It’s mid-June, which means — usually — that teams have pretty much set the course for their scouting departments for the next draft. We’ve been waiting on a few teams (Eagles, Rams, Redskins, Jets mainly) to make official pronouncements and finalize things, but we’ll move forward without them for now.
What follows is our take on the changes several teams have made in the past month-plus, what and who we like, and where we see things going for each of them.
- 49ers: It’s hard to know what to make of the Niners right now, with new GM John Lynch a total wildcard. What they have going for them is that they have ex-Lions GM Martin Mayhew around to help steer him; new V.P. of Player Personnel Adam Peters in from the Broncos, who’ve done a pretty good job in recent years; and most of the core staff of scouts that has done a mighty fine (and underrated) job of late.
- Bills: I like the amount of talent Buffalo accumulated for its front office, with several annual candidates for GM jobs across the league. But that’s also the problem: with that many up-and-comers, the scouting department might be a little top-heavy.
- Browns: Speaking of top-heavy, the Browns, despite presumably heading down an analytics-laden path, have eight (8!) people with either ‘director’ or ‘Vice President’ in their title, and that doesn’t even include the team’s de facto GM, Sashi Brown (Executive V.P., Football Operations) and Paul DePodesta (Chief Strategy Officer). There are also 13 scouts (thought at least two listed are no longer with the team) and eight ‘scouting assistants’ (and by the way, the Browns are known to be interviewing others). Despite the multiple layers of management and evaluators, I’ve spoken to several scouts who say they’re really impressed by the Browns’ draft this year.
- Colts: I’d have to say Indianapolis has been the runaway winner this offseason. New GM Chris Ballard has a great resume and great energy, and I think he’s made some great moves so far. Not only do the Colts have some great new people in the front office, but they also have a clear chain of command, and maybe the move I like most is their hire of Player Personnel Strategist Brian Decker. More and more, it seems to me that diagnosing how a player handles when he’s drafted, and how he reacts to making big money, is mega-critical to the process.
- Titans: I have to admit that the changes Tennessee made caught me off guard. After a few bumpy years, the team seems to have built a talented core and is on the way up. With that said, the area scouts the team has added (Mike Boni and Tom Roth) have been universally applauded by all the scouts I’ve spoken to.
That’s all for now. Hopefully in a week a few more loose ends will be tied up and we can look at five more teams’ moves.