Ozzie is one of the best talent evaluators in NFL history. Why is he so much more succesful than his peers?

NFL Draft: What is Wrong with NFL Scouts?

I have a few days to kill before we have the finalized list of underclassmen that will declare for the draft (the deadline is Sunday). So rather than write another piece on Draft options for the Ravens that may turn out to be wrong if something unexpected happens before Sunday, today I’m going to write about NFL draft scouting, I hope you guys enjoy the read. Ill be writing about the Ravens WR options in the draft early next week once I know for sure who will be available.

I watched the Brady 6 tonight (for about the hundredth time), and it inspired me to look back at all the major misses and awful busts over the past decade. There are a lot of them. Trust me on that one.

I’m not entirely sure why this happens so much. I’m sure part of it can be attributed to poor front office personnel. For every Ozzie Newsome or Art Rooney, it seems like there are two Matt Millens. For those of you who don’t know who Matt Millen is, he is possibly the worst GM in the past 20 years, in his time with the Lions he drafted a WR in the top 5 overall 3 years in a row (Roy Williams, Mike Williams and Megatron). He also drafted Joey Harrington, Andre Ware, Charles Rodgers, Terry Fair, Drew Stanton, Stockar McDougal, Kevin Jones (some while he was director of player personnel). To top it all off, Millen handed the keys to his franchise over to Drew Henson resulting in an 0-16 season at the end of which he was at long last relieved of his position. Calvin Johnson was the only decent draft pick of his 7 year tenure. Johnson is great, but it took 4 WR busts to get to him.

Here is a graphic of Matt Lillens Draft picks since 2001, as of the start of the 2009 season just after Milen was fired. the four dots on the left represent Lions that made the roster, all the dots on the right are off the team or out of the league entirely.

It sometimes seems like there are some GMs that are so bad that they must be doing it on purpose. But is there a real reason why the draft is so insanely unpredictable in terms of which players will be good or bad? Every year there are players in the first round who prove to be awful and are shortly out of the league like Vernon Gholston or Tim Couch and there are always players who are drafted late/undrafted and have a lot of NFL success like Tom Brady or Joe Montana.

A couple years ago I read something that, at the time, I was sure couldn’t be true. After a few years of learning more about the process and learning the facts, I know that it is more or less true. 30 of the 32 teams in the NFL hire a 3rd party to do almost all of their scouting. Most NFL scouting is done by one of 3 agencies. Which means that 3 companies tell the entire NFL what to think about every college player in the country.
Think about that for a minute. It boggles my mind. How could an NFL team give that much power to so few individuals. What happens if those agencies can be bought off by players. A third round guy tells the scouts, get me into the first and some of that payday comes back your way. Look, I’m not saying it does happen; I have absolutely no evidence to say that. I’m just saying it could happen. And isn’t that bad enough?

Have you ever wondered how the dozens of analysts (I’m not innocent here either) can all come up with almost the exact same big board? Its because they all come from a common starting point. I almost guarantee you that if you took 20 analysts and showed them tape of 100 players they had never seen before you would get 20 different rankings. But every year they turn in almost identical lists. Scouting in the NFL is a mess.
The only two teams left that doo 100% of their own scouting are the Jaguars and the Ravens (The Steelers, Seahawks and Packers do most of there own scouting but pay agencies for preliminary big boards, they do the rest after that). I find it funny that the Ravens and Jags are generally considered among the top 5 drafting teams in the league, as are the Steelers and Packers (the Seahawks have only done their own scouting since Pete Carroll became HC so it is to early to judge them yet). The Ravens and Jags also always seem to have a slightly different board than the rest of the league, especially in the later rounds. They draft players like Tyson Alualu or Pernell McPhee much higher than most teams have them rated and those picks pay dividends for them.

Is there too much reliance on outside agencies in the Draft? I think so, but then again maybe I’m wrong. Looking back to the early 90s, there were fewer busts in the first round of most of those drafts than were in most of the more recent NFL drafts. So maybe I’m just spinning my wheels thinking about this.

I guess the point is that we, as Ravens fans, take a step back and realize how lucky we are. How fortunate we are to have Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta and the rest of the scouting team. I doubt Mr. Newsome and Mr. DeCosta will ever read this, but if they do, I hope they see how much I appreciate them. The more I learn about the NFL the better the Ravens seem by comparison.

So this year as I’m watching the draft, I’ll be ready for the Ravens to throw out a name that I’ve barely heard before and I’ll smile to myself. Because I know, that no matter how much I know, Ozzie still knows best, and as always, In Ozzie I Trust.

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Tags: Art Roony Baltimore Ravens Calvin Johnson Detroit Lions Eric DeCosta Green Bay Green Bay Packers Jacksonville Jaguars Jaguars Joe Montana Matt Millen NFL Draft Ozzie Newsome Packers Pernell McPhee Pete Carroll Pittsburgh Steelers Ravens Seahawks Seattle Seahawks Steelers Tim Couch Tom Brady Tyson Alualu Vernon Gholston

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