Inside the grueling and unglamorous life of an NFL scout

NFL Combine 40-yard dash
Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports

I have always felt that the two most underappreciated individuals in pro football are officials and scouts. There should be a wing in the Hall of Fame for both because without them, the game would not be nearly as good as it is.

Long car rides, hurried flight connections, cheap motel rooms and fast meals are the norm for scouts, as are lonely nights writing reports into the wee hours of the morning.

Much like many other NFL personnel, a scout’s season begins with training camp. At camp, a scout’s responsibility is to evaluate his own team’s personnel as well as other NFL team’s personnel during the preseason. Teams are always scouring other team’s rosters for guys who might be let go and would be nice fits for bottom-of-the-roster spots on their own team.

During training camp personnel meetings, coaches and scouts learn to be on the same page as to what type of player is needed at each position. Teams that win are ones that find role players who fit your scheme, but may not be a fit for another team. Frank Wycheck was a player that did not fit the Redskins scheme as an in-line tight end; I felt comfortable that he would fit well in our scheme as a H-back with the team I was scouting for at the time (Oilers).

In addition to scouting duties during camp, scouts finalize their fall college scouting schedule. Each team breaks down the country in regional areas and a scout is responsible for all schools in his assigned region. Scouts stay in that area year after year as they become more and more familiar with the programs and coaches in that area. It’s important that there are no gaps and that all prospects are looked at.

There are two scouting organizations that are used by NFL teams, better known as scouting combines. They are National and Blesto. There are a few teams that belong to neither scouting combine, electing to handle it all on their own.

The Raiders have always been mavericks in this regard and have been the only team to never take part in a scouting combine organization. The organizations are usually referred to as combines because the scouting information is combined and used as a starting base for all the teams belonging to the organization.

Every school in the United States and Canada that plays football is covered and if there is a prospect worth looking at, they are put on a list and the member teams will look at the player during the fall and determine whether further scouting work is needed. The job of the scouting combines is to obtain background information on each senior prospect, both personal and football related. They also measure, weigh, time and test all senior players. Along with this, a brief description of football playing ability is recorded.

By having a verified height, weight, 40-yard timed speed, Wonderlic mental test score, arm and hand measurement along with a brief description, you have a good idea if he is worth looking at as a team scout.

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