A man named Joel Buchsbaum probably could have carried the same cachet as Ernie Adams with the New England Patriots.
Adams, who is shrouded in mystery, is the Patriots’ director of football research. It’s not clear exactly what Adams does, but he’s clearly influential. Bill Belichick nearly hired another employee like that in Buchsbaum, who is considered The Godfather of the mock draft, according to a lengthy feature by Sports Illustrated.
So who was Buchsbaum, aside from one of Belichick’s BFFLs?
Buchsbaum, who died in his apartment of natural causes in 2002, was an attorney-turned-draft analyst. He started studying NFL prospects as a hobby before getting hired by Pro Football Weekly as their draft writer. He was recluse, who spent most of his time in his own apartment studying tape on prospects starting in 1975 when he covered his first draft for PFW.
He’s a football guy.
No surprise Belichick loved him. But Belichick wasn’t the only powerful mind in the NFL who used Buchsbaum as an asset. So when Belichick offered the fellow football-obssesed eccentric a job in Cleveland, Buchsbaum politely refused Belichick’s offer, which surely came with a considerable pay raise.
“I appreciate the offer, but I feel like I work for every team,” Buchsbaum told Belichick, according to the Houston Chronicle’s John McClain.
“Joel was a personal friend, and we were close because we were honest with each other and trusted that any information we shared would remain private. He was a one-man band who produced an incredible amount of accurate information … We tried to hire Joel in Cleveland, but he was committed to his book and personal research.”
“… In the two months leading up to the draft, I spoke to Joel at least once a week, sometimes more. Joel did a tremendous job researching the background of players, such as sprint times they ran in high school track and participations and accomplishments in sports other than football. He literally had every name. Joel was a hard worker who was always at his apartment—you could reach him 24/7. He was able to compare players that I had not seen with ones that everyone had scouted, so for the ‘sleepers’ we were able to get an idea of the players’ style and playing skill without actually watching him. In those days, film was sometimes difficult to acquire, so having another set of eyes on a player was very helpful.”
Those comments also reveals just how seriously Belichick and surely other NFL general managers take their draft research.
High school 40-yard dash times?
There’s never too much information with the NFL draft, apparently.