Last week in this space, we discussed ITL’s Fourth Quarter series in which we bring in a former scout or NFL executive as our Zoom guest. Last week, it was former Rams area scout Danton Barto, who was excellent. Tonight, it was former Bills GM Doug Whaley, who was also outstanding.
Here are eight things I found interesting in Doug’s session.
- Doug graduated from Pitt and immediately took a job in the investment business as a trader in New York, but after getting an offer to intern for the Steelers, he passed it up immediately and returned to Pittsburgh. That’s the kind of passion you have to have to succeed in football — the willingness to pass up a job that could be incredibly lucrative to chase an opportunity that could be lucrative, but that comes with no guarantees.
- When Doug interviews a scout for a job, he doesn’t want to know about the scout’s successes. He wants to hear about the prospects the scout missed on, because everybody misses. It’s learning and figuring out why you missed that shows that you have a passion for the business and an interest in getting better.
- When I asked Doug what he would do differently in his next GM job, he said, and I’m paraphrasing, that he’ll sacrifice talent for fit. He said that in Buffalo, he only wanted the very best player he could find, but he said that it’s better to take the best player that makes sense in your system and locker room.
- Doug is a strong believer in mentors, and he has two: legendary Steelers scout Bill Nunn and former NFL executive Charles Bailey, who’s been with the Steelers, Saints and Jaguars as well as the XFL. Doug, in turn, has three mentees.
- We’ve been asking scouts about their experiences and insights into the 2016 NFL Draft, and Doug was asked if allegations that Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil had received improper payments hurt the team’s evaluation of him. Doug said that, due partially to the NCAA’s antiquated rules, he wouldn’t necessarily fault Tunsil for such payments. What would hurt him, instead, is if, years later, Tunsil divulged it to the media. That would be a red flag.
- Why isn’t Derrick Henry a Bill? Doug said they knew he would be a power back who’s not given to making people miss. They observed that while he’s a big guy from the waist up, Buffalo’s braintrust didn’t think he was thick enough through the legs to be effective on the NFL level, or at least, to have lasting success.
- What about Tyreek Hill? The Bills had extensive communication with people around the West Alabama program, and had taken him completely off the board due to the domestic abuse charges that have since come to light. Doug said it was a particularly sensitive area for the team given that the team’s co-owner, Kim Pegula, is a woman.
- Given the chance, would the Bills have taken North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz or Cal’s Jared Goff? Doug said that Wentz was one of their top 10 players rated in the draft, but Goff was not. Why? They didn’t think his arm and relative lack of size and frame would play well in Buffalo winds and weather.
Next week, we’ll host former Colts scout Ahmad Russell, and I can hardly wait. We’ve got room for a few more people to listen in, so if you’re interested, hit me up here. Just $9. DMs are open. Hope you can make it.
Want more details? Check out the Friday Wrap which comes out tomorrow evening. You can register for it here.