Sydney Speaks! Leave no stones unturned's Harry Sydney describes how scouts and coaches prepare for the NFL Combine and the annual collegiate draft.

If you are like most people, this is the time of year that sucks to be a football fan. There are no games to watch you are always wondering what the Packers are up to and it's quiet. We spend a lot of time guessing and hoping they will do this or that. So let's look at what the coaches might have been doing before the NFL Combine, which is due to start this week.

While football was being played during the season the scouts were out watching just about every college game possible. Each scout has a different territory and they are responsible to find out about any talented players in their area. They do this by watching the game itself, or by word of mouth, so they record this person's name and then file it away. Then if it keeps coming up they make an effort to either take a look at him live or on tape.

Understand that the Packers scouting department has a tape of almost every Division I game played, and that's why in this day and age there really aren't any surprises. If there is a good college player, someone has heard about him. If by their definition he is worthy of being noticed, he will be.

So the scouting department, headed by John Dorsey, has a very important role in helping the Green Bay Packers get where they want and need to go. What these scouts do is go out and find the talent. The scouts are ex-athletes, and some are former professional players. Others are guys who have been around football all their lives and feel they have an eye for football talent. Some see talent in different ways, and some go by the numbers, such as 40-yard dash times, how much they can bench, how high they can jump. You know, those numbers that should make you play better but sometimes they just make you test great.

Then there are the other scouts that look past the numbers and see the intangibles as they watch the games and film, and understand there are guys that don't test well but play the game.

Well, during the season each of the scouts puts together a list of who they feel are the top players at each position and as soon as the season is over they get it finalized, so each position coach knows who the top college prospects are according to the scouts. You must understand during the season the coaches don't even pay attention to what is happening in the college game. They might watch a game or two, but if they do it's for nothing but enjoyment, or some form of bet with a friend because they don't have time for anything other than that. The coaches are often caught up in what they need to do to beat next week's opponent. So when the season is over the coaches still have so much to do, even though they might not be working from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. They go through a season-ending self scout, where they look back at every play of the season and determine if it was a bad play or good play, and if so, how come? Was it player error, or just not a good play? They break down every player and rank them as to what level of a player is he is. The coaches rank their players as Pro Bowlers, solid starter, back up and those that they need to get rid of and improve that position.

As the coaches are doing their own player evaluations, they have a giant meeting with the scouts, which I believe probably happened just this past week. In this meeting, the scouts turn over to the assistant coaches their list of top candidates, and the scouts tell the coaches what they know about each player. A coach will try to get as much of a personal background as possible, and the scouts usually can get all the information because they are the ones that usually have good relationships with the different schools. They deal with one of the most important people at colleges, and that's the strength and conditioning coach. That coach spends more time with the players than most of the coaches because he does the dirty work and he's usually the most honest. Understand this: The film tells you one thing, but the more you can find out about a certain player the better things are in the long run. Look at what's happening in Cincinnati. They have great athletes, but head cases as well, and most teams want to avoid that. That's why the scout is so important. When it comes to building a solid organization, he knows the people that know the real scoop on players.

The coaches get this information and then they start doing their homework. It would be great if the names on your list are the same guys that show up at the Combine, but that's not usually the case. Most of the good ones don't work out at the Combine; they wait until their school holds private workouts, which in my opinion destroys the purpose of the Combine.

What the Combine has become now is the place where you might get a chance to talk to a player and ask him questions that their agents have already told them how to answer. The Combine is more for the scouts and that marginal player, but in reality the great ones don't need it because they know it can do more damage than good.

So now the scouts turn over most of the information and the position coach watches film on that individual, and I mean a lot of film. When I was coaching with the Packers, Ron Wolf thought it was necessary to watch at least 6 to 8 game films on every player. Personally I thought four was enough because, especially at halfback or fullback, a leopard doesn't change its spots. Either they can catch, run or block, or they struggle. The eye in the sky doesn't lie.

As coaches you get this information before the Combine and then after the Combine you start traveling around the United States to work them out and put them through the drills that you need to see to get some of your questions answered. From there you make your own ranking list and you make sure you are ready to defend why you might have one player listed differently than the scouts might have them.

Then when all things are said and done you have your information ready so when it's time to set the draft board you are ready to fight for the players you want at your position. This is what happened with William Henderson. He wasn't even a blip on the radar and I fought to draft him because as a coach you leave NO STONES UNTURNED!

Harry Sydney

Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at

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