By Dave Razzano, Playmaker Correspondent
Whatever your fundamentals and beliefs are when evaluating the professional potential of college football players, one simple formula has always been favored by me and has resulted in many more “hits than misses”: The “excitement meter” scale.
It sounds very basic and it is. When I put on the tape, just how “excited’ am I at what I am watching? Those of you who have true "passion" for evaluating know precisely what I am talking about. If the excitement creeps upwards on a 1-10 scale then you are likely on to a good football player. If you are watching the tape and having trouble figuring out a player and not very excited about what you are seeing, be careful. Many times these players become early round “busts” and will get overvalued for the wrong reasons, typically, rare height, weight and speed traits found on paper, not film.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the HWS traits as well as the next guy, but can’t stand poor performers on the field who get upgraded due to these very traits. I will never forget going into University of New Mexico in 2000 and seeing a “rare” specimen by the name of Brian Urlacher. When I turned on the video I could hardly contain my “excitement”. A player 6' 4", 245 lbs. with 4.50 speed playing 300 mph on each and every snap. I reported that this was the very best player in the entire Draft hands down. It did not matter that he was lining up at the safety position. He was an easy projection due to his size and relentless effort on every snap. It is not shocking to me that 12 years later he is still playing at a Pro Bowl level for Chicago and of the eight players picked in front of him, only RB Thomas Jones remains in the league. Thinking back, in 22 years of scouting I cannot remember a player that I was more “excited” about while studying on tape. Believe me, I have missed on my share of players over a long career but the fact remains the ones I was most excited about usually became solid starters in the league.
So for a scout studying tape on a prospect, ask yourself one simple question before entering your “final” grade: How truly “excited” was I watching this guy? If your final grade is high, then your “excitement meter” should be high as well. If it sounds simple, well it is. Football is a simple game. Try not to over think it!
Dave Razzano is a former NFL scout and Playmaker Mobile correspondent with more than 22 years of professional scouting experience with the San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals under NFL coaches including Bill Walsh, George Seifert, Chuck Knox and Dick Vermeil. He's been a part of five Super Bowls with three Super Bowl wins (49ers, 1989, 1990; Rams, 2000).