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Tom Telesco Explains Biggest Draft Misconceptions

With the San Diego Chargers picking third in the 2016 NFL Draft, here are the most recent players selected number three overall.

The NFL Draft is one of the most highly discussed events in professional sports.

Every football fan has an opinion on a prospect's talent level, who a team should select, where a player should be drafted and so on.

With the Super Bowl now over, the 2016 offseason is officially upon us.  With the next big event on the NFL schedule being the annual scouting combine that begins Feb. 23, the Draft debate will begin in earnest and reach a fever pitch in the coming months

In his 22nd NFL season and fourth with the San Diego Chargers, General Manager Tom Telesco is well versed in the draft process.  From casual fans to experts and pundits chiming in with their own two cents, draft season is rife with misconceptions.

Telesco addressed one of those fallacies after returning from the Senior Bowl.  While the masses regard the all-star showcase as the kickoff to draft season, the truth is that teams are well past the midpoint in their analysis and evaluations as preparations actually began last May.

Still, that isn't the biggest misconception according to the general manager.

"A lot of people feel you only scout the positions in the draft where you think you have needs," he said.  "But we scout every position like we have an empty roster.  We scout every quarterback all the way down to kickers, punters and long snappers.  They are all scouted an equal amount all the way through to the end. As we get to April, then we will start to narrow it down.  But it really is a very wide net, and you keep narrowing that focus down.  The draft is not something that you go into with thoughts in mind only about certain positions, and that is who you are going to take.  That is not how it works."   

Denzel Perryman is one shining example, as nobody expected the Bolts to draft an inside linebacker so high last season.  However, he was the most talented player available on the team's board, which is why they pounced on the opportunity.

Another misconception about the draft is that the information gathered during the process is only useful that year.  That is far from the case.  Teams use it many times in the future, including free agency.  For instance, this year is the first time players from the 2012 class are eligible.  Although there is tape of them from their NFL career, Telesco explained how the team uses their draft evaluation when deciding whether to sign a free agent.

"We absolutely go back to our notes.  We go back to what we thought about them in college and any background information we had on them.  Even though that information is four or five years old, we absolutely use it.  One thing when signing a free agent from another team is that you don't have as intimate of knowledge about that player the past few years.  But we do compile a lot of that information in the draft process.  When the draft ends, we don't just take that information and throw it out.  We log it and file it, and it is with that player all the way through his career."

While the Super Bowl demands an unprecedented amount of coverage, the fact that it is closely rivaled by the NFL Draft doesn't shock Telesco.

"I never would have thought it would get the amount of attention that it does now, but it doesn't really surprise me," he said.  "I just think people love our game so much.  When there aren't games being played, they want information about what their team is doing.  College football is so big, and I think that helps as well.  A lot of these players being drafted, people watched them play every Saturday.  When you think about baseball drafts, a lot of the players being drafted fans have never seen before.  They come out of high school or college, and they aren't as visible.  But there is so much coverage of college football, and those players who have NFL talent move on to the next level.   Football is an exciting game, and that is why it is the most popular game in America."

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