- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"There is only one way to do this job," says Tom Donahoe, who drafted Ward as Pittsburgh's director of football operations at the time. "You have to put the tape on and watch play after play, to see if the guy can play football. Hines proved he could play without the ACL, and play at a high level, and run away from corners. He was a victim of what still plagues a lot of players 10 years later—a good player, but [after the season] people start poking holes in him.
"The process is not getting better," Donahoe adds. "There'd be fewer mistakes if the league drafted at the end of January and eliminated all those workouts and most of those player interviews, which are a waste because they're so scripted. Turn the tape on. Can the guy play or not?"
One more thing about scouting that drives players crazy: upside.
"What killed me," says Manning, "was when I'd see the so-called unnamed executive quoted as saying, 'Leaf has upside, Manning doesn't.' How'd you like to be 21 or 22, and you've already peaked. Does that make any sense?"
This year's "low-upside" player at the top of the draft is Virginia's Chris Long, who projects as a 4--3 defensive end or a 3--4 outside linebacker. Word on the street is that Long will have trouble getting around quicker tackles. "My belief is I'll still be getting better in my 10th [season]," says Long, "but I keep hearing words like ceiling and maxed out. Where do they come from?"
IN THE spring of 2002 Hasselbeck and Trent Dilfer were competing for the Seahawks' starting job when a new face walked into the quarterbacks meeting room. It was Leaf. Taking one last stab at reviving his career, he had signed with Seattle. The man who'd bumped Hasselbeck from the combine was going to compete for a job with the Seahawks.
"It was just weird," Hasselbeck says. "He was a nice guy. I just thought he was one of those guys who figured, you know, take a year, get coached by Mike Holmgren, save your career. But one day he didn't come. He retired. He just disappeared."