National Football League (NFL) Draft Prospects & Scouting Reports
When it comes to producing winning teams in the National Football League, the role of a franchise’s scout cannot be understated. Franchises employ scouts to search and find talented players wherever football is played. NFL organizations reportedly hire from seven to ten full-time scouts.
Scouts need to have more than just a knowledge of the game. They need to possess a rare instinct that tells them which young men have what it takes to become competitors in pro football and which players do not.
The NFL scout who knows his job can make a great difference in the future success of a team. NFL owners and coaches and personnel departments respect the recommendations made by scouts. Many teams have been winners simply because of one individual’s scouting report.
What Does a Scouting Report Include?
A scouting report on a player includes everything a scout can find out about the athlete. His potential as a player is important but a good scouting report will also include other data. Scouts want to know about the young man’s academic accomplishments. They want to know about his conduct on and off the football field.
Scouts look to see if a player has leadership capabilities and if he has a good work ethic. A player may show some promise, but gets a “thumbs down” by a scout who finds the kid has a reputation of being lazy. This same player complains about having to practice, running sprints and laps. Players with anger issues also can be poor risks.
A quality scouting report traces a football player’s record from as early as his first high school game to his final college game. Scouting reports list the obvious: jumping skills, height, weight, strength and speed. Length of arms and size of hands are in a report.
Scouting reports may even include personal information such as an individual’s Facebook page, girlfriends, phone calls made to coaches and friends and other people. His church activities, number of hobbies and his past employment records may also be included.
3. Grading Players through Scouting Reports
Scouting reports normally put great emphasis on four major issues regarding players who have shown they have the potential to make it in the NFL.
— College Production: If a player does well at the college level, plays his position in such a way as to win awards and stays injury-free throughout his career, then he can undoubtedly expect to receive a high grade on an NFL scouting report.
NFL scouts say they have similar means of ranking players based on scouting reports. Most all have adopted a numerical grading system, using a scale from 10 to 1. The players ranked high on the scale are the ones teams will go after in the early rounds of a draft.
Scouts report to their team’s personnel department frequently and the department is anxious to hear what a scout has to report. The scout is expected to list their best prospects and tell distinctly which ones they think have the best chance of making the pros. At this time the scout will tell everything he knows about individual players. The good traits and the bad traits of players are brought to the table for discussion.
After the personnel department has the opportunity to study recommendations made by the scout, a conclusion has to be made. Those who work in the personnel department usually have differences of opinions concerning prospects, of course, but eventually a decision is made.
NFL coaches look long and hard at the players who have proven themselves to be outstanding competitors in college. They feel these players will come out of the college ranks with a healthy desire to earn even more success in the NFL. What a player does at the college level, therefore, is the best indicator of what can be expected of him at the pro level.
— Combine Results: Every year in February prospects are given the opportunity to showcase their athleticism at the week-long NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Owners, coaches, general managers and scouts observe players that are sent through a variety of measurable drills.
The combine, now a major media event, has been in existence for more than 30 years. It began in 1982 in Tampa, Florida. The principle reason for the combine has always been to determine medical data on the top draft eligible prospects in college football.
Athletes Take Part in an Array of Challenging Drills at Combine
While medical issues of players are still the top priority of the event, athletes also take in an array of challenging physical and psychological drills. Drills focus mainly on the player’s speed, quickness and strength. Players also engage in interviews, both formal and informal, with top franchise executives from every team in the NFL.
The combine is significantly the crowning event for the best college performers eligible for the NFL Draft. Athletes can participate in the combine by invitation only.
— Coaches, Teams, Players: Good scouting reports make record of a player’s first coaches, all the teams on which he played and even his teammates. A healthy home life is an asset. Scouts prefer a player who has been brought up in a winning environment.
A player’s first coaches and early teammates can often reveal new information about a prospect that can be of benefit to scouts. This includes old stories, usually of a positive nature.
— Internet Videos: Technology is more and more helping the modern scout do a better, more precise job. The internet is certainly a unique tool now used to analyze players. It is a way scouts can watch players without having to be in a crowded stadium on Saturday.
Videos and film are studied and watched over and over by teams, coaches and scouts. Quality videos can reveal both the weaknesses and the strengths of a player. What scouts see on a video can often determine a prospect’s future in pro football.
Any scout will tell you that film and video studies, background checks and assessment of workouts and drills are all part of the drama that, in the long run, make up the scouting report. Most scouts contend that film and videos are what they like best in analyzing a player.
Assessing Prospects by Position
Not every player can be a celebrated quarterback or a line-banging running back or a fleet-as-a-deer wide receiver. Every player has his position and in a team sport such as football, all positions are created equal. Players are studied by scouts at how well they can perform at one position.
— Quarterbacks: Scouts look for a quarterback to have arm strength, size, vision and the ability to throw with accuracy. Foot work, mobility and knowing how to stay in a pocket are vital. Leadership capability is another trait scouts like at this position.
One scout says he looks for various things when attempting to gauge the arm strength of a quarterback prospect. He appreciates a passer who can throw an accurate fast ball on short routes more than the one who can throw deep. He says the best quarterbacks in the NFL are the ones who can throw accurately and consistently complete passes in short and intermediate traffic.
The better quarterbacks are the ones that have what scouts label as vision. A quarterback is able to make quick study of the defense’s coverage and know where there is likely to be an open receiver when all the players start to move. A quarterback with this vision traits has an excellent chance of making it to the NFL.
Scouts say that probably the most crucial trait to possess for a quarterback in the NFL is the trait of leadership. Team members normally expect the quarterback to be the inspirational force that puts them on a winning path.
Good Running Backs Carry Many Qualities to the Field
— Running Backs: A running back has to have powerful legs, strength, speed and quickness. He also must know how to block. But scouts agree the three most important qualities are vision, burst and receiving ability.
Great runners have to have vision because it is a trait that helps them calculate quickly where the defense is situated. A back that has vision can see the field as a broad picture and he is one that usually does well at the pro level.
While speed is always good, scouts believe burst in a runner is better than speed. Acceleration is the same as burst. A back with good burst has the ability to slam into a line with great force, is hard to tackle and he usually picks up positive yardage.
Scouts expect all running backs to be outstanding receivers. Professional football has evolved into a game that centers on the forward pass. When a team with a dangerous arsenal of wide receivers brings fear to defenses, another player, who can catch passes out of the backfield, just adds more to that fear.
— Wide Receivers: How well a receiver can catch a football is the No. 1 quality at this position. Running routes with speed, intelligence, quickness and agility are all important as is the size of the player.
Scouts expect receivers to be speed merchants. They like a player who is quick and shows acceleration when running routes. The good wide receiver will have soft, dependable hands. He is expected to be able to catch the ball when it is thrown anywhere near him.
– Tight Ends: Tight ends need to be good pass catchers. They need to know how to block. Scouts look for ball-handling skills and an athlete who is knowledgeable about his assignments. How well he can operate downfield in heavy traffic separates the great from the mediocre at this position.
Scouts agree that a tight end has to display toughness. The position calls for a big, tall individual with large, strong hands. He must have an attitude that is positive but brutal.
– Offensive Linemen: Scouts name size, agility, toughness and blocking ability as factors necessary for a good offensive lineman to perform at the pro level. Coaches want their franchise quarterback protected. Good blockers up front can make life much easier for all members of a team’s backfield.
A scouting report on an offensive lineman will note technique is critical at this position. A lineman with technique is comfortable at his position and is able to “read” and know the opposing players and what makes them tick. It’s a rugged position that calls for a tough, intelligent athlete.
– Defensive Linemen: Scouts like defensive lineman that are big and strong, tough and full of hustle. Quickness is a good trait. Being quick helps the lineman move into the correct position when the offense snaps the ball. Arm and hand strength also are important.
Scouts Look for Defenders That Have a Never-Give-Up Attitude
Scouts hope to find skillful defensive linemen that possess a never-give-up attitude. They are players who want to be in on every play, always moving in a forward direction. These are the players who are certain to find greatness in the NFL, scouts say.
– Defensive Ends: Scouts look for big, tall players with power to play defensive end. They look for ends with quickness who can push aside opposing linemen and attack the quarterback. Mental and physical toughness is a necessary trait to be successful at this position.
– Defensive Cornerback: Most scouts believe speed is the best trait a player can have as a cornerback. It is essential that a back be able to keep up with speedy wide receivers running long routes. Instincts are vital, but there is no better characteristic than God-given speed.
— Defensive Safety: Playing safety takes more skill in today’s pass-happy game than it did in the past. The safety must have knowledge of the other team’s complex offensive patterns. Scouts look for these traits in an NFL safety: awareness, man coverage and range.
– Linebackers: Again scouts look for speed here. Athleticism and coverage ability are assists. Linebackers must be good at tackling. Other traits scouts look for are leadership potential and the gift of communicating. Linebackers often are the ones calling or relaying plays.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Can the NFL Draft from High School?
No. Rules clearly and strictly forbid the drafting of high school football players into the NFL. In general, the high school athlete has to have been out of secondary school for three years. Then they are considered eligible for the draft.
Can the NFL Draft Players from XFL?
Yes. XFL players can be drafted into the NFL, but they still have to be able meet the NFL requirement. XFL players must be at least three years out of high school. Then they are considered eligible to be drafted.
Can a Player Refuse NFL Draft Pick?
Yes. A player is not required to play for the team that selects him. When this happens, the team will likely hold on to the rights to that player and see if they can trade him to another team.
Can NFL Players Decline NFL Combine?
Yes. Problems that exist over the terms of a contract may cause a player to pass up the NFL Combine. When this happens, a team will probably drop him. The player would become a free agent, eligible to sign with another team.
Can NFL Players Decline the NFL Draft?
Yes. A player drafted to play in the NFL by a team does not have to sign. When this happens, the player must sit out an entire season before entering the draft again. Another alternative is to play in the Canadian Football League. Or, the player can enter another profession.
Which NFL Draft Was the Best?
Most observers agree the 2001 draft was the best in history. Two future Hall of Famers emerged from that draft class: Drew Brees and LaDainain Tomlinson. Michael Vick, Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne were outstanding players in that class along with Todd Heap, Chad Johnson, Adrian Wilson and Steve Smith.
Who Are the Top Prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft?
The top 10 prospects are Chase Young, defensive end, Ohio State; Joe Burrow, quarterback, LSU; Jeffrey Okudah, cornerback, Ohio State; Isaiah Simmons, linebacker, Clemson; Tua Tagovailoa, quarterback, Alabama; Derrick Brown, defensive lineman, Auburn; CeeDee Lamb, wide receiver, Oklahoma; Jedrick Wills, offensive tackle, Alabama; Tristan Wirfs, offensive tackle, Iowa; Jerry Jeudy, wide receiver, Alabama.
How Many Picks Are Made in the NFL Draft?
There will be 255 picks covering seven rounds. The Cincinnati Bengals have the No. 1 choice in Round 1. The Washington Redskins have the No. 2 pick, followed by the Detroit Lions. Kansas City, the Super Bowl winner, will have the final pick.