We’ve been exploring a scouting-related theme in this space for the last few months, and it has to do with the value and relevance of traditional, on-the-road area scouts (also known as college scouts). More precisely, we’ve indirectly asked the question, are scouts becoming a thing of the past?
A few developments over the last month-plus put a finer point on our question. First of all, two classic evaluation-style GMs, John Dorsey in Kansas City and Dave Gettleman in Carolina, were let go. You could argue (and I believe) they were two of the top five general managers in the game.
Shortly after that, the Packers, one of the most stable and well-respected teams in the league, shifted several of their seasoned evaluators to the pro side and replaced them with first- and second-year scouts.
Angry Scouting Veteran made several good points in a lengthy take. I won’t run it out completely here (it’s pretty extensive), but his main points, in his own words, were:
- “Some guys view moving from college to pro scouting as a way to go home every night as opposed to being on the road.”
- “Other guys view pro scouting as a quicker way to move up the ladder towards GM because you’re in the office, around people at the top level, and learning/working in other elements that college guys aren’t around or don’t have time for.”
- “John Wojciechowski is a great guy, very highly respected in the scouting community, and has deserved some kind of opportunity for advancement for quite some time now. He has a young family and between he and the Packers brass, they both most likely agreed that this was the best move for his career and his family.”
- “I’ve also heard that (Packers GM) Ted Thompson detests change, so moving up younger guys who were already in the program to road scout roles was another logical move for him.”
He also went on to decry the idea of eliminating road scouts, and his hopes that this isn’t a trend. Obviously, I heartily agree with both sentiments.
Angry Scout 2 was less certain about the Packers’ motivations, but was willing to believe the team wanted to reward some young people Thompson sees as rising stars. On the other hand, he sees some deference to trends, as well.
- “Remember there are people in the NFL who want a “yes” man and to feel their scouts will just go with what they think. Maybe Green Bay did some favors or perhaps they know these people are good scouts. . . You never want a staff entirely of people over 50 (and) it’s good to have a mix.”
- “If (the Packers) do what they use to, then the new scouts are good. I know their NFS scout has always seemed to be pretty good the last 10 years.”
- “People are gravitating to analytics. They see how it’s a crapshoot no matter how good the scout is, and they want older scouts out because younger people are more likely to accept analytics.”
- “One theory I have is that people see (New England). They are killing it on pro side but very average on the draft. They want experience in pro.”