by Jack Bechta
January 22, 02014
As Raiders owner Al Davis (RIP) aged, he didn’t always make it out to free agent and/or draftee workouts. However, there were no players signed without him watching some tape of the tryouts or workouts.
Coaching staffs such as the Dolphins and Chiefs are a few teams not present at the Senior Bowl (which houses much of the top 2014 draft choices). Their scouts and front office execs are here but the coaches are at home. Ironically both head coaches Joe Philbin and Andy Reid will have a heavy influence on whom their respective teams draft.
As coaches and evaluators watch the Senior Bowl there is some guess work as to what the players are being told. For example, during punt coverage drills, the punter, former Cyclone Kirby Van Der Kamp was booming the ball all over the field. When I asked him after practice why his punts were going to the sidelines he replied, “They were directional punts as directed by my coach”. So those watching the drill, including myself, didn’t know what the punter was told to do. Thus, maybe leaving the evaluators speculating as to why the punts weren’t going straight down the field. The same could be said for the routes ran by the receivers. Many times the QB throws to a empty space leaving every one wondering who screwed up, the receiver or the QB.
In talking to a seasoned NFL scouting director while at Tuesday’s practice, he said, “it would be helpful if we knew what the players were being told by their coaches.” That gave me an idea.
Mike the coaches: Why not Mike up all the Senior Bowl coaches and give the evaluators the ability to listen in. The technology already exists and is used at NASCAR races to listen in on drivers and their pit crews (It’s called FanVision and it’s gaining steam in other sports as well). This will give the evaluator a clear idea of how well the players absorb coaching. A QB coach with the Browns can listen to what the QB coach on the field is instructing the QB and or receivers to do. This will give more insight as to how well the players execute their plays and instructions.
The eye in the sky watches it all.
Drones: Drones are now being used around the world in many capacities. Why not incorporate them into scouting. Several drones can follow around each different position groups and spy on the one-on-one drills. That way Andy Reid can tune in from his sofa on his computer to watch the group he may have the most interest in. A lot of head coaches don’t always like coming to the Senior Bowl because they get bombarded by job seekers, the media, well-wishers, and others who inundate them with small talk. Drones now can be a functional tool for those who want to skip the hassle of flying and handshaking but check in live on the 2014 draftees.
These tools of course can be useful in all the all star games (Shrine game and NFLPA) and will help evaluators get more out the venues and help prospects.
Follow me on Twitter: @Jackbechta