By Bill Walsh
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The process must take into account a number of factors. In the final analysis, one critical question must be answered: "Can this individual make a meaningful contribution to the team? " Evaluating Players who are Currently on the Roster As the head coach, you must ensure that a process is established to evaluate your players on an ongoing basis even after they have joined your team. This evaluation is typically performed by members of your coaching staff as part of their responsibility to help develop a projection of the team's needs for the upcoming year. between the steps that you can take to make sure that such an evaluation is conducted in an appropriate way are the following: • Make sure that the evaluation is completed with both a shortterm and a longrange appraisal in mind. • Project the maturation of younger players—how their skills and abilities may improve and how those capabilities will affect the makeup and overall production of your team. As part of this effort, individual and collective talent must be continually reassessed, with projections three to five years in the future. • Develop a plan for dealing with free agency as it affects your team's roster. Such a plan is critical, given the high priority that many teams place on maintaining the continuity of their existing rosters and the fact that most players are eligible for free agency in a relatively brief period of time (i. e. , if otherwise unrestricted, five years or four years with a capped year). Page 114 Using Coaches as Talent Evaluators Members of the coaching staff should be given a substantial role in the scouting and evaluation processes of their teams. Typically hired because of their expertise and experience in working with players at a particular position, these individuals have a wealth of knowledge that can be used in the evaluation process. Most of these men have either been in the league for a relatively long period of time or have moved up from the college ranks, where one of their duties often was to evaluate athletes who were at a much younger and more difficult age for projecting their potential abilities. In either instance, it is very likely that your coaches have the ability to systematically evaluate and project their players' attributes with respect to athletes' current and future status on the team. The observations and feedback provided by your coaching staff must be kept in proper perspective with the information and opinions offered by your team's scouting employees. It is highly unlikely, for example, that a position coach would have had the opportunity to see the wide array of players that a regular scout has watched. Accordingly, the position coach would not be able to objectively compare the potential worth of a player at one position, relative to that of a player in another place. Such judgments must be made by the existing team hierarchy of head coach, director of college and pro personnel, etc. or whatever structure has been established by the organization.