Now that the 2021 NFLPA Exam is behind us, we’re turning our attention to the NFL scouting industry. In this week’s Friday Wrap, we’ve got an exciting announcement aimed at recognizing the best evaluators in the game. Today, however, we wanted to get the ball rolling with a question we posed to several former GMs and NFL administrators.
Here’s the question we asked about a dozen trusted and experienced scouting professionals: Who is the best evaluator you ever worked with?
Here are some of the responses:
“I remember the bad evaluators more, I would say the best one was (former Bills GM) John Butler. All of us can see the obvious things you can measure, (but) John had a great knack for picking guys with the intangibles. He had a feel for players that fit team needs.” — Buddy Nix, former executive with the Bills and Chargers
“That’s easy, (former Chargers and Redskins executive) Dick Daniels. He challenged you to (look at) how the player fit . . . not only on the field but also in the locker room and in the position room. He always knew what the big picture was while planning ahead.” — Don Gregory, former Panthers Director of Player Personnel and evaluator with Chiefs and Chargers
“Can I say it this way? The best evaluator who worked for me is (Colts GM) Chris Ballard. We hired him in June 2001 and that was his first NFL job. From the start, he got it. Was especially good with DBs, and I have never seen a scout before or after be able to present a player like Chris did. I knew after 2-3 years he was going to be a future GM.” — Greg Gabriel, former Bears Director of College Scouting and evaluator with the Giants and Bills
“(Former Bears GM) Jerry Angelo. He has been a great mentor for myself and a host of other GMs. We all learned our evaluation chops from Jerry. He helped build the Cowboys of the late 70s and early 80s, the Giants of the early 80s, the Bucs of the late 90s and early 2000s and the Bears of the mid 2000s. All these teams went to Super Bowls. People don’t realize this about Jerry Angelo because he does not toot his own horn. He is as good and humble a man as you’ll ever meet. He is also as talented an evaluator as anyone in this profession has ever been.” — Tim Ruskell, former Seahawks GM and evaluator with the Bucs, Bears, Falcons and Titans
“Best for me was Russ Bolinger, longtime NFL scout (Jaguars, Lions, Redskins, Rams and Falcons). I was with him in St. Louis and Atlanta. He was detailed, had great contacts, not afraid to go with his instincts, held his convictions on a player, yet was never dogmatic. On top of that, Boli was NEVER dull!” — Billy Devaney, former Rams GM and evaluator with the Falcons, Niners and Chargers
“Easy. Hall of Famer (and former Steelers executive) Bill Nunn because he knew how to investigate things not seen on tape, at a game or a particular workout that help clarify a guy’s ability. Shoe size (OL and DL base), can he dance? (DB’s hips), was he a basketball player? (overall athletic ability), did he play baseball? (WR and DB’s ball skills) and long or triple jump (explosion).” — Doug Whaley, former Bills GM and Steelers executive Doug Whaley
“(Former Redskins and Chargers GM) Bobby Beathard had a good eye. (Former Bucs, Redskins and Texans scout) George Saimes was quirky and could spot a diamond. And (former Colts scout) Don Joyce had a nuanced good eye. — Former Browns, Redskins and Panthers executive Joe Mack
For more on the best scouts in the game, check out the Friday Wrap at 7:30 p.m. ET tomorrow.