The ITP Evaluation Process
The process for the 2018 ITP Draft Guide began with an understanding of what we can and cannot do. We had access to an incredible group of trained evaluators who had come through The Scouting Academy. These scouts have been certified in evaluating different positions and we felt it best to create positional experts who would do the deep dive throughout that position and understand the group from top to bottom, instead of trying to spread an evaluator thin by asking them to work through every player. This required a bigger staff and as such, we have a group of 30 core scouts and another 25 cross-checkers who have studied the players 2016 and 2017 film, researched their backgrounds, assessed body types, measurables, production statistics, and other information at their disposal to project these draft eligible players into the NFL.
Each player tape was studied using a trait-based approach where they assess critical factors and position specifics for each player that translate well to the NFL. We assessed 2016 and 2017 film to better understand the player’s development in their college program and ensured each player was viewed in multiple games. At a bare minimum, three games are necessary. Five or more is ideal, allowing the scouts to see the player in a broader spectrum of situations. Furthermore, scouts are requested to watch games where the player is confronted with different types of situations. Games against higher-level competition, games against lower-level competition. Road games and home games, and games in the elements. The more context you can add to a player’s performance, the more accurate – and trustworthy – your projections and evaluations become.
When watching the players during their games, the scouts take a “snap to finish” approach to every play; the key here is not simply watching how a player reacts to the action, but also how they prepare for the play in the phase leading up to and including the snap. Watching the prospects in the pre-snap phase is just as important as breaking down the in-play action. Do they line up in the right spots, are they leaders in the pre-snap phase, directing players to execute assignments, or are they being moved around by other teammates? Are the quarterbacks making reads or checks at the line or are they looking for help from the sidelines? The more we can ascertain about these players pre-snap, the better our understanding will be of their post-snap execution.
Once the ball is snapped, we look for the traits necessary to excel at the various positions. There are some core traits that are universal, such as play strength, athletic ability, and play speed, but there are some position-specific traits that the scouts are taught to look for. For example, quarterbacks are graded on traits such as accuracy, pocket presence, arm strength, and processing speed. Wide receivers are evaluated with change of direction and hands in mind. Each of these traits, the core as well as the position-specific, are graded on a scale. From there, the scouts take the trait-based grades and create an overall grade, based upon the grading scale outlined in the guide.
The work results in a projection of the player. Projections are difficult as they are a prediction of what a human being will do in a different city, in a different scheme, in a different league, against the highest levels of competition, each and every week. As such, we felt it was important to understand who the player can be in the NFL on Day 1 and who the player can be as they develop in the league. Those development curves drastically vary for each player and are by no means linear, so we have to take the approach of reserved optimism, understanding that every player may not reach his ceiling in each NFL city.
Once the initial scout completes their evaluation and submits their report and grade into FBX, the cross-check and discussion phase begins. On some players, evaluators align and arriving at a consensus is very quick. For other players, it takes two, three, sometimes four other sets of eyes to work through the nuance of that player and arrive at consensus. The idea is that “iron sharpens iron” and this cross-check and discussion phase forces them to explain and defend their positions and gives you the most honed, focused set of film evaluations available today.