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How Not To Scout-10 Common Scouting Mistakes

April 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

Combine10. “All Indians walk single file, or at least the only 1 I saw ever did” I.E. making a judgment regarding a prospect after 1 or very few game tapes.  A player can have one hall of fame type performance that in no way reflects his actual talent level.  By the same token a nagging injury, bad match up or playing out of position can prevent a prospect from showing the full extent of his talents.  Whenever possible 3-4 games over 2 seasons is the smallest trustworthy sample when giving a thorough assessment of a player.

9. He’s the greatest since/worst I’ve ever seen!  It’s usually wise to avoid an overreliance on superlatives and hyperbole, one problem is it erodes your credibility also, like starting a song at the top of your register; it leaves you nowhere to go.

8. “He’s a: high-motor, low-pocketed, gamer, who can pick and slide and stack& shed as he wades through the trash with typewriter feet.”
We all love the nearly Runyonesque argot of the scouting profession but piling up too much jargon can make you seem like a parody of a scout and it can be off-putting for a novice reader.

7. What is a seven year career with 3 stints on the P.U.P list?  While it is seductive to play Carnac and it is professional and even appropriate to project and conjecture about a prospect’s future as a professional.  It may be less wise to actually attempt to predict the future.  If you’ve spotted a quality that you feel will make their success much more or less likely at the next level it is incumbent upon you to say so, however that’s very different from declaring a player a future Hall of Famer or a megabust prior to rookie mini-camp.

6. My pet newt has eyes, Fred has eyes, ergo Fred is a Newt. While it true that some programs and coaches do an excellent job of preparing players mentally and physically for the NFL, while others may not, still each prospect is unique and deserves to be evaluated as such as opposed to lumped together with other players from that school or system.

5. This is a deceased parrot!  Yes but look at the beautiful plumage. While test scores and physical prowess are certainly informative and can be a helpful part of the evaluation process, still the best way to determine if a player can play football is to observe them playing football.

4. I am Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and this is my assistant beaker. Scouting is not a science so “objectivity” in player evaluations is a mythological beast. Since there is currently no objective or empirical basis for player success, size, speed, measurable intelligence have all failed, productivity is a factor but statistics cannot and should not drive a player’s evaluation.

3. He could throw it threw a barn door, if he could hit a barn door.   This Abe Gibron quote illustrates the mistake made of overweighting an aspect of a player’s profile while underestimating another.  For example as Chris Brown wrote in Smart Football ‘More arm strength is not always better — being able to throw it 80 yards compared with 65 is meaningless. Instead the question is, Can you throw the ball 25-30 yards, on a line, from one hash to the other on a deep comeback route?’  The biggest mistakes are most often made on the most outsized talents, Mandarich, Russell, Leaf, etc., big, strong prototypes for their positions.

2. The Emperor has no clothes, or does he?  Professional gamblers, fighter pilots, corner backs and cat-burglars need to have absolutely no self-doubt, what they do requires 100% self-belief anything less could be fatal.  However scouts need a modicum of self-doubt, it makes you cautious, hopefully you will double and triple check all of your work and speak with others you can trust to act as a cross-check.

1. Lather, rinse, repeat. More might not always be better, but it is when it comes to becoming an evaluator.  Want to be a ‘guru’ do you have 20+ years to invest?  This is not something you can learn in a year, it’s a lifestyle if you want to do this for the purpose of being competent at it as opposed to money, fame or self-aggrandizement you will have to be like water on a rock and a great listener as well as a trained observer.

2 responses to How Not To Scout-10 Common Scouting Mistakes

  1. great post and really funny as well. I agree a lot of people (even some professionals) fall for many of those mistakes.

  2. I got Packers and Steelers as well. I just don't think the Jets are at the level where the Steelers are and will win it. They have a Good Season this year and are to be commended for their pfaoylf run but I see the Steelers ending their run. Bears are a Good squad of players and they did quite a nice turn around after last season but I expect them to see a conclusion to their season come today at home. Its still gonna be a packed day of Football to say the least.