If you’ve been keeping up with our current series getting feedback from ex-scouts on some hot topics related to the football business, hopefully you agree that we’ve provided insights you don’t often find. Today, I think we have one of the strongest pieces in our series as we talk to Matt Boockmeier.

Matt not only has been an area scout with two NFL teams (the Packers and Saints), but he’s also been a scout in the CFL (Saskatchewan) and even served at the director level in probably the most successful alternative league in the last 10 years, the UFL (with the Omaha Nighthawks). That gives him perspective that few can offer.

From here, I’ll turn it over to our own Mark Skol and Matt.

  1. What is the one thing NFL draft fans don’t understand about the evaluation process, and about how NFL teams scout players, that they should know? 

“One thing they don’t understand – (though) height, weight, and speed are important, I’m not going to lie – you have to have athletic ability and you better have instinctive characteristics as a player. Fans may not understand that nothing beats what the film shows. I say that prefacing a very important point. How many times have you seen a guy who didn’t fit any characteristics you were looking for but he was a football player? And how many times did those people make it? They’re littered throughout the league. I would say that’s the biggest thing that you have to look at. Finally, the hardest thing to do is look at the guy’s mentality toward the games, his temperament. Everybody thinks they can judge it. Everybody can see he has all the will, but that’s not measurable. Your best scouts understand what that guy brings without even saying a word to him based upon what they’ve seen in the past.”

  1. We all know the best advice for a young man hoping to play in the NFL is to play his best football this fall. However, as a former scout, what would you tell a young man’s parents? 

“Slow down. Be engaged in the process, but don’t necessarily control the process for your son. Be there for guidance as a player would for their son in any situation like this. The most important thing I would tell them is to be realistic and to be prepared for a letdown. I can talk about a player. You can talk about a player. There is all this noise. Get rid of the noise. Be there to filter the noise. Be realistic. Be hopeful. Prepare for the worst but expect the best. Finally, you, your son and the agent are not in control.”

3. If a young person asked you how to break into the scouting business, what advice would you have for him?

“No. 1, research. No. 2, persistence. No. 3, don’t be afraid to think outside the box to develop a relationship with the person who makes the hiring decisions. No. 4, get lucky. And all of this applies across the spectrum. If you were going in for an interview with Apple, you would want to know everything about Jim Smith (the boss). . . You (may not) have the best GPA and you (may not) have that big of an interest in technology on your resume. That doesn’t matter. If you get in front of Jim and you have the charisma, the personality, and you know how to interact with people on a mature level and he’s looking to hire somebody, he’s not going to forget that. It’s not about the degree, it’s not about the GPA, it’s how you fit in with the team that matters.”