A Scout’s Take: What NFL analysts miss in the evaluation process

It seems like every year we see more and more NFL mock drafts popping up as early as August and continuing through draft day. Personally, I don’t give them time, because they’re there for one reason only, and that’s commitment. The reality is that we won’t know who is actually in the draft until mid-January, when the League releases the list of underclassmen who have officially made themselves available to be drafted. Analysts also have little or no information on two important topics for the final evaluation process; character and medical.

When club scouts are on the road making school calls in the fall, some schools may tell those scouts that some players are entertaining leaving early, but many will wait to hear from the underclass advisory board. of the NFL.

The advisory board is made up of several personal League executives who watch the underclass strip and assign a rating to each of the players they assess. When I was with the Chicago Bears, I was on the advisory board for seven years, so I have a good understanding of how it works.

The League will receive multiple reports on each player and, in turn, give the player a consensus opinion as to where they can be drafted. In previous years, the advisory board would give a rating for specific rounds up to four rounds, a rating for rounds five through seven, or the player might not be drafted at all. But now the Committee assigns the player one of three grades. The first is, “You have the opportunity to be drafted as high as the first round.” Second, “You have the possibility of being drafted as high as the second round.” Finally, “You should go back to school and continue to develop your skills.”

The League believes that any player who receives a “back to school” grade should return to school for another year, but often those prospects ignore the committee grade and enter the draft anyway.

The problem with the advisory board is that it works with incomplete information on just about every player. They may have a verified height and weight from the previous spring, but what they don’t have are verified speed and agility drills. There are two other very important elements in the equation that they don’t have either. It is complete medical information and accurate background and character information. Regardless of how a prospect plays on tape, the doctor and his character always play a big part in where he gets drafted. Once we get closer to the draft, you always hear of players “dropping out” of the draft for two reasons. The first being his medical and the second being his character.

Every year we see players that many draft analysts have listed as potential first- or second-round picks exit the roster much later than expected. It’s almost always because of medical or character issues.

With the Medical, the League obtains from each school the medical history of each player invited to the Combine and from any other player clubs that may be interested. This information is then transmitted to each of the clubs. Before going to the Combine, each club will have a checklist of what they want to focus on when the player goes through their physique at Indy.

If, for example, the player had a knee scan after his freshman year in college or even high school, you can rest assured that the player will have an MRI on that knee when he gets to Indy, even if the prospect may have played a few years after this operation without incident. Why does this happen? The club’s medical staff want to check the operation, see if the knee joint is tight and, most importantly, if there are any arthritic changes in the knee. More players receive red flags on their medicals due to arthritic conditions than any other circumstance.

The problem with arthritis is that it never gets better and there is no cure. If a player has arthritis in the knee, he may be fine for a few seasons, but if the condition worsens, the player will start to feel more discomfort and eventually miss practices and even games because of it. state. If a Combine player suffers from a severe arthritic condition in a joint, you can rest assured that he won’t be drafted where analysts expected him to go.

When we talk about character, scouts are really looking at two different issues. The first is their personal character, which is basically how that prospect lives their life. Is he a good person? Has he had any run-ins with the law? Does he have a drug addiction problem? Does he participate in community service opportunities?

The other character element that scouts focus on is the “football character”. Football character has nothing to do with personal character. Football Character deals with the player’s passion and love for the game, his work ethic on and off the pitch, his ability to be coached, his intelligence regarding his position, his skills in leadership and his ability to get along with his teammates. Will he do what is necessary to become the best player possible?

A player can have outstanding personal character and mediocre footballing character. This person will survive a few years in the League thanks to his talent, but he will eventually catch up. Conversely, a player with marginal personal character but great football character can have a very successful career because the game is so important to him.

More often than not, high profile “busts” are a direct result of a player not having the best football character.

When you read fictional drafts, don’t take them too seriously because of what I wrote above. When the clubs set up their repechage committee, they expect to have ALL the information before even starting. Until all the information is available, including medical, character, physical and tape review tests, it’s usually late March or early April before the final process can begin. Any rating on a player before all information is available is strictly a preliminary rating and as such is very fluid. The number of hours spent on each individual grade is incalculable.

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