Tips from the Pros: How NFL Scouts Are Evaluating Players Off-the-Field

Tips from the Pros: How NFL Scouts Are Evaluating Players Off-the-Field

@1001RecruitTips recently caught up with a 10-year NFL Scout veteran for his thoughts on how in-depth they’re researching a player off-the-field:

We’re talking to everybody. We’re like private investigators. We’re building a portfolio of who you are as a person.

From a football standpoint, we’ll talk to the coaches. But, that can become really opinion-based. We’re talking to every resource we can. A portfolio is going to be built, there’s just too much from a financial standpoint that will be invested in you, for us not to do our job, so it’s completely necessary.

Players spend most of their time around the strength coach—he’s a popular guy to talk to. The player liaison is a good person to talk to. We talk to the head coach if he has time, the position coach. We talk to the women in the facility to see if you’re respectful to women. What kind of interactions do you have with women? Are you personable?

Are you one way around staff but totally different around players? We see that all the time, it’s amazing how guys are when they get in their own element.

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If there’s a serious character concern, it may go to the extent of just making sure that you’re habits off-the-field are consistent and you’re not doing things you’re not supposed to be doing. We know guys make mistakes, we really look more at maturity level. We look at what’s immature and what’s malicious? Malicious is obviously dangerous… immature you can work with some of that, you can coach through some immaturity. Maliciousness, conniving, those type of behaviors– those type of actions can derail a guy really fast.

At the end of the day, the light at the end of the tunnel– is it shinning bright for them? Is he going down the right path?

Teams want to know about stability, family support – how is your support system around you?

I don’t think guys who are going into a big-time college program may realize, a lot of players come from small towns where they were big guys and now all of the sudden, for the first time in their lives, they’re a fish in a huge bowl and they don’t know how to handle it.

It’s a different emotional aspect, so you have to look, what kind of emotional support system do they have? Do they have the right people in place, in their ear, telling them when to stay patient? You get guys who transfer all the time. Coaches loved the guy, but the player thinks that everybody is against them. I see that all the time and it’s completely not the case. Mega-talented people, extraordinarily smart who don’t give themselves a chance. They don’t know patience, they’re getting bad advice, you have to know when to be honest with yourselves. I see a lot of guys, where they come from, they have to block out the noise and always be honest with themselves.

We look at how do you endear yourself to your teammates or to your coaches. HOW do you make yourself worth keeping around?

It’s a 2-way street– coaches just don’t work with players. A coach’s job is to win games. The player’s job is to help themselves out. How are you helping yourself? How are you buying into the process? What kind of a worker are you? Are you going the extra mile, are you an “extra” guy? Do you put your time in the weight room? Things like punctuality, are you on time? Are you reliable? Are you going to class? If you’re not going to class, what does that say about YOUR accountability?

Guys don’t understand – they think it’s just football, football, football. No. The NFL is a JOB. It’s a job. You have to get yourself to and from work, you clock in and you clock out. How you perform can completely impact the guy across from you. Now, there’s financial aspects involved. You may not care about how you perform as long as you’re getting paid, but your crap job could affect the guy across from you. If you don’t get your rest, you’re messing up protections… that’s costing the team and it’s costing the guys around you and hurting their performance. There’s a lot more at stake– and that translates down to the college level too.

You’ve got juniors and seniors trying to perform to get to the next level and if you’ve got young guys who want to play around, who may be super talented but haven’t grown up yet, who’ve been told by everyone, “Oh, you’re young,” that costs those upperclassmen! At some point in time, you know right from wrong. You can enjoy college life but still make good decisions. We’re looking at a maturity level.

It amazes me. I’d like to see more young guys buying into the process a little more, from a social aspect. You can’t get rid of social media and smart phones, but – you can’t get away from the core pillars of what makes football football, and what makes a great player a great player.

Those things will never change and the minute people get away from those – you’re a great TALENT, but you’re not a great player. What we’re seeing now is players who are very talented but completely unpolished – they don’t have a pro’s pro mentality.

We’re looking for guys who grind for their teammates, grind for themselves, guys who love football. At the end of the day, if you want to be good at something you have to dedicate yourself to your craft.

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A.P. Bah Bioh brings over 16 seasons of experience to 1,001 Recruit Tips, having worked for some of the best recruiters in sports, including three "National Coach of the Year" winners -- Urban Meyer, Frank Haith and Jim Larranaga -- along with 70+ NCAA coaches while at Elon University, UNC-Chapel Hill, the University of Florida and the University of Miami. Working primarily with football and men's basketball, Bah Bioh also spent time working with Olympic Sport coaching staffs including softball, women's lacrosse, fencing, golf, tennis and rowing. Bah Bioh has been part of numerous championships including the 2007 Florida Gator BCS National Championship; 2006 Florida Gator SEC Football Championship; the 2013 ACC Men's Basketball Championship and Sweet 16 NCAA Tourney run with the Miami Hurricanes that included both tournament and regular-season ACC titles; a 2002 UNC ACC Women's Lacrosse Championship and Final Four finish; a 2001 UNC ACC Softball championship and as a senior, was part of the 1999 Elon Football team that finished with a 9-2 record, one of the best seasons in program history. Over the years, Bah Bioh has worked with over 30 first-round draft selections (NFL, NBA, MLB) and numerous players who went on to sign professional contracts including Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, Rex Grossman, Percy Harvin, Mike and Markuice Pouncey, Shane Larkin, Joe Haden and many more!