10 Scouting Rules Series

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. Here are the first eight pieces.

Scouts are looking at the same players, on the same field, against the same competition. But while it is, as Blanton Collier 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.

These philosophies provide an excellent starting point for exploring the evaluation process, and highlight areas aspiring scouts usually find themselves in trouble, but can remedy with an appreciation of context and dedication to better processes.


ITP Podcast with Matt Miller and Dan HatmanMark Schofield and Chuck Zodda are joined by Matt Miller and Dan Hatman to discuss the 10 Scouting Rules in a roundtable format.


Rule #1: No Shortcuts ‒ To properly evaluate a player, a scout should watch a player for at least three games before a scouting report can completed. Be sure to watch games that put the player in different situations, including games in which he struggled and excelled.


Rule #2: What Can He Do? ‒ When scouting a player, it is critical to figure out what he can do. It is the scout’s job to inform coaches what situations a player can be depended on to succeed.


Rule #3: Update Your Grades ‒ As a scout receives more information, he should not fear contradicting an earlier observation. Accuracy is the key and players’ skills can improve and deteriorate, so keep an open mind each time you see a player.


Rule #4: Traits Not Scheme ‒ It is crucial for a scout to understand the context in which a player may succeed or fail. Scout a player’s talent, not the results.


Rule #5: College Role Is Not All ‒ College coaches don’t always put players in the scheme that best fits them. Scouts must pay attention to any evidence that suggests a player can succeed in a role that they are not tasked with at the collegiate level.


Rule #6: Film Not Workouts ‒ Football skills and workout skills are two different things. Do not let a good or bad day in shorts negate the game tape that you spent hours watching.


Rule #7: Be Open To Exceptions ‒ Pay attention to the football traits a player has, not the physical skills. Speed and height do not guarantee success, and dismissing short or relatively slow players could mean missing out on a diamond in the rough.


Rule #8: Talent Tradeoff – Scouts should be aware of whether a certain player is “talented enough to be an asshole” by adding relevant details about off the field behavior into their reports. Different teams will have different thresholds for poor behavior but cannot properly assess that risk without a scout’s research and input.


Rule #9: Football Character – As covered in the previous rule, not all prospects are necessarily good people. However, it is important to investigate all players’ football character. Scouts need to supply the front office details on how diligently players work to improve and hone their craft.


Rule #10: We All Make Mistakes – All scouts are wrong from time to time. It is crucial for scouts to be able to self-evaluate and learn from their mistakes.

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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