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  • Writer's pictureBrian Shea

Does Your CEO's Talent Strategy Deliver "Next Man (or Woman) Up?

Updated: Oct 2, 2023



On September 23rd, 2001, the NFL changed forever.


With 5:03 remaining in the game, the Patriots starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe was sidelined with a season ending injury. The NFL has a player development strategy known as "next man up", meaning that each backup player must be as skilled and knowledgeable as the starter they play behind. If the starter is injured, you are expected to go in and execute, with little/no impact on the team performance.


So who replaced Bledsoe? Tom Brady.


As a CEO of a fast growing firm, do you have the bench strength to achieve your revenue goals if you lost 1 or more members of your sales team? Is your talent strategy clear on the required skills and competencies required for the backup players to perform as well as your starting team?


Lets dive into identifying clarity on skill and competency requirements.


Brady was drafted the previous season during the 2000 NFL draft. Many people forget that the league's front office personnel teams identified 198 players who they believed were a better choice than drafting Tom Brady. That's right, Brady was the 199th player drafted.


Why did the other team's NFL scouts pass by Brady?

Brady was slow. How slow? He was the 3rd slowest of the 308 quarterbacks drafted since 2000, completing his 40-yard dash in 5.28 seconds, well below where quarterbacks should be.

What did NFL scouts say about Brady?

Not only was he slow, he had a poor build, was too skinny, he lacked great physical stature and strength, poor mobility and ability to avoid the rush, didn't have a really strong arm and couldn't drive the ball downfield, couldn't actually throw a really tight spiral, and he gets knocked down easily. Other teams' personnel staff said “I don’t like him, smart guy. That’s it.” and “He had that great bowl game but I think he’s just very common." They said “He’s a bony, very thin kind of guy. God, you can see his ribs on his build. His arm is just adequate".


So what did the Patriots see in this slow, weak armed, boney thin QB? Leadership.


The Patriots executives needed leadership at the QB position. This was their most desired hiring competency. The Pats scouting reports on Brady idenfied him as having the attributes of an “Outstanding leader”. “Priest-like personality. Calm, wise and thoughtful. He’s accepting of what comes his way. Doesn’t appear to be dynamic. Has a calming demeanor. Well-liked, class kid. Has work ethic. Respected by his teammates. Two supportive parents who attend every game.”

For 23 seasons, Tom Brady would lead his teams by throwing for 89,214 yards and 649 touchdowns. He was selected to play in 15 Pro Bowls. He won 1 Comeback Player of the Year award, 2 Offensive Player of the Year awards, 3 MVP awards, 5 Super Bowl MVP awards and 7 championships. The Patriots needed a new leader, and these lifetime stats are the legacy of a slow, weak armed prospect.

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Brady had the ability to lead and rally his teammates. The Pats front office was crystal clear on what attributes they believed made a good draft candidate, Leadership.


As a CEO of a fast growing company, you own the talent strategy for your company. This requires you to have the same level of clarity as the Patriots' executives when it comes to drafting your talent. Look at your current team, have they been drafted with intentional skill and competency modeling or was it ad hoc? Hiring the wrong seller can cost your company millions of dollars in lost opportunity costs plus personnel expenditures.


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