WASHINGTON – Scot McCloughan had just been hired as Redskins general manager and sat in a room with local beat reporters two years ago casually discussing his philosophy on building rosters.
One topic came up that was fascinating: NFL head coaches, for the most part, way overrate their own ability to evaluate college talent. The two skillets that make a coach successful in their field aren’t remotely similar to what makes a good scout. Finding someone who can do both is difficult.
McCloughan chuckled as he said this while noshing on a slice of pizza. It could have come across as a scout resenting intrusions on his turf. But McCloughan didn’t say it with malice. It was just another hurdle a talent evaluator had to overcome when arguing the merits of players to people who had little contact – in person or on tape – with their future draft choices.
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On Tuesday, McCloughan expanded on those thoughts during an exclusive interview with 106.7 The Fan’s Grant and Danny program.
“The thing that’s cool about this organization – because I’ve been in three other ones – the head coach in Jay [Gruden] is a good evaluator,” McCloughan said. “He can see it and identify it. I leaned on him, he leaned on me.”
That’s not always been the case in McCloughan’s other stops and part of why he’s always been skeptical of head coaches evaluating college talent. The amateur scouts are the ones on the road all fall meeting with players and talking with their coaches. They’re the ones putting together reports and breaking down hours of video.
McCloughan came up through those ranks in Green Bay as a scout before becoming an executive in Seattle and San Francisco, where he oversaw scouting departments and had to find a consensus between what his coaches wanted and what his scouts saw: Mike Holmgren in Green Bay and Seattle, Pete Carroll in Seattle, Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary in San Francisco. Gruden, who played quarterback in college at Louisville and was an Arena Football League star, puts the effort into evaluation that those coaches, as good as some of them are, just didn’t.
“I was with Holmgren. He didn’t want any part of it. Pete Carroll didn’t want any part of it. Mike Nolan didn’t want any part of it. Mike Singletary didn’t want any part of it,” McCloughan said. “But Jay really, really studies. He watches a lot of tape and he can identify, which helped me out quite a bit. Because you can always use good opinions from people that can see it. Because it’s not an exact science.”
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