Last night, my longtime friend Danton Barto joined more than 50 people on a Zoom call to talk football. We spent more than an hour talking about his experiences in scouting while with the Rams; what makes a good evaluator; what to do (and not do) to get a job in the NFL; the times he was right and wrong on players; and plenty more. We also discussed his recollections of the 2016 NFL Draft, a most unique one, to be sure.

Here are seven things I learned in just the first 20 minutes.

  • Danton grew up with Taylor Morton, Senior Personnel Advisor with the Rams. Morton was instrumental in getting Danton a scouting job with the Rams.
  • Danton was hired because the Rams needed a linebacker and, as a former college linebacker (at Memphis), Morton and Rams GM Les Snead trusted his ability to evaluate them. 
  • Danton estimated he used to write reports on 400 players per year in his five-state mid-South region, and “you better know ’em” if one the team’s officials asked his opinion of them.
  • He admits that he’s seen people get a chance in scouting based on reports they’ve written, sometimes with limited formal football experience. “I’ve seen guys get opportunities because they sent in reports, and they were very good,” he said.
  • Persistence is important in getting a job, but don’t be irritating. Danton said he remembers a scouting hopeful who became a thorn in the side of members of the Rams staff. His lack of judgement wound up costing him a chance with the team.
  • The Rams actually had an analytics system that judged scouts on their reports; I’m not aware if they still do this, but if they do, it’s definitely unique. By the way, Danton came out pretty well on their grading system. 
  • I guess it’s no surprise, but the failure of first-round pick Greg Robinson, a tackle out of Auburn who was the second pick in the 2014 draft, led to a lot of soul-searching among the Rams evaluators. I got the sense that Robinson’s struggles made the Rams insecure about moving up to take Ole Miss’ Laremy Tunsil when he slid in the ’16 draft. Of course, they didn’t have a lot of ammo left after trading up to get the No. 1 pick from the Titans.

Danton talked for about an hour and 20 minutes. Want to hear the next hour? Let me know here. DMs open. 

We’ll talk more about Danton’s Zoom session in the Friday Wrap, which comes out this evening (7:30 p.m. EDT). Don’t get it? Register here.