In the last week, two seasoned area scouts have been non-renewed by their NFL teams. When I was new to the game, this used to puzzle me — why would you remove seasoned evaluators? Now that I’ve watched hiring practices for about a decade, it makes a lot more sense.
I’ve spent most of Thursday texting with several scouts and discussing the ‘brain drain’ in NFL scouting. This time of year, especially, I get asked about how you get (and keep) a job as an NFL scout. I’ll take a few of the texts I’ve received today and expand on them in an attempt to illustrate how modern teams hire and fire.
- “Teams are hiring their buddies and using scout money on director positions. Creating spots but not hiring the workers.” — It’s a great point. If you want to surround yourself with people you trust, but the owner won’t increase your budget, you hire less-seasoned scouts. This has been a rising trend across the business for at least the last 2-3 years. It’s mainly because decision-making has become increasingly centralized while “metrics” for scouts are limited at best. When a scout is fired, you rarely hear from others that he was a bad scout (or even a good one). Very hard to pin accountability on any one scout, so reasons for dismissal are similarly elusive.
- “Look at some of the staffs. Titans have two directors of player personnel. . . Buffalo has a director and assistant director at every position and a assistant GM. Seattle has two directors of player personnel. Miami has an asst GM and two personnel directors.” — I never thought about this before, but it makes a lot of sense. We’re seeing a lot of duplication of position in league front offices right now while we’re simultaneously seeing some pretty nebulous titles, like “executive scout” or “senior advisor.” It makes for a lot of chiefs and a limited number of Indians.
- “I also think that guys can be slow to change at times and feel they have tenure in certain situations when they don’t and are making top dollar.” — This is another good point, and one that you don’t often hear from scouts. It’s the other side of the “why fire all the experienced scouts?” argument. Scouts often become entitled, especially after they have several years under their belts.
- “. . . A scout’s presence at a school has to (include being) a good guest, too.” — I think this is as important as it’s ever been. As college head coaches’ salaries increase and the pressure to win grows higher than ever, there’s less transparency and sometimes less of an open-door policy for scouts. I hear often from college personnel directors and recruiting staffers that they’d love to accommodate scouts, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t keep them employed. I get it.
We’ll talk more about NFL scouting and what’s happening in the NFL evaluation community in the Friday Wrap, which comes out at 6:30 p.m. CT tomorrow. If you haven’t registered for it already, I’d love it if you did, and I think you would, too.