As we move on from December into January we trust that everybody had a great Holiday Season.
In the NFL Player Personnel world, December is a transitional month. With the majority of our fall scouting completed, travel has been limited. There are a few schools that we will visit to look at some late additions to our prospect list, but for the most part we will be viewing video from our library, which has grown to nearly 800 games at this point. These additional looks are referred to as our "Fall Follow-Ups."
The college bowl games are in full swing, but we will only attend a handful of these games – if we need to see a prospect on whom we didn't get a live evaluation in the fall.
Also, at this point in the scouting process we can begin to get a feel of how the Draft will come together. We can look at the compilation of our grades and begin to see what positions will be strong or weak. We also now have an idea of where we might be picking. As a playoff team, our Draft position can be no higher than No. 21. The final Draft order will be determined as the Playoffs unfold.
Just when we think we're getting a handle on the Draft class and who may be available to us – another variable will be added to the mix – underclassmen who may declare for the Draft.
There is no way to predict accurately at this point how many of these players will declare or how they will fit into the Draft, because we haven't spent a lot of time scouting these players. NFL rules prohibit teams from thoroughly evaluating these players until they declare for the draft, and Jan. 15 is the last day for them to declare.
To assist these underclassmen with their decisions, the NFL established The College Advisory Committee. This committee is represented by all 32 teams. When a player submits his name for evaluation, he will be given an estimated range of Draft rounds where he may be selected. To date, there were 177 such players who submitted their names for evaluation, and we estimate that 30-40 players will declare for the Draft.
In the next installment of "On The Road" we will talk about how the underclassmen may impact the Draft and we will cover the "All-Star Game" phase of the scouting process, which will be in full swing in January.
Tales from the Road
There aren't many stories to convey from December since our travel was minimal, but there are a few items from the Fall that I neglected to include in last month's installment:
While attending the Oklahoma at Texas A&M game I was returning to the press box from the field after watching pregame warmups. As I got near the line for the elevator a commotion started to kick up. Men dressed in suits were clearing folks out of the way to let former President George H.W. Bush get on the elevator. That was neat in and of itself, but what I'll always remember is seeing former First Lady Barbara Bush holding the elevator door for him – CLASSIC!
It's always fun to see young people accomplish great things in their lives – especially when you happen to know them. Kelvin Fisher Jr., son of Kelvin Fisher, one of our Scouts, committed to accept a football scholarship to the University of Arkansas. Rob and Patrick Kugler and Josh Jones, sons of Steelers assistant coaches Sean Kugler and Amos Jones were part of a State Championship with North Allegheny High School.
A lot of times we think we know a lot about the players that we Draft. However, we really don't know them until we spend extended time with them over their career. Two events in the Fall – the team Fashion Show and the team Christmas Party go a long way to educating us as to the type of people we've added to our team – usually these impressions have been positive.
Our team and my family were touched by a visit from Rajesh Durbal, a friend of Dr. Joe Maroon. Rajesh befriended Dr. Maroon while both competed in a triathlon this past Fall. Rajesh encouraged Dr. Maroon to finish the triathlon though he was struggling. It turns out that Rajesh knew a lot about struggling – he is a triple amputee. His positive outlook and upbeat demeanor were very uplifting when he visited us for the Carolina game.
Travel Tips of the Month
Never check a carry-on-sized bag and pay a fee. If there isn't room for it on the plane, it will be checked for you free of charge.
When you go into your favorite fast food restaurant and if it has multiple lines – always go to the middle one. I can't explain why, but it always moves faster.
Scout Quote of the Month
A prospective player approached a veteran scout after his workout and asked him for advice on what he should work on the scout responded "Your degree son, your degree"!
20,000 Miles Traveled
Another $200 has been donated to the Leukemia Lymphoma Society byBowser Cadillac* ringing the total to date to $1840. Bowser Cadillac is proud to offer a penny per mile as Kevin's group travels around the country.*