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The Draft: A Year Inside the NFL's Search for Talent Paperback – March 20, 2007

3.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sports business writer Williams follows the NFL's team selection process from the fall 2004 college football bowl season through the much-anticipated April 2005 draft in this behind-the-scenes look at how the big league secures its talent. Williams explains the draft's history, league-wide rating systems and the use of psychological tests with as much zeal as he invests in chronicling players' extensive preparation for lesser-known evaluative events such as the Senior Bowl, the National Invitation Camp or "Combine" and school Pro Days. Through these events Williams concentrates on agents, team managers, scouts, trainers and the talent with an eye trained on the unique business investment analysis process that the draft is. There's a great deal of sympathy for agents, but very little football played in this book; the reader does not get to see why athletes like Chris Canty and Fred Gibson, whose "stock" rise and fall during the season, or first-round picks Ronnie Brown and Carnell "Cadillac" Williams are the subjects of so much discussion. Williams may get inside the draft with concern for each interested party's stake in the outcome, but he does not get inside its various parties' heads with any significance. The lengthy quotes and lack of critical perspective on the draft process can give this book the patina of infomercial, but football fans will appreciate Williams' patient explanation of the vagaries of professional football's exhaustive job interview process.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Even if you already know how it all turns out, the plot, as it were, is as suspenseful as many a regular-season game.” ―Sports Illustrated

“The most comprehensive look at the draft ever.” ―Sporting News

“Football fans will appreciate Williams' patient explanation of the vagaries of professional football's exhaustive job interview process.” ―Publisher's Weekly

“THE DRAFT isn't for everyone; it's only for those who prefer to know - who want to know - what goes on, why their sports world so often smells the way it does. Pete Williams, as he has done throughout his career, applies good, old-time journalism to provide a modern and important eye-opener.” ―Phil Mushnick, New York Post

“This is the best insider account ever written about the NFL Draft and the football counterpart to Michael Lewis' MONEYBALL. Pete Williams takes us into the NFL war rooms, to the homes of the NFL hopefuls, and behind the scenes of the sports agent feeding frenzy. If you're a football fan and want a fascinating and engaging inside look at the sport, you can't do much better than THE DRAFT.” ―Peter Golenbock, New York Times bestselling author of COWBOYS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN MY HEROES and THE BRONX ZOO

“Pete Williams has pulled off what everyone promises and few produce: a true behind-the-scenes look at the NFL draft. "The Draft" not only explains the constant pressure that players, agents and talent evaluators face, but also why the busts went so high and the sleepers so low.” ―Brian Kilmeade, co-host of Fox & Friends and author of The Games Do Count

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Reprint edition (March 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312354398
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312354398
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I write about fitness, business, and sports for several publications. I'm also passionate about endurance sports and training and am the creator of www.obstaclefit.com, an obstacle race training program. I'm also the editor of EnduranceSportsFlorida.com, which covers running, triathlon, stand-up paddleboarding and all tests of endurance in the Sunshine State. I also host "The Fitness Buff" radio show on BlogTalk Radio (www.fitnessbuffshow.com).

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
While not exactly a pieced of hard-hitting investigative journalism, Williams' book is one that most NFL fans will find enjoyable. It's not to cause much in the way of controversy because of its non-critical tone towards players, agents, coaches, and just about everyone involved in the draft, but it's still a good look at the process involved when a player moves from college to the pro ranks.

Focusing on several players - among them Chris Canty, Fred Gibson and Ray Willis - Williams examines the events that take place from the time a player "graduates" from school (many drop out immediately after their team's bowl game) up through the draft itself. Besides the players, Williams also looks at the role played by many others, including coaches, compliance directors, families, agents, and teammates.

The book's strength is that Williams goes lightly on all the participants. It's easy to portray agents as sharks, or schools as taking advantage of the kids, but Williams sticks to facts without adding too much of his own spin. That's not to say that he doesn't criticize certain people or tactics, but he's more interested in passing the story along to the reader for them to make their own judgments. It's this nonjudgmental approach that allows us to draw our own observations about featured coaches like Al Groh, or agents like Jack Scharf and Pat Dye, Jr. They may not always come across in the most positive light, but they're at least given a fair chance to speak for themselves without being judged by the author.

If there's a weakness to the book, it's that Williams spreads himself a little thin. With trying to cover the roles played by everyone listed above, the book can often seem scattered or presented in a non-linear way.
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Format: Hardcover
The Draft: A Year Inside the NFL's Search for Talent is a detailed look at what players, agents, and NFL teams go through leading up to the annual NFL Draft where teams select college players.

The Players

Williams chooses several players to follow for this book, some first rounders and a few who start with great promise but ultimately flounder in the draft for a variety of reasons. There are three main things that stand out about what players go through leading up to the draft. First is the feeding frenzy with agents jockeying for their attention. The more talented and greater the potential, the more demand there is a player's time and attention. Agents communicate with them directly when they are allowed (and sometimes when they are not) and often try to woo their parents, girlfriends, and anyone else that they think might have influence on the player's decision on which agent to go with. Secondly, there is a lot of money involved and many temptations to break NCAA rules. It's illegal for players to take money or gifts from agents while playing college football but it undoubtedly happens. Third, is that the NFL selection process is a meat market. NFL scouts are watching players, many from high school through college. The best players have agents hanging around them, especially their senior years in college. After their college careers are over they are faced with extensive training for the NFL combine, working out for teams at their schools or at team facilities.

The NFL Combine, where the NFL brings any eligible player that wants to participate, is really the centerpiece of the entire draft.
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Format: Hardcover
Just short and to the point...this was an interesting book that covered topics like how players prepare for the combine, how teams scout players, how agents pursue draftees, etc. Unfortunately, the book was marred somewhat by less than perfect writing. There were spots where you felt like you were reading the same material over again, and other spots, such as the "Draft Day" chapter, where the author bounced between characters so much it was hard to follow. Don't read this looking for a literary masterpiece, but do pick it up if you are a true fan of the sport...just feel free to skim at a few points.
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Format: Paperback
Here's an odd way of determining how big a football fan someone is: Ask him or her what they do during the last weekend in April.

If they are playing golf or watching baseball, the person get a low rating. If he or she is watching part of the NFL draft, move the rating up a few notches. If the entire draft is viewed, we're talking a superfan.

There is a great deal leading up to those two days, of course, and Pete Williams catches a good-sized flavor of it in his book, "The Draft." It uncovers a part of the game that is generally ignored, even if it's not the part with the touchdowns and the tackles.

The draft is essentially the end of a process that lasts a year. Scouts and management types from NFL teams start hitting colleges in the summer to get an early read on NFL prospects. Then they attend practices and games, watch film, and talk to people. Teams go through some last-minute checks in the form of all-star games, combines and college "pro days" (workouts specifically for the pros), and come up with final conclusions for the draft.

Drafting is an inexact science, of course -- ask about Ryan Leaf, the biggest flop in recent years -- and pro teams do everything possible to make those picks work. Williams narrows his focus to a relatively small selection of players, universities and NFL teams in order to give a flavor of what happens.

It might be oversimplistic, but the book could be divided into two portions -- the draft from the teams' point of view and the players'. In the players' case, that comes down to their preparation, which centers on physical workouts before the draft and the selection of an agent. That last part is the relatively ugly side of the business.
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