The bulk of the work done evaluating players for the NFL Draft is done by area scouts, the foot soldiers of the profession. At Inside the League, we spend a lot of time telling their stories and trying to make their jobs a little easier with our salary survey, helping out with pro days in March, and anything else.

Normally, May is when scouts get hired and fired. Obviously, this has not been a normal May, so rather than covering who’s coming and going, this week, we decided to take a long look at our Scouting Changes Grids from 2015-2019 to see where scouts are coming from, as well as what’s happening to the people who hold that title.

The perception is that older, more seasoned evaluators are no longer en vogue, and there’s a definite shelf life for old-school college scouts. At the same time, fresh-faced youngsters are more hirable than ever. But what do the numbers say?

We counted 90 NFL personnel professionals who took a job as area scout between 2015 and 2019 (college side only, not pro scout). Some ascended to the position from lower jobs. Some were area scouts who moved laterally to other teams, or who changed areas. Some had previously held more senior jobs and went back on the road simply to get back into the league. Here’s what we found.

  • For 71 of the 90, achieving area scout was a clear promotion.
  • Of the 71, almost half (31) were promoted from scouting assistant, which has become the most common way teams hire college evaluators.
  • Eighteen of the 70 were combine scouts (BLESTO or NFS), probably the second-most common route.
  • Eleven were in pro roles or assisted on both the pro and college side.
  • Four other scouts moved over from the pro side. All four were young scouts who were most likely being promoted, though it’s unclear if they received a bump in pay. Either way, probably good news for young scouts.
  • Three more came from non-NFL scouting services, though it’s important to note that two of the three had extensive pro football backgrounds and weren’t plucked capriciously from #DraftTwitter.
  • Another two hopped directly from other leagues (the CFL and Arena League) into area roles.
  • One was a college scouting coordinator who was sent on the road.
  • One moved over from the coaching side.

Another note: this is a hiring trend that has been sustained over the last five years. At least 10 new area scouts per year have been hired from within every year since 2015 (not counting this year, of course). In 2017, 22 (!) were elevated from scouting assistant and combine scout roles.

Of course, it wasn’t all good news for new area scouts. We identified 17 of the 90 who were taking a step down from national scout or a director-level position, presumably after a period of unemployment. Bottom line, the overwhelming majority of new area scout hires (81 percent) were people with limited experience who were promoted from within.

Two others didn’t fit any specific category and were hard to quantify.

We also counted 148 area scouts over the same time period (2015-2019) who experienced a change in job status. The news for these experienced evaluators was not as positive. We go into detail on how many received a promotion, mostly stayed static, or were pushed out of the business in the last five years in today’s Friday Wrap.

You can register for it here. It comes out this evening (6:30 p.m. CT), and if you’re interested in being an NFL scout, or you are one already, we recommend you give it a look.