Today, we get a little more specific about the scouting industry by digging into the services that set the table for each draft the summer beforehand. We asked Angry Scouting Veteran (@AngryScout) his take on National Football Scouting and BLESTO, two services that are an integral (if mostly unknown) part of the business.
BLESTO and National are accepted parts of the scouting landscape. What are the strengths and weaknesses of using a scouting service? Do teams rely on them too much? Does the services’ reliance on mostly young scouts affect the validity of their work?
“BLESTO and National are not only accepted, but to me a VITAL part of the scouting process. To me, if a team isn’t using one, then they’re 1) cheap, 2) don’t understand the process, and/or 3) should be paying their scouts double, because they are doing two jobs. Using a scouting service is worth it, if for nothing else than to get a baseline on character and medical information. If a team relies on their combine info too much, it’s their own fault. If there are people in leadership roles that know what they are doing, then they realize that using a combine provides the baseline/initial look in the process, and that the information is useful, but should only be valued as one ingredient in the recipe. National has a lot more teams, so they are able to provide more in-depth coverage, given that their scouts have much smaller areas than their BLESTO counterparts. BLESTO is more of a family business, National is more corporate, but at the end of the day it’s like Nike or Adidas. They’re doing the same thing. It’s all a matter of what environment you prefer or what you are using the service for the most.
“A combine scout is young and entry-level; that’s fine, again, as long as the people running the teams who are in the services understand the purpose of being in a combine. A combine scout’s jobs, in order, are to surface prospects, provide as much information about those prospects as possible, and to grow as talent evaluators. If you are a GM and you’re concerned about what the combine scout’s grades are — other than those being the starting point for how many exposures you need at each school — then you don’t have a clue what you are doing, and you shouldn’t be a GM.
“Our scouting process really begins in May at a combine spring meeting. That’s where each combine scout presents all of the work that he’s done in the spring while the rest of us are getting ready for the draft. It’s unreasonable to ask area scouts to do this advance work, and it’s also disrespectful to remove them from the draft process to do so. The draft is a scout’s game day, and not allowing us to finish that entire process and be involved in the “big game” is like asking an Olympic athlete to train all year long but then not letting them in the stadium for the opening ceremonies or permitting them to compete. If you want to be stubborn (and cheap) and not use a combine, fine, then pay your scouts for two jobs, because that’s what they are doing.”