Ask the Scout: Five ’21 Sleepers Courtesy of Blake Beddingfield

These days, it’s not hard to find a mock draft from your favorite writer, and more and more, we’re seeing two- and three-round mocks, even in November and December. What’s less common is a look at the players at the fringes of the draft who might wind up earlier in Day 3, or who may get snubbed in all seven rounds but wind up as a solid pro.

My friend, former Titans college scouting director Blake Beddingfield, did just that this week when he presented 50 sleepers in the ’21 draft class in a 90-minute Zoom session. Participants were treated to a quick summation of each player listed, as well as stories, comps and insights on the ’21 draft class and how the game is changing. It was a blast, and I got lots of positive feedback from members of the audience.

Here’s a look at five of the 50 players and why he likes them.

  • Jaelon Darden, WO, North Texas: Undersized receiver with very good speed and agility. Slot-type on the next level with ability to return punts. Solid run vision. Good stop-and-go quickness with ability to get up to top speed in a flash. Solid hands; catches the deep ball well, tracks and secures. Not a starting slot in the NFL, but can be a solid backup and return punts. I like his ability to stick and make a team with upside to produce in a number of ways.  Versatility is a plus. Fifth or sixth round.
  • Devin Hafford, DC, Tarleton State: Solid size and frame. Good on-the-ball skills. Productive. Has some hip and back stiffness when turning and running, but has the frame to move to safety and play in sub packages. Straight-line speed is solid but lateral movement is adequate. Has good instincts.  Only played one game in 2019 due to injury, but has upside. How he comes back from injury is key. PFA for now, but could be a late-rounder with production and good pro day. 
  • Deon Jackson, OH, Duke: Good size and frame. Powerful runner. Experienced with marginal production as a runner, but he has been an all-around back with production as a receiver. Has good hands. Also a kick returner. Has enough quickness and speed to be effective. Not a frontline-type player, but versatile with good size. 7th/PFA. 
  • Tyarise Stevenson, DT, Tulsa: Massive guy who’s a classic two-gap nose tackle. However, he’s a run-down player only, and not a pass rusher. Limited-range player who takes up space and blockers. Dirty work-type, not a playmaker. Not a fit for every team. PFA.
  • Joe Schulthorpe, OG, NC State: Best at right guard, but has also played center, and that versatility is valuable. Solid size for both positions, and has shown effectiveness at both spots. Has backup traits on the interior offensive line and a. role as a three-position backup in the NFL. Fifth or sixth round.

If you’d like to hear the rest of Blake’s 50 sleepers as well as a breakdown of each of them, plus a list with notes on each of them, click here. You’ll be charged $35 and we’ll  ship out the link and the list immediately. For what it’s worth, several active NFL scouts have already purchased it.

We’ll talk more about Blake’s Zoom session this week in our Friday Wrap, which comes out every Friday at 7:30 p.m. EDT. If you haven’t already, register for it here.

Eleven College Personnel Professionals to Watch

As I’ve expanded my work with members of the college evaluation and recruiting community, I’ve begun to work with dozens of young people who are incredibly talented. Here’s the funny thing: until I really started looking, I had no idea who these people were. In fact, until CAA’s Ed Marynowitz started bringing this community together at his Personnel Symposium a couple years ago, I barely knew this community existed, so hats off to Ed.

At any rate, there are lots of rising young evaluators who have well-developed eyes for talent, superhero-level administrative talents, a special way with recruiting and communicating with young players, or all of the above. It’s time to recognize some of them.

Here are 11 young men working in college personnel and recruiting who are ready for a promotion to running a P5 school’s recruiting department, to serve as an NFL scouting assistant, to jump straight to college scouting coordinator for a pro team, or to serve as a chief of staff for a college or pro head coach. I’ve presented them alphabetically.

  • Marcus Berry, Director of Recruiting, Maryland: Marcus lives to evaluate and is passionate about getting better at it, though he’s already really good. I always learn something when I talk to him. He will be a great NFL scout someday. 
  • Albert Boone, Director of Football Operations, South Florida: I don’t get to link up with Albert as much anymore because he’s always busy. Albert is on a steady climb in the industry and has earned the acclaim of some powerful people.
  • Alex Brown, Director of Football Recruiting, Rice: I met Alex years ago before he was part of an FBS football administration, and it’s incredibly how far he’s come in a short time. If you check out his podcast about college personnel, you won’t be sorry.
  • Cody Cejda, Director of Football Operations and Strategy, Northwestern: The consummate professional and the gold standard as far major college administrators, which is why he’s the only person on this list whom I’ve asked to speak at one of my seminars.
  • Will Christopherson, Director of Player Personnel Operations, Maryland: Will is relentless. He finds opportunities, excels, then builds his network with the people he’s worked with without being a self-promoter. 
  • Ryan Fischler, offensive assistant, Texas A&M: Everywhere I go on the all-star/combine trail in January and February, I see Ryan either working or just networking. That’s what you have to do if you want to climb in this industry.
  • Zach Gold, Assistant Director of Player Personnel, Temple: Not only is Zach engaging, but he will move heaven and earth to learn and find resources to help him get better. You have to admire that.
  • Matt Lindsey, General Manager, Ole Miss: Matt is at the forefront of a new position in college football, general manager. He’s incredibly impressive, is a ‘Bama grad, and has already worked in the NFL (Eagles). 
  • C.J. Owens, Director of Player Personnel, Old Dominion: I haven’t known C.J. for very long, but I’ve been really impressed so far, and I look forward to tracking his career as it continues.
  • Steve Schrum, Director of Player Personnel, Kent State: It’s been fun to watch Steve rise through the industry, as no job has been too small or too large for him. The Golden Flashes are 3-0 and Steve has a lot to do with it.
  • Tim Silvernail, Director of Recruiting, Rutgers: Tim has an extensive MAC background but he’s on the move and making things happen in the Big Ten now. He’s got a lot of momentum and there’s a good reason for that. Highly organized.

There are several others who are worthy of recognition; they’re just a few steps away from being ready. They include Nathan Applebaum, a recruiting assistant at Florida; Cody Bellaire, a player personnel assistant at Baylor; Taylor Buie, recruiting assistant at Stanford; Price Burton, a quality control assistant in recruiting at Toledo; Aaron Clem and Nathan Ellis, recruiting assistants at Maryland; Camden Dietz, a recruiting assistant at Kansas; Tom Fratcher, a recruiting specialist at NCSA; Allen Gaudet, player personnel assistant at Texas A&M; Chris Haase, a football scouting assistant at Northwestern; Justin Markus, recruiting assistant at Rice; Kyle Morgan, southwest area scout for XOS Technology; Jalun Morris, Assistant Director of Recruiting at UAB; Connor Roche, grad assistant in recruiting at Arizona State; John Todd and Nathan Cooper at Sports Info Solutions, a top sports analytics firm; and Jeremy Wright, a community relations coordinator at North Carolina A&T. These guys are among several who hold a lot of promise.

I’m certain I’ve left some out. This is far from an exhaustive list, and it’s important to note that if someone’s not listed here, it’s not that I don’t see them as a riser in the business. It’s probably just that I haven’t met that person yet (or, more likely, I’ve just forgotten to include them in this rather hastily assembled post).

There are so many people in this industry who are talented, and I just haven’t made my way around the business yet. But I will, and I will continue to point to these peoples’ successes when I see them.

Analyzing What’s Ahead in NFL Scouting Hires This Offseason

This month, we wrapped up our Fourth Quarter series with four former scouts and executives. If you’ve been reading our blog, or even took part in the Zoom sessions, you’ve heard and read their “origin stories.”

Our goal, as always, is to help aspiring scouts become actual ones. However, in a season and offseason unlike any we’ve seen before, how likely is that to happen in the coming weeks and months?

We spent the last month-and-a-half reviewing scouting departments across the league for our Know Your Scouts series. It’s something we’ve done for nine years, and it gives us a good sense of how NFL teams are building their evaluation staffs.

Based on what we saw, we’ve made a few observations. There’s good news and bad news.

  • Good news: Only six scouting assistants were hired this offseason. That’s down slightly from 2019 (nine) and considerably from 2018 (12). Maybe that means more hires after this season.
  • More good news: Only two GMs were hired this offseason, but there are already two vacancies and there are expected to be several more this offseason. That means plenty of turnover.
  • On the other hand, seven scouts and executives took jobs with the XFL in the 2019 offseason, with 12 taking Alliance of American Football jobs in the 2018 offseason. Obviously, those jobs won’t be available after this season.
  • Also, a greater piece of teams’ scouting budgets are going toward analytics and fewer to pure scouting positions. We counted 14 of the 119 hires and promotions in NFL scouting departments as analytics-, data- or software-related.
  • Worst news: Scouts aren’t on the road this season, which means fewer chances to make an impression. For an NFL liaison, hosting a Zoom call is far less personal than conducting a meeting with multiple scouts in an office setting, or even a brief conversation with a scout in the hallway.
  • There’s also a great chance there will be more competition for jobs this year than ever before. With FBS and FCS schools having to rectify budgets battered by the loss of gate revenue, there could be more good college personnel specialists finding themselves out of jobs next spring. 

If you’re interested in learning more about trends in hiring and firing in the NFL scouting community, make sure you check out today’s Friday Wrap. We’ll take a longer look at where the scouting community is headed over the next six months. You can register for it here.

 

 

 

Ask the Scout: Six Things with Raleigh McKenzie (ex-Raiders)

Last night, we completed our Fourth Quarter series by spending an hour-plus with Raleigh McKenzie. Not only is Raleigh a good friend, he was a key part of the pro days we set up last spring for members of the ’20 draft class. Oh, by the way, he played 16 NFL seasons and won two Super Bowls in addition to spending six seasons as an area scout with the Raiders.

Here are six things I learned during Raleigh’s session last night.

  • Raleigh was pretty forthright that if his brother hadn’t become a GM with the Raiders, there’s a good chance he never would have been an NFL scout. I thought that was admirable and transparent of him. Also of interest — he said if he’d had his choice, he probably would have preferred to be a coach. I think a lot of scouts might say that, especially in view of the disparity in salaries between the jobs. 
  • As a former offensive linemen, I had lots of questions about the position. Here’s one thing that struck me: When discussing Texans OT Laremy Tunsil, he said Tunsil was aggressive but not always physical. That was a distinction I’ve never heard before. When I asked him about it, Raleigh said Tunsil always came off the ball and got after his opponent while at Ole Miss, but he was more of a finesse player than a mauler. Raleigh liked his athleticism, especially as a pass blocker, but felt he’d have to improve his strength in the running game. I thought that was an interesting insight.
  • When asked what advice he could give aspiring scouts, it was that they must trust their eyes. That’s something that’s come up often during our four-week series. It’s clear that scouts wrestle with groupthink, and don’t always win. As in other professions, it’s often safer to go with the crowd, but it’s not always right.
  • When asked why players bust, Raleigh gave two reasons: an inability to measure a player’s ability vs. NFL competition — i.e., he couldn’t make the necessary adjustments to play vs. the pros — and the inability for his drafting team to use him right. 
  • Though he couldn’t remember exactly who the Raiders’ top 10 prospects were in 2016, Raleigh distinctly remembers how much the team liked Florida State’s Jalen Ramsey. That’s been a real theme as we’ve reviewed 2016 with multiple scouts. Ramsey was a supreme prospect who’s turned out to be a great pro. The team also felt North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz had more tools and upside, Cal’s Jared Goff was a more complete, more ready game for the NFL, and had they chose between the two, they would have taken Goff.
  • He said the Raiders took Michigan State’s Connor Cook as the No. 100 pick in the draft — 35 picks before Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott — because coaches felt Cook was a better fit in Oakland’s offense. The Raiders also felt Prescott was lacking in accuracy. 

It was a fabulous four weeks, as you already know if you were among those who joined us. If you didn’t, it’s not too late to study up and learn from some great former scouts and executives. Click here for the four videos plus the transcripts from our first three sessions with Danton Barto (former Rams area scout), Doug Whaley (former Bills GM) and Ahmad Russell (former Colts scout). Just $35. And don’t forget to register for our Friday Wrap here.

 

Ask the NFL Scout: Six Things From Ahmad Russell (ex-Colts)

Thursday night, we had the third in our four-part Zoom series with former NFL scouts and executives. Our guest was former Colts area scout Ahmad Russell, who also spent several years with the Eagles.

Here are a few things I learned from his nearly 90-minute session.

  • Scouts come from all kinds of places, but Ahmad’s story is unique. After he didn’t get any satisfactory job offers out of college and didn’t get any camp offers (he played at Colgate), he opted to to go Japan and teach. That was in August of 2001, but his 9/11 experience is another story. While in Japan, he began playing fantasy basketball, which piqued his interest in scouting and evaluation. So he went online and scanned every scout and executive bio in the NFL, noticing that several got their master’s from the UMass sport management program, so he applied (from Japan). Once he got accepted, he heavily mined the UMass network until, upon completion of his master’s, he got three NFL offers. He chose the Eagles, partially because of their success and partially because of their proximity.
  • Ahmad has several insights about the GMs and future GMs he worked with (including Howie Roseman, Chris Ballard, Jason Licht and Ryan Grigson). His insights were too many to detail here, but one thing stuck out in my mind. Ahmad said he befriended the Eagles GM during Roseman’s days as the team counsel, so when Roseman began to have a larger profile on the evaluation side, Ahmad already had a relationship with him. That was beneficial for a number of reasons. I respect Ahmad for having time for Roseman before he was part of his chain of command. Never forget: it’s a relationship business.
  • We’ve been discussing the 2016 draft each week, and it’s been really illuminating. For example, say what you will about how teams value triangle numbers vs. film, but Ahmad was the latest scout to cite speed in explaining why Ohio State WO Michael Thomas fell to the second round. He likewise pointed to speed in why Baylor WO Corey Coleman was the first receiver off the board. As you know, Coleman is no longer in the league. Speed is sexy, and scouts are human. That’s all there is to it.
  • Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is known as a high-character player and a leader of men, but Ahmad may deserve some of the credit. He told the story of when he interviewed Prescott at the Senior Bowl and confronted him about several off-field issues that surfaced during the evaluation phase. Ahmad even said he called Prescott a “thug” in the interview session. To Prescott’s credit, he took the hard conversation to heart, and the results have been clear.
  • Ahmad is the first scout to cop to his team trying to move up to take Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil during his famous slide. He said he recalls trying to strike a deal with the Saints, who picked 12. When the teams couldn’t strike a deal, the Dolphins moved up to 13 by trading with the Eagles.
  • Due to his domestic assault charges, the Colts had taken West Alabama WO Tyreek Hill completely off their board. He was a no-draft for Indy.

Next week, we conclude our series with former Raiders scout Raleigh McKenzie. It’s gonna be a blast. Want in? Click here. We’ve recorded all four of our sessions (ex-Rams scout Danton Barto in Week 1 and former Bills GM Doug Whaley in Week 2). If you’d like the first three videos and a chance to sit in next week, click here.

For more on the business of football, make sure to register for the Friday Wrap.

Ask the NFL GM: Eight Things I Learned from Doug Whaley’s Zoom Session

Last week in this space, we discussed ITL’s Fourth Quarter series in which we bring in a former scout or NFL executive as our Zoom guest. Last week, it was former Rams area scout Danton Barto, who was excellent. Tonight, it was former Bills GM Doug Whaley, who was also outstanding.

Here are eight things I found interesting in Doug’s session.

  • Doug graduated from Pitt and immediately took a job in the investment business as a trader in New York, but after getting an offer to intern for the Steelers, he passed it up immediately and returned to Pittsburgh. That’s the kind of passion you have to have to succeed in football — the willingness to pass up a job that could be incredibly lucrative to chase an opportunity that could be lucrative, but that comes with no guarantees.
  • When Doug interviews a scout for a job, he doesn’t want to know about the scout’s successes. He wants to hear about the prospects the scout missed on, because everybody misses. It’s learning and figuring out why you missed that shows that you have a passion for the business and an interest in getting better.
  • When I asked Doug what he would do differently in his next GM job, he said, and I’m paraphrasing, that he’ll sacrifice talent for fit. He said that in Buffalo, he only wanted the very best player he could find, but he said that it’s better to take the best player that makes sense in your system and locker room.
  • Doug is a strong believer in mentors, and he has two: legendary Steelers scout Bill Nunn and former NFL executive Charles Bailey, who’s been with the Steelers, Saints and Jaguars as well as the XFL. Doug, in turn, has three mentees.
  • We’ve been asking scouts about their experiences and insights into the 2016 NFL Draft, and Doug was asked if allegations that Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil had received improper payments hurt the team’s evaluation of him. Doug said that, due partially to the NCAA’s antiquated rules, he wouldn’t necessarily fault Tunsil for such payments. What would hurt him, instead, is if, years later, Tunsil divulged it to the media. That would be a red flag.
  • Why isn’t Derrick Henry a Bill? Doug said they knew he would be a power back who’s not given to making people miss. They observed that while he’s a big guy from the waist up, Buffalo’s braintrust didn’t think he was thick enough through the legs to be effective on the NFL level, or at least, to have lasting success.
  • What about Tyreek Hill? The Bills had extensive communication with people around the West Alabama program, and had taken him completely off the board due to the domestic abuse charges that have since come to light. Doug said it was a particularly sensitive area for the team given that the team’s co-owner, Kim Pegula, is a woman.
  • Given the chance, would the Bills have taken North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz or Cal’s Jared Goff? Doug said that Wentz was one of their top 10 players rated in the draft, but Goff was not. Why? They didn’t think his arm and relative lack of size and frame would play well in Buffalo winds and weather.

Next week, we’ll host former Colts scout Ahmad Russell, and I can hardly wait. We’ve got room for a few more people to listen in, so if you’re interested, hit me up here. Just $9. DMs are open. Hope you can make it.

Want more details? Check out the Friday Wrap which comes out tomorrow evening. You can register for it here.

Ask the NFL Scout: Seven Things with Danton Barto

Last night, my longtime friend Danton Barto joined more than 50 people on a Zoom call to talk football. We spent more than an hour talking about his experiences in scouting while with the Rams; what makes a good evaluator; what to do (and not do) to get a job in the NFL; the times he was right and wrong on players; and plenty more. We also discussed his recollections of the 2016 NFL Draft, a most unique one, to be sure.

Here are seven things I learned in just the first 20 minutes.

  • Danton grew up with Taylor Morton, Senior Personnel Advisor with the Rams. Morton was instrumental in getting Danton a scouting job with the Rams.
  • Danton was hired because the Rams needed a linebacker and, as a former college linebacker (at Memphis), Morton and Rams GM Les Snead trusted his ability to evaluate them. 
  • Danton estimated he used to write reports on 400 players per year in his five-state mid-South region, and “you better know ’em” if one the team’s officials asked his opinion of them.
  • He admits that he’s seen people get a chance in scouting based on reports they’ve written, sometimes with limited formal football experience. “I’ve seen guys get opportunities because they sent in reports, and they were very good,” he said.
  • Persistence is important in getting a job, but don’t be irritating. Danton said he remembers a scouting hopeful who became a thorn in the side of members of the Rams staff. His lack of judgement wound up costing him a chance with the team.
  • The Rams actually had an analytics system that judged scouts on their reports; I’m not aware if they still do this, but if they do, it’s definitely unique. By the way, Danton came out pretty well on their grading system. 
  • I guess it’s no surprise, but the failure of first-round pick Greg Robinson, a tackle out of Auburn who was the second pick in the 2014 draft, led to a lot of soul-searching among the Rams evaluators. I got the sense that Robinson’s struggles made the Rams insecure about moving up to take Ole Miss’ Laremy Tunsil when he slid in the ’16 draft. Of course, they didn’t have a lot of ammo left after trading up to get the No. 1 pick from the Titans.

Danton talked for about an hour and 20 minutes. Want to hear the next hour? Let me know here. DMs open. 

We’ll talk more about Danton’s Zoom session in the Friday Wrap, which comes out this evening (7:30 p.m. EDT). Don’t get it? Register here.

NFL Scouts: Looking at Evaluators’ Varied Backgrounds

Each year for most of the last decade, we’ve spent the fall months looking at each of the 32 scouting departments at Inside the League. We call it our Know Your Scouts series. Given that not all teams publicize their hiring and firing, our review always turns up changes we didn’t know about.

What’s more, however, we take a snapshot of every team’s scouts and executives, looking at their length of service with the team, how long they’ve been in scouting, etc. We also include a note about each one’s entry into scouting, relationship to others in the department, or anything else of interest. For people seeking to break into the industry, I think this is invaluable information because it provides context for how others have made it to the NFL.

So far, we’ve profiled 10 teams. Already, we’ve passed along some interesting tidbits on the scouts who evaluate talent and how they got their jobs.

  • I’d say only a third of the scouts and executives we’ve featured so far have NFL playing experience, and that’s down quite a bit from 10 years ago, when we started. The idea that today’s evaluator needs to be an ex-NFL players — or even played the game at all — is definitely changing.
  • Three current or former members of the Chiefs scouting staff (Assistant Director of Player Personnel Ryan Poles, Area Scout Trey Koziol and former NFS scout Rob Francois) played together at Boston College.
  • Current Chiefs NFS scout Cassidy Kaminski really took the road less traveled to Kansas City, serving as a personnel assistant with the Shrine Bowl while simultaneously writing for Ourlad’s, a draft service, from 2015-18. He even worked for an Australian team in 2016.
  • I’d estimate that 20-30 percent of each scouting staff has members who are directly related to someone in the organization. There’s no denying that family is a major consideration when staffing departments.
  • Maybe it’s because of analytics’ rise, but there are a handful of scouts who either played baseball at some level or worked for a Major League Baseball team before crossing over. For example, Bears National Scout Chris Prescott got started working in minor league baseball, while Broncos pro personnel director A.J. Durso played in college and Browns V.P. of Player Personnel Glenn Cook was even drafted by the Cubs. 
  • It’s interesting how many scouts worked for MLB or NBA teams in some role, while others worked for NFL agencies or were agents themselves. It’s just a reminder that relationships are key to breaking in, and you can find those relationships anywhere.
  • There are numerous examples of scouts who started out publishing their own scouting insights. They include Brian Fisher (Bills) as well as Kaminski.
  • Scouts with two teams worked in different capacities for Inside the League before being hired by NFL teams.

If you aspire to be an NFL scout someday, I encourage you to see for yourself where scouts came from by checking out our Know Your Scouts series. I guarantee you’ll gain valuable insights.

Also, make sure you check out today’s Friday Wrap, in which we discuss the backgrounds of today’s general managers. It’s valuable information if you’re interested in climbing the NFL evaluation mountain. You can register for it here

A Few More Ideas on How to Be an NFL Scout

Tuesday night, a longtime friend, Matt Boockmeier, joined me as we hosted a dozen aspiring NFL scouts on a Zoom call (check it out here). The participants had different backgrounds. Some have college recruiting and personnel jobs; some are from the analytics world; some are mainly putting their takes out on social media. Ultimately, they all have one goal, and that is to become NFL evaluators.

Matt and I tried to dispense our wisdom on how to get a shot, and our main push coalesced around a few main points. However, upon reflection, there are a few more I wish I’d made during the nearly 90-minute session. I decided to share them here.

  • Twitter is your instrument. Use it wisely: I can’t tell you how many people I’ve muted whose takes on the 2021 draft class I’d love to be reading regularly. I don’t know if I’ll even vote in a month — it would be the first time I haven’t voted since I was legally able to — but one thing I don’t need is a bunch of condescending Twitter takes, no matter what side you’re on. Still not convinced? Well, believe this: unless your last name is Kraft, Jones, Rooney, etc., how much someone likes you is gonna be a big part of whether or not you get a chance to work in the NFL. The first step in hiring ANYONE these days is reviewing their social media accounts. There’s no reason in the world why you should cut your already-slim chances in half just so you can indulge selfish urges and get a fleeting dopamine shot.
  • Look for the win-win: This is a corollary to one of the principles we discussed last night, which is, be willing to volunteer and give your work away, at least for a while.  Having professional rivals makes you better, no doubt, but if you can figure out a way to find detente with your competition, do so. Last night, I spoke to about a dozen aspiring scouts. More than half of them have banded together to assemble a manuscript that they are submitting to NFL teams later this year. I think that’s a fabulous idea, especially given that they share a common background. They all get to be part of something that will be incomparably better due to the shared workload, and now they all get to go out and sell themselves on the strength of a more polished, comprehensive work. If you make this a theme of your work life, you’ll find you give and get more good vibes.
  • Look for alternate paths: Like everyone on the call last night, I once wanted to be a scout. However, ultimately, I realized my real goal was to work in football. You may find you hit a continual brick wall in trying to work in the league, but you might find another path. If you do, run, don’t walk, down that road. You might have found a different way in, and you better get through it before the door closes.

We’ll talk about scouting and lots more in our Friday Wrap, which comes out (surprise) on Friday. If scouting intrigues you, you’ll dig it. Register for it here. Also, make sure to check out Up Close in Personnel, the awesome podcast hosted by my friend Alex Brown, the Director of Football Recruiting at Rice University. I guested on the show this week, and it comes out Saturday.

Ask the Scout: Quotes and Observations from Tuesday’s Zoom Call

If you are a fan of the draft, the business of football and or NFL scouting, and you weren’t one of the 70-odd people on the guest list for Tuesday’s Zoom call with former Titans executive Blake Beddingfield and ex-49ers scout Bob Morris, I’m so sorry. You missed an unforgettable night, as so many of the participants tweeted immediately after it.

Here are a few quotes and observations from the call.

  • Morris on a surprising interview he had: “We had (one of the top-rated wide receivers) off of our board. . . This is one of those stories about what you find out at combine and stuff. I was interviewing (this receiver) at the Senior Bowl, along with another scout, and we’re just sitting there in the ballroom and he just mentions that, yeah, he likes to go home and smoke pot with his buddies on weekends. And we didn’t ask him, we didn’t say anything. People at (his school) told you that he never tested positive. So he just kind of off-the-cuff said that, and plus, I knew his head coach real well at (his school) and he didn’t have a lot of good things to say about him, either. He was a guy that had all the production, and you watch the tape and you could put together a really good highlight tape, but just as a guy on our team, we didn’t want (him) on our team. . .  Being that it was (that school), it (happened) pretty frequently, so it wasn’t surprising at all. That was just the culture around them at the time.”
  • Neither Blake or Bob said their teams had any interest in Saints QB Taysom Hill, who looks like he’ll be New Orleans’ starter next year.
  • Which player was rated as the top player not the board for the Titans? Florida State DC Jalen Ramsey. For the 49ers? Same player.
  • The Titans got back a first-round grade for Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott from their area scout, but had no interest in him with Marcus Mariota already in the fold. As you know, Prescott slid to the fourth round.
  • The Titans already had DeMarco Murray at running back when they drafted Alabama’s Derrick Henry in the second round. Blake, who really liked Henry, spent three hours “standing on the table” for Henry until he won GM Jon Robinson over.

There’s WAY more in the 82 minutes Blake and Bob spent with us. If you purchased my latest book, Scout Speak, and you tweet about it, let me know (@InsideTheLeague) and I’ll send you the link.