It took me a lot longer to write my first book than I ever thought it would. Thanks to the quarantine, Book 2 came together a lot more quickly, and I’m ready to get your feedback before I put the finishing touches on it.
It’s going to be called ScoutSpeak, and it’s a compilation of all the content, all the interviews, all the conversations I’ve had with scouts about NFL scouting over the past 18 years. I meet so many young people who want to get into scouting, and they alway ask the same questions. What is the job really like? How do I get a job? How do I keep from getting fired? There’s so much to say. This time, I hope to put it all in one place, and put it in the actual words of dozens of scouts and administrators, active and former.
Here’s a look at the breakdown so far:
- 10 thoughts on the industry (6.6 percent): This is basically what I’ve taken away from closely studying the industry for almost two decades. Regardless of the cliches you always hear about the draft and scouting, these are my takeaways about how players are really evaluated and really chosen.
- The character question (6.6 percent): We always hear about players who slip due to character. Later, we see how some players conduct themselves and wonder why they didn’t fall in the draft. The way that character really impacts and influences the draft, based on what scouts have told me, is something I just had to include.
- The UDFA process (9.8 percent): The two hours after the draft has always fascinated me, especially when you think about all the players who were passed over by all 32 teams for seven rounds, then went on to stardom.
- Makeup of an NFL scouting department (6.6 percent): This is more of a nuts-and-bolts discussion of the difference between pro and college scouts, how the two combines work, etc.
- Getting the job (21.3 percent): If there’s one question I’ve gotten more than any other, it’s this one. That’s why I devoted a fifth of the book to it.
- Losing the job (6.6 percent): I figured if I focused on how to get the job, I should include this section, as well.
- Doing the job (26.2 percent): I’ve always found people see scouts as incredibly intriguing and mysterious, so we devoted plenty of ink to this.
- Why do players bust? (4.9 percent): This is the eternal question, and everyone has an opinion.
- War stories (11.5 percent): Everyone loves to hear the stories of how picks are and were made, especially when names are named. I gotta tell you, too — some of them are truly hilarious.
So how am I doing? Am I on track? Are there things I should expand on? Are there things I should omit? I’d love to get your opinion. Hit me up at @InsideTheLeague when you can.
Jeff Schmitt said:
How about how to disagree with a superior and not lose your job. Along those lines, how do you work the room during the discussions to persuade peers without coming off as manipulative and combative? You could also talk about how to position yourself for the next step (i.e. scouting director, player personnel director, etc.) without coming across as too craven (let alone a threat to your boss or a threat to leave). You may also want to talk about academic skills to sharpen (i.e. why you should earn an MBA, for example, to sharpen your financial and negotiating acumen). You could also do a section on building your network and personal brand across the league (particularly how to develop champions who’ll tout you to media). Speaking of which, you may want to cover the do’s and don’ts of speaking to the media (I’m a reporter, for example, and I’ve seen the uninitiated make critical errors that would’ve hurt them if I wasn’t a nice guy who’s doggedly focused on what’s germane). Another idea: Sit down with a few GMs and have them walk through their career paths step-by-step, particularly the biggest lessons they learned at each step along the way. – Jeff
Thanks, Jeff! The GM stuff will probably be in the next book. Really appreciate the input.
Jeff Schmitt said:
Here are a few more ideas (Before I was a journalist, I worked in marketing and publishing). For one, scouting assistant is the entry point. Do 2-3 cases on people who took classes and found ways to break in (such as through organizations like the Senior Bowl). On the road, the college side has to build a network that stretches across academic advisors, strength coaches (a biggie), position coaches, etc. Talk about how new scouts go about building those networks and how to get straight answers and not BS (You have the same issues in sales). Sometimes, scouts talk to players, particularly at events. What are the do’s and don’ts — and also talk about the player perspective of the whole process. Talk about watching film. What do you look for generally (I remember going to a Chiefs game and seeing Blake Bortles coming off the field and slamming his helmet — a tell-tale sign about composure from a team leader)? What do you look for specifically by position (and what traits separate the elite from above average and average)? If anything, get some samples of real scouting reports from NFL teams from years back (Make sure to get good ones). Let your readers see exactly what constitutes a solid report that gets noticed and speaks truth. If anything, get two different reports on the same player so readers can see just how different viewpoints can be. Heck, add a digital value-add and put videos (accessible only to buyers) online so readers can practice writing reports. – Jeff