If there is anyone that knows about the spotlight of the NFL Draft, it’s legendary NFL Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk. Back in 1994 coming out of San Diego State where he had one of the more outstanding careers in college history, Faulk was drafted second overall by the Indianapolis Colts, who desperately needed a running game at the time.
Now, Faulk is an analyst on the NFL Network, assessing and analyzing the next crop of talent coming into the league and I had a chance to sit down and talk with the Super Bowl winner on Thursday just hours before the festivities kick off.
He started off by talking about a project that he helped work on with the folks at SAP to better analyze the prospects coming out.
Jack Jorgensen: Marshall, first off thank you for taking the time on one of the busiest days of the year for you and others in the league. Talk a little bit about this project you worked on with SAP.
Marshall Faulk: It was a collaboration with SAP to make everything that we do a lot easier. There’s so much going on, I want to be able to push a button and get the info I need about a player to track them through the draft. I need the stats, best fits, what position they could fall to so my job at the desk could be a lot simpler and cleaner. I think it’s going to make what we do on TV so much better. It’s going to be like Google.
JJ: How has the extra time given to the draft process affected things this year, if at all?
MF: I don’t think it’s affected the draft at all. You’re really going to see a difference in the future when the Combine gets moved back. With the extra time between the end of the college football season and the Combine, kids won’t have a reason to not participate. They’ll have the time to recover and will be forced to compete in either the regional Combines or in Indianapolis. If you want to have a personal workout, also, you won’t have enough time.
JJ: Now, just to jump right to what everyone is looking at, what are the Texans going to do come the time tonight to choose with the no. 1 overall pick?
MF: Rick Smith and the Texans have a Jadeveon Clowney and they have a Johnny Manziel in mind, and they’re weighing their options at this point. They need someone to decide they really want that first pick. Who would benefit from moving up? I think the Falcons would for Clowney. They need someone to help sack the QB, especially playing in a division with Cam Newton and Drew Brees.
Also, I think The Dallas Cowboys are definitely a team that would benefit from a Johnny Manziel. They could give the Texans Romo, a first round pick–whatever they’re asking for. They’re just not a team that’s ready to win the Super Bowl right now.
JJ: How about some sleepers tonight? Maybe someone that is projected second round or later that could sneak their way to a team on Thursday?
MF: Definitely the running back position. Guys like Jeremy Hill, Bishop Sankey and Carlos Hyde, no one is looking at the running back position. Whether it’s one or two in the rotation, every team still needs a strong running game. You look at how valuable Marshawn Lynch just was for the Seattle Seahawks in their Super Bowl run, running backs are still important.
JJ: Aside from Clowney, who is the best defensive player in this draft?
MF: Khalil Mack. Clowney is a specialist, Mack is a pure football player. As a football player, when you draft him, you’re going to get a lot out of him and he’s going to be an asset to some team.
JJ: Lastly, talk about how much the draft process has changed since you were one of the prospects in ’94.
MF: This is an event, man. It’s star-studded, there’s red carpets–back in the day we were lucky if it got covered. Now, there’s two networks that cover it, but that’s the way it should be. This is reality TV–REAL reality TV. Some kids lives are going to change tonight. Some kids are going to fall and that fire is going to begin to burn to prove people wrong, like an Aaron Rodgers has done. It’s just great to watch.