There are a ton of variables when it comes to evaluating prospects ahead of the NFL Draft. We all have our own personal processes for doing so. Now imagine assembling an entire team of scouts and evaluators and organizing them into a single cohesive unit that is required to form a consensus when all is said and done.
That is what any NFL scouting department is like, or at least what the standard department is like. That is certainly how the Pittsburgh Steelers operate. Alex Kozora yesterday talked about how they build up a player’s grade based on a series of individual evaluations from a number of different levels.
But first they have to get there from a front office and scouting department personnel standpoint. And that means putting together a staff. As many of you probably know, the life of an NFL scout is a hectic one, and one that doesn’t often offer a lot of job security. Right after the draft is when many lose their jobs.
The Steelers’ staff is far more stable than most, and General Manager Kevin Colbert recently talked about the delicate balance and fine-tuning that goes into a department that not only works, but also works together.
“You’d like to have a mixture on your staff”, he said, referring to the scouts’ backgrounds. “There’s guys like myself that grew up as film grinders that didn’t have great playing careers. You have the ex-player, and sometimes we have ex-coaches in there, too, so again we get comprehensive, different views, and different viewpoints”.
He used the example of Mark Bruener, who has been an area scout for the past five seasons after a playing career with the Steelers as a tight end. “Maybe Mark can point out something about, ‘well when I played’ or ‘when I did this’ or ‘when I was preparing for an all-star game or Combine’, he can give a player perspective”, Colbert pointed out. “A coach can give a different perspective. So we like to have, and we think we have, a comprehensive staff that can give us those varied opinions”.
Bruener joked that what you don’t see is anything resembling the Draft Day movie, quite simply because all of that debate has been done a long time in advance. This is precisely the reason the scouting department works all year round, in order to have decisions made in advance of the draft, so that when the draft actually unfolds, the day can fall to you.
You can be assured that whoever ends up being called tonight for the Steelers in the first round, he will have been evaluated individually by a number of different individual scouts as well as coaches before a consensus was formed about how the team as a whole views him, and that that player was the highest-graded available on the team’s personal board.