A Scouting Problem

July 16th, 2017

More on the undrafted or underdrafted

Breathe easy, Bucs fans.

This post is not a shot at the Draft King himself. But it does shed light on one of the NFL’s great challenges.

Teams invest millions upon millions into finding players and still there are massive cracks, screwups and differing philosophies. The draft itself is pure gambling.

At least a Vegas slot machine is set to return 90 percent of your cash over time. Teams barely hit 33 percent on first- and second-round picks combined.

And then there are undrafted free agents and developmental players. This week you’ll hear Dirk Koetter get firm on the Ira Kaufman Podcast talking about how there are no known crap players on 53-man rosters he’s been associated with, and that players absolutely need a chance to show and prove what they can or can’t do. (You won’t want to miss that full take.)

Of course, Joe and Bucs fans have pulled their hair out for years because of what happens when some of those no-names have gotten their shot — see the receiving corps.

But it was a fair take by Koetter, players need to get a shot. You need to see them. And that comes back to the scouting department, which has to bring in capable players.

Joe’s typing this today because this time of year Joe catches up on all things NFL. Watching games, reading about other teams, etc. And Joe just listened to this eye-popping interview of Cardinals first-team All-Pro running back David Johnson on CBS Sports Radio.

Johnson, who cranked out 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground last season AND 879 yards receiving with four TDs.

Johnson was a late third-round pick out of Northern Iowa in 2015, and he explained how scouts didn’t know who he was at the Senior Bowl, where he was wrongly placed on the “South” team and had to wear a name tag everywhere. If that wasn’t enough, scouts thought he was a linebacker.

It’s just staggering that a stud prospect could slip through the cracks like that when you think about the responsibilities inside NFL personnel departments and all the modern technology to study players.

Joe sure hopes Bucs rookie running back Jeremy McNichols is that how’d-we-miss-him guy this year.

17 Responses to “A Scouting Problem”

  1. Lamarcus Says:

    More of the reason for a development league. Shelton quarles is a perfect example why a league is important for guys to get their shot. Or up the rosters to about 60.

  2. Pickgrin Says:

    Last 2 years when both saw extensive action:

    Christian McCaffrey (#8 selection 2017 draft)
    3622 yds and 21 TDs rushing / 82 catches – 955 yds – 8 TDs

    Jeremy Mcnichols (#162 selection 2017 draft)
    3048 yds and 43 TDs rushing / 88 catches – 934 yds – 10 TDs


  3. Nole on Sat- Bucc on Sun Says:

    I’m not a scout by any means, but I Vividly recall that game. David Johnson didn’t start but the first time he touched the ball it was easy to see the potential for something special in him.

  4. Nole on Sat- Bucc on Sun Says:

    Pick I couldn’t see your vision at the time, but I must confess with that numbers comparison I better understand the whole “drafting a RB in the later rounds”thing.

  5. Nole on Sat- Bucc on Sun Says:

    In that game DJ didn’t look like he was running, he looked like he was gliding. Every touch was a positive gain. He looked the way OJ looked this year, like a Man amongst boys.

  6. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    I certainly take the point and agree with Joe about the draft as a crap shoot.

    But having said that if you truly look at the NFL as a single entity with 32 franchises the league has done a terrific job of finding the best players in the land.

    Yeah they don’t always get it right in the draft but there are always stories where talent eventually wins out…may be as a free agent…or CFL refugee…but for those with talent and perseverance it almost always works out eventually.

    Shelton Quarles is a great example…overlooked.paid dues in the CFL…and finally starred for the Bucs…Doug Flutie…Warren Moon did the same.

    IMHO there are not many qualified football players who are not discovered by the NFL….EVENTUALLY. Of course slotting them by round is the crap shoot part of it.

  7. Marc Says:

    Shoot Joe,

    I recall 2015’s “All or Nothing” on the Cardinals, watching Bruce Arians and company basically throw a temper tantrum b/c they missed on Ameer Abdullah; it looked like they didn’t know what to do with their 3rd round pick after the Lions grabbed Abdullah up in the 2nd. When they were finally on the clock, they were all looking at each other, seemingly dumbfounded. Arians and Kiem said something to each other like, “What do we do now? I don’t know. How do you feel about this David Johnson guy? You want to take a flyer on him?” After a brief period of silence & uneasiness the other one responded with something like “Sure, I guess. Let’s do it.”

  8. Destinjohnny Says:

    Teams have no cap on scouting cost.
    It’s shocking how little they spend.
    That were u. Win or lose.

  9. Nole on Sat- Bucc on Sun Says:

    Made themselves look like wisemen Marc.

  10. Dewey Selmon Says:

    When we have revolving door at the head coaching position players could never develop and depth could not be established. Be are a stable team finally and the competition will only make the depth better. We have a couple players who if we release will be snatched up on waivers. That is a good problem.

  11. SB Says:

    I rode David Johnson, Melvin Gordon, and Mike Evans two fantasy football stardom last year. I sure hope I can lock those 3 down again! 🙂

  12. Joe Says:

    When we have revolving door at the head coaching position players could never develop and depth could not be established.

    If logic class, this is known as a false assumption. In other words, believing Lovie could develop players. One guy played well on defense under Lovie. One! And he was an accident (Kwon).

    Sh!t coaches are sh!t coaches whether they are here six months or 16 years. Hanging on to trash just for the sake of hanging onto trash is just dumb. By that logic, the Bucs should have kept Josh McCown and Ghost Johnson.

  13. Pickgrin Says:

    Lemme extend that to one more RB prospect for you NOSBOS

    Dalvin Cook (#41 selection 2017 draft)
    3456 yds and 38 TDs rushing / 57 catches – 732 yds – 2 TDs

    Christian McCaffrey (#8 selection 2017 draft)
    3622 yds and 21 TDs rushing / 82 catches – 955 yds – 8 TDs

    Jeremy Mcnichols (#162 selection 2017 draft)
    3048 yds and 43 TDs rushing / 88 catches – 934 yds – 10 TDs

  14. BuccaneEric75 Says:

    Pickgrin, you should know by now that you can’t base Pro potential on college stats. Different systems and competition. The best players in NFL history don’t have the most college records. If it went by stats it would be easy.

  15. Pickgrin Says:

    Yea – I know Eric. But its fun anyway. Boise State is not playing quite the same level of competition as Stanford or FSU either – but there’s certainly no denying that Jeremy McNichols was productive as a MFer the 2 years he got to play.

    43 rushing TDs in 25 games is eye popping – and statistically being neck and neck with the “dynamic and versatile” Christian McCaffrey as a receiving threat is also a stat that really jumps out. This kid could easily be a good player in the NFL with that kind of productivity in a major College Football program.

    I hope we got a steal with young McNichols and seeing his stats being right in the range with 2 of the better RB prospects to have come out in years (my opinion) gives good reason for hope that Licht plucked this future star RB out of the draft pool for practically nothing.

    Fingers Crossed – Time will tell all….

  16. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:


    Mark my words.

  17. William Walls Says:

    We do have a developmental league – the CFL.