G is for Grading.
When thinking about an NFL GM and his select team of scouts and directors, it comes down to this one thought for me -- "Can this guy accurately grade players?"
In my profession, one key part of my job is valuing properties. Every property standing out in King County has a value, and I like to think I can nail the value of most residential properties within $10,000, within a reasonably short period of time. Some properties can be easily valued from a Bellevue skycraper using the available databases and other tools combined with previous experience. Other properties, perhaps luxury properties or unique properties, require more time getting on-site and experiencing the property in three dimensions along with its light, surroundings, situation, etc. This process may take half a day or more - but the more time I spend - the more and more comfortable and confident I feel about the value of any given property. The more data I collect, the tighter my value range becomes. The more exact my grade becomes.
For example, I may take 15 minutes from my desk and estimate a particular property is worth between $370 to $390k. This may be a good enough range for some instances, but if I were to advise a seller, I would need to dig deeper. I would drive by the best recent sold comparables, re-examine pictures, and then visit the best pending and active comparables - forming tighter and tighter brackets of value. Perhaps, after my drive, I would come back to my desk and then run other search variations complete with extra knowledge gained on the ground. After more time spent digging on this particular property, I would perhaps settle squarely on $375k because of a half dozen key data points.
Grading college football players is one-hundred times tougher than valuing houses. John Schneider wears a puzzle lapel pin related to his support of autism research. He mentions that it serves as a symbol of his work philosophy on Brock & Salk, back in April, he says -- "Nobody has all the answers" and the Seahawks are on a "constant quest to find all the answers" in relation to their player evaluation. These guys don't just value players quickly from a Bellevue skyscraper, they get onsite and dig and dig and dig, trusting that the more information they uncover, the more accurate their player grade. They go beyond the bare minimum. They make this yet another arena of competition, following Pete Carroll's core philosophy.
They may dig deeper on a big name, big school prospect or they may "dig wider" on a small school prospect with limited playing experience. They may dig a little deeper into Bruce Irvin's social support network, or dig deeper in how to succeed with a 5'10 5/8" QB, They may dig into their relationship with Dan Quinn, or send Ken Norton Jr. to Korey Toomer's pro day, dig deeper into small school corner, Jeremy Lane, or dig deep and send Tom Cable to examine J.R. Sweezy and his prospects as an Offensive Lineman. They may dig into the the prospects of CFL All-Star, Brandon Browner, or deeper into the facts surrounding the exoneration of Brian Banks.
In the end, the results are what matters - whether they spend 10 minutes or dig for 10,000 hours trying to nail a grade -- the question is, can these selected players (from Round 1 through Round 8) play really high-level football? Many Seahawks fans have confidence that this regime can grade position players accurately, yet hold reservations about their grading of quarterbacks. Let's see what happens in 2012 and let these players play, but I suspect Schneider and Carroll's "constant quest" for knowledge in player evaluation is an exciting and impressive approach, and will yield accurate grades and winning results over time.