Some of the greatest names in the NFL were, at some point, unknown players in high school and college. Well, the stars of today were, at some point, rookies in the NFL. We always tend to forget one crucial player in the making of the stars, the scouts.
Scouts evaluate and identify talent from high school and college. Ever wondered how to become an NFL scout?
When the NFL season ends, all eyes turn to the NFL combine and draft. Not every player has the potential to make it in the NFL. That’s where the NFL scouts come in and perform rigorous evaluations.
Becoming an NFL scout can be an exciting career choice. You need a proper understanding of the game to be an NFL scout. There are steps to becoming an NFL scout.
In this post, I’ll take you through the extensive process of becoming an NFL scout. Have an interest in becoming one of the best talent spotters in the league.
Keep reading below to learn how to become an NFL scout.
Get Involved in Football
So, what makes a good football scout? A good scout gets involved in football. You need to know the ins and outs of football. Literally, you need a good understanding of football to be a scout.
There’s no specific requirement to have played in high school. But hands-on experience is a must.
Football players are most likely to become scouts as they have the ins and outs of the game. You’ve probably seen previous NFL players become scouts.
Former players or managers have great insights into the game. They can see a talent early as they know what’s required. Those small details can only be seen by people that have been in the game.
Getting involved in the game doesn’t mean playing at the highest level. College or high school experience is enough. You need to have the grips of the game.
People with a background in football understand the game a lot easier. Involvement in the game can be in the form of a player, coach, or student manager.
Earn NFL Certifications and Educate Yourself
You’ll need a scouting degree. A bachelor’s degree is not necessary but is highly desirable. Having a bachelor’s degree tells more about you to teams, coaches and players. But it’s never a requirement.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most scouts tend to have a degree in sales, sports management, marketing, and business. Such a degree is important for the hard and soft skills of scouting.
To further develop an eye for scouting, attending a Scouting Academy makes sense. You can also take courses offered by Sports Management Worldwide. Here, you’ll learn invaluable scouting skills.
Simple things like spotting talent and writing scouting reports are taught here. Having such certifications is a good signal to the NFL that you know what you’re doing.
With your certification ready, it’s time to build some network.
Build Your Network
You’re never going to succeed alone as an NFL scout. Connections are everything in the scouting world. You need to meet and know the right people. Meet and know other scouts. Create good relationships with them and have a reputation in the NFL.
This is why being involved in football is important. You already know a few people here and there. Networking should start from where you’re taking your NFL courses.
Attend the Owners’ meetings and scouting combine. Meet people in key areas and introduce yourself. Be presentable and find ways to stand out from key people in the NFL.
Take, for instance, the true story of Daniel Kelly. A fan who turned into an NFL scout. Kelly wrote a 350-page draft guide that he circulated in triplicate to several people in the NFL. That’s how he got noticed.
It’s not the evaluations that got Kelly noticed but the passion and dedication. You need a work-ethic and attention to detail when networking. How else are people going to take you seriously?
Get an Internship in Scouting
NFL teams offer scouting internship programs that you need to take advantage of. You can also gain valuable experience as an intern for the local high school or college football team.
You just have to be aggressive and look out for opportunities. As an intern, you can build considerable skills that will enable you to make it in the NFL as a scout.
Start by having your resume and application letter stand out. Recruiters are always looking for passionate individuals with great attention to detail. This is the same passion that got Daniel Kelly into the NFL scouting.
Even with a bachelor’s or a scouting course, working as an intern gives you credentials and hands-on experience.
Be Passionate About the Game and What You Are Doing
Lastly, you need to be passionate about what you’re doing as a scout. Passion is what will push you to learn and get involved in football.
Passion can mean starting from the lowest point possible. Don’t rush to get noticed. When you start at the bottom, you get the drive and energy to go as high as possible.
Scouting can be lucrative, so be patient. It’s a unique job where you can make a lot with minimal effort. However, it’s the initial effort that counts.
Well, there’s no guarantee you’ll make it. But keep going, as you’ll learn a lot more along the way.
What Makes A Good Football Scout?
We’ve already seen what you need to do to become an NFL scout. But what exactly makes a good football scout?
Let’s discuss some attributes that make a good football scout.
Excellent knowledge of football
I’ve already talked about being involved in football. Well, that’s what gets you excellent knowledge of football. It’s a no-brainer. You’re not going to be a good football scout without a proper understanding of football.
Being a scout means a lot more about football than even the players themselves. Football is a game with different positions playing different roles. As a scout, you need to understand all the different positions and attributes of players for every position.
Scouts aren’t just limited to a single position. Comprehensive knowledge across the positions makes it easier for scouts to spot talents fast. Players can make mistakes and still get drafted. It’s the extra knowledge of the game that can make scouts identify such talents.
You’ll often see scouts take a step back and have a more general view of the game. They need football knowledge on a higher level to analyze and make wise scouting decisions.
Eye for Talent
This is probably the biggest attribute that makes a great NFL scout. It’s quite easy to spot a great player in the NFL based on what they do on the pitch. However, it’s difficult spotting great talent from a pool of high school and college players.
Most of the high school and college players can have talents but are difficult to see because of mistakes. So a good coach needs that extra eye to see the potential.
Most of the talents just need some polishing, and they’re good to play in the NFL. So spotting the raw talent is the challenge.
I can compare a great scout to a great investor putting his money into a business. Intuition does play a role, as a great scout can have a gut feeling about a player.
The scout is able to project the skill set of the player and see how he’ll fit into a team in the NFL.
Successful NFL scouts are patient and take their time watching a game for hours, documenting and writing reports. It’s never an easy job to be an NFL scout, as most people think.
Sometimes you travel long distances to watch a game for a few minutes. It’s a time-consuming and intensive job that every scout must be ready to commit to.
What’s more, you’re not just going to watch a single game to decide if the player is right. You’ll need to check through multiple videos of previous games to have a clear idea of a player’s talent.
Having communication skills is pretty important as scouting involves a lot of communication with other scouts. You need to be precise and clear in how you communicate.
The league is quite big and involves a lot of people. You need to know how to approach and communicate with the different people in the groups.
How Area Scouting Works
Area scouting works by allocating scouts to specific regions or schools where they monitor players. The area has around 15 major and small schools. Scouts visit the schools twice or once a year, depending on the prospect they’re monitoring.
Scouts make calls to schools and talk to coaches about possible prospects. They can also make a personal visit and check the prospects in person. The coaches can also send over the film work of the player to a scout.
A scout’s time is valuable, and coaches take time before they call a scout to visit a prospect. With a prospect identified, the process of scouting works as follows:
The next phase is the scouting process is communication. Communication starts around December when coaches meet with scouts and talk over prospects.
More than one scout can sit and discuss prospects within a certain area. During this period, players that are much of a risk are eliminated from the prospect list.
Scouts have lists of up to 500 players to go through and narrow down. A scout can be assigned up to 30 players in a specific position. They also need to watch about four to six games of the prospect to help with selection.
Scouts work differently, and some are allocated positions that they cross-check every year. The scouts work closely with the position coach to know exactly what the coaches are looking for.
On the all-star game combine, the scouts would keep an eye on the position and players assigned to them.
A cross-check’s position is invaluable, and any opinion they have on a player is important. After a cross-check and selection, the scouting moves a further step higher – coach involvement.
Once the NFL season ends, coaches get involved in the scouting process. With each position coach assigned 15-20 players, coaches are given tapes of the players to watch.
The coaches watch the player’s workouts and combine. In some instances, a coach might interview the player to have a better understanding. Coaches take time to understand players. This is the only way to know if they can have a good working relationship.
Generally, scouts know coaches will never sign a player they can’t work with. A player must be motivated to succeed. But most importantly, the coach must feel okay working and helping the player succeed.
Once the coach is in agreement, scouting moves to the next step of medical checkups.
The medical checkup is another stage where players can get eliminated. After the pro days and combine, a player must undergo a medical checkup. Here, any medical issues with the player are checked and addressed.
Teams in the NFL won’t offer a contract unless they have a proper medical report of the player. If the player is physically fit and there’s no medical concern, they’re ready to be drafted.
But if there are medical concerns, teams take a step back, and the player can be dropped.
Becoming an NFL Scout FAQs
How Much Does An NFL Scout Make?
NFL scouts earn a median annual salary averaging $34,840 as of 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the highest earn up to $78,890 with the lowest earning of $19,040.
It’s not the most exceptional salary. But it’s the kind of job you’ll enjoy doing as a football fan.
Related Reading: How much do NFL refs make? Find out as we discuss referees’ salaries, who is an NFL referee, and how to become one.
What Degree Do You Need To Be An NFL Scout?
You need a bachelor’s degree in sports management, sales, marketing, and business, although it’s not a mandatory requirement. You can also take a scouting degree.
How Many Scouts Does NFL Have?
The NFL has an average of 220 to 320 scouts. Each pro team employs about seven to eight scouts, which adds up to approximately 300 scouts.
Now you know how to become an NFL scout. It’s a career that’s more about passion for the game than the monetary value that comes with it. Becoming a scout in the NFL takes time.
There are steps on how to become a scout. First, you need a proper understanding of football. This means getting involved in the game as a player, coach, or player-manager.
Taking a scouting course is also highly recommended. You need to be recognized in the football world, and this requires certifications. Get the necessary certifications and build your own network. You need to know the right people at the right places.
Make sure you’re presentable and have a reputable name. Scouting in the NFL means working with other scouts and coaches. You need excellent communication skills and a good mastery of the game.
You’ve got everything you need to know. The choice is yours if you want to become an NFL coach.