NFL Draft Prospect Scouting

An Overview

Pro football scouting is a broad topic. Books have been written about it. Hundreds of scouts are employed by the NFL teams full-time, and hundreds more scout full-time for the CFL, the media, and other entities. Zoom out a bit and consider the number of amateur talent evaluators who write blogs or post to social media to express their opinions, and these numbers reach the thousands, if not tens of thousands.

Scouting is also, really, at the very heart of what our community here at PowerHouseGM.com cares about and takes pride in. We are passionate NFL fans, and, as much as we love watching the games on Sundays in the fall, we’re at least as obsessed with what happened before to build the teams we’re watching, and what needs to happen in the off-season for poor teams to improve, and good teams to stay on top.

Scouting is what informs the player acquisition process, from the first pick in the NFL Draft and the biggest free agent signings to “Mr. Irrelevant,” undrafted free agent signings, and street free agents picked up during the season to fill in for injured players.

When we talk about “scouting,” we’re almost always referring to the evaluation of college football players who will be eligible for the next NFL Draft. Of course, many undrafted players will also go on to have successful careers in the NFL, some of them very successful careers (e.g., Kurt Warner, Wes Welker, Antonio Gates, and Tony Romo.) So, it’s not just about making your team’s picks over three days and seven rounds. It’s also about finding the players who slip through the cracks who can come in and help make your team better.

Scouting at the pro level is also exceedingly important, and we certainly don’t mean to diminish it by focusing on draft prospect scouting. But, players in the NFL are to a much greater extent known quantities, and much of the projection and guesswork is no longer needed.

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Scouting is really the life blood of any NFL team. You are only as good as the players you have.
Phil Savage
Director, Reese's Senior Bowl

If you’re interested in the scouting process, we’re here to help. If you’re just visiting, we hope you find our information interesting and educational. If you’re a PowerHouse member running a virtual NFL team on our site, we want you to be as successful as you can be, and we hope you find information here that helps you hone your skills as an evaluator.

You and I may not have the training, experience, resources, or access that the professionals working fo the NFL team personnel departments have, but we know enough to have an opinion, and we care – deeply – about being correct as often as we can be, and learning from our mistakes.

Goals & Priorities of Scouting for the NFL Draft

The first goal of the scouting process is to come to a conclusive opinion – one that you can live with and are comfortable with – about each prospect as far as what his value and role might be at the next level.

This conclusive opinion might be…

  • For your own team's personnel department if you're an NFL Scout or GM,
  • For your audience if you're a draft analyst in the media,
  • Or in support of your own efforts to direct a successful virtual NFL team here on PowerHouseGM.com

Regardless of which of these applies, regardless of the reason for your interest in developing your own conclusive opinions, you’ll do the best job possible if you can accomplish what NFL personnel departments attempt to accomplish during the scouting process.

The process for NFL personnel departments involves several stages, after which they will have just about everything they need to evaluate a prospect and make a call on him.

Film

NFL Scouts watch extensive game tape - every play of a prospect's college career, potentially. With today's technology, this video is readily available for all prospects in digital form and categorized/tagged to make viewing as efficient as possible.

Scouting requires a great deal of instinct. You must be able to recognize talent, and you must have conviction in your decision-making.
Greg Gabriel
30-year NFL Scout

College Visits

Teams interview every coach on a prospect's college team, including the Head Coach, coordinator, position coaches, strength coaches, and training staff, in an effort to understand who the prospect is as a person and teammate, and how dedicated he is to his craft.

Interviews

Teams interview prospects multiple times over an extended period as another way to get to know who they are personally.

All-Star Games

The all-star games are often the first exposure that the NFL coaches have to prospects - remember, they're busy doing a different part of their jobs during the college football season!

Combine / Pro Days

The Combine and Pro Day workouts provide another opportunity for interviews and an athletic sanity check for NFL Scouts. If the athletic measurements don't match the performance seen on film, they'll go back to find what they missed.

One of the most important parts of the Combine is medical testing. Teams of doctors poke and prod, and often uncover long-ago injuries that players forgot they ever had. Drug testing is important, as well, and it's astonishing (and very troubling) when prospects get flagged for positive drug tests - drug tests that they knew they'd take.

There are other things NFL teams do, of course, like background checks, but these are the big ones. And, you don't need to actually do all of these things - in fact, there are some you probably can't do - but you do need to have the information that is obtained from them to the greatest extent possible in order to have a complete picture to inform your own conclusive opinion.

Scouting is really the life blood of any NFL team. You are only as good as the players you have.
Phil Savage
Director, Reese's Senior Bowl

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