Chances are, if you're reading this, you're not an NFL Scout. And if you are an NFL Scout, that's no guarantee that my ratings will make sense without translation. I use a slightly modified system of what Bucko Kilroy, an NFL scout with over 40 years experience, created and is used by about a dozen teams. Due to my limited financial resources, I have modified it slightly to place less emphasis on personal character (keeps his nose clean), football character (works hard), and body growth (can he add weight), with more emphasis on performance. This does not reflect a disinterest in those categories, as I believe they are important (Football character especially is a top concern of mine), but until I have the money and access to visit school and inquire about players, my ability to provide an accurate grade on these things is limited. My knowledge of this system comes from Russ Lande, who publishes GM JR which uses a scale that was the inspiration for my scale, though we have a few, mostly minor, differences.
The grading scale works on a basic 1-9 system. In general, a player with a 4 or lower in any rating has a lot to overcome to be an effective NFL player, and you will rarely see that in my grading. Again, I am focused more toward players with legitimate NFL careers because I don't have the time to scout out every eligible player available. Those reading this without a blood relation to me are most likely interested in early-round picks, not undrafted free agents. Those reading this with a blood relation probably don't care too much one way or another. That doesn't mean I am going only after stars. Of the first four players graded, I'd be surprised if more than one of them went in the 1st round of the 2009 NFL Draft. What it does mean is that I only am interested in scouting players who stand a legitimate chance of playing in the National Football League.
How the grades work:
Overall player grades are a little different from individual skill grades. An 8 is the highest grade I can ever give, and it is doubtful I will give that grade to anyone anytime soon. Of course, there is a fair bit of projection with any draft choice. Some players end up in excellent situations that improve them in ways that were not expected before they were drafted. Other players might be rated highly and then be colossal busts. I am unaware of any scout who can see the future, the best we can do is project the most likely path for a player, but in no way does that mean a player cannot improve/regress in ways that were unforseen - a player assigned a "Good Starter" grade could turn out to be a HOF player if groomed by the right coach for the right system, and that same player could be a colossal bust if drafted by a defunct franchise that is a poor schematic fit. And, of course, it is possible that I am simply wrong.
8.0 = No doubt the #1 pick,
no doubt a HOF player.
7.9-7.0 = Surefire multiple Pro-Bowl player. Legitimate HOF chances. Top-5 pick.
6.9-6.5 = Possible Pro-Bowler for several years. Very productive starter. Easily a first rounder.
6.4-6.3 = Good starter. Asset on the field. Late first, early second round selection.
6.2-6.1 = Above Average starter. Does a good job. Second or third round
6.0 = Acceptable starter, may be a quality backup early. Second or third round.
5.9 = Backup now. Has potential to become a starter. Third round.
5.8 = Probably a long-term backup or journeyman starter. Constantly replaced. Fourth round or lower.
5.7-5.5 = Fill out a roster types, long term project players, career special teams player. 5th round or lower.
5.4 or lower = Free Agents.
Throughout the reports, I will grade each player individually on several skills. All players will be graded based off of four factors.
Athleticism - Quickness,
Balance, Flexibility, Body Control
Physical Talents - Strength, Explosiveness, Body Type
Polish - Understanding of Playbook, Proper Technique, Instincts
Competitiveness - Plays Through Pain, Consistency, Clutch Play, Effort
These are all graded on a slightly different scale. The numbers go 1-9, with 9 being the highest. Here is a general translation:
9.0 = Incredible. Rarely
given out ever.
8.5 = Amazing. Rarely given out ever.
8.0 = Exceptional. Might find this a few times in my reports.
7.5 = Excellent. More easily obtainable, but still a huge plus.
7.0 = Great. Several players have this for a single attribute.
6.5 = Very good. Given out to players who have skills that are above-average.
6.0 = Good. Given out for skills that are average for a college player.
5.5 = Inconsistent. Can be improved, but needs work.
5.0 = Acceptable. It won't ruin a career, but will hinder it unless improved.
4.5 - 3.0 = Very bad. Unlikely to success with this, but possible.
2.0 = Terrible. Rarely given out to players I grade, as these players will struggle to make it in the NFL.
1.0 = I'm out of bad adjectives to describe how bad this is. This would be the grade I would give my own NFL skills, if I scouted myself.
There are also position-specific skills. These will be graded the same way that general player attributes are graded. I don't want to give a comprehensive list for every position because it would be boring for all involved, but things such as Hands, Concentration, Routes, After Catch Skills, are all examples of what a Wide Receiver prospect would be graded on in position-specific skills.
There are also a few symbols that I should explain.
E = Estimated - used for
height/weight/40 speed primarily.
V = Verified - I have from a reliable source of information an exact number.
* = Junior (redshirt or not) who has declared for the NFL Draft.
** = Redshirt Sophomore who has declared for the NFL Draft.
CR = Character Risk - I'm liberal in applying this, though many of these guys may be fit to draft.
CP = Character Problem - I'm conservative in applying this, and I wouldn't recommend drafting this guy early.
I = Injured - Player needs to prove his health before a team uses an early selection on him.