How do you scout rookies?

What are some things you look at/for when scouting rookies? Like is it if they just pass the eye test, or something with their footwork, ball catching, break-away, vision, etc. Just trying to get an idea of more things I should be looking at so I can scout better.

I’ll be hoping to see what others have to say about this, but here’s my two cents:

It’s hard to determine how successful a rookie is going to be in the NFL. No matter how many ways you look at it, it is a difficult process and very few are guys you can absolutely bank on. So my strategy for scouting rookies is to first wait as long as possible to start making conclusions about them. Ultimately a lot more is going to be determined by where and when they get drafted that will influence these choices. That being said, I think all you can do if you want to get going now is to sort through the gritty details. Find out how they produced at a college level, and for how long they did it. Tune yourself in to any narratives behind these players that might be important and could disguise their value in some way after the draft. Then finally, once the draft is over, you can begin to make conclusions. Immediately, the most valuable player is going to be at the intersection of talent and opportunity. That’s great if you have a high pick in a rookie draft, but if you are just looking for hits I like finding the guys who have one of those things and the distinct possibility of the other. Deebo Samuel and Preston Williams are two great examples of these last year. Anyway good luck, and if you take anything from this it is to trust your gut and learn as much as you can. Don’t jump to conclusions until you have to. Hope this helps :slight_smile:

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Completely agree with @bigwilli, just would tag on try to avoid highlight videos to try an form an unbiased opinion right out the gate, easy to watch them an instantly think they’re going to be the next big thing. Other than that @bigwilli hit the nail on the head, landing spot and how they did in college and how long they did it for.

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I agree with what is said above as well. It is important to take everything with a grain of salt. That being said, there are things such as PFF, Brett Kollman, and others that will cover certain players traits. When watching highlight reals, try to ignore plays where the player isnt touched. That can be because of blocking and bad competition. I like to see broken tackles and juking players from runningbacks along with powering through people. With wide receivers I like to see contested catches or them going up and getting the ball.

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Film. Watch film and lots of it. Avoid the highlight videos when breaking down a player. They only show the HIGHlights, not the LOWlights. Find various kinds of film. Film from good games, film from bad games, film against good opponents, film against bad opponents, etc. It is VERY important to watch film vs good opponents who are ranked or are known to be a good football programs even if they aren’t ranked. Also, don’t just base what you see in one film video as your final judgement of a player. There could be a game where a guy normally relied upon to be clutch is off and isn’t catching balls for some reason. Or vice versa. A player may look very good in a game, even against tough completion, but never shows consistency. And there could be implications from the outside that are messing with a player’s game such as an injury or sickness that’s holding him back from his full potential. Although that is a good trait to look for. How players play when sick or injured.

Watch what the players do even if they don’t have the ball. For instance, with RBs, watch how well they fake a handoff and also pay attention to their pass-blocking abilities. Even though pass-blocking doesn’t translate to fantasy points, it does translate to more playing time. If they can block, coaches will be more comfortable putting them in on 3rd downs. The coach may put them in for a play to block for a deep throw, but the WB reads the D pre-snap and wants to throw to the RB underneath in the flat so he calls an audible. With that said, you should also watch their receiving skills which I will touch on in the following paragraph.

With all pass-catching positions (RB, WR, & TE), watch how they get off the line, their route running (how many routes can they excel at?), and their level of physicalness and how “into the game” they are. Are they lazy and slow or are they very alert and quick to react to change? Do they let the defender(s) push them around or do they try their hardest to accomplish their task, to get open and make catches? Also watch for pass-blocking here too. With RBs, are they skilled enough at their route running to line up outside or in the slot of an audible is called?

I’m not as confident in scouting QBs since I’ve never had a need to draft a rookie QB, but I’m sure you gotta watch for how quickly they can make decisions, how they do receiving a snap between the center’s legs and out of shotgun (Marcus Mariota had issues receiving snaps between the center’s legs cuz at Oregon, they ran almost all their plays of of shotgun formation), throwing techniques, accuracy, running/scrambling ability, ability to throw on the run and/or when getting hit, and clutchness.

Also, landing spot had a HUGE implication on drafting, especially this year. For me, Jonathan Taylor is my RB1 in this draft, but if lower end projected 1st round RBs Cam Akers or Clyde Edwards-Helaire were to land in the right location, I would consider them at the 1.01. Don’t 100% commit to a player until post NFL draft.

Good luck and have fun scouting! Hope this helps!

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Firstly, and not many talk about this, but you will blow it. Well, you will feel like you blew it is probably more accurate. Not that things will be a failure and probably far from that. But we focus on the guys we could have had in hindsight and ignore some of our successes. You see your secret darlings go to some other team. It can be discouraging. Know you will not nail all your picks and just go in as well armed as possible is really the best you can do.

That said, on to the positives because why not be positive?

There are already so many great points. I will just call out some I think are the most important as a means to highlight them again. Do not watch highlight clips for anything more than seeing what they can do. It does not mean that is what they will do. As many game tapes from the player as possible, and really notice their off-ball actions. It has shown me some things I am not hearing everyone talk about. Doesn’t mean it is right, just new information.

In college, you want to know their breakout age, dominator rating and after the draft, when they were picked. IMHO those are massive clues to potential successes. Landing spot is a nice help, for sure, but not as much as when they were drafted.

Do not fall in love with someone. Get many crushes, but until the draft there is no need for love. Plus, you can get too focused on a specific player and miss the real prize. Stay open and have a wide board of interests since you have no idea who is going to be there when you are on the clock, barring 1.01.

The not previously discussed portion.

I think helps is look at as many rankings / ADP / etc you can. After you are ‘set’ with your list, absolutely check them. While I am not an advocate of following group think, it does help show where the majority are valuing a player. Your personal differences will open up players you should take another look at regardless of being higher / lower. I think this helps as a blind check against your list. But only after you are done with your list.

Do not get hyped on landing your favorite sleeper, whatever that means to you, in the draft. Have your late dart throws for sure, but do not take them over a better player who slipped just to get that sleeper. I have thought ‘Player X in the 4th is stealing’ only to realize after I made my selection a player from the 3rd was still on the board.

Everyone else hit on / elaborated really well. I think there are many things in this thread to help you feel better and get prepared for you draft. Just remember, you will probably blow it :wink:

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Thank you all very much!!!