ScoutSpeak: What’s Ahead for My Book on NFL Scouting

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It took me a lot longer to write my first book than I ever thought it would. Thanks to the quarantine, Book 2 came together a lot more quickly, and I’m ready to get your feedback before I put the finishing touches on it.

It’s going to be called ScoutSpeak, and it’s a compilation of all the content, all the interviews, all the conversations I’ve had with scouts about NFL scouting over the past 18 years. I meet so many young people who want to get into scouting, and they alway ask the same questions. What is the job really like? How do I get a job? How do I keep from getting fired? There’s so much to say. This time, I hope to put it all in one place, and put it in the actual words of dozens of scouts and administrators, active and former.

Here’s a look at the breakdown so far:

  • 10 thoughts on the industry (6.6 percent): This is basically what I’ve taken away from closely studying the industry for almost two decades. Regardless of the cliches  you always hear about the draft and scouting, these are my takeaways about how players are really evaluated and really chosen.
  • The character question (6.6 percent): We always hear about players who slip due to character. Later, we see how some players conduct themselves and wonder why they didn’t fall in the draft. The way that character really impacts and influences the draft, based on what scouts have told me, is something I just had to include.
  • The UDFA process (9.8 percent): The two hours after the draft has always fascinated me, especially when you think about all the players who were passed over by all 32 teams for seven rounds, then went on to stardom.
  • Makeup of an NFL scouting department (6.6 percent): This is more of a nuts-and-bolts discussion of the difference between pro and college scouts, how the two combines work, etc.
  • Getting the job (21.3 percent): If there’s one question I’ve gotten more than any other, it’s this one. That’s why I devoted a fifth of the book to it.
  • Losing the job (6.6 percent): I figured if I focused on how to get the job, I should include this section, as well.
  • Doing the job (26.2 percent): I’ve always found people see scouts as incredibly intriguing and mysterious, so we devoted plenty of ink to this.
  • Why do players bust? (4.9 percent): This is the eternal question, and everyone has an opinion.
  • War stories (11.5 percent): Everyone loves to hear the stories of how picks are and were made, especially when names are named. I gotta tell you, too — some of them are truly hilarious.

So how am I doing? Am I on track? Are there things I should expand on? Are there things I should omit? I’d love to get your opinion. Hit me up at @InsideTheLeague when you can.

 

Where Do Today’s NFL Scouts Come From?

The bulk of the work done evaluating players for the NFL Draft is done by area scouts, the foot soldiers of the profession. At Inside the League, we spend a lot of time telling their stories and trying to make their jobs a little easier with our salary survey, helping out with pro days in March, and anything else.

Normally, May is when scouts get hired and fired. Obviously, this has not been a normal May, so rather than covering who’s coming and going, this week, we decided to take a long look at our Scouting Changes Grids from 2015-2019 to see where scouts are coming from, as well as what’s happening to the people who hold that title.

The perception is that older, more seasoned evaluators are no longer en vogue, and there’s a definite shelf life for old-school college scouts. At the same time, fresh-faced youngsters are more hirable than ever. But what do the numbers say?

We counted 90 NFL personnel professionals who took a job as area scout between 2015 and 2019 (college side only, not pro scout). Some ascended to the position from lower jobs. Some were area scouts who moved laterally to other teams, or who changed areas. Some had previously held more senior jobs and went back on the road simply to get back into the league. Here’s what we found.

  • For 71 of the 90, achieving area scout was a clear promotion.
  • Of the 71, almost half (31) were promoted from scouting assistant, which has become the most common way teams hire college evaluators.
  • Eighteen of the 70 were combine scouts (BLESTO or NFS), probably the second-most common route.
  • Eleven were in pro roles or assisted on both the pro and college side.
  • Four other scouts moved over from the pro side. All four were young scouts who were most likely being promoted, though it’s unclear if they received a bump in pay. Either way, probably good news for young scouts.
  • Three more came from non-NFL scouting services, though it’s important to note that two of the three had extensive pro football backgrounds and weren’t plucked capriciously from #DraftTwitter.
  • Another two hopped directly from other leagues (the CFL and Arena League) into area roles.
  • One was a college scouting coordinator who was sent on the road.
  • One moved over from the coaching side.

Another note: this is a hiring trend that has been sustained over the last five years. At least 10 new area scouts per year have been hired from within every year since 2015 (not counting this year, of course). In 2017, 22 (!) were elevated from scouting assistant and combine scout roles.

Of course, it wasn’t all good news for new area scouts. We identified 17 of the 90 who were taking a step down from national scout or a director-level position, presumably after a period of unemployment. Bottom line, the overwhelming majority of new area scout hires (81 percent) were people with limited experience who were promoted from within.

Two others didn’t fit any specific category and were hard to quantify.

We also counted 148 area scouts over the same time period (2015-2019) who experienced a change in job status. The news for these experienced evaluators was not as positive. We go into detail on how many received a promotion, mostly stayed static, or were pushed out of the business in the last five years in today’s Friday Wrap.

You can register for it here. It comes out this evening (6:30 p.m. CT), and if you’re interested in being an NFL scout, or you are one already, we recommend you give it a look.

 

The 2020 NFL Draft Class, by the Numbers: A Few Observations

This week, we looked at all the players signed with agents for the 2020 NFL Draft, the number drafted and the total of undrafted free agents, all sorted by position. It’s here (pay link, sorry).

We’ve done this for the past six years, and it provides an interesting snapshot of the positions most in demand by NFL teams. If you’re just passing through for a look at the top mock drafts or a ranking of NFL GMs, I apologize in advance. Today is for agents, active and aspiring. I think it gives insights into who they should be recruiting in the modern game.

  • As usual, there were more wide receivers signed by agents (244) than any other position. It stands to reason; receivers are plentiful as well as popular in a pro game that’s committed to the pass. What’s more, their numbers are easy to track. On the other hand, receivers’ draft rate is annually around 10 percent, one of the lowest “hit rates” of all the positions. This year’s draft rate was highest ever at just under 15 percent, owing to the talent in the class, though the total number of signees was well below recent classes.
  • More on wide receivers: In the six years we’ve been tracking the numbers, this year’s total number of pass-catchers signed to SRAs is the lowest ever. The high-water mark? It was 2016, when 313 receivers signed with agents. We may never see that total again.
  • A cornerback’s plight is very similar to a wide receiver’s, i.e., lots and lots of them sign with agents, but opportunities are limited. Agents signed 190 corners, but only 28 were drafted and 53 signed as undrafted free agents. In total, 109 cornerbacks (more than half of all who were signed) are on the street mere weeks after draft day. In short, if you’re an agent and you want to maximize your chances on draft weekend, focus on the big slow guys and less on the sleek, sexy guys.
  • Though it’s not sexy, our numbers show, again, that it all starts up front. At only four positions — tight end, guard, tackle and defensive tackle — did better than half of all players signed to standard representation agreements get either drafted or signed as undrafted free agents.
  • Similarly, only four positions — center, guard, tackle and outside linebacker — saw more than 20 percent of all signees selected in the draft. The offensive line isn’t sexy, but if you’re an agent, that’s where the money is.
  • On the other hand, the most popular position immediately following the draft is tight end. A higher percentage of tight ends — just under 39 percent — signed post-draft than did players at any other position. Only two other positions (fullbacks and defensive tackles) signed UDFA contracts at a rate north of 30 percent.
  • it was a tough year to go undrafted. This year, 421 players signed UDFA deals. Last year, 497 signed, while another 522 players attended at least one rookie mini-camp on a tryout basis. With no rookie mini-camps this year, it doesn’t look like any players will get tryout opportunities this year.

To look at all the numbers this year (and since 2015), click here. For a review of what happened in the football business this week, click here. Thank you, as always, for reading.

A Look at Why NFL Scouts Get Hired and Fired

In the last week, two seasoned area scouts have been non-renewed by their NFL teams. When I was new to the game, this used to puzzle me — why would you remove seasoned evaluators? Now that I’ve watched hiring practices for about a decade, it makes a lot more sense.

I’ve spent most of Thursday texting with several scouts and discussing the ‘brain drain’ in NFL scouting. This time of year, especially, I get asked about how you get (and keep) a job as an NFL scout. I’ll take a few of the texts I’ve received today and expand on them in an attempt to illustrate how modern teams hire and fire.

  • “Teams are hiring their buddies and using scout money on director positions. Creating spots but not hiring the workers.” — It’s a great point. If you want to surround yourself with people you trust, but the owner won’t increase your budget, you hire less-seasoned scouts. This has been a rising trend across the business for at least the last 2-3 years. It’s mainly because decision-making has become increasingly centralized while “metrics” for scouts are limited at best. When a scout is fired, you rarely hear from others that he was a bad scout (or even a good one). Very hard to pin accountability on any one scout, so reasons for dismissal are similarly elusive.
  • “Look at some of the staffs. Titans have two directors of player personnel. . . Buffalo has a director and assistant director at every position and a assistant GM.   Seattle has two directors of player personnel.  Miami has an asst GM and two personnel directors.” — I never thought about this before, but it makes a lot of sense. We’re seeing a lot of duplication of position in league front offices right now while we’re simultaneously seeing some pretty nebulous titles, like “executive scout” or “senior advisor.” It makes for a lot of chiefs and a limited number of Indians.
  • “I also think that guys can be slow to change at times and feel they have tenure in certain situations when they don’t and are making top dollar.” — This is another good point, and one that you don’t often hear from scouts. It’s the other side of the “why fire all the experienced scouts?” argument. Scouts often become entitled, especially after they have several years under their belts.
  • “. . . A scout’s presence at a school has to (include being) a good guest, too.” — I think this is as important as it’s ever been. As college head coaches’ salaries increase and the pressure to win grows higher than ever, there’s less transparency and sometimes less of an open-door policy for scouts. I hear often from college personnel directors and recruiting staffers that they’d love to accommodate scouts, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t keep them employed. I get it.

We’ll talk more about NFL scouting and what’s happening in the NFL evaluation community in the Friday Wrap, which comes out at 6:30 p.m. CT tomorrow. If you haven’t registered for it already, I’d love it if you did, and I think you would, too.

 

Thinking Through A Few Corona-Related Football Issues

Now that the draft is over, there’s been a kind of return to reality for those of us who work in football. It’s given me a chance to have plenty of conversations about the direction many things will take in the wake of the national quarantines. Here are my thoughts, and the thoughts I’ve gotten back from others, on where several issues stand.

  • Supplemental Draft: There’s been a lot of talk that the NFL may allow top NCAA players to enter the supplemental draft, but there are several problems with that. No. 1, traditionally, a player has to have a “change in status” before he’s allowed draft eligibility, and short of the NCAA cancelling the season, that’s not happening. What’s more, the NFL has always tried to forge a delicate balance with the NCAA, and if the league peeled off all of college football’s top players — just when all of college athletics needs football most — I could see teams shuttering their practices and offices to scouts entirely.
  • Rookie camps: I addressed this in Tuesday’s Rep Rumblings report, but bottom line, California and New York look like two states that are a long way from reopening, and for different reasons, the Saints and Jets won’t be having rookie camps (at least, traditional ones). That means six teams can’t have rookie camps and two more won’t. I don’t see the Competition Committee allowing anything that goes counter to a level playing field.
  • Name/Image/Likeness: There’s been a lot of discussion of the NIL issue as it moved farther along the course this week, and some are alarmed while others are celebratory. I almost see the changes as a benefit for the agent business because the one thing I hear from agents every day is that their clients expect them to pile up a mountain of marketing money as soon as they reach the NFL. By 2023, the Joe Burrows of the world — touchdown-scorers on major BCS programs — will make nice side money during their college days. The Mekhi Bectons and the Tristan Wirfs — super-talented players at non-sexy positions in non-sexy markets — will not. Maybe NFL players will have a better understanding of their relative marketability as a result of this.
  • Agencies: The draft gave a business-as-usual veneer to the NFL last week. However, I’ve had several conversations with contract advisors over the last 2-3 weeks, and they all say the same thing: we’re about to find out who really has resources and who doesn’t. My read is that the quarantine is going to heavily exacerbate the gap between the haves and the have-nots, most of whom needed rookie camps and OTAs to help their clients make rosters.
  • Combine prep facilities: I’ve seen two rather desperate Facebook posts this week from trainers who can’t reopen because their businesses have been deemed non-essential. I know agents hate to hear this, but most training facilities are run on rather narrow margins. I could see fewer combine prep facilities after all this is over. If fewer agencies are willing to pay for training next year, that could be a 1-2 punch.
  • Scouting changes: Normally by now, several teams have turned over their scouting staffs, or at least made a few cosmetic changes. Not so this year. So far, we’ve only seen one change, with maybe 1-2 more on the way. I’ve heard some teams have instituted hiring freezes, while others are probably leery of the media chiding them for making cuts during such an uncertain time.
  • NFL agent exam: At some point soon, we’re supposed to find out if the NFLPA will proceed with the agent exam, which is normally in July in Washington, D.C. This seems to be headed to some form of online testing. The NFLPA conducted a continuing education exam for veteran agents a couple years ago which was all online, so the template is already there. It would just mean the PA would have to move the attending pre-exam seminar online, as well.

We’ve got a long way to go before everything is worked out. Like everyone else, I’m hoping we’re not about to see seismic changes in college and NFL schedules, the agency landscape, scouting lineups and everything else associated with the football business.

As more issues crop up and there’s more clarity on some of these topics, we’ll address them. In the meantime, make sure you’re registered for our weekly newsletter, the Friday Wrap, to get a regular look at what’s going on in the business.

Ask an NFL Agent: Highlights of our Zoom Session with Priority Sports’ Mike McCartney

If there’s one thing new agents always ask me, it’s this: how do I ask an established agent the hard questions about the business that no one wants to answer? I’ll admit it’s one question for which I have no answer. That’s why it was pretty awesome when, out of the blue, Chicago-based Mike McCartney of Priority Sports reached out to me last week and offered to answer questions from agents in a Zoom session.

This was a real coup. As the son of a legendary former college head coach, Mike is not only a member of football royalty, a former NFL scout himself, and the man who negotiated one of the most lucrative contracts in NFL history, but a 20-year contract advisor and member of a top NFL agency (by our metrics, Priority has been the 11th-best agency on draft day since 2007). When, last Friday, we put the word out that we’d be hosting a Zoom session with Mike on Tuesday, we had immediate responses from almost 20 agents. We thought we might have to turn some down (though we ultimately did not).

We chose not to record the session so Mike would feel fee to provide ultimate candor. However, here are a few nuggets from the hour he spent with 17 mostly new NFL agents.

  • The key to success as an agent is signing players that NFL teams want. It follows that knowing NFL scouts who will recommend players is critical, so it made sense agents would ask Mike about that. Predictably, he didn’t have a ‘magic bullet’ solution. The only way that I, personally, made friends in the scouting world is two ways: time and credibility. Mike essentially echoed that. I guess, if you’re a new agent, your job is to find 1-2 players in your first years on the job that somehow crack the NFL scouting bubble. Once you are somewhat proven to scouts, they’ll begin to have a more reciprocal relationship with you.
  • Another thing Mike was adamant about: never lie to scouts. He said that if he has a client who’s not fast, he’s not going to try to convince teams the player can zoom. Instead, Mike will emphasize his client’s positive qualities. God knows one of the themes of the 2020 draft season has been the questionable times posted on social media.
  • If you can’t sign a player with excellent triangle numbers, find a player who has heart and grit. In 2002, his rookie year as an agent, Mike signed a quarterback out of Sam Houston State, Josh McCown. McCown was a player who had transferred to SHSU from SMU for his senior season and lit things up, but he was still mostly an unknown. Mike badgered the head of National Football Scouting at the time, Duke Babb, to let McCown be one of the passers who throw the ball in drills at the combine, and Babb consented. On the last day of the combine, defensive backs were going through drills, and the three passers needed to heave 80 deep balls as part of the drill inventory. For whatever reason, the other two quarterbacks begged off, so McCown threw all 80. Babb was so appreciative that he flew McCown home first class, and he wasn’t the only one that took notice: McCown went from a probably UDFA to a third-round pick (3/81) by the Cardinals.
  • Speaking of UDFAs, Mike has a very regimented process he goes through with his clients who are Day 3 guys. He essentially prepares them for the worst-case scenario (that they are “eighth-round picks”) and sets up the NFL in three tiers: 4-5 teams that are the absolute best fits for his client, a second group of teams that are good-but-not-great fits, and a third that includes the rest of teams. He then gets on the phone with scouts from his top-tier teams and makes sure he’s on the same page with them as far as his client’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as the team’s depth chart at the player’s position.
  • Also: he said that a GM or scout who wants your client isn’t nearly as good as a coach who does. Mike even said that, during the post-draft UDFA process, he has asked scouts to walk down the hall and specifically ask the team’s position coach if he wanted his client. If the coach seemed lukewarm, he passed on signing with the team. He said it’s absolutely essential that your client’s position coach is excited about coaching your client.
  • As far as this draft, he sees most Day 3 picks as long shots to make teams, to say nothing of the UDFAs. Think about that. Due to the uncertainty and probable lack of rookie camps this year (and spare number of physicals), teams will lean more toward veterans and the best of the best draft picks on cutdown day this fall. I’d agree with him. It’s just one more reason it’s incredibly hard to be a new agent this year.

We’ll talk more about Mike’s words of wisdom in this week’s Friday Wrap, which you can register for here. Happy Draft Day!

ITL Zoom Scouting Meetup: Some Words of Wisdom from ex-NFL Scout Bob Morris

Tuesday night, we had our first Zoom meet-up for aspiring NFL scouts. I hosted it with guest Bob Morris, a longtime friend who’s spent time in the Alliance of American Football and XFL as well as 15 years in the league with the Browns and 49ers. You might also have seen him on our Twitter feed, as he led several ITL-assisted pro days over the last three weeks (like this one).

Bob spent an hour with five members of the college personnel community (Austin Schaffer of Cincinnati, Price Burton of Toledo, Drew Hixson of Kansas, Connor Anderson of Texas State and Zach Gold of Temple). Here are a few takeaways.

  • One question we got was, how do you make your case to a coach when the analytics fit but the coach rejects the player, or vice versa? Bob said it’s best to sit with the coach and calmly make your case. If you can point to a previous player that fits your mold and turned out to be a success, that’s the best way. Examples always trump theory, obviously.
  • Bob was also asked how old is too old when it comes to pursuing a scouting career. He didn’t put a number on things, instead referring to family and relationships to make that decision. With that said, teams are hiring younger and younger evaluators; it’s as simple as that. Bob also observed that, more and more, the job vacated by a veteran scout as he moves from Team A to Team B is usually filled from within by a scouting assistant at Team A.
  • Bob also guarded against spending too much time in self-promotion. He said longtime college head coach Bill Mallory (Indiana, Colorado, Miami of Ohio, Northern Illinois), who served as a mentor of sorts for Bob, always told him to let his work be his sales pitch.
  • One way to do that, Bob said, is to be totally prepared when a scout is in the building. Anticipate what he’ll need, what questions he’ll ask, and where he’ll need to go when he’s making his rounds, whether or not you’re the NFL liaison. I know that’s common sense, but it’s still true.
  • He also said that, while in San Francisco, GM Trent Baalke would ask all the scouts if there was someone they’d met on the road who had what it took to work for the 49ers. Bob mentioned Niners area scout Steve Rubio, formerly the director of player personnel at Tennessee, as one scout who made his way up that way.
  • Also common sense: if you’re at a school with more talent, you’ll have a better chance of getting recognized. Personnel directors and NFL liaisons at Alabama, Ohio State and Texas stand a better chance of becoming scouts because they’re just going to get more face time with NFL evaluators.

This won’t be our last meet-up, and I look forward to connecting other former members of the NFL scouting world with aspiring scouts from the college evaluation community. Interested in joining us? Hit us up on Twitter or contact us here.

Catching Up With Seven Draft Services’ Post-Combine Mocks

Early in March, we started tracking the post-combine mock drafts of the seven services we’ve been following for two years now. Then the coronavirus happened, and all our efforts went into trying to fill the pro day gap.

This week, we’re trotting our grid back out, dusting it off and giving it a look. Next week, we’ll look at the last round of mocks (by the same services) for the last time before NFL teams do it for real the last weekend of the month.

Here’s what we found in this month’s mocks.

  • This is something we’ll be watching more closely going forward, but one trend we detected was a great level of similarity between mock drafts (OK, we weren’t surprised that much, either, but still). Every one of the seven services we surveyed in their first mock draft of March had LSU’s Joe Burrow No. 1 overall. Six of seven had Ohio State’s Chase Young at No. 2 (hello, PFF). Four other players received the same top-10 grades from at least four of the services, including Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons (Tony Pauline, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report, ESPN’s Todd McShay and Sports Illustrated all at No. 4); Auburn’s Derrick Brown (Pauline, Miller, McShay and Walter Football have him at No. 7); Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs (Pauline, PFF, Brugler and Sports Illustrated at 8); and Alabama’s Jedrick Wills (No. 10 according to Pauline, PFF, Brugler and McShay).
  • Georgia’s Andrew Thomas at 11 (Pauline, PFF, Brugler, Miller and Walter); Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy at 12 (according to PFF, Miller, Sports Illustrated and Walter); Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III at 15 (PFF, Brugler, McShay and Walter) have also drawn some sort of consensus.
  • For what it’s worth, three services have been on the “Burrow is No. 1” express since October: PFF, Sports Illustrated and Walter. McShay was one of the early adopters, too, but got off the train in December (Young) before re-boarding pre-combine.
  • If you’re looking for a draft expert who most closely resembles an analytics model, look to Brugler, who has 12 picks (1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 19, 22 and 29) in common with Pro Football Focus. I should note that there was a pretty major “clustering” among the draft experts post-combine, and I presume that if I reviewed last year’s totals, we’d see the same thing.
  • Overall, we saw a “narrowing” of the board among the seven services, with 20 players on all seven services’ top 32. Just missing were Alabama FS Xavier McKinney (snubbed only by Pauline) and Oklahoma OB Kenneth Murray (not rated by McShay).
  • Also, only three players (Wisconsin OB Zach Baun and OC Tyler Biadasz; Oregon OG Shane Lemieux; Alabama DT Raekwon Davis; Dugger and Gallimore) were on only one board. Baun was 30 by Brugler; Biadasz 31 and Lemieux 27 per Walter Football; Pauline listed Davis at 23; Dugger was 28 on the PFF mock; and Gallimore was 25 according to Sports Illustrated).
  • New entries to mock drafts were Clemson DC A.J. Terrell (No. 20 according to Miller, 27 for PFF, 32 for Brugler); Boise St. OT Ezra Cleveland (No. 29 per PFF and Brugler, 31 on Pauline’s board); Lenoir-Rhyne SS Kyle Dugger (No. 28 according to PFF) and Oklahoma DT Neville Gallimore (No. 25 to Sports Illustrated).

We’ve given the services a more extensive look in today’s Friday Wrap, which comes out this evening (6:30 p.m. CT). As always, you can register for it here.

How Will the Coronavirus Impact NFL Scouting and Agent Practices? Three Possibilities

What will life look like on the other side of the coronavirus — presuming we ever get there? I don’t know. But I’m willing to make a few predictions on how football will change, especially as it relates to how agents, scouts and trainers work. Here are a few.

Video visits will become capped: Now that we’re all more comfortable with Zoom, it’s become a lot easier to work remotely. Before this year, the only way teams could bring a player “in-house” was with their allotted 30 visits in March and April. Teams are getting around this now, however, with Zoom visits; New Orleans Football chronicled a detailed visit the Saints had with Utah St. QB Jordan Love this week. The NFL’s Competition Committee is pretty rigid about eliminating any advantages one team might have over another. I could see the league either lumping these in with the 30 visits, or creating a new rule for total number of virtual visits.

Trainers will put in a coronavirus clause: Combine prep trainers are the IRS of the agent industry. Many complain about them and feel like they are way too much trouble  and demand too much money. I wonder if contract advisors still feel this way after several trainers have risked state sanctions to open their venues for workouts, or have reached out to me to find ex-scouts to run pro days. Most trainers are excellent at what they do, but they don’t have big staffs who can set up pro days. It’s the kind of mission creep trainers hate, but that agents expect. Trainers often struggle just to get payment for their services; I could see most of them strictly defining their services going forward, and restricting all provision of services beyond training until they’ve received full compensation.

Traditional scouting becomes newly valued: About two-thirds of pro days were cancelled this year, which means there’s a drastic cutback on the triangle numbers of hundreds of prospects. This means there will be a lot more evaluation done the old-fashioned way. My hope is that teams use this time to reinforce old-style film breakdown with the new wave of young scouts who’ve been hired the last 4-5 years. I also hope that teams draw on their scouting reports rather than falling in love with a prospect’s well-rehearsed in-person interview. Finally, I hope it also means some veterans get extended, or at least not axed. You gotta keep some of the gray-haired guys around sometimes. They have something to offer.

We’ll take a further look at how people in the game are dealing with the crisis today in the Friday Wrap, which comes out this evening. If you haven’t already, register for it here.

2020 NFL Draft Process, Coronavirus Edition: How Scouts, Agents, Players Are Adjusting

Obviously we’re in an unprecedented time. Here are a few observations on how the football world is shifting to accommodate the coronavirus situation, and how we’re trying to be a small part of the solution.

  • It looked bad for open venues this week, so we moved several up in an attempt to stay ahead of the closings. As a result, we were able to get two in on Tuesday in Dallas and one in Tampa, thanks to former NFL evaluators Bob Morris (Browns, 49ers) and Richard Shelton (Titans). Bob handled things in Dallas and Richard in Tampa. Unfortunately, our instincts were correct. We had a workout in New Orleans slated for today, but the venue was shuttered on Thursday. We’re hoping two pro days we have scheduled for today in Atlanta go off without a hitch (ex-Raiders scout Von Hutchins and Mike Hagen, last with the Chiefs, are calling the shots there).
  • Because we’ve brought in former NFL personnel to run these pro days — sort of serving as a ‘proctor’ for the big exams — we’ve gotten good feedback from NFL teams. Contacts with two teams have asked for all the numbers from our scouts’ pro days, and we’ve been happy to oblige. Meanwhile, our RT of a Twitter post on another player drew an immediate response from a director-level scout with another team. If you’re a player or agent, don’t think for a minute that teams aren’t working overtime to make the best of these strange circumstances.
  • We’re pretty excited about the response we’ve gotten on our Google Form that will supplement the work the APT Coalition (the consortium of NFL scouts that shares pro day information during a normal March) normally does. We’ve gotten more than 300 players’ information so far with about 48 hours to go before we pull the plug and ship it out to all 32 teams. “Through your help, I’m down to 27 players that I need draft info for,” said one scout that we’ve been trying to help with player, agent and college contacts. We’re hoping that after this weekend, those remaining 27 players’ contacts (and their agents, of course) are in his notebook.
  • One note about that Google form: a handful of agents included their contact info but not their players’ contacts. While we understand that they represent the players, scouts are not going to want to have to go through a third party to collect simple information about draft prospects over the next month before the draft. We’ve removed all entries that omitted players’ info, but not to worry: we’ll send out the form one last time this evening.
  • Of course, if you’d like to update things immediately, we also sent out the link to all NFLPA-licensed contract advisors last Friday at 6:30 p.m., Monday at 6 a.m. and Wednesday at 6 a.m. (all times central). The link is somewhere in your inbox if you’re a licensed agent, so check your trash.
  • We’re hoping to be part of a national solution to the lack of pro days in mid-April. We’re working on a project that, hopefully, can bring a neutral, professionally run local workout to hundreds of players. Fingers crossed, of course, that we’ll have open venues and some return to normalcy by Easter.

That’s all we have so far. Hopefully, we’re still moving in the right direction. For more on how “the new normal” is affecting the data-gathering process and how teams are adapting, check out today’s Friday Wrap. You can register for it here.