This month, we wrapped up our Fourth Quarter series with four former scouts and executives. If you’ve been reading our blog, or even took part in the Zoom sessions, you’ve heard and read their “origin stories.”

Our goal, as always, is to help aspiring scouts become actual ones. However, in a season and offseason unlike any we’ve seen before, how likely is that to happen in the coming weeks and months?

We spent the last month-and-a-half reviewing scouting departments across the league for our Know Your Scouts series. It’s something we’ve done for nine years, and it gives us a good sense of how NFL teams are building their evaluation staffs.

Based on what we saw, we’ve made a few observations. There’s good news and bad news.

  • Good news: Only six scouting assistants were hired this offseason. That’s down slightly from 2019 (nine) and considerably from 2018 (12). Maybe that means more hires after this season.
  • More good news: Only two GMs were hired this offseason, but there are already two vacancies and there are expected to be several more this offseason. That means plenty of turnover.
  • On the other hand, seven scouts and executives took jobs with the XFL in the 2019 offseason, with 12 taking Alliance of American Football jobs in the 2018 offseason. Obviously, those jobs won’t be available after this season.
  • Also, a greater piece of teams’ scouting budgets are going toward analytics and fewer to pure scouting positions. We counted 14 of the 119 hires and promotions in NFL scouting departments as analytics-, data- or software-related.
  • Worst news: Scouts aren’t on the road this season, which means fewer chances to make an impression. For an NFL liaison, hosting a Zoom call is far less personal than conducting a meeting with multiple scouts in an office setting, or even a brief conversation with a scout in the hallway.
  • There’s also a great chance there will be more competition for jobs this year than ever before. With FBS and FCS schools having to rectify budgets battered by the loss of gate revenue, there could be more good college personnel specialists finding themselves out of jobs next spring. 

If you’re interested in learning more about trends in hiring and firing in the NFL scouting community, make sure you check out today’s Friday Wrap. We’ll take a longer look at where the scouting community is headed over the next six months. You can register for it here.