Leo's Late Hits: Words With Webster

September 11 – Pewter Report managing editor Leo Haggerty talked with the Ruston Webster, the director of college scouting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on the trials and tribulations of a pro scout and the hours that are required of the Pewter Pirates scouting staff.

Q: What is the job of the scouts at training camp?
A: At training camp our scouts are involved in evaluating a position of our team. Coach Gruden will get that evaluation. Then we spend time setting schedules and watching tape. The scouts watch any tape that they haven't seen that they need to see prior to going to the schools. Then they just meet on the mechanics of what we do in terms of grading scale. We also have a teaching period for any new scouts that we have. They are usually in training camp for about seven days.

Q: Will the scouts change positions that they evaluate after they leave training camp?
A: No the scouts will carry that on through the whole season. When we get to meeting time, as we get closer to the draft, the scouts will get a position of college players to crosscheck.

Q: So one of the scouts, let just say Joe DiMarzo for example, will have wide receivers at training camp and then the northeast as his scouting area but then crosscheck on linebackers?

A: That's right. He may get linebackers. We'll send him all of the tapes that we have on linebackers and then he'll do all that work from his house.

Q: What is a normal day for a scout when he's out on the road?
A: You get up and you want to try to get started around 7:00 AM. The earlier the better because you only have so much time to watch tape. Usually you're in a positional meeting room so you have to get it done and get out. Usually, you try to get in around 7:00 AM and get your tape watched. Then you set up times when you can talk to the trainer and the strength coach as well as the pro liaison that usually comes in to talk to all the scouts that is watching tape. Usually, you can get all your tape watched from 7:00 AM until around 1:00 PM. Then you go get your interviews. You see the strength coach and you see the trainer. Generally you already talked to the pro guy in the film room. Then you try and get position coaches. If your looking at a couple linebackers you make sure you talk to the linebackers coach. If you're looking at quarterbacks you want to make sure that you find that guy. Maybe you'll hit a coordinator. You want to get as much background information on a player as you can. Then you go out to practice and, at most schools, it at 3:00 PM. You stay as long as you can there. Pick up any more interviews that you can on the field before practice. Check out the body type and watch them go through individual. We always try to watch the skilled guys first I individual because they do the most in terms of movement. Then you watch practice and, hopefully, you have a good practice. Then you hit the road and drive to the next school.

Q: How hard is it when you go to a Miami University or Florida State University as well as a Florida State University and you have to see and evaluate a plethora of players?
A: Normally, those are two-day visits. You walk in and inform them that that it's going to be a two-day job. One day you do the offense one-day and defense the next?

Q: Are coaches going to volunteer bad information about their players?
A: No they aren't and you don't get much of that. You just want to try and get a feel for certain things. Try to find out how he learns and how he works. Very rarely do you get real negative stuff but it just gives you a feel for what the kid is like. You'll get things that will help you so you'll know if this guy comes here he's going to need to work on this. It make take him a few more reps or you may need to push him in the weight room. In fact, the guys who are the most open are the trainers and strength coaches in most cases.

Q: How good was Miami last year?
A: They were great and they we're very talented. They get their whole secondary drafted. We even signed Marquise Fitzgerald, who was a back up on the National Championship team, so he was able to get into camp. They were very talented and they'll be talented again.

Q: When a small school has a player, like Karl Williams at Texas A&M-Kingsville, does the coach have to call you to come?
A: No, we go to all those schools. We don't just go to the big schools. The big schools are our focus but Texas A&M-Kingsville is one of those schools that have produced players for years and years. You have Wilbert Montgomery and Darryl Green and you can go on and on. It's real interesting the funny thing is that we had about five or sixth guys all at one time from Kingsville. You know what those schools are and, our guy who has that area, our scouts will always go to Kingsville. You are just going to go because you never know. There are schools like that all over the country. If a player pops up somewhere we go and see him to get a look at him. The big schools aren't the only ones that get scouted.

Q: What happens when you get to the next school that night?
A: You drive to the next school and that could be a two or three hour drive. There are times that it's only an hour but, most of the time, it's a three-hour drive. You have to get into the room and open up your computer and write the guys up. Then you start all over the next day. Believe me when I tell you that it's a long day. It's a longer day then people think because you have to get the reports done when you get to the hotel and, depending upon how far you had to drive, that can be a pretty long day. You're lucky if you get to bed at midnight and you're up at it again early the next morning.

Q: How detailed and tedious are the reports for your scouts?
A: They are real tedious. We try to cut them down as we've been together longer and trust each other more. They are still tedious. We have a lot of detail in our reports. A lot of different things to cover not only playing wise but background wise that we try to do. For a real good player it will take you at least an hour to do a report on that guy.

Q: Is the west the toughest area to do?
A: The west is tough because you have to do so much driving. It makes it tough for that guy to get his reports done. Frank Dorazio does a good job for us out there. He gets it done. He's very organized. It can be a real hard deal to have to drive six hours to the next school and still get your reports done. I can remember Frank was at a bowl game somewhere out in Utah and he got a hotel room for $19.99. I told him I was proud of him saving the organization money and that he had to stay there again next year though.

Q: What's the hardest position in college to project into the pros?
A: It's got to be quarterback. I can remember the first time I looked at Shaun King and he was no bigger than 6-foot on the nose that that was a negative. The more you looked at him, though, the more he kept winning and kept throwing balls and completing them. He ended up being a pretty good player. Another group that are hard to project are the offensive linemen because they don't necessarily flash. They're workmanlike and they're big. Unless one of those big guys has great feet they don't flash out at you. A lot of times those guys are like that.

Q: Is it hard rating the lineman because you never played their position or been their size?
A: No, that's not that big a problem. I still say it's the quarterbacks. Offensive linemen are usually tough and smart as well as having the size plus a little bit of talent. If they have those four things they are going to make it and play. Quarterbacks are a little different because so many things have to be factor in for them to be successful.

Q: What changed the most from Jerry Angelo and Tony Dungy leaving to what Jon Gruden wants your scouts to look for?
A: Size is definitely a factor now and, on the offensive side of the ball, the offense is more complex. The guy we bring in has to be able to learn it. From that standpoint, that's been the biggest change. In terms of scouting philosophy we haven't changed as much as people think. The fact that Tim Ruskell and Rich McKay are still here makes it close to the same things we did in the past. We still want to draft a certain kind of guy and develop him. Because we're still working with Tim and Rich means that it's not a major transition.

Q: How important was it to have Stan Parrish here when you drafted Marquise Walker?
A: It was important because we could listen to Stan. It's always nice to have a guy that recruited him and was a coach of his in college. It help you a bunch to have that inside scoop.

Q: How hard is it to cut a guy especially the ones that are liked and doing charity work in the community?
A: No question and that's why it was so hard to cut Jerry Wunsch. Everyone like him and respected him. Unfortunately, it's the nature of the business. It's never fun. We'll miss Jerry. He's a great guy and he didn't stay unemployed for long. Guys at his position, tackle, get picked up when they get cut. He's at a premium position. A wide receiver gets cut and he may not get picked up. An offensive tackle is too hard to find and everybody is looking for them. They are really hard to find. It's one of those positions where there's very few of them and there's not enough of them to go around. If a good one is out there he gets scooped up. You have to be at least 300 pounds to play offensive tackle in the NFL and there's not many people out there that are 300 pounds. Plus they have to move well enough to play in the league. But it's been like this for years. When I first started and was doing the pro personnel side of scouting we always were looking for offensive tackles.


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