You may already know that, for the first time ever (that we know of), NFL scouts have been asked to vote on the top 10 members of their profession in each conference. Actually, it’s we at Inside the League who are asking them, and after four weeks of voting in the first-ever BART List (named after former Rams area scout Danton Barto), we’re ready to announce the results.
OK, so you won’t find the results in this blog post — you’ll have to wait till tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET for that — but we’re going to talk about the poll and a few observations we made about the poll and what it took to make it happen.
- We only included on the ballots full-time scouts who had been with an NFL team on draft day five of the last six years, with no GMs and no one who has an operations, analytics or cap-related role. For the most part, we were looking at area scouts, not scouting assistants, and those a couple rungs above them (all the way up to Assistant GM). In other words, we didn’t get votes on the people who’ve already arrived, but on those who are the up-and-comers. By the time we sifted out all those who didn’t meet those specs, we came up with 200 scouts on the NFC side and 177 in the AFC.
- There were 21 NFC scouts and 17 AFC scouts who got no votes. It was hard to make any observations on those who polled nothing. They came from multiple teams, some good and some bad. The only commonality is that scouts in this group are on the extreme ends of the scale, i.e., very young scouts and pretty old scouts. Obviously, younger scouts have had fewer years to distinguish themselves. It’s harder to figure out why the veteran scouts — some of them former GMs — netted no votes. Maybe, like many evaluators in the profession, they studiously avoided any form of fraternization or networking all along the way, and that manifested itself in fewer votes.
- Only 38 of 200 NFC scouts (19 percent) received at least 10 votes, while 36 of 177 (20 percent) reached the same total on the AFC side. I took this as good news. It makes it clear to me that scouts took the vote seriously, and that there is a clear consensus on who does it best.
- About a fourth of all scouts who received the ballots voted in the poll. We found that interesting give that only about a fifth fill out our annual salary survey. I would have guessed that establishing baselines on pay would be of more interest to today’s NFL evaluator, but maybe not. On the other hand, scouts are more diverted and scattered in the January/February lead-up to the combine, so maybe the timing is just better.
- I expected the vote to be dominated by the teams that are traditionally the best on draft day, i.e., teams like Baltimore, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Seattle, New Orleans, San Francisco, Indianapolis, Chicago, Minnesota and Seattle. However, that wasn’t the case at all, and several of those teams had no one in the top 10. That tells me that scouts recognize that evaluation is a team effort, and you can have a good scout covering a region but that’s no guarantee his team will consistently find the late-round gems and get things right on Days 1 and 2.
- Similarly, there were dozens of scouts that I know are good, yet they didn’t collect many votes. Most of these evaluators are more old-school and have worked mostly with one team. I think that makes it harder for word to spread about their work.
Anyway, those are a few thoughts. We encourage you to check out tonight’s Friday Wrap (register here), in which we’ll roll out the entire list of 10 scouts in each conference who have won the respect of their peers, and make your own observations. We look forward to making this an annual feature and, hopefully, to give more recognition to the talented people in the industry.