Greg Olsen is no stranger to how the draft process works. Being a first-round pick of the Chicago Bears in 2007, Olsen lived up to the high expectations by becoming one of the best receiving tight ends in NFL history.
Olsen finished his 14-year career with 8,683 yards and 60 touchdowns with the Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, and Seattle Seahawks. He's seventh among tight ends in receiving yards and eighth in receiving touchdowns, ranking fifth all time in receiving yards at the time of his retirement. Since walking away from the game, Olsen has entered the broadcasting world as the color commentator for Fox Sports and is one of the rising stars in the industry.
Olsen spoke to CBS Sports on his draft experience, what the Panthers should do with the No. 6 overall pick, and his broadcasting future. The three-time Pro Bowl tight end also reached a partnership with Bud Light leading up to the draft.
How did you get involved in the Bud Light draft program?
Olsen: The Perfect Draft was a fun campaign that Bud Light came up with. To have a chance to win $15 million and take your crack at being a first-round draft expert is a really cool campaign. I filled out mine and we'll see if I win (laughing). I think it's going to be fun and be another thing to follow as the draft unfolds. Trying to see how many in a row you can get. I think people are going to really enjoy this.
Is it the number the player is picked, or do you have to get the player and team right too?
Olsen: You just have to get the 32 players. Even if someone trades out, you have to get the 32 draft selections -- in order and accurately. It's definitely a tough feat, but maybe someone out there can crack the code.
For a successful mock draft, how many picks do you think you need to get right?
Olsen: I think if you can get half, I think that's a great step. I never attempted a mock draft, so if I can get half -- I think that will be pretty good! Here's where it gets dicey. The trades are tough and not having the big-name quarterbacks that are projected to take the top couple picks change things because there's so many moving parts -- trade backs and trade ups. The back end of the draft is a little bit of a crapshoot, too. Teams back there have their preferences in the late 20s and early 30s, so each team kind of sees things differently at that point. If I could get half of these right, I'd be thrilled.
Your former team, the Panthers, pick No. 6 overall. I think they can alter the entire draft board if they take a quarterback. What do you think they should do?
Olsen: There's two opportunities here for Carolina. And you can't really rely on a lot of the information that comes out there, especially this week. If they could find a way to trade back, since they don't have many picks in the first few rounds (one in the top 100). If they can find a way to take that from one to three, three or four picks in the top 100, that would be ideal.
If they can't find a suitable trade partner to trade down and one who's willing to trade up to No. 6, you just have to take the best player available. You can't reach for a quarterback. If one of those big offensive linemen falls, one of those big tackles fall, it's a better positional value and a position of need. This is a really strong offensive tackle draft, so if they can get one of those guys to fall to No. 6. I think that's the direction I would go.
If they are not there, there should be an edge rusher there. You can always get better by being able to rush the passer. If I was running the team, trading back would be my first look. If not, I'm taking the best player that's possible, which would be an impact player if they are not able to trade back.
If there was any quarterback the Panthers would take, which one would you prefer?
Olsen: I think you like them for different reasons right? You look at a kid like Kenny Pickett. I think he's a little bit more predictable. Maybe the ceiling is not through the roof, but maybe the floor is a little bit higher. He's a little more consistent, a little more polished and a little more easier to project, but is that a safe pick at No. 6? Does that provide the long-term upside that you're looking for?
I think (Matt) Corral is a really interesting guy. I think Malik (Willis) is really interesting, too. It all depends. Are you looking for a guy in the moment or a guy three years from now? That's always the decision these teams have to make. Are you willing to bring in a guy and let him develop or are you getting a guy and expecting him to play on Day One? Once you make that decision as an organization, I think there's a bit more clarity on how you see those top three guys.
When you were going through this process, did you predict where you were going to go?
Olsen: So when I was heading into the league, there wasn't a million sites where everyone was a draft expert! You did pay attention to the big ones, you did try to read the tea leaves. If someone like you said I was going No. 9 overall, I would say 'This guy knows what he's talking about!' If someone had you out of the first round, I'd say 'this guy doesn't know s--- (laughing).'
You track it and you try to compare it to your own experience. What teams came to your pro day? What teams pulled you aside and showed legitimate interests at the combine? Who came for an additional visit after your pro day was over? There was so many additional factors weighed in as you tried to interpret the landscape.
When the day came, you just hoped to hear your name called in the first round. Thankfully the Chicago Bears took me at No. 31 and here we are.
You were teammates with Russell Wilson in Seattle. What do you think he'll bring to the Broncos?
Olsen: I think he's going to do well. A guy like Russ is the ultimate competitor. His mindset and how he approaches every single day is at a really impressive level. He's going to bring a ton to that team, not only on the field but his presence in the locker room, building relationships, and elevating the guys around him.
I know he's excited for the challenge. That's not an easy division to compete in. He's going against some really good young quarterbacks and really good rosters, but he's going to do well. He doesn't shy away from any of that. That's one of the main storylines people are excited to see as the season unfolds.
Would you be interested with teaming up with Kevin Burkhardt on Fox's No. 1 team again?
Olsen: My experience with Kevin was so positive. We go way back and have a great friendship. I couldn't be happier for him that he's going to be that No. 1 guy. How it's going to work for me? We're still going through that process and we'll see how it plays out.
I think the world of Kevin. Our experience together last year in our first season was so fun. Our entire team was just a great experience and they helped me learn a lot. Standing next to Kevin every day in the booth made things a lot easier for a guy just kind of starting out. I'm super grateful and couldn't be happier for him. If we end up doing this together again, great. We'll see how all that plays out.