When NFL Scouts Get It Wrong

by Bob Sparrow

NFL scout career path

Last week Sis gave a great history of the NFL Draft as well as some interesting sidebars.  As luck (not sure if it was good or bad luck) would have it, I was in Las Vegas last week during the festivities, although far enough from ‘The Strip’ to avoid most of the hoopla, but close enough to feel the vibe.

Suzanne mentioned the embarrassment of quarterback, Brady Quinn (or most likely the draft organizers) who was put in a very visible spot, thinking that he was going to be drafted in the first or second round, when in fact he wasn’t picked until round 22!  So, he surely entered the NFL with a chip on his shoulder.  Unfortunately, that chip was probably on his throwing shoulder as his NFL career was less that sterling.  He ‘played’ in the NFL for 7 years, was on 5 different teams, only played in 24 games in his total career, and had more interceptions (17) than touchdowns (12).  So, the NFL scouts got that one right.  But before you feel too sorry for Mr. Quinn, he currently works for Fox Sports as a football analyst at a salary of $715,000 a year and has a net worth of over $10 million.

Giovanni who?

But many times, in fact more than you’d think, the scouts get it wrong.  I say more than you think, because the process of hiring an employee in the NFL is very different from most businesses.  Employers, rather than looking at resumes that most likely have a few hyperboles in it, and having an hour-long interview with a potential hire, NFL scouts have several years of game films to look at, doctor reports, work outs at the NFL Combine and extended conversation with a potential employee’s last boss (college coach).  So, getting the draft wrong would seem highly unlikely, but it’s not.

The quintessential “NFL Draft Oops” was in the 2000 draft when Tom Brady, now arguably the greatest player to ever play the game, was picked in the 6th round, making him the 199th player selected – six other quarterbacks were drafted before him – you’re not alone if you don’t recognize any of their names, Spergon Wynn, Tee Martin, Chad Pennington, Chris Redman, Marc Bulger and Giovanni Carmazzi.  I’m not making these names up!!

NFL’s biggest flop

Other notable ‘Oops’ are Shannon Sharp, drafted 192nd in the 1990 draft, who became an All Pro tight end and was ultimately inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.  Joining him in the Hall was Joe Montana, drafted 82nd in the 1979 draft and lead the 49ers to four Super Bowls.

The scouts get it wrong the other way as well.  Ryan Leaf, was the 2nd player picked in the 1998 draft behind Payton Manning.  In his NFL rookie year, Leaf threw 2 touchdowns and 15 interceptions; and that wasn’t the worst of it, he was a jerk who was despised by both his teammates and his coaches.  He played four uneventful seasons in the NFL and threw for 14 touchdowns and 36 interceptions.  But, apparently being a ’NFL Quarterback Bust’ is a career path to being a football analyst for a major network, as that’s what Leaf is doing now for ESPN.

I’m guessing that some of those scouts involved in the aforementioned draft picks are now working for Fox or ESPN . . . as janitors.  With the NFL draft now over, football season cannot be far off – can’t wait, especially for the colleges!  Go Utes!!!

7 comments on “When NFL Scouts Get It Wrong

  1. Just think if you had been in the draft??? You would surely have been chosen as the QB with the best sense of humor!

  2. I will try. I copied it from a web site on coach …..Damn I can’t remember his last name Dick ?. I think I took to many blows to the head I really liked him I will remember his name in about an hour or wake up tonight with it. I met with several of these guys before covid hit. Jim Morena and I used to haver a sandwich every so often but he passed surprisingly, he seemed just fine then he was gone. Elmer and I still try and have a soda pop and a sandwich occasionally but not since covid hit we talk irregularly.

  3. I LOVE the NFL draft – and learned a great deal from your blog, Bob! I didn’t remember that Brady was number 199 in 2000 draft. Thx for this.

  4. Really too much of a circus. After all the NFL is all about entertainment not sport. As for analyst salaries and measures of success, I find all the sports salaries out of line no matter who they are. Quarterbacks depend on the system the coaches play and how they are developed, and do all aspects of any sport. Bad coaching gets you bad players. We tend to place too much emphasis on the credits of a coach or anyone in any situation as having experienced what they teach but that is not necessarily the case. Case in point the two quarter backs Rogers and Smith. I wonder what would have happened if linebacker Mike Singletary had Aron as his quarterback he nearly ruined Smith who was every bit as good a quarterback. Most of the so called great in sports are the product of coaches or their systems not their innate talent. Of course talent is important but without guidance it can go to waste. I love football but increasingly I find it has less to do with the players and the intricacies of offense defense and game management and more to do with fame and showmanship.

    • Very much agree Bill. Hey, I went to your Facebook page and saw the photo of our Marin JC team, is there any way you can send me a copy? Do you have the names of all those teammates? I recognized a number of them, but not all; that was such a good team!!

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