As the Director of Football Operations of the Pittsburgh Steelers I am often asked, "What exactly is it that you do?" It's OK to have our fans ask this question as long as Art and Mr. Rooney don't ask the same question!
As Director of Football Operations, I am responsible for all player evaluations and acquisitions. While there are many administrative duties that go along with my position, we thought it may be interesting to our fans to let them in on how the Steelers go about the scouting/evaluation process throughout the year in preparation for the upcoming draft.
The process actually begins in May when we have our Combine meetings. Our Combine consists of seven teams — Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Detroit, Jacksonville, Minnesota, the New York Giants and Washington. Each team has one scout who covers a certain region of the country. For instance, our scout, Dave Petett, covers the western region of the United States. These Combine scouts are responsible for evaluating players in the spring before their senior seasons. In other words, while we were putting the final touches on the 2010 Draft, these scouts were looking at players for 2011.
At these May Combine meetings, all of the evaluations are shared among the seven teams. It's from these evaluations that we determine what players/colleges we will evaluate in the fall.
After taking some time off in June/July for vacation, the scouting staff will reconvene at training camp to begin to map out our scouting schedules.
How many times we end up evaluating any prospective player is been determined by the Combine scouts' evaluations. Players are listed in four broad categories before their senior seasons — A, B,C, or D. An "A" player is someone we think could be drafted in Rounds 1-3; "B" is Rounds 4-7; "C" is a priority free agent; and "D" is a secondary free agent.
If a college team has an "A" player on its roster, we will try to get three different scout's evaluations; "B" players will get two looks; and "C" and "D" players will get one. We try to space these evaluations over the course of a whole season so as to get as thorough an evaluation as possible. These evaluations will consist of visits to the college to watch video, practice or a game. Bear in mind that players may be upgraded or downgraded from one category to another based on our evaluations, and it's part of my job to monitor these changes.
As we move through the evaluation process, we will be providing our fans a monthly update as to where we are in the process. Due to confidentiality and competitive issues, we won't be able to talk about specific players, but rather we will focus on the process while also providing some insight as to how process works. We will also try to provide some entertaining stories about the scouts' life "on the road".
In our upcoming segments of "On the Road", we will cover the following:
- November — Fall Scouting
- December — Reassessment of Evaluations
- January — All-Star Game Season
- February — The Indianapolis Combine
- March — Spring Workouts
- April — Draft Preparation
- May — Draft Summary
Bowser Cadillac is proud to offer a penny per mile as Kevin's group travels around the country. Current donation to the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society is $1,040.