While most of NFL nation is gearing up for the start of training camps at the end of the month, the scouting process for next April's draft is already in full swing. Grades for more than 1,400 draft eligible college seniors recently were sent to league franchises by National, the predominant scouting organization in the NFL.
Almost two dozen franchises belong to National, which collects data on potential NFL prospects and then shares the information with member teams. Franchises pay a fee of more than $100,000 and, in many cases, donate one scout in the effort to collect the data on players across the country.
Scouts assigned to National travel the country during the spring, measuring, timing and watching hours of film on college players who will be seniors during the upcoming campaign. Information is gathered on players' character, work habits, injury history and other attributes important to NFL teams. Reports, which can be several pages long, are processed on every player then sent to the teams which belong to National. (Most of the NFL teams that don't use National subscribe instead to BLESTO, and a few teams aren't associated with either scouting service.)
The seniors are assigned several grades based on different criteria, with playing skill being the most prominent grade of all.
Grades range as high as 9.0, which represents a potential superstar, to as low as 1.0, given to a player whose football career will likely finish in college. Only on rare occasions are players handed grades of 8.0 or higher. Top-rated players usually receive a grade of 7.0 or higher, which translates into a possible first round pick. Grades of 6.0 or higher represents a prospect with the potential to be a top seventy-five selection in the following year's draft.
Of the graded seniors in 2009,
Moving toward the 2010 season, it looks like once again next year's draft will offer plenty of talent on the defensive line and at offensive tackle. The senior class is weakest at wide receiver, tight end and running back.
Here are the top 25 NFL prospects from the senior class as graded by National.