Inside the grueling and unglamorous life of an NFL scout

NFL Combine 40-yard dash
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The early part of a scout’s schedule, usually in late August, revolves around looking at small college prospects and major college practices. With colleges only being allowed to practice 20 hours a week during the season, not much hitting occurs during the regular season making it all the more important to see players “go live” in camp practices.

If a small college player looks good on junior film or early fall senior practices, he might warrant a further look again in the fall.

Once a scout gets into the meat of his fall schedule, the days are remarkably similar to each other.

A scout will arrive at the football office by 8 a.m. (earlier if coaches are in) and begin watching film on all the senior prospects at that school. Some time will be spent talking to the position coaches, coordinators, strength coaches, trainers, academic advisers and sometimes head coaches. Most college coaches usually enjoy visiting with scouts as their schedule permits. Football people tend to know each other and there is a lot of fellowship involved.

Film watching will take place all morning and wind up around 2-3 p.m. when coaches need to use the film room to meet with their players before practice. After viewing practice, a scout heads onto his next stop (sometimes a good distance away) and proceeds to check into a hotel room, order room service and begin writing scouting reports on all the players evaluated that day.

Report writing is time consuming and often continues until 1 or 2 a.m. The next morning comes early as he must be in the next school’s office by 8 a.m. for another visit with the same schedule repeated.

In addition to having an area scout report to a school, a team usually has a cross checking or “over the top” scout who also visits the school. A scouting director may also visit, giving the team as many as four exposures to the players at that school.

By having multiple views on a player, a team gets a better feel for the prospect.

Every team has their own scouting form, but they are all similar in nature. They contain space for basic background information, physical characteristics information such as body type, height, weight, etc. General information is usually required for every player such as athletic ability, quickness, agility, balance, height, weight and speed, strength and durability, and instincts and intelligence.

This information differs for each position. For example, athletic ability for an offensive lineman is quite different than a wide receiver. Players are compared to others at his position.

After the general information comes the position specific information. For example, when grading a running back, you have to describe in detail all the positive and negative characteristics for each specific category. For a running back that includes his start, inside running, outside running, run vision, toughness, ball security, run blocking, pass blocking, strength and power as a runner, elusiveness as runner, and hands.

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