As fans and players gear up for the 2013 NFL Draft, NFLPE is highlighting former players that have excelled as talent evaluators both in professional and collegiate football in order to get some insight as to how their time the locker room has shaped their approach.
Our next spotlight is Dick Daniels, who is currently an NFL consultant involved primarily with Football Operations and NFL Ventures. Dick entered the league in 1966 as a Dallas Cowboy under Head Coach Tom Landry. Dick ended his career on injured reserve with the Miami Dolphins and was directed to join the Dolphins coaching staff by then Head Coach Don Shula. Dick has spent 47 years as a coach, player personnel evaluator, and executive with seven different organizations and has experienced eight Super Bowls along the way. Dick took some time to offer NFL Player Engagement his unique insight on talent evaluation.
PE: What made you decide to enter the field of talent evaluation? Talk about your transition into your current role.
Daniels: As a player in Coach Landry’s system, part of my responsibility was changing the coverage of the defense for each play. To accomplish this, Coach Landry required me to take home film each week and study each week’s opponent for the unique differences in how they approached each play. Studying in this manner provided me the basic foundation in understanding defensive and offensive playing concepts, and how the significant differences in each player were used based upon what the concept required, regardless of position. The knowledge acquired from this is what prompted Coach Shula to hire me as a coach and set the foundation for my career.
PE: How does your philosophy on talent evaluation differ from that of a non-former player?
Daniels: I do not know if my philosophy of evaluation is any different from anyone else’s. However, I do believe that being a vested player requires time and allows you to have a more complete understanding of all the necessities required to function as a player at the pro level. Regardless of how much natural God-given talent you have, you cannot consistently achieve success at the professional level unless you totally mentally and physically apply yourself and are a good TEAMMATE! How much or how little of those things is required depends upon who is responsible for implementing the playing philosophies.
PE: What are some important intangible assets and/or leadership qualities you look for in the athletes you evaluate?
Daniels: I do believe the word intangible is over used and what humanly is necessary is character that is shown through our conscious effort to conduct ourselves towards others with God’s sincerity, purity, and grace – not worldly wisdom or attitude of selfishness. Character is the humility of a gentle, humble heart and moral agent of obedience to do the right thing. A leader is someone who gathers respect by applying knowledge gained through experiences that allow him to be held accountable to others because of his actions. He becomes confronting when his wisdom does not allow him to agree and allows the opportunity for others to succeed or fail in their roles.
PE: List a few athletic qualities you look for in players at the following positions:
Daniels: At the professional level the athletic qualities you speak of are best referred to as Critical Factors. Critical Factors are those specific areas of athletic talent that allows a player to apply required skill in the application of specific techniques required in the performance of a play. The greater the skill of the player, the greater the application of techniques and the greater the application of techniques, the greater you can expand the playing philosophy. This is what makes the professional game.
Each playing philosophy is constructed and adapted according to the number of skilled performers required at each position. This makes each philosophy strategically different and the number of athletes required to implement them different. This makes the professional game the chess match it has become and will always be.
Here are some universal Critical Factors for each position for the pro level only:
- Quarterback: arm strength, release, accuracy, poise/escape
- Running Back: instincts, hands, block
- Defensive Back: press, cover-off, tackle