Drafting is still the key

Updated: November 7, 2003, 11:26 AM ET
By Randy Mueller | ESPN NFL Insider

When NFL teams decide to release or not re-sign marquee players, they must draft well to compensate for the loss. Teams can worry about signing bonus, salary cap room or the shelf life of the player all they want, but if you have not drafted and planned well, it will surely be hard to hide. Only when the young kids are playing every down and have the spotlight shining directly on them can a true evaluation be made.

Personnel people and coaches alike share the pressure of selecting and developing viable replacements that can produce to the level of everyone's expectation.

The college draft has long been the lifeblood of an NFL team. It might not be as sexy or as exciting as signing a high-profile free agent, but it is still the most important day of the year and the best way to acquire talent that will get your team to the playoff level we all strive for.