The word “character” gets mentioned over and over again when it comes to the NFL Draft. There are good character guys, guys with character “concerns” and a few hundred prospects that fall somewhere in between. Some franchises, most notably the Patriots, have become famous for completely removing prospects from their draft board based on character concerns, refusing to draft them no matter what round they fall to. Then there are franchises, like the Bengals for instance, who seem to make themselves a safe haven for these bad character guys, drafting talent over intangibles. I’ve always found this topic fascinating.
But how do these talent gurus determine a prospect’s character? Sure, there are the obvious red flags like arrests and repeated personal fouls that will stand out, but how do we separate the other guys who aren’t so easy to classify? These players are so well coached by agents and advisors nowadays, who can tell which ones are high character guys and which ones are just acting?
Well Chiefs’ General Manager Scott Pioli has an interesting theory. Pioli is now in his third offseason as the Chiefs’ GM and he learned his craft while working under renowned personnel guru and Patriots’ Head Coach Bill Belichick. Before coming to Kansas City, Pioli spent 16 years working in the personnel departments of the Browns, Jets and Patriots, all under Belichick. As you might have guessed, they share a lot of the same ideologies.
The story below explains how Pioli goes about identifying players who possess what he’s looking for in terms of “character”. Give it a read, it’s a very interesting and enlightening story.