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Evaluating NFL Draft Prospects

Getting Started

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So you want to learn how to scout football players?

With today's interest in the NFL Draft and availability of information on the internet, becoming familiar with the top college football prospects is easier than ever, and with a little direction, you'll know exactly what to look for in the scouting process. But one of the most important steps is getting off on the right track.

Getting organized is very important for the serious NFL Draft fanatic, and it can make a huge difference in the number of prospects you can reasonably expect to evaluate. Depending on how deep you want to get into the whole process, you may eventually be managing a list of 800 to 1,000 college football players. Of course, you don't have to get into it that far. You can still cover the top players in the country with a much more manageable list.

I keep my list of NFL Draft prospects in a database. Microsoft Works Database works fine for me. The advantage of having it in a database is that you can sort the information in a variety of ways, depending on what you are looking for. I often sort by alphabet, team, or even by position. And as the NFL Draft approaches, I can sort the database by the round I expect each prospect to be drafted.

Setting Up Your Database When you are building your database, you will need 15 columns using the following headings (The abbreviations I use are in parentheses):

• Name - Put the players name here.
• Position (Pos) - Players primary position. At times you may have to use less specific terms like offensive lineman or defensive back until a player establishes which position is the best fit.
• School - Player's college
• Status - Year of School.
• Height (Ht) - Player's height can vary throughout his college career.
• Weight (Wt) - Weight is another field that will need to be updated throughout the player's college career.
• Projected Draft Round (Rnd) - As we get deep into the football season, I like to start projecting where players will be selected in the draft. You will not need to enter any information in this field until you have evaluated the majority of talent.

These next seven headings pertain to workouts at the NFL Combine, which is usually held in February, so you will not need to fill in these sections until that time.
• Bench
• 40-Yard Dash (40)
• Verticle Jump (VJ)
• Broad Jump (BJ)
• 20-Yard Shuttle (20SH)
• 60-Yard Shuttle (60SH)
• Cone Drill (Cone)

• Comments - I use this section to make quick comments as I watch the players in games. You'll need to widen this column as your comments grow and then transfer them to a document in the form of a scouting report.

Next, you'll need to start entering records for all the players you would like to scout. Each season, I add to my database a list of all the top recruits out of high school. Obviously, this group isn't going to include any draft picks for the following year, and many of these players may never develop into legitimate prospects, but you will lay a solid foundation for the future.

The About Football Recruiting Directory lists some of the best sources on the internet for information on all the top high school football players. Of course, every year there are players that enter the college ranks under the radar of most scouts, so you may need to add new players to your database at anytime throughout the season.

Like I said before, you don't need to get any deeper into this than you want, but I feel a good starting point for the incoming freshman talent is to record the top 100. You can always trim it down as guys fail to meet expectations.

By rule, a football player must be three years removed from high school to qualify for entry into the NFL Draft, so none of these freshmen will be among your top draft picks this year.

So where can you find the top college players?

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