Why NFL Scouting Is A Lot Like Golf: Low Scores Are Better
Alix Drawec via AP
Unlike your grades in school where higher numbers earn A’s and top academic honors, grading by NFL scouts is more akin to golf: the lower the score, the better.
Scouts analyze draft prospects and put in hundred of hours of film study, game-watching, interviews, and campus visits…and then it all boils down to a final grade which reflects the scouting department’s “Expectations” for that player’s NFL career.
The grade ranges from .1 all the way to 9. Looking at sample Grade Charts, a player that is “draftable” is graded at a 1.75-or-below. A player with a 1.8-to-1.9 would be a possible target as an undrafted rookie free agent. Anyone with a grade from 2-to-9 would not be drafted or signed.
Let’s look at a sample “Scouting Grade Chart” and see how the grades/numbers relate to “Expectations”.
Other players not considered draft worthy would receive a “9”. Examples would include prospects with documented problems of criminal behavior, or players lacking in attitude, or lacking position-specifics such as size or speed.
So the bottom line is that draft grades are opposite of what you might expect. In most sports, higher numbers are generally better. You want your team to put more points on the board than your opponent, of course. But during this portion of the offseason when scouts assess final grades, if you’re a draft prospect, you want a low number. Like golf (and like a baseball pitcher’s earned run average), lower numbers are better! Lower grades = higher rounds of the NFL Draft.