By the Numbers

By the Numbers [Learn More]

Height, weight and speed these are what is referred to as “the numbers”. what do they mean? how are they applied? what real significance do they have? of course, for certain positions and various levels of football, there are minimum standards arbitrarily determined by coaches, recruiters, scouts, and administrators. I say arbitrarily because that is just what they are and also because there are exceptions to every one of them.
I see and hear of players who are constantly most concerned by their numbers and for good reason. many football evaluators are mioptic in this regard as they evaluate a prospect’s potential to play at the next level. if a player does not fit into their parameters then he is judged not to be a bonified prospect. but “the numbers” are only an indicator of what a player’s abilities may be. they are not the end-all and beat all in the evaluation process. They are only the very beginning of the process.
if a player falls outside of “the numbers” that should not automatically eliminate him from consideration. how do I know that? I know it because I have scouted and observed too many players who were too small and too slow to play the game. yet, these same players excelled at the next level [college and pro].
the bottom line is this, can he play the game? the following was related to me by a very close friend and former scouting chief of a dominant NFL team. in a rather heated discussion with the head coach, it was pointed out to the scouting director that the number one criteria were a player’s athletic ability [the numbers]. the director’s heated response to the head coach was, “if you want great athletes then I will scout the Olympics, those are the greatest athletes in the world. the problem is half of them are women”. the point is, great athletes are not all great [or even good] football players.
as the head scout for Pittsburgh total scouting [a division of the Pittsburg steelers] I had the opportunity to scout a highly rated lb from u. of Florida. he was rated by everybody and I mean everybody as a high first-round draft choice, everybody except me.
he in my mind was a great athlete but not a football player. he had all the “numbers’ and he had them in spades but he did not play the game the way his numbers might indicate. I gave him a “free agent” grade. as fate would have it, the Steelers drafted him as their number one selection and I was immediately called into art Rooney jr’s office the next morning. “the trouble with you john”, art said,” is that you think you’re right and the world is wrong. how could you give him a free agent grade and everyone else thinks he will be a dominant pro player?” This player played only briefly as a rookie and was cut during training camp in his second year. Hours before the news of his release I got a call from Mr. Rooney, “we wanted you to be the first to know, we cut ————– this morning. you were right and the world was wrong”.
what does this say to the player who is not big enough, not fast enough, not tall enough, does not bench press enough? simply this, make yourself the best “football player” you can possibly be and if you are passionate about playing at the next level work hard to make that dream come true.