On the clock

M.A. grad shows blue-chip skills in scouting NFL draft

Zobel offers advice to students who share his ambitious nature

Shawn Zobel holds a copy of the NFL draft book he writes each year.

Shawn Zobel, a Minnehaha alum (Class of ‘08), is the founder and president of Draft Headquarters and a nationally recognized expert on the NFL draft. As his draft information and accuracy gets more attention, so has Zobel, who has not only been very busy with local media requests, but with national media outlets such as Yahoo sports radio and ESPN radio. Andrew Graham sat down with Shawn to discuss his high school experience at Minnehaha, his current work and his future ambitions. 

What did you do as a Minnehaha student to shape what you are doing now?

That’s a good question. I transferred to my sophomore year to Minnehaha and at that point I hadn’t really started anything yet. Obviously I loved football, I had been going to the draft since I was in 8th grade out in New York, so obviously I’m a big fan of it. At the end of my sophomore year my dad suggested that I start a website, and see what happens from there. So you know I thought about it and I think the one thing at Minnehaha that stood out more than anything was that, I wouldn’t say they expect you to succeed, but they do everything possible to help you succeed.

When did you decide that you wanted to write about the NFL draft? Why specifically the NFL draft? And when you went to college knowing this, did you say. “I need to major in this in order to help myself out?”

I started my website in February of 2007, which was spring of junior year. I just started it out as a hobby to work on on the weekends, it was just more for fun the first year. In my first year I submitted my mock draft into this contest and I took 8th out 95 people in the contest.

Who was involved in the contest? 

Zobel’s efforts have gathered attention from both local and national media outlets. He receives invitations to appear on radio and TV shows as an expert guest as April’s NFL draft nears.

Basically any sports writer in the country who does a mock draft, so it helped my creditability. So I said hey, how do I try to use that to my advantage to the best possible way that I can. So I sent an email to people in the media throughout the Twin Cities, it was just kind of a shot in the dark, just seeing if anyone would be interested in writing a story about it. I was walking out of Minnehaha one day after school and Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune called and wanted to do an article about me. So as soon as he wrote the article, and it was in the newspaper the next day, everything just took off from there. Everything blew up to where it was no longer a hobby that I did on weekends. I wanted to take it more seriously but it was kind of like I needed a reason to.

What did you do in college specifically geared towards the future? 

I originally went to Northwestern College for one semester and then transferred to St. Thomas because I wanted to go to their business school. My eventual goal is to start working in the NFL. That’s why I started it. I started Draft Headquarters because I wanted to do as much as I could to get my name out into the business, to try to eventually get a job in the NFL. So when I started a website, that was my goal all along. My goal is not to be in the media, my goal is to work in the NFL and I want to be a general manager.

How did you stay intimately involved with the game? 

My freshmen year of college I work for Northwestern’s football team, just as a scouting and defensive assistant. My sophomore and junior years I worked for the gophers and worked under Tim Brewster. This past fall, my senior year I coached offensive and defensive line at New Life Academy.

How did your major in college help you prepare you to run an NFL team?

I’m a leadership management major. You have to understand how to run, lead and manage a team. So, at least from my majors perspective I got a lot of good tools and information to use in terms of understanding the difference between managing people and leading people.

At this point you are where many people would want to be at the height of their careers, but you’re just getting started. Where do you see yourself in 10 to 15 years? What’s your goal?

My end goal has always been to get a job in the NFL as soon as I got out of college and that’s still the goal right now. I’ve developed contacts with teams in the NFL and that sort of thing. I gave a speech to the entire school when I was a senior saying that my goal was to be a GM by 30. In the event that I get in the right situation, by the time I’m 30 I’ll have the skills to do it.

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