2015 NFL Draft: 7 Tips for Scouting Prospects


Are you interested in filling out your own scouting reports for the 2015 NFL Draft? Get started by reading the tips below to get started. If you have the passion, you can break down prospects too!

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1: Do not let one good game decide your opinion of a player.

I was way too guilty of this early.

After all, how couldn’t I have been? When Tajh Boyd has the game of his life and lights it up, OF COURSE I’M GOING TO SAY HE’S A FIRST ROUNDER! (Boy, was that a mistake.)

Take your time with making a final grade or decision. Remember, guys have good games. Look at the whole body of work and don’t be swayed by one elite performance.

2: Unbelievable size doesn’t always mean unbelievable tape.

Here’s an easy trap to fall into… Don’t just assume that the 6’5, 230-pound wide receiver is going to be akin to Calvin Johnson.

In fact, most of the time, he won’t. (This goes for 40-yard dash times, too.)

It’s fun to pick out the biggest prospects and label them “freaks”, but watch the tape and see if they fit the position first.

Do they possess traits other than just size? Do they have a feel for the position? If not, you’re probably looking at a guy who made it to college largely in part to potential “upside”. Beware.

3: Just because everyone else likes him, doesn’t mean you have to.

I put this in my head every time I begin scouting a player that has a very large “hype train”. Look, if you’re just starting out with this whole scouting thing (it’s scary, we know), you’ll need to see what other opinions are either before or after you begin scouting.

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  • I still do this, always before looking at a prospect. For me, the go-to guys are the great folks at CBS Sports and one of my respected members of “Draft Twitter”. I’ll see what these guys have to say before I craft my opinion. In the beginning, I fell into the trap of feeling like I had to agree with everyone else. After all, they were the experts, not me!

    However, I’ve learned that scouting is more complex than words on a paper. How do you feel about the prospect? What jumps out that you don’t like? More often than not — as long as you have reasonable evidence — your opinion will ultimately be respected and seen by others once you share it.

    4: “Small-schoolers should be docked due to their lack of competition” is a myth.

    Once you get to chatting with other members of the online NFL scouting world, you’ll hear the classic saying over and over again: “He plays at (insert small school here)! We can’t judge him accurately!”

    This is false. Very false.

    Truthfully, it couldn’t be more false.

    What we are looking for is traits. I’ve learned this from a few respected guys (s/o to Justin Higdon and Luke Easterling of DraftBreakdown) from reading their stuff: the tape says it all.

    The full process of scouting a college football player revolves around traits. Does he have the necessary skills to get the job done? It’s that simple.

    Whether against the Seattle Seahawks or your local rec-league team, a player’s skill is a player’s skill.

    5: Do not scout a player when you are exhausted.

    The golden rule of scouting should go something like this — go to bed.

    Too many times did I want to cram in just one more piece of film before I went to bed. I was exhausted, but I felt the need to get it done.

    What we’re doing here is unfair to us. Nobody else. You’re cheating yourself when you do this.

    Why? Because your opinion on a player reflects on you! Chances are, you’ll have a better chance to fully scout a player when you’re wide awake and sitting at a desk than on your iPad at 1:35 a.m. ready to hit the hay.

    Be fair to the player’s evaluation, and yourself. Sometimes, it’s just wise to walk away.

    6: Be thorough, don’t get lazy.

    This ties in with the last one, and truly speaks for itself. Too many times early on did I like one film, form an opinion, and move to the next guy.

    Lazy scouting is the worst kind of scouting.

    Make sure you see at-least three games of a player before you even begin to write up a semi-report. You’ll probably need to see at-least six games of tape before you can decide where a player should be graded out.

    As a general rule: watch as much tape as possible. (This is where Draft Breakdown comes in handy)

    7: Asking for help is a good thing in the “scouting world”.

    I’ll tell you this — if you ever need help when evaluating a player, you should never be afraid to ask for help when forming your opinion.

    Get on DraftTwitter, find a member of the online scouting world, and they’ll be happy to help you out.

    Remember, we’re all in the same boat here. We aren’t pro scouts (although some on DraftTwitter are talented enough to be) and are all looking to form the best opinion possible on every player. If you aren’t sure about a prospect, ask around. The community on Twitter is always happy to help.

    I hope this helped you out a bit. Remember, stay focused on traits, always scout when YOU are ready, and you’ll be in great shape!