There are always big surprises on draft day. Teams will make picks that seem to come out of nowhere, going against every mock draft and projection. That's exactly what general managers like the Bears' Phil Emery want, as they look to avoid giving out too much information to their competition.
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There's a balance of giving some information to fans, because this is a business after all, and preventing anything important from leaking out. Emery says the key is to keep the big board stuff close to the vest, according to nfldraftscout.com:
I think it’s the most competitive business in the world, the NFL. So there’s going to be certain things we’re not going to talk about in terms of how we rank players, both our team, the UFA market and the college players. Be glad to talk about the content and the quality of the overall class but how we rank them, how we see them, that’s going to remain in-house for those competitive reasons.
Teams put a lot of money and resources into scouting players, and coming to a draft decision is a process months in the making. When a team like the Bears has its heart set on a certain guy, it can be difficult when that prospect is snatched up by another team. Sometimes, letting information leak out can be a part of that, as competitors looking for someone at the same position may try to jump out in front.
Emery said that it is important to keep a team's favorites a secret for that very reason, and he seems to have been burned by the process before:
When you focused as a staff – coaches and scouts and the building – you’re excited that you’ve got this player you really desire and he’s your guy. And you have figured out all the scenarios, that that’s your guy and you don’t get him, the room deflates a little. So we want to do everything we can to avoid that. We want to make sure that there may be one or two people that know who that actual guy is and that’s about it.
So we don’t want to give out information so that we create, ‘Hey, everybody knows that that’s Chicago’s right tackle. That’s the guy they want.’ So I’m on one of those other 31 teams, and I need a right tackle, I got to get in front of Chicago.
The Bears will have a long time to keep a secret in the first round of the draft, as they are the 20th overall pick. They are in the unfortunate position of having a late-round pick but not making the playoffs, as they struggled down the stretch and let a division title and playoff trip slip away.