NFL Draft

The Scouting Process Part II- After The Season Is Over

on

Before we crown a National Champion in college football, draft prospects are well underway into their push towards playing in the NFL. The top tier talents are investing their time and (agents) money on combine training facilities that teach the precise techniques to dominate the agility tests required at workouts.

In between training, senior prospects welcome an invitation to perform in such venues as the East-West Shrine Game or Senior Bowl. Others including the Medal of Honor Bowl, NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and Gridiron Classic are a priceless commodity for players that give them exposure in front of NFL eyes. The games are reserved for seniors only although it has been tried (and failed) at bringing in juniors to these all-star games. The powers that be (NFL), frown at the idea of allowing juniors into the events and hold back their scouting departments from attending.

The all-star games are the first real one-on-one activity between the player and the interested NFL team. It is a scouts opportunity to sit with a prospect and get to know him on a personal level. Each team is different in their approach to these brief meetings with a player. The interviews are usually conducted in the lobby of the host hotel of that particular game and can last between 15-30 minutes. The exchange of words is direct and to the point, and mostly revolves around the player and his personal background.

“Have you ever hired an attorney? Are your parents divorced?”

Those are just some of the questions a scout may throw at a prospect during this quick communication. Those responses are the beginning phases, along with game film on how each prospect will eventually look on their draft board.

After the conclusion of all-star games there are a couple weeks before the beginning of the NFL Scouting Combine. It is a collection of the most requested prospects that teams want to see and know more about. The fancy numbers posted during combine drills are what we see on the field, but it is the extremely thorough medical examinations conducted behind the scenes that hold the most water at the end of the week long event.

The combine also marks the first time that NFL teams are seeing truly the best prospects available regardless of their college experience. If they are draft eligible and good enough then they are invited to the combine.

The end of the combine leads to the beginning of Pro Days across the country. This is another chance for combine prospects to workout again for scouts or allow uninvited combine prospects to finally strut their stuff. Ironically, numbers posted at most Pro Days are tattooed on a prospect regardless of the conditions of the drills performed.

For instance Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida is rumored to have a fast running surface and time is added to players’ 40-time. Other kids are running a 40-yard dash in mid-March in the northeast Ohio during a wet cold morning while another player is running inside a complex on dry track. In the end the 40 you run is labeled next to the players name like his social security number.

The last phase of the scouting process is individual workouts and team visits that allows each NFL club to dig a little deeper into the prospect they are chasing, or maybe to help stash away the prospect that they really desire by not having him associated with the team in any circumstance. Some of the best poker faces are conducted by general managers and head coaches as they do interviews regarding their team and potential fondness of a prospect. You never truly know if they are telling the truth or not.

For example, Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians talked up his own running back Andre Ellington.

“We think he’s a great player and he’s still the focal point of our offense,” Arians said at the NFL Scouting Combine regarding their former sixth round selection (2013).

The NFL Draft commenced and the Cardinals spent the 86th overall pick (2015) on Northern Iowa running back David Johnson. Arians talked a good game at the combine of convincing you Ellington was their featured back but that likely ended up not being the case.

Finally months of work are finally brought to fruition when NFL teams reveal who they sought out the most by selecting them in the annual NFL Draft. Even then after teams still do not know what kind of player they are getting until rookie mini-camps, OTA’s (Organized Team Activities) and when actual training camp begins.

Scores or NFL Draft prospects will be evaluated and the promise of boom or bust remains on every single one.


About Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte is an NFL writer for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade. His background includes being staff for the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star game as a talent evaluator for player personnel along with an internship scouting with the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the Canadian Football League. Bo’s draft background includes working for the NFL Draft Bible and currently owns and operates College2Pro.com. He has done radio spots on NBC, Fox Sports and ESPN and their affiliates in different markets around the country. Bo covers the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Panthers along with other colleges in the northeast.