It's often said that the difference between being good and being great, in a high-level athlete sense if not elsewhere in achievement sense, lies in when no one is looking. What someone does behind the scenes is a reflection of who they are, with the idea of, with a bad paraphrase, "do the work no one else will do, so you can do things no one else can do."
Now through three drafts and offseasons as the Detroit Lions general manager, Brad Holmes has placed great emphasis on character and culture fit as much as talent. If you're drafted or signed by this regime, it's because they think you fit in more ways then a spot on the depth chart or a talent void that needed to be filled.
On the latest episode of "The Season with Peter Schrager", Holmes talked about how his draft philosophy was shaped as a scout with the Los Angeles Rams.
Scouting Aaron Donald shaped Brad Holmes' draft philosophy today
Via The Detroit News, Holmes told Schrager how he went on a visit to Pitt when he was a Rams' scout. The defensive coordinator there told him to arrive to practice a half-hour early. Holmes didn't know why, but he did it....
"I go out there and I walk out to the (practice) bubble, and it’s the ball boys, the equipment managers, the specialists…and Aaron Donald. Those are the only people in the bubble,”- Brad Holmes
“And Aaron Donald is sitting on his back, fully taped up with this twitch in his knee, as if like, ‘Man, I’ve been waiting for this all day. Where’s everybody at? Because I’ve been waiting on this all day.’”"
Cooper Kupp was a prolific small school wide receiver out of Eastern Washington, the school famous for a red field. The Rams took the future Super Bowl MVP in the third round of the 2017 draft.
"It was the same way with Cooper Kupp when we drafted him,” Holmes said. “And that’s when it really hit me. I’m like, ‘Look, man. If these players don’t have the intangibles and the passion and the work ethic and the football character, it’s not gonna work. That’s just the bottom line.’”"- Brad Holmes
The Lions drafting of guys like Penei Sewell and Amon-Ra St. Brown reflects the draft philosphy Holmes has taken to being a general manager, without regret and without acknowledgment for what the general consensus is. That it started with Donald, and continued notably with Kupp, is only a star-driven coincidence for how Holmes learned about the importance of things beyond numbers.