10 Scouting Rules: # 1 No Shortcuts

Director of the Scouting Academy and ITP contributor Dan Hatman has written ten short pieces using Matt Miller’s tweet list as inspiration, hoping to illuminate readers on aspects of the scouting and player evaluation business that are misunderstood, glossed over, or ignored. This is Part 1.

DraftCentricQBChartScouts are looking at the same players, on the same field, against the same competition. But while it is, as Blanton
and Paul Warfield would say “right there, on film,” there is much to consider that is not on film. Matt Miller’s ’10 Scouting Rules’ tweet captures the process-based approach scouts need to follow to be successful. Miller provides insight into many of the scouting philosophies that are commonly
used or debated in the NFL scouting community. Matt is a transparent evaluator who has laid out the details of his 
process before.

I thought these philosophies provided an excellent starting point for exploring the evaluation process, and highlighted areas aspiring scouts usually find themselves in trouble, but could remedy with an appreciation of context and dedication to better processes.

Three games are a minimum before any report can be filed. Don’t cheat it. (No shortcuts.)

Small sample size is the bane of any good researcher. Studying a player ‒ especially one making the jump from college to the NFL ‒ needs to be as thorough as possible in order to learn about what value the player might provide. This is something that will take time, will require research, and will be tedious at times.  

But it will also be exhilarating. The key requirement is you can NEVER take shortcuts. Three games is a great starting point for studying a player, but do not be afraid to watch five, or more, in order to see the player in every situation and position to make your report thorough. Be afraid you’ve missed something.brady-watching-film

You must learn an effective process for the evaluation of film and then make adjustments to fit how your mind works. You may take copious notes or very few ‒ that is a function of your personal recall ‒ but you can never watch one game, especially from a broadcast TV copy and expect to fully understand a player’s capabilities.

Additionally, players are human beings and the second we stop viewing them that way, we will lose our ability to accurately predict their future potential. Here are just a few of the things that could impact the performance of a player on any given Sunday:

      1. Pre-existing injuries or illness.
      2. Injuries suffered during the game.
      3. Coaching or scheme decisions that may limit the player’s assignments.
      4. Weather.
      5. Loss of a relative or loved one.
      6. Teammate performance: Think about what bad QB play could do to a WR.

These are just a few things to consider, and should serve as a great example as to why watching a single game is too small of a sample size to perform a proper evaluation. Make sure you watch games where the player excelled, where the player struggled, where the player had to perform in a hostile environment, and where the player had to deal with poor weather. Study them all!

Follow Dan on Twitter @Dan_Hatman

Dan Hatman is the Director of The Scouting Academy and writes for Inside The Pylon when not teaching future football scouts and coaches how to do their job.

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