Scouting the Stars: Emmitt Smith

by | Apr 3, 2017 | Articles, Entertainment, The League, The Team

What exactly does a scouting report look like? And what specifically do the scouting reports of the greatest players in Cowboys’ history contain?

This short form Cowboys’ scouting report of Florida Gators running back Emmitt Smith was filed 45 days before the team selected him with the 17th overall pick of the 1990 NFL Draft.

Can you spot the error on the report? (Hint: it’s at the very top of the page!!!)

Yes, it’s right there in black & white: his first name is misspelled on the very top line. This report is displayed outside the scouting offices at The Star in Frisco. The tour guides have a fun time pointing out the error to Cowboys fans on tour.

As for the information contained within the report itself, let’s take a closer look.

Scouting, of course, is not an exact science. At the time, who would have guessed that the kid from Florida would eventually win three Super Bowl rings, enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Cowboys’ Ring of Honor, and retire as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher?

Here’s what we learn from the report about the scout’s observations:

*In regards to character issues  and being a team player, the scout says Emmitt “still has remained a team player” even though he’s “been highly catered to” … As for off-the-field, he “has good family roots and will show concern for teammates”.

*During Emmitt’s junior year at Florida, there was upheaval within the football department. Head coach Galen Hall resigned mid-season and was replaced by Gary Darnell. Steve Spurrier was hired entering the 1990 season, but Emmitt decided to forego his senior season and enter the 1990 NFL Draft. In regards to the in-house upheaval and changes on the staff, the scouting report notes: “He seemed to be close to the old staff and gave good effort as things turned sour here”.

*The biggest questions on the report are “laxity when practicing” and “has fumbled some in past years” and a “little emotional and will get careless with the ball”. As for ball security, once he reached the NFL it was not an issue. In fact, with 4,409 career carries, he fumbled only 38 times. That’s a percentage of less than 1% (.0086, to be exact).

*The report says that during college, Emmitt “has been fairly durable for all the running he has done”. In the pros, durability was one of his calling cards. He played in 226 regular season games, plus 17 postseason games during his 15 NFL seasons. In his 13 seasons as the Cowboys’ workhorse, he missed only 4 games due to injury.

*On a numerical scale, the scout rated his “acceleration” with a “5” which is average. But Emmitt’s “ability to break tackles” and “overall receiving ability” got his highest marks, a well-above-average “7”. In the NFL, as a receiver out of the backfield, Smith was outstanding. He is fourth on the Cowboys’ all-time receptions list with 486 career catches, trailing Drew Pearson by (489) by only 3 catches for 3rd place.

*The final line in the report is: “Should be able to start early in his career”. That part was definitely true. As a rookie, Emmitt led the team with 937 rushing yards and scored 11 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 24 passes for 228 receiving yards.

*An interesting line in the final paragraph is: “a fine glide runner…lets blockers work for him”. Yes, he glided all the way to the top of the NFL record books!