As you know, this week, we at Inside the League, in conjunction with The Scouting Network, brought together people across the football industry for our the 9th annual Capital Preservation Partners ITL Combine Seminar Presented by SureSports. It was a special night for a lot of reasons and it was exciting to have coverage from some fine folks at The Advocate and Times-Picayune as well as the Saints media team.
However, we weren’t finished after New Orleans Assistant GM Jeff Ireland accepted the award for the NFL’s Best Draft Class in 2017. Our three-man panel of former NFL scouts, including James Kirkland (Browns, Titans, Falcons, Bears), Bob Morris (49ers, Browns) and Matt Manocherian (Saints, Browns) also had interesting stories, insights and other observations that they offered over the hour-plus remaining in the program.
As always, we’ll have complete video of our seminar on YouTube within a couple weeks. Here are three memorable moments to look for when we debut it.
Meat and potatoes: Morris told a story from the 2007 draft when he was on staff with Kirkland and the Browns were holding the third pick and unsure of what to do. They considered Oklahoma OH Adrian Peterson, while another local product, Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn, was also on the board. Either would have given the team a splashy playmaker, but Morris credited Kirkland for taking a strong stand for Wisconsin OT Joe Thomas, what’s known is “getting up on the table” in scouting parlance. Morris said Kirkland was a strong advocate for getting a solid, every-day player that would deliver Sunday after Sunday, a “meat and potatoes” player, Kirkland said. He was right. Though the Browns have struggled mightily over the past decade, it wasn’t because of Thomas, who has been arguably the finest offensive tackle of his generation.
Take a picture: Manocherian, who also knocked it out of the park as our keynote speaker last year, mentioned his desire, during his area scout days, to take a picture of the team’s draft board pre-combine every year. As a player who evaluated players on the field, he said it was always a revelation to see how drastically the team’s board changed after workout totals were added. Is that a good thing? Is it really more a reflection of how the media and a desire to cover one’s posterior influences team decision-making? I think you could make that argument. It was interesting candor and the kind of thing I find fascinating.
Making money: One of the more provocative questions of the evening, posed by moderator Shawn Zobel of Zobel Sports Consulting, was how much money each of the scouts made in his last year with a team. I was a bit surprised to find out Kirkland, in his final season in Cleveland (he left in the spring of 2016) as an area scout, made about $130,000. Morris, in his final season with the 49ers (he left in the winter of 2017), said he made about the same. That’s a little north of what I expected, though I’d love to see an hourly breakdown. With the time area scouts put in, it might look more like minimum wage. Manocherian, in his final season in Cleveland (he left in May 2014), said he made $60,000 in his last year, which is reasonable given he was much younger in the game at the time.
Of course, these are merely highlights of what we heard here on Wednesday. In a couple weeks, we’ll have the entire program online, so stay tuned.