3) The college coaches hurt you: Some head college coaches make the environment for scouting players very unfriendly. Joe Paterno gave very limited access to NFL scouts and there were several years where scouts weren’t even allowed on campus. Once somebody convinced Joe that it was hurting recruiting so he eventually gave them limited access. Some schools won’t let scouts interview players until after the season while others give scouts free reign and access to everyone in the building. In addition, if college coaches don’t like a player they can say some negative things that may stick with that player until draft day.
4) Too hard of a sell for the area scout: An area scout may see a player up to three times in person, watch every one of his games on tape, and talk to him and to all his coaches and trainers. However, when the scout goes back to his “over-the-tops” (what they call their bosses) to sell a player, they may get hit with a lot of resistance. While the scouting system and its decision makers have always put a big premium on production and athletic traits, they consistently undervalue intangibles such as passion, toughness, intelligence, and football instincts. Thus, the WR who is 5’11 and runs a 4.55 but has all the intangibles won’t usually merit a visit from an over the top. Nor will a safety or LB who just doesn’t fit the cookie cutter profile of the position. In addition, younger area scouts can be easily intimidated from holding their ground on championing a prospect. As one area scout put it to me; “I have to be like a politician when I want to really convince my bosses I found a player from a small school or if he doesn’t fit the typical bill. I become a lobbyist of sorts and start recruiting coaches and everyone in the building to get them to see what I see. Sometimes I will even give a player a 3rd round grade if I think he’s a fourth rounder in order to trick my bosses to giving him a fourth or fifth round grade.”
5) Pressure from the media is felt in the draft room: Not every team has the confidence, the rings and the power to makes the picks they really want. When a GM is dealing with a media sensitive owner or one that wants to be a part of the process, the picks may be influenced by what the reaction may be after the pick is made. Not everyone has the job security or courage of a Bill Belichick to pick a Logan Mankins in the first round while every one else called him a reach and knew the pick would be greeted with skepticism. Furthermore, there are some owners and GMs who may have only seen a player once at the Combine and was turned off by the player. Then the area scouts work and opinion may get tossed aside. Some GMs simply don’t have the wins in their favor to take risk to draft a player that will be met with much skepticism.
One of the GMs I spoke to about this subject made an interesting comment about the evaluation process vs. the actual selections on draft day, “sometimes there are too many people that have to be pleased (I assumed he was referring to the owners, the coaches, the scouts and the fans) so we find ourselves being influencing by other forces other then the talent, the production, the film and the intangibles of the player.
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