With the New York Giants’ stunning victory over the then undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII over two months in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look ahead to the 2008 season. The offseason’s biggest event, the NFL Draft, will take place on April 26-27 in New York City. Every team will be seeking to snare that elusive final piece to the puzzle that will lead them to victories on Sunday and eventually a trip to next year’s Super Bowl.
With the average length of a football player’s career being only four years, the draft has to fill holes. With so many college football players entering the draft every year, selecting the perfect fit is a difficult and lengthy process. Every first-round pick must make a difference. For the Giants, repeating as world champions won’t be an easy task, but before the Miami Dolphins go on clock, the Giants will already have a leg up on the competition.
Their secret weapon is a little known Union, NJ-based company named Professional Sports Consultants, led by President Eric Simmons. While Simmons doesn’t know which quarterback has better accuracy and arm strength or which defensive lineman has the better tackling abilities, he instead looks at which players are less likely to play with an injury, which players have trouble dealing with authority figures and which players lack the mental discipline to survive the rigors of an NFL season.
Professional Sports Consultants is a consulting firm assisting individuals and sports organizations with assessment, selection and development of its players. As it lays out on its Web site, the company analyzes a broad array of elements that are essential for any athlete to be successful, including the athletes’ intellectual capabilities, decision-making skills, moral values, confidence and so on. This information allows the Giants to identify key character issues that can determine if a particular athlete will fit in and beneficially contribute to their culture.
While it is undoubtedly true that players are selected based on the team’s specific needs, the methods they use to scout these athletes vary. Since a player’s performance on his college team only goes so far to predict success in the NFL, teams utilize many offseason events, such as the Senior Bowl, the Scouting Combine and universities’ Pro Days. The Senior Bowl is an annual game in late January for, as its name suggests, college seniors. Along with the preceding week-long practice, it is attended by coaches and scouts from every NFL team. Around a month later, the Scouting Combine takes place over an entire week and includes various evaluations of physical fitness, most notably the 40-yard dash, bench press and vertical leap, as well as skills relative to the player’s position. Soon after that, universities conduct their own combine, known as a Pro Day, for NFL scouts to see. These events are important in determining who to select in the draft, yet they only display physical skill. Psychological tests are equally, if not more, significant. This is where PSC comes into the picture.
One of many methods of assessment the firm uses is a complex written exam, which includes, among many items, true-or-false questions. Examples of some of these questions include, “I enjoy hearing lectures on world affairs” and “I think I would like to belong to a singing club.” PSC believes the interview with the player is just as important – if an answer doesn’t seem to be truthful or if the athlete hesitates or can’t make eye contact, it is taken into consideration.
PSC’s character profiles are an integral part of the Giants’ draft-day decisions. The additional pieces of information they provide are an immense luxury to have when considering who to draft. Having the capability to predict whether a player will mesh or clash with a team and its culture – and possibly jeopardize their chances of winning – gives the Giants an enormous advantage. So, when Big Blue is on the clock next Saturday with their first of eight selections and passes on the flashy player with the attitude problem, you’ll know why.
Meiseles is a member of the class of 2009.