Tuesday night, we had our annual Zoom session aimed at aspiring NFL scouts. It’s become a kind of end-of-the-year tradition. Last year, we had director-level scouts from the 49ers, Chargers and Vikings. This year, we had Brandon Yeargan (Raiders), Tyler Lyon (Chargers) and Rick Spielman, who until recently was the GM in Minnesota.

Here are a few of the highlights from last night.

On marriage/relationships: None of the three put off serious romantic relationships, though they all discussed the value of preparing their now-spouses for the rigors of life in pro football. Brandon and Tyler both met their future spouses in college, then nursed the relationships along for several years (most of a decade for Tyler; Brandon maintained a long-distance relationship for three years while with the Patriots).

On professional relationships: Rick is still on good terms with the Vikings, who let him go in January. In fact, things are still so close that team representatives were the first to reach out when Rick’s South Florida home was hit by a hurricane earlier this year. Head coach Kevin O’Connell has even spent time picking his brain. Spielman was fired by Nick Saban in his Dolphin days, but today, he works as a consultant for the Crimson Tide football team. 

On paying dues: Though Tyler was a highly recruited quarterback at Arizona, and his father was a longtime high school football coach, he worked hard to develop his own contacts in the industry, even writing for small online draft publications while attending law school. Brandon played at a small North Carolina college, Davidson, but made his way to Chapel Hill, where he was an intern, then a grad assistant, for the Tarheels. He worked for little or no pay there for several years, then did the same for the Patriots before finally making area scout. Rick build the athletic program from the ground up at a small college in Columbus, Ohio, when he got his big break with BLESTO.

On developing your evaluation skills: All three said the best qualities in scouting assistant hires had nothing to do with an eye for talent. Instead, it’s about treating every menial task as if it’s crucial to the performance of the team. Tyler even said he’d be more interested in hiring someone with no evaluation skills but a great attitude over someone with a stack of reports and hopes of making GM in 2-3 years.

If you’re an aspiring scout, we hope you can make it next year (we don’t record these sessions to encourage transparency and candor). It’s part of our special annual rate for prospective NFL evaluators. Let us know if you’d like more details. We also encourage you to sign up for our weekly newsletter, which you can do here.