In all NFL scouting departments, there is a two-pronged approach to professional scouting. There are two scouting departments: college and pro. As I write this column several if not all college scouts are gearing up for the upcoming college football season mentally, packing their clothes, computers, stop watches, hand held microphones, notepads and their trusty road maps.
They received their prospects list from the two scouting organizations that a majority of teams subscribe to: NFS (National Football Scouting) and BLESTO. Both have their own grading systems that are quite different from each other. College scouts have it hard on the road. In many cases they fly from college to college. It’s not an easy job. Dropping rental cars and chasing airplanes which may be delayed or even cancelled makes for a long and frustrating day, week, month or even year.
Prior to the college scouts departure they lend a hand to the pro department. Generally, in all NFL organizations, there are more college scouts (7-9) then pro scouts (2-3). They are assigned NFL teams in which they grade a position or in most cases grade the complete roster.
All 32 teams have their own grading systems and structure. The chart below is one I used to grade both collegiate and professional players. I have developed both a digital draft board and a digital pro board. The digital pro board tracked movement throughout the NFL of players from 53-man rosters, to practice squads or those put on injured reserve, as well as priority free agents, street free agents and emergency list players and or trades.
Emergency player listing is extremely important and is used in case there are injuries, which happen every day. For a player that is injured in a game, they must be replaced. Personnel directors and general managers look at this list during games once notified of major long-term injuries. This allows the personnel staff quick reference so they can start calling agents immediately. These calls are made mid-game if needed. Emergency players are those on the street with NFL experience and good production.
The grading chart ranges from 8.00 down to 1.0. The same grading scale is used to keep continuity between college and pro player reports, even though the description relates to the level of play. Players are grouped by color before a grade is given. A numerical grade is added for stacking purposes later, creating separation.
For every player evaluated in the draft process, all personnel departments have a grading chart and formula in order to stack or separate players within their positional category. This is the grading system I created over 11 years as a director with the Carolina Panthers. This process will be used to chop a team from 90 players to 53 man roster, as well as the college draft.
Grading chart and explanation of color codes
BLUE (7.00-8.00): Blue players are playmakers and difference-makers in every game. Playoff teams need at least 10 or more on the roster.
RED (6.00-6.99): Starters/heavy contributors teams can win with right away. They have Blue traits with ascending skill set.
ORANGE (5.50-5.99): Backup/special teams players with limited production. They struggle to match up with high red players and have limited skill set to ascend to a low red player.
GREEN (5.00-5.49): A high percentage of free-agent greenies get hurt and lack the skill set to ascend to an Orange player.