There are two things I can say about top scouts: they are underappreciated and underpaid.
These guys can spend up to 200 days on the road each year away from their families. They work 60-80 hour work weeks with one thing in mind: to find talent that will help his team win.
Yet with many clubs there are people in the front office who think a scout are just another employee. They have no clue about what he really does. Many don’t live in the same city as the club he works for so it becomes “out of sight, out of mind.” Too many times decision makers think they can be easily replaced. They can’t.
Good experienced scouts are worth as much as good coaches (but they never see that kind of money). Without these guys the clubs will end up making poor decisions on draft day. Especially clubs whose decision makers are not experienced talent evaluators. GMs with strong scouting backgrounds value scouts the most and usually end up as the most successful GMs.
Last week I wrote about some guys that I have great respect for. I have worked with them on the road and I know what kind of work they do. I couldn’t begin to write about all the good scouts in the league (there are too many), but I can try to give some a little recognition.
Terry Bradway – New York Jets
Terry took a lot of heat when he was GM of the Jets. Much of it he did not deserve. Now in his role as Senior Personnel Executive he is doing what he does best, find and evaluate talent. I worked with Terry in the late 80’s when we both were with the Giants and I know firsthand what kind of work he does. He pays attention to detail and has strong relationships with coaches all over the country.
Ted Monago – St. Louis Rams
Ted was recently hired by the Rams as their National Scout. The previous 12 years he was with the Bears as an area scout. Monago was a former walk-on at Arizona State. He wasn’t a scholarship player but he gained the respect of a coaching staff that included Lovie Smith, Mike Martz and Jake Hallum. All longtime NFL people. After college he began a career in coaching with stops at places like Idaho and William & Mary. I have seen Ted grow over the years and the best thing I can say about him is “he gets it.” He knows the makeup of a good player and he is a tireless worker when it comes to getting pertinent information.
Justin Chabot – San Francisco 49ers
Justin played his college ball at Northwestern, where he was 3-year starter at offensive tackle. He then worked for his alma mater as the Director of Football Operations. In that role, one of his jobs was being the liaison to the scouts that came in. Justin was well respected by scouts throughout the league because he gave them honest information. His role at Northwestern led to an offer from the San Francisco 49ers, where he is in his 10th year. He has scouted both the Southeast and Midwest regions for San Francisco and his work is invaluable.
Scott Studwell – Minnesota Vikings
I wasn’t going to mention any Directors, but I had to say something about Scott. Studwell has spent his entire adult life as a member of the Vikings organization, first as a great NFL linebacker, and then as a scout. There are few in the scouting ranks that get as much respect as Scott Studwell. The Vikings have had some strong drafts the past few years and the main reason are Scott Studwell and General Manager Rick Spielman. That’s a strong duo making personnel decisions.
Jeff Shiver – Chicago Bears
I met Shiver in August 1984 when I was an area scout for National Football Scouting. Jeff was the pro liaison for Purdue University. He did a great job in that role and that led to an offer from the Bears in 1987. He has been there ever since. Jeff mainly covers the Midwest and I doubt you could find any scout in the NFL who knows his area better. Shiver has built many strong relationships at just about every school he covers and there is NOTHING he doesn’t know about a prospect. Shiver's character evaluations are spot on. If more scouts did research on character like Shiver does the NFL wouldn’t have problem players coming into the league. Jeff is one of my all-time favorite scouts.