A Taste of the Scouting Game

I write today from a different vantage point, for I am able to give you a little taste of what most of the Ravens players went through during and after their senior years in college. Today, I desire to give you a taste of what it is to scout the players that may potentially join a team in the NFL from my perspective.

For the most part, my view of being a scout has included taking visits to numerous collegiate workouts, to individually scout some of the prospects. I have assisted and orchestrated the workouts of some running backs at various locations and at our facilities. But for the most part, my evaluation of talent has been done by watching tapes of potential draft picks. I have been to the NFL combine in Indy and attended the annual Senior Bowl in Mobile. The Senior Bowl is a great place to see the players breathe, and see how they respond against the best of the best in their senior class, as well as how they respond to a Pro style of coaching.

In my opinion, this is the best way to evaluate the talent of an individual. You get to see this prospect in the situations that will give you an indication of his composure, desire, gamesmanship and heart. The pressure of the game will expose all of the weaknesses, as well as the strengths of a player. When a player is interviewed, he is always asked what he feels are his best performances. I on the other hand, like to look at one or two of the games that he didn't perform well in. I like to witness how this player does when the game is not flowing his way. What I am concerned about it is can he still contribute, or does he fade out of sight at crunch time. When he is pulled out of the lineup in certain situations, is it because he's nicked or does his coach decide to play with another game plan?  

Most scouts will look at three- to-five games that a player participates in, along with visiting this player's school during the year to watch practice and a live game or two. For me, I can get a feel for a player after two tapes, but will continue to watch more tapes to verify what I have seen. The tapes will provide you with some other aspects of the player's game, but for the most part, the player is like most of us: He is a creature of habit.

As a scout, you want to see how a guy responds in the big games and at key moments of the game. You like to see what he does after he makes a mistake or what type of game he plays after experiencing some adversity in his life.

In preparing for the annual draft, meeting on top of additional meetings take place. The scouts meet at least three times after the season ends to arrange the draft board, based on the players perceived talent level and how he is supposed to impact the league the following year. A player may be ranked high after the first round of meeting, and when he is watched more closely and crossed checked by some other scout, that may change and he can be downgraded. In some cases, that player may have done something in one of the bowls or in a workout to elevate his status even higher.

A player is graded on how he is supposed to impact the league, although this is not an exact science. Some of the projections are based on a gut feeling that you have about a certain prospect. Sometimes, a player who is a lock for superstardom falls on his face and the guy that is not supposed to stand a chance is the one that makes it big....Terrell Davis comes to mind.....

What I have given you is just a taste of what goes on behind the scenes for a scout. Pro scouts don't travel as much as the college guys do but have to stay abreast of what is happening in the league. When you see a prospect's draft status fluctuate, you have a bit of info as to why this happens.


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