10 Scouting Rules: # 3 Update Your Grades

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 3 Update Your Grades.

Not everything scouts need is, as Blanton Collier and Paul Warfield would say, “right there, on film.” This recent tweet by Matt Miller is a very useful starting point for looking at the process scouts and evaluators should follow to be successful. Miller has earned his reputation as a transparent evaluator who has shared his process before. The goal of the Scouting Academy is providing insight into the best-practices that should be used throughout the industry. This series highlights the 10 scouting rules and the areas aspiring scouts find troublesome. Thus far, the keys we’ve discussed are No Shortcuts and What Can He Do? 

Fall reports are meant to be updated. Don’t hold yourself to early season grades. Change is OK.

The beauty of a well-crafted evaluation process is that it evolves as more information is gathered. That information could be new game tapes to be studied, metrics from a Pro Day, or insight from a source close to the player or an interview, for example.

patrick-peterson-arizona-vs-carolinaYour evaluations should be the sum of all your efforts to study all the available information. But you should be open to adjusting when new, quality data arrives. There are diverse situations outside the control of players that inhibit production ‒ injuries, scheme (think wide receivers at Georgia Tech), and coaching changes can affect how a player looks for a few weeks/months/seasons. Coaching changes, for instance, may require a player to adjust for a few weeks and feel out a system. He may appear to have be struggling based on observable traits at that time, but it could also just be an adjustment period.

It is vital to remember that development is not linear and that players adjust and learn at different rates. Noting where, when, and why a player struggles is good scouting; focusing on those struggles after he has improved upon them – because you didn’t follow up – is bad scouting. Return to that player as often as needed to properly analyze his traits and update your grades.patrick-peterson-cardinals-vs-49ers

Jerry Angelo told his scouts that fall grades were not set in stone, but that those fall reports would be used to prioritize players and their process. If new information was uncovered about a prospect, the scout was encouraged to leverage that against his earlier evaluation. This ensured that the final grades had the most up to date information available.

For a pro scouting example, this season we are seeing Arizona Cardinals DB Patrick Peterson playing at a much higher level than he did a year ago. If you evaluated him solely off 2014 film, there were holes in his game. This year, after being treated for diabetes and getting that disease under control, his play has improved. Always allow yourself to be open to new, quality information.

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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