank Gore, about whom he was roundly criticized, and yet that we now know Denver was prepared to draft shortly afterwards, had Scot not gone with "the feeling"!
The second time was when he drafted Delani Walker in the 6th round. He was quick to point out that this was a special pick to him and that he believed Delani would be a difference maker. As a 6th round pick, Delani has been a great asset: he presents match-up problems that makes him a unique weapon on our squad!
Statistically, I believe the hit rate (meaning starter potential) in the 1st round is about 60%. It goes down from there.
I think the other key factor in drafting is not just knowledge of the players, but knowledge of the other teams. We wanted to draft Logan Mankins at pick 33 in Scot's first year. New England snatched him out from under us and we ended up with David Baas. Is there any wonder New England is a repeat champion?! But the real point is, shouldn't we have been aware that New England would like Mankins and be prepared to move up past them to snatch him? And if we couldn't work a deal to get to 30 or 31, shouldn't we have traded down and taken the next value pick?!
We hear again and again what a hotshot Paraag Marathe is with his moneyball theory of football. But does he have a plan in place to scout our opponents to understand what their needs are and how likely they are to draft for those needs, and in what round?
To me, this is the key to the draft. I like Jason Hill. But would he have gone in the third round? The big board consensus was that Joe Cohen was a marginal pick/free agent type. Why was he drafted in the fourth round? I have more questions about that than about the fact that he bombed.
Scot had a pretty good eye for talent, though I disagreed him him on his ideas about offensive linemen and quarterbacks. (I guess twenty years of success based on Walsh's theories has its impact!)
But for me, I will judge our draft on whether we simply take he 4th best tackle, or whether we work the board and get the best talent, no matter what through the first three rounds, and then pick for need the rest of the way! I'll accept a 4th round tackle if the players chosen in the three rounds ahead prove to be true impact players!